Now that the true nature of Assad Jr. comes to us in colorful savagery, many of those who paid him and his father homage have suddenly become so quiet.
The easiest way to recognize the new landscape is to categorize the new attitudes of Assads’ friends and foes.
Those are the very few ardent believers who spin their ideas in endless circles while ignoring the obvious violence of Assad or repeating like parrots the regime’s own lies. My suspicion is that those are the people that make a living from their words. No Assad, no food on the table.
Those are the people who mince words, mix ideas, and use illusion to craft a language everyone understand to reflect their own view no matter how opposite these views are. From that language, you can draw conclusions that satisfy both ends of the spectrum. The oxymoron has and will always be ardent supporters of Assad and they cannot help but manipulate their audiences.
The Tide Turners
Many of those who were noisy and were generous with their Pro Bono support have turned the tide. I listened to two ex-US Ambassadors to Syria who, in the past, made it a habit to exalt the Assad regime, but now speak more sensibly and even forcefully against the regime.Â There is always an undertone of regret one can discern in their voices or read in their words but nonetheless their switch is welcomed even if the decisions were taken under extraordinary circumstances and against their own prevailing views.
The persisting question I ask myself: Was it the shame of playing a role in support of the regime that has compelled them to act more rationally today or was it the videos and images of corpses piling-up in full view of their families and friends?
The Flip Floppers
Those are supporters one day and ardent enemies the other. They move with the ebb and tide of international pressure. Many do it to survive (Jumblatt of Lebanon) but many also believe they need to side with the winner regardless of principles or national interests. An opportunist is also a good description.
The Perpetually Committed
The committed have taken a singular stand when it comes to the Assad regime. They are best described as consistent because they understand the harm a violent regime has over the region and their principles rest on time-tested human experiences and history. Their foes and friends rise and fall but their consistency makes them a center of trust that only time can acquire.
If quiet means restitution of one’s conscious, then many welcome that quiet. But if quiet means going underground with their support of Assad, as we suspect many have, then Syrians must remain vigilant.
Quiet could be more dangerous than noise. Quiet provides more latitude in pursuing one’s goals without the burden of self-justification. Quiet spares the guilty from hearing himself speak endlessly when the subject matter is one-sided and your peers all seem distracted by contrarian thoughts. The quiet support Assad through whispers and Washington is a city of whispering daggers.