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The Assad Family Despotry Handbook

November 29, 2011

I have a piece on Syria up on CNN/GPS right now.

Hafez al-Assad’s son is following the example set by his father, not just in Homs but wherever protests arise. If that was somehow unclear to anyone before, it is undeniable now with the stomach-churningly comprehensive list of abuses provided in the UN report.

It is in part about the similarities between the brutality of Hafez al-Assad’s regime and that of his son Bashar, and in writing it, I was struck by the rhetoric used by both despots to justify their actions.

Like father:

Hama, which is 120 miles north of Damascus, was cut off from the rest of the country. But the reason, he said, is that a “search campaign” is being conducted by the ruling Baath socialist party and Syrian security forces for “weapons of the gang.”

Like son:

The government said the operation on Friday aimed to restore security in the town, where authorities said 120 security personnel were killed by “armed groups” last week.

References to armed gangs seeking to disrupt and destroy the country are a common theme in the public statements of the Assad regimes of 1982 and 2011. I am always interested by the language used by despots to defend their abuses and in Syria at least, that language seems to have been passed down along with the rest of the Iron-Fisted Repression Handbook.


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