From Common Dreams
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has now become the top Mideast villain, the man we love to hate.
Butcher of Damascus. Gasser of children. Baby Killer of Syria. Tool of Moscow. Cruel despot. Monster.
These are all names the western media and politicians routinely heap on Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad. He has now become the top Mideast villain, the man we love to hate.
As a veteran Mideast watcher, I find all this hard to swallow. Compared to other brutal Mideast leaders, Assad is pretty weak tea. The US/British propaganda effort to paint Assad in blackest colors is having a difficult time.
Mideast leaders who toe the US line and make nice to Israel are invariably called "statesmen" or "president" by the American government and its increasingly tame media. There's good old President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Egypt, the military dictator who crushed that nation's only democracy and imposed an iron-fisted rule. But we will never hear from the US media of Egypt's political murders, disappearances, secret prisons and torture. Or that Egypt has been one of the world's most draconian police states since the era of Anwar Sadat and successor Hosni Mubarak.
Saudi rulers are reverently treated by the US media and government in spite of leading the world in executions. Last year, 44 people were publicly beheaded. In some years, around 150 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia, often a quarter of them Pakistani guest workers. Having been arrested by the Saudi religious police, I can tell you that the kingdom is a police state with sand dunes and camels. Saudi vassal states Bahrain and the Emirates are better, but not much.
Morocco, a key US ally, is notorious for its ghastly prisons and brutal torture. Iraq and Afghanistan, now under US control, are even worse. Israel, the largest recipient of US aid, holds close to 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, among them 400 children, and is gunning down Palestinian demonstrators on the Gaza border.
Syria has always been a repressive police state. I recall watching "spies" being hanged in front of my hotel. Its various police forces are notorious for brutality and torture. In fact, until recently, the US actually sent captive suspects to Syria to be tortured and jailed.