Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Assad’s no. 1 enemy: The White Helmets

A sketch from an eyewitness photo of a @SyriaCivilDef volunteer; Credit: Marc Nelson

It has become crystal clear by now that Bashar Assad views all the Syrians who revolted against his regime as enemies. In addition to killing, detention, and destruction of their homes in every single spot that stood in the face of oppression, he never missed an opportunity to inflict moral damage on them by labeling them as terrorists, bacteria, or insects. That has been the case in just about every interview, speech, or meeting he has given as part of his open verbal war against all those who are deemed to be not loyal enough to his regime.

“For Assad, the White Helmets’ volunteers are terrorists, spies, and agents of colonial powers”

Sam Aman

That being said, there is still one enemy in the mind of Assad that is singled out. For him, this enemy is the biggest one and he always tries to attribute all possible negative traits to it. To him, this enemy is more dangerous to his rule than all the peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins, and gatherings that demand freedom and dignity. This enemy is Syria’s Civil Defence, aka the White Helmets and its volunteers.

Assad keeps attacking the volunteers of the White Helmets reputation, questioning their identity, and demonizing all they are doing. For Assad, the White Helmets’ volunteers are terrorists, spies, and agents of colonial powers. Assad always accuses them of making up incidents to broadcast them on the media as part of a vicious plot against his image worldwide.

“Assad knows that those volunteers document his crimes and they have the real numbers of his victims as they are the first responders on the ground”

Sam Aman

Assad knows very well that the White Helmets is a humanitarian organization whose members are dedicated to saving lives and giving a hand to the needy. Yet he has one story to tell: They are mere actors in a fabricated scenario to portray him as a dictator, and a mass murderer.

Assad knows that those volunteers document his crimes and they have the real numbers of his victims as they are the first responders on the ground. Media outlets take their figures seriously. Assad doesn’t want any evidence or statistics that testify to his cruelty.

Assad wants also to say that no organization run by his opponents, or at the very least, exists in an area outside his control, can be a successful one as he is the only one who does what is right and he is the only one who has a kind heart. Assad wants to sell the idea that there is no substitute for him and his regime and that not one single institution can make it outside of his umbrella. He has been playing this card since 2011.

“The White Helmets’ volunteers proved to be the real heroes on the ground at a time when even the UN failed the people caught under the rubble”

Sam Aman

Assad also must know very well that his attempt to damage the reputation of the White Helmets will not succeed as the organization is well-received in world forums, gatherings, and festivals and has won a number of international prizes. But he will continue to do so as he is keen on exporting the idea that his opponents are a bunch of terrorists. He will move ahead with the Goebbelsian technique of creating a lie and repeating it systematically.

Assad’s job in this regard will be more difficult after all that the White Helmets volunteers have done in the aftermath of the Feb. 6 earthquake that hit NW Syria and southern Türkiye. The White Helmets’ volunteers proved to be the real heroes on the ground at a time when even the UN failed the people caught under the rubble. But Assad will keep attacking the White Helmets’ volunteers as lying is one of the basic pillars of his regime.

Sam Aman
Sam Aman
Writer on Middle East affairs

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