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Tyrants don’t fall on their own

Badria al-Bishr

Published: Updated:

Do you accept the killing of 50,000 men in five days, or even in two years? It seems that this is the problem which most of those who are pondering whether to agree with a military strike against Syria, are trying to solve. There are one million Syrian refugees in Turkey and another million in Jordan. There are also other refugees in several other countries. And even those refugees are divided on how they want the military strike to be carried out. Some say: “we want it soon,” while others say: “yes, we want it but we don’t want a stranger to carry it out. We want to do it ourselves.”

The attack may not be a bad solution, but its delay is. If NATO does it, it would be better than having America do it without international support. It has become certain that the strike will come after destruction has been done and after militias, mercenaries and zealous men, who failed to gain authority in their countries, snuck into Syria in order to control authority there. When the regime falls, these parties will not leave Syria. On the contrary, they will demand their share of the cake. They did not go to Syria to fight there for the sake of going to heaven as they claim.

Remembering Iraq

I still remember the 2003 War against Iraq. Like many others, I participated in this war by hoping and dreaming that the end of Saddam Hussein’s reign would mark the end of Iraq’s problems. I particularly thought so after I read the works of authors and intellectuals who lived under the reign of Saddam’s tyranny, torture and injustice. Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was an unforgiveable crime. It opened a huge coffin of Arab unity slogans and of Arab divisions that followed. So, we realized that we were only united in songs and slogans. This is why when the drums of war were sounded, I was among those zealous about it. I was as zealous as a Roman man watching gladiators fight one another for the mere sake of pleasure and possessing power. The war happened, and Iraq lived through its chaos. An example of this chaos’ manifestations was the death of a surgeon - the husband of our Iraqi friend - in a bomb explosion in a street. He had lived in exile during the entire reign of Saddam in order to escape execution. If Saddam had killed him, his death would have at least been valuable. But to die and be a mere number among victims is real terror. Syria currently stands on a similar precipice that doesn’t promise anything other than hell because a new tyrant should be disciplined by superpower countries. This time, we will settle with weakening his pillars in order to facilitate toppling him from inside Syria: a concealed plan, smart jets and missiles and malicious media.

Will the strike only take down the tyrant? Or will it take down the entire country, like what happened in Iraq?

Badria al-Bishr

Will the strike only take down the tyrant? Or will it take down the entire country, like what happened in Iraq? Why doesn’t the tyrant just fall on his own? Why does he drag the entire country to destruction with him? If American shelling, and the chaos that followed, destroyed buildings, relics, markets and institutions in Iraq, then Bashar has done the same thing over the past two years. Photos make you think that Syria has engaged in World War III. Its historical markets were destroyed and its houses and cars were burnt. This is of course in addition to the corpses, coffins and refugees produced as a result of the war. The tyrant had to put the entire country and its people as a belt on his waist, making sure that whatever targets him ends up targeting them as well. This resembles the kidnappers’ act of holding a knife to the victims’ throats for the sake of linking their lives with the victims’. It seems that people pay the price for the fall of a tyrant because one way or another they contributed to building him. They were accomplices with him and they justified his injustice. They even regarded this injustice as a form of piety.

I met a Syrian woman in Dubai who fled Syria at the beginning of the revolution. She defended Bashar al-Assad saying: “It’s true that Bahsar jailed people and that he was unjust. [It’s true that he] allowed his group [members] to do whatever they want in the country so they ended up monopolizing wealth, robbing people and dominating them. My father is a car dealer. He’s one of the men they bought cars worth millions from and they refused to pay, but at least...” and she kept silent. She may have realized that there are no justifications for these crimes. But I pitied her and said: “Maybe you mean, there was at least security?” She zealously said as if I saved her: “Yes, yes. At least there was security.” It’s sad to see that after 100 years of the establishment of a modern state, the citizen’s minimum demand is that he be secure even if the president deprives him of his livelihood, dignity and freedom of expression. In all cases, even security is currently no longer present in Syria. So what is Bashar providing for his people?

Saddam Hussein wrote a book entitled “Begone, demons.” But he’s the one who ended up leaving. Now we have to find out who will exit Syria and which demons will enter it after the strike. May God have mercy on us.

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Dr. Badria al-Bishr is a multi-award-winning Saudi columnist and novelist. A PhD graduate from the American University of Beirut, and an alumnus of the U.S. State Department International Visitor program. Her columns put emphasis on women and social issues in Saudi Arabia. She currently lectures at King Saud University's Department of Social Studies.

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