28°
UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

President Bashar al-Assad Is Not A Monster

Following a recent segment on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, I saw a lot of clear misinformation being spread regarding the president of Syria. As far as Middle-Eastern leaders go, President Bashar al-Assad is one of the greatest. A modernist, secular, democratically elected leader is a rare sight to see within the Arab nations. While far from perfect, Assad is one of the most secular leaders to come out of the Arab nations. He is loved by both Christians and Muslims in his nation, and the rebellion within his borders actually come from ISIS and ISIS-inspired militant groups.
First off, Assad is not a traditional Muslim; he is part of the Alawites, a sect of Shia Islam that is generally rejected for being too spiritual in some regards. The month after his father died, Assad was elected president with 97 percent of the vote, though some speculate that there may have been coercion (1). To reiterate, President Assad is by no means perfect, but by the standards of Arab leaders, he is one of the greatest. President Assad has a major enemy within his borders named the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that poses a serious threat. CNN describes the conditions in Syria as, “the free-for-all in Syria” (2). However, one thing is clear, the United States and President Assad have one common enemy: ISIS. If the United States were to continue to attack the current administration of Syria, either with words or physical attacks, this objectively will embolden ISIS and parallel militant organizations.
The claims made by the media in the United States that President Assad is relentlessly attacking civilians is simply unfounded. President Assad has the absolute right to defend his borders and interior safety of his nations. While I cannot speak about the alleged chemical weapons, I do not have a single doubt in my mind regarding the love President Assad has for his people. Christians and Muslims alike appreciate his secularism and I have not met a single Syrian-Christian or Syrian-Muslim who did not have the utmost praise for President Assad and his leadership. The Economist reports on the state of Syria in June of 2018: “A NEW Syria is emerging from the rubble of war. In Homs, which Syrians once dubbed the “capital of the revolution,” against President Bashar al-Assad, the Muslim quarter and commercial district still lie in ruins, but the Christian quarter is reviving. Churches have been lavishly restored; a large crucifix hangs over the main street. “Groom of Heaven,” proclaims a billboard featuring a photo of a Christian soldier killed in the seven-year conflict. In their sermons, Orthodox patriarchs praise President Assad for saving one of the world’s oldest Christian communities” (3).
Throughout any conflict, specifically Middle Eastern ones, such as Israel and Palestine or Saudi Arabia and Yemen, one must never forget the deep nuances that lie in each of these conflicts. I find the reports that Assad is regularly and viciously attacking his own people to be unfounded and untrue. The Middle East is a region full of history, culture, and deep religious divides that worsened following the redrawing of the Middle East after World War I. These issues are incredibly nuanced and not everything is as it seems. President Bashar al-Assad is by no means perfect; however, his hard-line stance against ISIS and similar Islamist-extremist groups is an opportunity to make sure that these terrorist organizations never attack the West.
Sources:
(1) https://www.bbc.com/news/10338256
(2) https://www.cnn.com/2016/08/25/middleeast/syria-isis-whos-fighting-who-trnd/index.html
(3) https://www.economist.com/middle-east-and-africa/2018/06/28/how-a-victorious-bashar-al-assad-is-changing-syria