The continued destruction in Palmyra by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is further proof of its barbarity. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s latest interview with an Iranian TV channel falls into the same category, as he warned that the Middle East would be destroyed if Russian military intervention in his country failed.
ISIS’s destruction of historic monuments, and Assad’s killing his own people, are two sides of the same coin. He told Iranian TV that the world should accept Russia's involvement in Syria because the “stupid” Western intervention has failed to defeat ISIS. The interview coincided with the destruction of the iconic arch in Palmyra.
Unlike his previous recent interviews, Assad looked like he had just won another lifeline.
For him, Russian bombing is a necessity, and is likely to succeed where the U.S.-led coalition has failed. This has led to a sense by some that the Assad regime should be rehabilitated, despite it having killed more than 250,000 Syrians and displacing more than 11 million.
Throughout the conflict, Syrians - most of whom are Sunni Muslim - have been victims of both ISIS and the regime’s many killing machines, be it the army or domestic and foreign militias.Mohamed Chebarro
So Assad, in his interview, did not shy away from calling on Washington to walk away from the Middle East, adding that the region would best be secured by a Syrian, Russian, Iranian and Iraqi alliance.
The regime has been killing Syrians for more than four years, and Assad’s repeated message is that they will either face his barrel bombs, ISIS, refugees camps, or the turbulent waters of the Mediterranean.
ISIS has been filling the void left in Syria by the regime, and further punishing the population. The destruction in Palmyra is another example of ISIS’s barbarity, yet it should be noted that Assad’s troops withdrew from Palmyra, leaving it and its countryside wide open for ISIS militants.
There is nothing better than ISIS to promote indirectly what the regime has been preaching since the start of the Syrian uprising: either the regime, or terror in Syria and the region. Throughout the conflict, Syrians - most of whom are Sunni Muslim - have been victims of both ISIS and the regime’s many killing machines, be it the army or domestic and foreign militias.
Observing the conflict closely, and the rhetoric accompanying the arrival of the Russian military, one cannot but notice a symbiotic relationship between Assad and his allies on one hand, and ISIS on the other, to further kill, maim and displace mainly Syrian Sunni Arabs opposed to 40 years of Alawite minority rule. The United States and European Union are mere spectators.
Mohamed Chebarro is currently an Al Arabiya TV News program Editor. He is also an award winning journalist, roving war reporter and commentator. He covered most regional conflicts in the 90s for MBC news and later headed Al Arabiya’s bureau in Beirut and London.
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