A previous post noted Bashar al-Assad’s full and detailed know-how of the systemic repression in Syria, despite the claims otherwise from his supporters. The appointment of Major General Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar as minister of interior and the release of a statement by his ministry blaming Salafi armed groups for much of the violence in Syria, shows the centralized command structure in dealing with current protests. The audacity and outright stupidity of the regime’s propaganda is entirely predictable and there is no attempt to convince in this but they believe that brute force comes first and any justification is an afterthought. The multiple eye witness accounts, pictures and videos all clearly show members of state intelligence backed by soldiers, more than likely from Maher al-Assad’s personally run revolutionary guard, rounding up protesters and opening fire with live bullets at peaceful protests. It would beggar belief that this consistent pattern of behavior seen in many towns and cities in Syria are somehow the work of a few renegade members of the vast network of Syrian intelligence.
Since the first demonstrations in Daraa the regime has maintained a consistency in their approach, again showing the centrality of the decision making within the regime’s hierarchy. At first, repression and then an envoy sent from the president in Damascus calling for a delegation from each city for discussions. The regime, through the soft faces of power, Mohammad Habash (member of the Syrian parliament) and the Mufti himself (Ahmad Bader Hassoun), have spoken of security intelligence and even army officers acting out of zeal more than central presidential command. These spokesmen may believe this narrative but evidence speaks otherwise.
The interior ministry, the hard face of power, have warned against any demonstrations and this is a warning that was preceded by an official communiqué blaming an armed revolt for the current violence, led by ‘Salafi groups’ aiming to establish ‘Salafi emirates’ throughout Syria. In this video, the inhabitants of Bayda (a village near Banyas) narrate how men with ‘special forces’ insignia as badges with officers from the Syrian intelligence entered their village, tore the Qur’an and insulted Muslim beliefs, before rounding up the village’s inhabitants and beating them severely. Similar scenarios were repeating in towns and villages across Syria.
From the interior minister’s communiqué, appointed by Bashar al-Assad, to the security’s movement on the ground; there is consistency and clear planning. Arab dictatorships show remarkable stupidity in their repression and the continued use of naked murder, kidnapping and torture, while operating under inept propaganda of conspiracies, will only backfire on this regime. The current interior minister, a key intelligence officer from the days of Hafez al-Assad, is still operating on similar lines to the brutal 1980s crackdown but times have changed.