Bashar-al-Assad has lost his sleep. Here is a man who, until a month ago, had not even imagined in his wildest dreams that his throne would be in danger. The going was good. His father and uncles had usurped the rights of Syrian people. They had built their empire on the blood and tears of millions. Assad was the natural successor and had 11 years of peace and prosperity. "Syrians be damned, I'll rule the country like my father and then my son will take over," he used to tell his confidants.
Not any more. Despite the lifting of emergency rule, which remained in place for 48 years, Syrians are not taking his bait of vacuous reforms.
They have had enough. They have come out in hundreds of thousands and even bullets have not deterred them. Men, women, and children are rallying for democracy and basic rights. They are braving the worst crackdown by the repressive establishment. They have buried hundreds of people including mutilated bodies of children, who were shot mercilessly by the Assad thugs. Thousands are languishing in jails and secret detention centers, including a teenage female blogger. They know that they will have to fight till the fall of the Assad Empire. Nothing less is acceptable.
They also know that no one in the world would support them. They have to wage their battle on their own. Deafening silence is the apt word for describing the diplomatic reaction on the massacre that is being carried out by the Assad Empire. The "reformer," as Hillary Clinton has called him, is now out implementing his agenda of reforms: the most violent repression. Obama has given a lame statement urging the same dictator who is behind the carnage to show restraint. European Union has paid lip service to the cause of Syrians and many countries in the world have not even done that.
Then there is Iran. The main backer of the Assad Empire. It has not stayed silent. Ahmadinejad has given his full support to Assad to continue with the "peacekeeping" efforts. Iranian mullahs have also spoken out in favor of the Syrian government. Religious ties, after all, are more important than what is purported to be the so-called principled stand of the Iranian theocratic government: to support Arabs on the street.
Despite the propaganda of the Assad Empire, there seems to be little evidence of external influence in Syrian protests. Mark Toner, spokesman of the U.S. State Department, has stated that Iran is providing more than moral support to their Syrian friends. The Reform Party of Syria has gone a notch further and has said that the notorious Iranian Revolutionary Guards are masterminding the crackdown. Supporters of Assad have rejected these claims by raising the good old American-Zionist boogeyman. Even if the accusations are not true, Iran can give some lessons on how to suppress dissent, based on its own experiences.
Western press has focused its attention to Libya, where NATO is planning ground action after weeks of deadly airstrikes. There was also some coverage on the Friday massacre. No one, however, is discussing the plight of Syrians as the focus is on the possible outcomes if Assad regime falls. Strategic scenarios rule the roost. Except for the Human Rights Watch and the International Committee of Jurists, who have proposed sanctions against those responsible.
There is still time to be on the right side of history. Syrians need international support, half-hearted diplomatic statements won't do any good.