Home > Bashar-ism, Libyan uprising > Seif and Bashar: a chip off the old block

Seif and Bashar: a chip off the old block

A  few days ago, the above video surfaced on YouTube of  Seif al-Islam Al-Gaddafi atop an armoured vehicle in what appears to be a morale-boosting visit to the front line.

What is interesting is that Seif is carrying a German-made H&K G36 assault rifle, not the standard issue AK-47 used by the ordinary troops. His jacket is most probably designer and so too are his glasses. This is the story of the LSE graduate, who counted Peter Mandelson as one of his close friends, now finding himself having to crush a popular uprising on behalf of dictator dad.

You might think he’s grossly out of place. Very briefly, you might even be tempted to feel sorry for him. For Arab dictator dynasties however, this is just another day in the office.

This leads me onto Bashar. I was never sold by the portrayal of him as a gentle, caring, softly-spoken reformer and modernizer. I felt there was something phony about him because had he been the gentle, caring, softly-spoken reformer and modernizer, he wouldn’t have lasted as long as he did.

It’s funny how Bashar has much more in common with Seif than he would otherwise like to admit. Both are sons of “revolutionary” dictators, both are stupendously rich, both studied in the UK, both have had military training,  both had been assigned portfolios that would endow them with popularity (anti-corruption drive for Bashar, charitable organization for Seif), and both were groomed from an early stage to assume power at a future date.

But more importantly, both have demonstrated that underneath the thin veneer of civility and Western education is a vicious and vindictive character, every bit as nasty as daddy’s.

It took the Libyan uprising for Seif’s true colours to show. Bashar on the other hand has been showing his true colours to the Syrian people for the last eleven years. His latest victim is Tal Al-Mallohi, the 19-year old blogger arrested and  recently convicted in a secret trial on trumped-up charges of spying for the CIA. I shudder to think what she has gone through in those cold and damp underground dungeons.

Then there was the Seidnaya Prison massacre of 2008 and the Qamishli massacre of Kurdish protesters of 2004. And let’s not forget the murder of Sheikh Ma’shuq Al-Khaznawi in 2005. That’s not to mention the many killings carried out in Lebanon which implicate Bashar Al-Assad personally.

I suppose the only obvious difference between the two is that Bashar made it to the top and Seif is unlikely to do so. Bloody good luck for the Libyans. Not so good for the Syrians.

  1. Daniel
    March 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    You’re on the Guardian.

  2. Abu Hussain
    March 2, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Interesting article, i followed the link from the Guardian haha! A question for you if you’re around. I hadn’t seen the parallel before but it does seem you’re right. If there were a Syrian uprising, a revolution, i pray it will be peaceful, but if it isn’t, do you think Bashar has the charismatic presence to be able to stand on top of a tank to rally troops? I’m amazed at the level of support the Gaddafis still hold in Libya, that there are people willing to die for them. I could imagine it being true for Hafez, but for Bashar? He may have a heart of steel, but would he command the loyalty of troops in this situation? i doubt it.

  3. March 2, 2011 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks Abu Hussein for visiting my blog.

    I don’t think it’s a question of personal charisma. Seif is not particularly charismatic. It’s more of an issue of “group solidarity”, what Ibn Khaldun calls “asabiya” (Ar: عصبية). Gaddafi’s forces are hand-picked from tribes that have been well looked after by his regime. These has so far chosen to remain loyal to him because they feel that their destiny is linked to Gaddafi’s.

    In Syria, the group solidarity is not tribal but sectarian. The Alawite minority who dominate the security forces and elite army unites are likely to remain loyal to Bashar whether he is a charismatic leader who can deliver a speech on top of a tank or not. Interestingly though, I had a long chat with a well-informed Syrian from the Alawite community who said that a lot of clans within the sect are begining to feel disillusioned with Assad’s leadership. I’ll post something specific about that soon.

  4. Richard Wills
    March 2, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    During the last couple of months, it strikes me as odd that no one has pointed out the similarities between the present rebellions sweeping across North Africa and the fall of the Soviet Union. When Siberian legislator Boris Yeltsin leaped on top of that tank and ordered the soldiers to fire on the congress buildings being held by the Communist revanchists.

    As for Syria, the next few years will see the usual handwringing, cringing, crocodile tears by the western powers as their investments in corruption blow up in the natives faces. The Alawite minority is (historically) hated as heretics by all the other Moslem cults. If the other tribes gain access to weaponry, the Alawites will be slaughtered.

    Which brings us to their alliance of convenience with Iran and the Shiite cults throughout Lebanon and Iraq. If the Alawites are foolish enough to fail to dominate, their partners in crime will certainly suffer likewise at the hands of an enraged Sunni majority. Thus the prospect of Iran invading Iraq to rescue their fellow Shiites and maybe the Alawites. That once more the Iranian empire stretching to the Mediterranean.

  5. aaz
    March 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    I agree entirely with this article. These monsters with angelic faces are profoundly ignorant, hypocritical and dangerous. That shows you the power of propaganda and brain washing El-Gaddafi has over his subjects and especially his children.

  1. March 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm

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