Thursday, May 11, 2006

Crouching Tiger, Duplicitous Lion!

The story of the Little Tiger, Numair al-Assad, ad his gang of bank robbers illustrates well the kind of family politics that is involved in the Assad clan these days.

Here is a man in his early thirties who was caught red-handed on camera leading his gang of thugs and cut-throats on a little heist where a little less than 1 million USD were stolen, a man who was clearly identified, captured by the authorities in full daylight, in an event that was reported even in Syrian media, a man who, despite his relation to the President (a first cousin and all that) was actually put in prison, a man who, therefore, and no matter how inadvertently, could have cleaned up the ashen image of the President by just staying in prison and getting the royal treatment. Instead, the man escapes from prison, with the duplicity of his jailers of course, and not to some far away country, but to his home-turf in the coastal city of Lattakia where he currently roams free, unmolested by anyone and still leading his gang on various heists.

He was not even smuggled out of the country.

That’s how weak the President’s position in his family is. That’s how weak his brother's position is. That’s how weak his brother-in-law's position is. That’s how weak the position of the mother of them all is. Because this is a family affair, no one can turn even against the smallest member in the family, no matter how unruly he gets, and regardless of what embarrassment he might cause the family. Because this is a family affair, no one can reform anything in the country. Because this is a family affair, no one has the time to think of what is best for the country. Because this is a family affair, the family, the whole family has to go.

Even Michael Corleone failed to reform his family. And there are no Michaels around.