Why Bashar al-Assad must leave… now !

I’m not pretending I know for certain what has been happening in Syria for over a year. After all, I’m only a Westerner… There are a few things about the Syrian conflict I think I know, though, thanks in part to the media (including Al Jazeera).

Let’s start with a few facts regarding the overall geopolitical context :

–          The conflict appears to be localized in and around the city of Homs, a few miles north-east of the Lebanese border.

–          Syria is a strong ally of Iran in the Middle-East, because of that country’s support to the Lebanese Hezbollah, among other reasons (1).

–          Whereas Libya is ranked 9th on the list of worldwide proved oil reserves, as established by the CIA (2), Syria is ranked 33rd. The oil exploration and production lie in the hands of the Syrian Petroleum Company, exclusive owner of over half of the country’s oil and gas resources as well as majority shareholder in every joint venture. Foreign interests include Shell (UK / NL), Total (FR), Gulfsands (UK), Suncor (CA), Stroytransgas (RU), the China National Petroleum Company and the Indian Oil and Gas Corporation.

–          The US are currently imposing an oil embargo as well as an investment ban on Syria, meaning not a single US company is supposedly allowed to invest funds in the country. Last September, the EU joined that position (3). As I understand it, this means no new participation of US and EU companies in Syrian oil exploration or exploitation is allowed, but the existing joint ventures are left untouched…

–          As far as they’re concerned, Russia and China have been vetoing every single attempt to decree a global embargo on Syria through the UN, despite an overwhelming majority in favor of said measure.

–          The Arab League, for its part, urges for a peaceful solution and has been sending delegations to inspect the conflicted areas. Despite Russia openly backing these initiatives, said delegations were forced to admit they were unable to perform their task with the independence needed.

–          On its eastern flank, the country shares a large border with Iraq, and it also has a common border with Israel.


Obviously, there are forces in Syria who have no interest in allowing the foreign media to draw a factually objective picture of the conflict. The degree of manipulation of the press and, through it, of the foreign public opinions, in a war environment has reached new heights with the cold-blooded murder of several international reporters, among which French journalist Gilles Jacquier, on January 11 of this year.

The whole challenge, both to the journalists concerned and to the Western viewers, is to determine what these forces are composed of. Who led Jacquier and the others into their deadly trap ?

Let’s be realist : on the one hand, we have a seemingly civilized president of royal descent who completed his studies in the UK and therefore knows the habits and customs of the West : no Gaddafi-like peasant leader here, but a strong and determined scholar born to lead. On the other hand, various unorganized militias who could have a stake in targeted killings of foreign journalists. In the middle, a nest of spies, undoubtedly !

This explains why the battle of images is raging as well : every side has its own agenda. But in spite of the difficulty to authenticate what the (often rough) images are displaying, it should be possible to draw a humble conclusion based on a few facts :

1/ Al-Assad’s cold rational tone of denial stands in sheer contrast with the unequivocal images of a devastated Homs that can only be the result of a coordinated military offensive : there are tanks all over the place !

2/ Several deserters from the regular Syrian army, but also from the Syrian secret service, have publicly stated they had to cope with the daily use of torture on civilians as well as arbitrary executions condoned by their hierarchy.

3/ As stated before, the Arab League delegations were put under pressure by the Syrian regime and therefore unable to accomplish their mission.

To me, this alone constitutes an array of presumptions justifying the removal of a series of central players of the regime, starting with al-Assad himself, who has been killing his people and lying about it in the press. It is vain to call for a total sweep of the Syrian regime – what could it be replaced with at this time, anyway ? – but it is righteous to demand a symbolic gesture that would allow the sad page of this small Syrian civil war to be turned without further turmoil. After all, there are enough hot potatoes at this moment, aren’t there ?

To achieve this goal, there is one key figure :


(1)    http://www.cfr.org/iran/syria-irans-power-calculus/p25719

(2)    CIA, The World Factbook, 2011 – URL : https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2178rank.html

(3)    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/30/eu-impose-oil-embargo-syria



October 2018
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