April 22, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 495

Kuwaiti Paper Criticizes Syria: Assad's Regime More Criminal than Saddam's Regime

April 22, 2003
Kuwait, Syria, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 495

Over the past week, Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyasa, wrote a series of articles which were critical of the Syrian regime. The following are excerpts from the articles:

If Syria Follows Iraq's Example, It Will Share Iraq's Fate

In the first article of the series, titled "Damascus On the Path to Baghdad's Abyss," Al-Jarallah wrote: "Following the completion of the mission of 'liberating Iraq,' the pressure has now shifted to Damascus – and there are signs that the next step will be 'liberating Syria.' This renewed pressure is worrying, and members of the Syrian regime are having disturbing nightmares. But this [fear] can be neutralized if these people adopt a political path different from the one taken by Saddam Hussein, which led to his downfall and to the fall and the end of his regime."

"The fear is that the ideas of the Syrian Ba'ath [Party] will lead to stances that the Iraqi regime held – and then [the Syrian Ba'ath Party] will find itself facing the same danger, and we pray to Allah that it will end well. We do not want to see the men of the Syrian regime going back to the wellsprings of the Ba'ath party, reciting odes from the pre-Islamic era, and brandishing glittering swords at international facts… What worries us is that the members of the Syrian regime have responded to American pressure with denial and threats. We saw Farouq Al-Shar' threaten that Israel will pay the price if what happened to Iraq happens to his country, and advise Israel to persuade its American ally to refrain from such an adventure."

"There is no need for Al-Shar' to resort to Saddam's mistaken rhetoric. Syria does not need its leadership... It must not threaten to use means it does not possess. Syria must not close its eyes to the international situation, because closing its eyes will not help it, and will not prevent [American] action in Syria if [such action] is decided upon."

"The Syrians must learn the lesson of Iraq and of what happened there. Many who gambled on the power and armies of Saddam... were disappointed. They felt they had fallen victim to Saddam's propaganda and false slogans..."

"We ask Minister Al-Shar' to stop his current arrogant heroism, and to not make the mistake made by Saddam Hussein and his men, who overdid the verbal muscle-flexing… All the Arabs who love Syria and who do not want it to sink like Saddam Hussein are advising it to keep at a distance from all those who fight with their throats and who live by their pens, in Lebanon or other Arab countries…"

"In these difficult days, Syria is asked to adapt to the international facts and to free itself from the enslavement of Ba'ath opinions, slogans, and ideological sources… It must not imagine that it has the ability to match its hopes… It must open its ears to the counsel of the wise men, otherwise it will sink."

"The coalition forces that liberated Kuwait in 1991 erred when they refrained from completing the mission and liberating the Iraqi people by continuing the advance to Baghdad. In 2003, the forces did not repeat the mistake – yet some will tell them: 'You liberated the Iraqi people; why didn't you complete the mission and liberate the Syrian people?!'"

"This possibility definitely exists at this time, and we hope that… young Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad is aware of this dangerous situation and is capable of stopping it and of neutralizing the dangers without shame over the insult to national, pan-Arab, and party purity."[1]

No Hope of Change

In "More Criminal than Saddam Hussein," Al-Jarallah wrote: "This regime is identical to the regime of Saddam Hussein. The two regimes are the two faces of the same coin. This regime established a party that claimed, in its sources and its principles, to be the party that defends freedom, human rights, national dreams, and pan-Arab hopes – the party that stands for social justice, distributes resources, cares for the citizen, and advocates other utopian and romantic ideas."

"Yet after the party seized control and established the regime, it quickly cut itself off from its principles. It led factionalist movements while calling for unity. It ripped the social fabric, while calling for national unity. It took over the resources of the people, while calling for distribution of resources. Its heroic members built [themselves] houses, palaces, and brothels, and their sons spread corruption and sank into forbidden deeds – exactly as we saw at Saddam Hussein's palaces in Iraq, in his brothels in Baghdad, in his son Uday's zoos, with cages full of tigers and lions, and all the signs attesting to a sadistic personality afflicted with a sick sexual perversion."

"The Syrian regime is built in the image of the collapsing Saddam regime. It is no different from it at all. The morality and behavior of its members differ not a whit from the morality and behavior of the Saddam regime. The regime has a monopoly on the government and on the resources; the men of the regime and their cronies spread corruption and humiliate and torture the people. We see them in the gambling clubs squandering millions. One spent $8 million at the green tables."

"The aid money that came to the regime to build the army went not to the army, the regiments, or the brigades, but into the pockets of the president's brothers, sons, and family members. Economic openness applied to them but was forbidden to the public. They sold their goods at the local market to the unfortunate citizens, at the highest of prices."

"This is a regime similar to the collapsing regime of Saddam Hussein. Its peoples pray for its downfall, and will welcome with flowers any force mobilized by Allah that liberates and rescues them, and gives them aid over the grave of this oppressing regime after bringing it to an end."

"Over 30 years have passed, and the people continue to suffer humiliation and repression from this regime, and pray to Allah to rescue them. It seems that the prayers of the people have finally been answered… This regime will not be spared divine punishment unless it corrects itself and changes its repressive nature. But there is no hope of this…"[2]

Al-Sahhaf was Cloned in Damascus

In his third article, "From the Marketplaces of Baghdad to the Marketplace of Al-Hamidiyya [in Damascus]," Al-Jarallah wrote: "We are entitled to apprehensions… about the irrationality of Syrian thought, and to concern that what happened to Iraq of Saddam Hussein will fall like a bolt from the blue on Syria, the second wing of the Ba'ath [Party]."

"To date, we have seen nothing to dispel the fear. All the Syrian declarations indicate the presence of a copy of Saddam… [a regime] that disregards political facts. The Syrian regime – with all its complications, its distribution of power centers, and its loyalty to the past, its symbols, and its statues – is hinting that that the Baghdad symphony plays again in Damascus. The comrades there have chosen to deny it, and to use confrontational and arrogant rhetoric that ignores the difference in the balance of powers. They continue on their way, acting as if September 11 had never happened and the world had not changed – as if the U.S. is not deployed in a neighboring [country], in Iraq, thus neutralizing any strategic value Syria [might have]."

"We see them in Damascus, denying that they have taken in escaped leaders from the Saddam regime, launching emotional attacks on America's opinions, and referring to events as did [Iraqi information minister] Muhammad Said Al-Sahhaf – who changed his name to Farouq Al-Shar'."

"It is these views, and not American threats, that put the fate of Syria at risk. They present a picture of the Syrian regime that looks like a picture of Saddam Hussein, who went out to the battlefield armed with false religious rhetoric, reciting poems and brandishing swords… As a result, of course, he is dead; Iraq was lost, and none forgive him."

"The Syrian regime now draws its power from the verbal positions of the Arab countries and from their solidarity [with it] – behind which stand no force to carry it out. This regime hears Egypt's opposition to the aggression against Syria, the Gulf Cooperation Council's opposition to the damage to Syria's sovereignty, and the defeatist whispers of Chirac, Schroeder, and Putin – and thinks all these stand on solid ground and the U.S. will take notice of them…"

"Before the Syrian regime, it was Saddam Hussein's regime that won these statements of support… but the war happened, the regime collapsed, and the French, Germans, and Russians welcomed it. The Arabs soon forgot this collapse, and began to call for the American and British forces' speedy withdrawal, and for the rapid establishment of democratic rule in Baghdad. They even declared their joy at the dictator's end."

"If the Syrian regime plays Saddam's scratched record and focuses on the same support, with the confrontational party rhetoric, with willingness to fight, and with [statements] that with his army, special forces, and knights, they will roast the stomachs of the enemies with the fires of Hell and bury them in their tanks, he will discover American tanks in the Al-Hamidiyya marketplace [in Damascus]…"

"These international positions and the Arabs' statements of eternal solidarity are liable to encourage the Syrian regime to perpetuate fatal mistakes… The Syrian regime, like the regime of Saddam Hussein, established the rule of a power-wielding party whose aim is to defend itself from the people and not to defend the homeland… To date, all we have seen is a new Al-Sahhaf who was cloned in Damascus [i.e. Al-Shar'] and party rhetoric leading the Syrian people to suicide and calling on [them] to redeem the statue, with spirit and with blood…"[3]

Putting Syria To the Test

Two days later, Al-Jarallah again wrote on the Syrian regime, in "Syria under the Pressures of Freedom": "The American pressures are now putting Syria to the test, and [Syria] must prove there is a difference between its regime and the collapsing regime of Saddam Hussein…"

"The declaration by Farouq Al-Shar', the ancient Syrian foreign minister, whose country will not permit inspection for weapons of mass destruction, does not arouse a sense of security, because it attests that Syria is beginning the game of cat and mouse played by the regime of Saddam Hussein, which led to his demise…"

"Syria, and with it the same supporters and mercenaries, say that it is a Zionist game, and that Iraq was conquered by the American-Israeli forces. It says that the U.S. is carrying out a Sharonist program in this country, the goal of which is to impose Pax Israeliana on the region, and every one of the statements are part of the game of cat and mouse and are aimed at gaining time. What is demanded from Syria is self-examination that will show that the Damascus regime suffers greatly from sadistic behavior, and that it is identical to Saddam, in the parameters of dictatorship, of single-party rule, and in its refraining from development, change, and adopting the principles of freedom and democracy."

"This Syrian talk, which we heard from the supporters of Saddam Hussein before his fall, helps not at all, except for justifying and reinforcing American pressure… The Syrian regime must not think that if it presents the crisis with the U.S. as confrontation with Israel it will be able to motivate the Arab people… Even if the [Arab people] move to help Syria, they are people who have no weapons – the weapons are in the hands of their rulers, and the rulers know the rules of the game and will not use them..."[4]

[1]Al-Siyasa (Kuwait), April 15, 2003.

[2]Al-Siyasa (Kuwait), April 16, 2003.

[3]Al-Siyasa (Kuwait), April 17, 2003.

[4]Al-Siyasa (Kuwait), April 19, 2003.

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