Assad doesn’t have the most gripping rhetorical style among dictators but his interview with journalist Michael Isikoff is worth a listen. It seems enthusiasm for writing Assad’s obituary was premature. He appears well & without that anxiety twitch reported by Russians last month. Pity.
Isikoff didn’t pull any punches & asked the most important questions: (1) about the Amnesty report on torture & hanging executions in Assad’s gulag; (2) about the lawsuit filed by a woman in a Spanish court accusing nine Syrian officials of torture, with 3,600 pages of supporting evidence detailing acts of brutality & atrocities; (3) about the over 53,000 photos by “Caesar,” the official forensic photographer for the Syrian military who worked secretly with an opposition group & later defected. They are graphic images of emaciated, battered torture victims in Assad’s gulag. The woman in the Spanish lawsuit recognized her brother in one of the photos which is the basis of her lawsuit. Many other victims have also been identified.
Assad brushed aside all that documentation saying there is not a shred of evidence for the accusations, that we are living in a “fake news era” & that “you can prove anything these days” with photoshopping & trickery. If anybody knows that, it would be him & his coterie of flunkies. He also brushed aside questions about his use of barrel bombs, his bombing of hospitals, & bombing of civilians.
Isikoff also asked about Trump’s Muslim ban. It’s telling that SANA, Assad’s state media & his paid propagandists like Vanessa Beeley posted his response without embarrassment. He said the US Muslim ban is an issue of US sovereignty: “Every country has the right to put any regulations to enter their country.” His apologists in the antiwar & socialist movements might want to reconsider their enthusiasm for a regime so neutral on the question of human rights for thousands of war refugees stranded in subzero temperatures. Or isn’t Assad neutral?
When Isikoff pushed him, Assad said that an unspecified number of refugees were “definitely” terrorists: “You can find it on the net; the same picture that you saw them…in some instances, those terrorists in Syria, holding the machine gun or killing people–they are peaceful refugees in Europe or in the West in general. Yeah, that’s true.” Does it bother “progressives” that Assad gives credence to the Trump regime’s xenophobia & Muslim-hating? Or is that why they mock & oppose the protests against the ban?
As an aside, isn’t it interesting that Assad rejects 53,000 photos by his official military photographer, 3,600 pages of court documentation, testimony by torture victims who survived & by Syrian prison officials & guards, judges, & doctors associated with prison torture, but he finds the photoshop crap his flunkies post on the internet to be credible?
Now here’s a question for the Hands Off Syria Coalition to answer: why didn’t Assad even once denounce US regime-change operations in Syria? Not a peep, not a mention, because such an operation does not exist. Not only that, but he barely mentioned US support for terrorism in Syria which is the centerpiece of his apologist’s & propagandist’s vituperations. He even said he would “welcome” US troops in Syria to collaborate in the fight against terrorism.
It’s one thing for white supremacists, nationalists, fascists, haters of Muslims & Jews, paid propagandists to be caught up in Assad’s lies. But when antiwar activists & socialists came as youth to social justice, did their vision of a life well-spent in struggle include defending or denying the unspeakable torture & murder of thousands of freedom fighters in the interests of national sovereignty? Is it too late for them to reconsider marching lockstep to hell with the most reactionary forces of our times?
Human Rights Watch report on torture in Syria: https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/mass-deaths-and-torture-syrias-detention-facilities