The Twin Evils of Syria: Al Baath and Al Shabbiha | View Points | Ammon News



The Twin Evils of Syria: Al Baath and Al Shabbiha


[9/5/2011 12:00:00 AM]

By Nehad Ismail

The Terrorists and Thugs of Syria

Not a single serious analysis of the Syrian situation I read these days that does not have a reference to the two most dreaded words in Syria “Al Baath and Al Shabbiha”. In my view these are the twin evils of Damascus.

Al Baath means in Arabic the rebirth or the renaissance. This is the original meaning. The new meaning for Al Baath, thanks to Al Assad Clan of Syria is synonymous with the Terror. It is a terrorist political party of thugs and murderers.

In the 1950s the Baath Party in Syria and Iraq became popular because they offered slogans of unity, liberty, and the liberation of the Arab people from foreign domination. As it happened the Baath became violent and repressive and produced dictatorial and unstable leaders such as Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Hafez al Assad the father of Bashar al Assad of Syria. Both men were ruthless in dealing with their opponents. The promise of liberating the Arab man from foreign domination was replaced by tyranny, torture and death. The Baath was a violent ideology that thrives on flogging empty slogans to the Arab street, but nothing more. It became a corrupt, single party state that does not tolerate any opposition or dissent. The Baathist Syrian regime has been a Police State since 1970. Just one example illustrates the sick mentality of the Baathist thinking. In 1970 Nureddin Al-Atassi a former Pre-Baath President was imprisoned by Hafez al-Assad. Nureddin spent 22 years in a small cell in al Mazza prison without any charge or trial. He had been denied medical treatment for cancer which killed him in December 1992. Saddam Hussein brought ruin and destruction to Iraq. Bashar and his younger brother Maher are now doing the same to Syria. Clause 8 of the Syrian Constitution states that the Baath is the sole ruling party of Syria. The opposition groups are demanding the immediate abrogation of this Clause from the Constitution. The regime is refusing to budge, so for the time being the Syrian people are stuck with the abhorrent al-Baath Party ruling over them with an iron fist.

Al Shabbiha:

Since the middle of March 2011 over 2200 unarmed civilians have been killed by the Syrian security forces and the Para-military groups working on behalf of the ruling al-Assad family. These Para-militaries are called “Shabbiha”.

The term Shabbiha means in Arabic “ghostlike” or “Phantoms” with evil intentions. In reality they are groups of sinister thugs who appear from nowhere like ghosts and proceed to kill and maim demonstrators. Al Shabbiha direct their violence against the protest movement aided and abetted by the Syrian security forces. The Shabbiha operate a criminal network throughout Syrian coastal regions and specialise in smuggling, blackmail, robbery and prostitution. Members are drawn from the Pro-Bashar al-Assad Alawite Sect which is regime’s loyalists. The senior leaders of the Shabbiha are said to be first cousins of Assad.

According to a recent study by the Henry Jackson Society (a London based Think Tank) the extent to which the militia are taking orders from Assad is unclear. It is also unclear whether they seek to capitalise on civil unrest and consolidate their criminal network through intimidation.

We have seen on Aljazeera and other networks footage of al Shabbiha in action against helpless protesters, old men and women. They are a bunch of criminal thugs and are not held accountable for their criminal activities because they are doing the dirty work on behalf of the Bashar al Assad’s clan.

What the West can do?

The Syrian people are not demanding direct military action against the regime. At the moment, they don’t want external intervention. This may change however, if the regime continues with its unprecedented brutality against its own people. In the immediate term the Syrian people demand a stronger unambiguous stance by the Western democracies to impose tougher sanctions against the regime such as the freezing of assets, the severing of diplomatic relations with Syria and a unanimous declaration by the US, the EU and the UN that the regime is illegitimate and must go. In the eyes of most Syrians, the regime has already lost its legitimacy. President Obama’s recent call for Bashar al Assad to step aside is welcome but insufficient unless backed by concrete action.

What we expect from a regime that rules with an amalgamation of torture, beating, assassinations, disappearances, indiscriminate shooting at civilians, the shelling of apartment blocks and the cutting off of water and electricity from the Syrian population?

A regime that wages a war against its own people does not deserve to survive.


Nehad Ismail is a London-based writer/broadcaster. He contributed this article to Ammon News English.

  • 1 ranman 9/6/2011 3:25:14 AM

    And survive they will not. Thank you Mr.Nehad Ismail, very informative and excellent analysis of the Syrian nightmare. Some Arab leaders with traces of humanity and kindness are trying to put the squeeze on this outlaw regime. One of the many positive things the Arab spring revolutions helped to unmask is that some Arab leaders will not pull the trigger on their own people and even will take the unprecedented steps to help other fellow Arabs to protect themselves from their own criminal regimes. The Syrians maybe don’t want western intervention now, but I think they will welcome an Arab Five knuckle of Steel in the face of Bashar al Assad. Let’s not kid ourselves, Al Baath and the Al Shabbiha all one of the same, all decisions of killing and slaughter are being made and ordered by Assad and associates. These are mafia states , despite the billions of dollars spent on military hardware, they never established a real professional army because they feared it will one day turns against them, instead they kept very well trained and financed groups of thugs for protection and for the sole purpose of terrorizing their own populations, when these populations dared to speak up. I think if a joint threat of military force issued by - (Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) - with only logistical support from Turkey, the US and EU- to the Syrian regime, the Assad Gang will fold like a cheap tent and it will disintegrate., unlike the Gadhafi regime which is used to being living in the rough, Assad and his clique of criminals are more clean shaven and can’t stand living or survive on the run. 50 Air Force Jetfighters from Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Air Forces stationed along the northern Jordanian border along with 10 thousand Special Forces and one week ultimatum to the criminal Assad will do miracles. There is no need to destroy anything in Syria except targeting the Regime itself. I think in the Arab world-more than anything else- what is missing is leadership, there is a huge vacuum screaming to be filled, and I can think of a couple of (leaders) who can and will have the support of the masses if they only summoned the courage to stand out and dared to come forward and grab the historic moment in our region. Best wishes

  • 2 nehad ismail - London 9/8/2011 2:42:21 PM

    Thanks Ranman for your detailed comment. I agree that the Syrian people need outside help. People are already demanding intervention from NATO. If the regime is not careful, external military interventiion will become a reality. I am not sure the Arab countries will have the political will-power to mount a military operation against the thugs of Damascus.

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