Our civilized world often seems surprisingly foolish and immature. After all these years, it would seem the people who populate our globe could have found a way to get along and to work together for the common good.
But that hasn’t happened. Just this past weekend, one fretful national leader called the leaders of a neighboring nation “foolish and immature.” And, no, he wasn’t referring to the young (believed to be 29 or 30) leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, and his zealously supportive military.
No, Syria’s Bashar Assad was criticizing the leadership of Turkey, where thousands of Syrians are living in refugee camps, having fled from the 2-year-old civil war that is ripping Syria apart. An estimated 70,000 Syrians have been killed and millions have been displaced as Assad stubbornly digs in to save his family’s 42-year-old dictatorship.
“If the unrest in Syria leads to the partitioning of the country, or if the terrorist forces take control … the situation will inevitably spill over into neighboring countries and create a domino effect throughout the Middle East and beyond,” Assad told a Turkish reporter.
In the interview, Assad predicted the turmoil would spread “east, west, north and south (and) this will lead to a state of instability for years and maybe decades to come.” And that is exactly what Washington and other Assad critics fear.
Lebanon and Jordan both are swamped with the flood of Syrian refugees. And the sectarian nature of the conflict has also raised tensions in the region as Syria’s Sunni Muslims and Islamist fighters seek to depose Assad and impose their control over the country’s long-favored Alawite minority.
Assad told the Turkish journalist the essence of the battle is between “forces and states seeking to take their people back into historic times, and states wanting to take their peoples into a prosperous future.” In saying that, Assad appeared to refer to Sunni Muslim states Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both of which have supported efforts to arm the Syrian insurgents.
Assad also said that Turkey’s prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, has been recruiting fighters with money donated by Qatar to wage war in Syria, and he warned that the bloodshed could not easily be contained.
“The fire in Syria will burn Turkey,” he declared. “Unfortunately (Erdogan) does not see this reality.” He added that Erdogan “has not uttered a single truthful word since the crisis in Syria began.”
While he was at it, Assad also scolded the Arab League because it suspended Syria’s membership and in March invited opposition leaders to attend a meeting in his place.
“The Arab League itself lacks legitimacy,” he said. “It is an organization which represents Arab states and not Arab people. It has lacked legitimacy for a long time because these Arab states themselves … do not reflect the will of the Arab people.”
Presumably Assad believes he reflects their will, yet the Arab world as a whole has shown little or no sympathy toward him in his time of trouble. Assad also branded as hypocrites some nations that have condemned his behavior.
“France and Britain committed massacres in Libya with the support and cover of the United States,” he declared. “The Turkish government is knee-deep in Syrian blood. Are these states really concerned about Syrian blood?”
Assad said he remains in Damascus and (as rumored) “not on a Russian warship or in Iran.” Yet his Syria has been shattered beyond recognition. And, whether he likes it or not, the blame lies squarely on him. He’s the fool.MORE IN Commentary
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