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Rarely do you find a person with an interest in Middle Eastern politics, or a citizen of the region who is not familiar with the renowned Al-Assad family of Syria. The Assads, originally from Al-Qurdaha in North West Syria, are members of the minority Al-Alawite sect (branch of Islam) that have ruled and controlled Syria’s foreign and domestic policies for over four decades with an iron fist.
In comparison with the region’s dictators, the Assad family has created an infamous reputation for being the Middle East’s most violent and brutal regime. Father of current President Bashar Al-Assad, Hafez Al-Assad’s rise to power took place throughout 1964-1971.
A member of the Syrian Ba’athist party that in practice was ruling Syria at that time, he jumped through military ranks which resulted in him moving from Major to General in less than one year. This was followed by an appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force, Minister of Defense, and finally President after an intra-party coup which resulted in the 1970 Syrian Corrective Revolution.
Throughout his rule, Al Assad’s reign was marked with the use of extreme violence to sustain his rule. A famous landmark of his career was the 1982 Hama Massacre which was personally conducted by Rifaat Al Assad (Hafiz’s brother) and executed by the Syrian army. The target of the massacre was to brutally suppress a Sunni opposition against Al-Assad and ended with the death of some 40,000 citizens.
Ironically, Bashar al Assad reached power in a similar way to his father. Residing in London to finish his medical residency as an ophthalmologist, he was called back to Syria in 1994 after the sudden death of his brother Bassil, who was initially being groomed from birth to be his father’s successor.
All eyes turned to Bashar who made Colonel by 1999, and following his father death in 2000, he was voted as leader of the Ba’ath Party, President, and Commander in Chief through a public referendum.
The referendum that was voted on the day Hafiz died, lowered the minimum age for a Presidential candidate to 34, Bashar’s age at the time, and Bashar was made President with an astonishing 97.2% of the votes.
The horror of the regime today
The hand of the Syrian regime does not only reach its own territories, it extends and spreads fear across its border through several political allies that might do the unthinkable to please it. Despite that, one should not see the suffering of the brave Syrian people and remain silent anymore.
What you see on the news or internet of shooting or bombarding or physical abuse are only minor tricks of what the regime really has up its sleeves. The real horror presents itself in the inhumane torture that goes on in prisons and investigations rooms.
Bear in mind that the Syrian regime does not rely on physical torture only, its main objective is to achieve severe psychological damage to their victims via the latter. With the extensive use of force and violence, the Syrian Regime aims to break the will of all citizens that oppose it through degrading human value in ways you can’t imagine.
Through planning, training or “experimenting” on a handful of citizens, and execution of their means using large masses, the Syrian regime has displayed high professionalism in its ways and earned first place in comparison with other Arab governments as the Middle East’s most ruthless and vicious regime.
The methods of torture vary depending on the investigators sadistic ratio of pleasure or how bad they need information to unjustly charge someone with a crime, which makes what went on in Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo a walk in the park.
Men, women, and children whipped with stinging electric wires. Spark plugs wired to car batteries being attached to victims’ toes, fingers, or even genitals with high current electricity running through them as their tormentor pleases.
Prisoners forced to drink a large quantity of liquids and then tying up genitals, thus forbidding the victims from using the bathroom and making them feel like their bladder will literally explode. The latest case was the holding down of prisoners’ faces towards the breach (rear) of an RPG launcher, followed by firing the RPG, and scorching the victims’ faces with the immense heat emitted from the launching.
One of course cannot forget the “usual” methods the various Syrian governmental personnel carry out. Beatings, blindfolding, handcuffing, deprivation from sleep, and being squeezed into tires are means of sending a message to all that oppose the Syrian regime.
Following China and Russia’s veto in the Security Council session to condemn Syria’s acts of violence on its own people, the regime freely continues to carry on all sorts of vicious methods to try and silence the voices calling for freedom.
What is more saddening is that the Syrian people have called for international interference and are being massacred on a daily basis without any official condemnation for merely political interests of super and regional powers. The apple does not fall far away from the tree, and Bashar Al Assad continues to carry his father’s legacy of brutality. How long can the Syrian people endure this, only time can tell.
Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/panarmenian_photo/