Bashar al-Assad is just the latest in a long line of Middle East leaders demonized by colonial Britain and the U.S. for their independence, says Eric Margolis in this commentary.
By Eric S. Margolis Special to Consortium News
These are all names the western media and politicians routinely heap on Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. He has now become the top Mideast villain, the man we love to hate.
As a veteran Mideast watcher, I find all this hard to swallow. Compared to other brutal Mideast leaders, Assad is pretty weak tea. The U.S./British propaganda effort to paint Assad in blackest colors is having a difficult time.
Mideast leaders who toe the U.S. line and make nice to Israel are invariably called ‘statesmen’ or ‘president’ by the American government and its increasingly tame media. Their repression is conveniently downplayed.
Saudi rulers are reverently treated by despite leading the world in executions. Last year, 44 people were publicly beheaded. In some years, around 150 people have lost their heads in Saudi Arabia, often a quarter of them Pakistani guest workers. Having been arrested by the Saudi religious police, I can tell you that the kingdom is a police state with sand dunes and camels. Saudi vassal states Bahrain and the Emirates are better, but not much.
Morocco, a key U.S. ally, is notorious for its ghastly prisons and brutal torture. Iraq and Afghanistan, now under U.S. control, are even worse. Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. aid, holds close to 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners, among them 400 children, and is gunning down Palestinian demonstrators on the Gaza border.
Syria has always been a repressive police state. I recall watching ‘spies’ being hanged in front of my hotel. Its various police forces are notorious for brutality and torture. In fact, until recently, the U.S. actually sent captive suspects to Syria to be tortured and jailed.
That was before Washington made the decision to overthrow Syria’s legitimate government…