Recently in an interview with Argentina’s Clarin newspaper President Bashar al-Assad dismissed the possibility of progress to end the civil war. One must wonder how he could be so resistant of any process to stop the killing. His intransigence strikes at the heart of the conflict. Assad continues to kill his own people.
Assad’s position is consistent with how he operated in the past. The lack of a government response when drought severely affected farming was a factor in starting the civil war. Small farmers were pushed aside as big farmers friendly to the government forced the little guy into the cities to scrounge for an existence. Assad didn’t care then; Assad doesn’t care now.
The result is that families and children are uprooted and face terrible obstacles. In a recent article in the The Oklahoman, a teenage refugee recounts her struggles to survive. Sana Mesiya’s family lived in Syria when the uprising began. Consequently, she has faced the results of the conflict. Sana’s report is filled with stories of bombs exploding and citizens in the middle of the night terrified by intense vibrations from the blast. One of Sana’s friends asks for her name to be withheld lest it endanger relatives who are still in Syria. Using the name Asma, she reports that the Syrian people are in constant danger and any statements made against the government can result in severe torture and death. Sana’s report is filled with gruesome details.
Her school abruptly had the teachers arrested by government troops and agents. Rather than acquiesce to the kidnapping, she and her family stood outside the school. When the government personnel saw them standing resolutely, they fired a type of bomb causing dizziness as well as red and swollen eyes. The lengths to which the government will go to bring compliance are staggering. Asma’s cousin was picked up because his face appeared in a picture of a protest. When he finally returned, the young man spent a month in bed because of the beatings he received. Actually, he received the least of what was dished out by the troops. The fact that he returned at all is unusual in itself. Sana’s report demonstrates that the government intends to rule through intimidation and fear. It is not unusual for people to disappear and never be seen again.
One of the government’s tactics when they enter a city is to first bomb the hospitals. Asma says this prevents people from receiving medical care and they are left to die. Now back in the United States, Asma and her family are attempting to settle into the normal pattern of American life and she tries to catch up on the work she missed in school. Her conclusion is that freedom and survival for Syrians rests with the removal of one person: Bashar al-Assad.
Such reports help us to understand another reason why Assad sees no hope in peace talks. There will be no peace until he is gone.