Saturday, May 20, 2006

Why I am Not Surprised! Or, the Cowardly Heretic!

During my second and final encounter with Assef Chawkat, the one that sealed my fate, as it were, the desk of the Illustrious General was covered with black and yellow files and old law books with small white cardboard bookmarks sticking from their sides. The General has done his homework it seems. He has researched all the old law books in search of legal ways for intimidating activists while avoiding recourse to the discredited emergency laws and security courts.

As such, I am not surprised today to see that all dissidents are being tried in civil courts. Our old pre-Baath laws do provide enough ammunition for crackdown. No, not everything can be blamed on the Baath, I have to admit, albeit it is always tempting to do so.

But much of this current crackdown can indeed be blamed on Assef – he is either orchestrating the entire show, or he, perhaps unintentionally even, has set a trend that others, such as Ali Mamluke of the General Security Apparatus and Fouad Naseef Kheir Bek of the Internal Security Apparatus are now following. Whatever the case maybe, it is clear to me at least that whenever the Lions of Syria seem to really mean business and do busy themselves planning for it, something sinister is always involved: a series of assassinations, arrests, heists, what have you. This is the nature of the family business after all.

Good governance you say? Good God, what has that got to do with anything? God did not put these lions on this bedlam earth to be good governors and messiahs, but to be thieves and dark avengers for some unfathomable crime that none of us was born when it was committed so long long ago. See my next post.

But, to go back to my meeting with the Lion-in-law, the initial threat of “throwing the book” at me, and seeing that I was not really impressed by it, soon gave way to a more somber promise: “don’t count too much on your international links to help you, Ammar, we have no intention of making a hero out of you.”

I was not slotted for an arrest then, I thought. So, when I went back home that day, I told Khawla and the kids to start packing, while I proceeded to avail myself of my international liaisons, before it was too late.

Was this a cowardly thing to do? Well, I think so. But, sometimes, it makes more sense to be a coward than a hero. Or so I keep telling myself these days, as I watch the unfolding foolishness.