Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Syria: Theater of the Obscene

Bashar Al-Assad's staged, meaningless referendum in the midst of a bloodbath is not only absurd, it is obscene beyond description. On the day 125  Syria citizens died at the hands of regimes security forces, the president declares the referendum on the new constitution a success as about 89% of those who voted, the government claims, approved the referendum. The actual voter turnout is in dispute; local diplomats estimate it to be as low as 5% with no voting occurring in either Hama or Homs. The state media's fanfare around the referendum was slick showing an organized voting process and polling places packed with voters. Even Bashar came out to vote surrounded by his sycophants.

The contrast between the clean organized voting stations seen on the TV and the unseen misery and deprivation  of the people of Baba Amr, decimated in the most cruel way by their very own government, was nauseating. As the government officials feign concern for the citizens that they serve, the very basic medical help  is denied the people of Homs. Clearly, the images on state TV were for foreign consumption and in support of the regime's version of reality. Somehow they think they are winning this media contest even though few people outside of Syria believe a word of it.  I continue to see regime supporters tell incredulous interviewers that the videos, coming out in real time from Homs and elsewhere are all fabricated.

They know very well that their own people don't buy this alternative version of reality and in fact it doesn't matter.  The message they want to send to the Syrian people is clear: "Make no mistake about it, if you go against us, you will suffer the same fate as Baba Amr". This attitude of arrogance, hate and unbridled cruelty is not limited to places were there is active conflict but in the security forces' daily dealings with the citizenry they were sworn to protect. Harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and beatings were always part of the modus operandi of this regime,  now they are rampant.

If no one knows what to do with Syria, it is because the regime has left no options for anyone including itself. It has painted itself into a corner and will continue to battle to the bitter end.  For those who oppose the regime, there is no going back, too much blood has flowed and the oppressive fear that was the regime's control mechanism  is no longer.  The cornered beast will eventually tire and succumb; I just hope that it is soon.

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