Modernist Assad says saved Syria from bloody insurgency

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Middle East
Thursday, 29 May 2014


bashar assadSyrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is expected to clinch re-election effortlessly next week, believes he has saved his country from a bloody three-year insurgency, despite international isolation and calls for his departure.

"He is convinced that despite the uproar, he is the only Arab head of state to have stayed at the helm."

Behind his relaxed and courteous demeanor, he harbors an unwavering determination to crush the insurgency which he insists is "manipulated" by foreigners.

He has presented the uprising against his government as a conspiracy orchestrated by the West and the Persian Gulf monarchies to smash the "chain of resistance" against Israel, in which Syria is a key link.

"Fleeing is not an option... I must be at the forefront of those defending this country and this has been the case from day one," he told AFP in January.

Some advisers say the Syrian leader has never doubted victory, even when the government was reeling from heavy losses inflicted in 2012.

"Assad has consolidated his position. The presidential elections will be held to show that he is in full control of the regime-held areas," said Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

The presidential poll is theoretically the first in Syria in more than 50 years, with he and his father Hafez al-Assad, who ruled from 1970 to 2000, renewing their mandates in successive referendums.

The tall, blue-eyed ophthalmologist by profession was only 34 when he became president, and initially earned a reputation as a modernist, launching economic reforms.

As the violence escalated, however, he became increasingly isolated, with Western leaders, and even Syria's one-time ally Turkey calling for him to go.

But he has been sustained by the alliances forged by his father, notably with Russia in the 1970s and Iran in the 1980s, when Syria was the only Arab nation to support the Islamic Republic during the Iraqi-imposed war.

The Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, staunchly supported by Damascus in its opposition to Israel, has sent thousands of fighters to back Assad's forces against terrorist groups seeking his overthrow.

"Today he is gathering the fruits of these alliances," said Souhail Belhadj, author and academic at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is expected to clinch re-election effortlessly next week, believes he has saved his country from a bloody three-year insurgency, despite Western isolation and calls for his departure.

Assad, 48, came to power in 2000 with the reputation of a modernist after the death of his father Hafez.

Assad has declared several times that he will never let go of power whatever the price.

"He wants to show by organizing this election on time that he is the guarantor of the institutions that his adversaries want to destroy," one of his confidants told AFP.

"He is convinced that despite the uproar, he is the only Arab head of state to have stayed at the helm."

Behind his relaxed and courteous demeanor, he harbors an unwavering determination to crush the insurgency which he insists is "manipulated" by foreigners.

He has presented the uprising against his government as a conspiracy orchestrated by the West and the Persian Gulf monarchies to smash the "chain of resistance" against Israel, in which Syria is a key link.

"Fleeing is not an option... I must be at the forefront of those defending this country and this has been the case from day one," he told AFP in January.

Some advisers say the Syrian leader has never doubted victory, even when the government was reeling from heavy losses inflicted in 2012.

"Assad has consolidated his position. The presidential elections will be held to show that he is in full control of the regime-held areas," said Volker Perthes, director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

The presidential poll is theoretically the first in Syria in more than 50 years, with he and his father Hafez al-Assad, who ruled from 1970 to 2000, renewing their mandates in successive referendums.

The tall, blue-eyed ophthalmologist by profession was only 34 when he became president, and initially earned a reputation as a modernist, launching economic reforms.

As the violence escalated, however, he became increasingly isolated, with Western leaders, and even Syria's one-time ally Turkey calling for him to go.

But he has been sustained by the alliances forged by his father, notably with Russia in the 1970s and Iran in the 1980s, when Syria was the only Arab nation to support the Islamic Republic during the Iraqi-imposed war.

The Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah, staunchly supported by Damascus in its opposition to Israel, has sent thousands of fighters to back Assad's forces against terrorist groups seeking his overthrow.

"Today he is gathering the fruits of these alliances," said Souhail Belhadj, author and academic at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

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