x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Assad regime to hike up brutality after killing of military officials

Regional editorials comment on the deadly attack on Assad's inner circle, Sudan's Arab Spring and a heartwarming French film.

A "mystery" explosion targeting a senior officials' meeting at the national security council headquarters rocked the heart of the Syrian capital on Wednesday.

The list of casualties included Defence Minister Daoud Rajha, his deputy and the president's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, as well as the Minister of Interior and a number of security and military generals.

"Numerous were the theories that floated to the surface as several groups, from the extreme right to the extreme left, adopted the operations. But the regime-induced mystery prevails," said Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor of the London-based newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

Conspiracy theorists claim that the regime itself, or one of its circles, plotted the attack in light of continued talk of raging conflicts within the aisles of the regime between General Assef Shawkat, the president's brother-in-law, on one side and Maher Al Assad, the president's brother and the commander of the fourth armoured division, on the other.

On the one hand, the operation, the most substantial of its kind since the beginning of the revolution, was executed less than two weeks after the defection to France of General Manaf Tlass, commander of the elite Republican Guard brigade, amid rumours of escalated conflicts between him and the president's younger brother Maher.

"In recent weeks, there has been speculation about eastern and western powers alike preferring to bring down the regime by way of an inside coup. They were coupled with rumours about the close relationship General Shawkat maintained with the French authorities. There are even those who claim he had a hand in facilitating Mr Tlass's escape to France," added the writer.

On the other hand, the Free Syrian Army forces have made crucial breakthroughs on the battlefield bringing the confrontation to the very heart of Damascus. All the while, the regime has been multiplying the massacres against civilians. It is likely that there has been a security breach in the regime's close circle, which allowed for Wednesday's suicide attack.

"It was a considerable moral victory for the FSA that was able to hit back at the symbols of atrocity in the country. However, the victory may be short-lived since it may provoke more vengeful brutality from the regime apparatus," opined Atwan.

Bashar Al Assad's regime will defend the capital until the last breath; no alternatives are viable. In the coming days, it is expected to behave much like a wounded tiger attacking right and left. The regime will not give up easily.

It would be easy for the regime to replace the assassinated officials with more competent substitutes who are outsiders to the internal power greed game; but from now on, it would find it difficult, if not impossible, to restore confidence in the military.

Intouchables is a culture-shaping film

In contrast to what many believe, cinema is not only entertainment, it is a part of a global culture, commented Aisha Sultan in the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.

Everywhere in the world, youngsters seeking to have some fun will usually consider going to a movie as their first choice. No wonder, as the silver screen is one of the most mesmerising and most popular mass entertainment mediums.

A movie is not just about the feel-good factor, it also imparts values, and watching a well-made film in the cinema does leave a mark on the audience.

"All these thoughts crossed my mind while … I was passionately watching the French movie Intouchables," the writer said.

It is a comedy about class strata and racism in France, and the negative views held of Africans, who are still looked down on by the aristocracy, she went on.

This movie seeks to bridge the gap by saying that these "untouchables" have goodness that the French aristocrats cannot even imagine. They only need to get to know them closely to see their true colours.

Engaging and thought-provoking, the movie will certainly deeply engrave itself on people's consciences.

The audience cannot walk away from the cinema without feelings of admiration and empathy towards the young man of Senegalese descent who is hired as a live-in carer for an affluent tetraplegic man.

Sudan's Arab Spring is, in fact, a continuation

When Sudan slams throngs of protesters calling for justice and a decent life as traitors and collaborators, it is repeating the same mistake of other Arab governments toppled by their peoples, Hasan Madan wrote in the UAE-based daily Al Khaleej.

After Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and more or less Yemen, it was the turn of Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir to threaten his people and claim that what was unfolding in Sudan has nothing to do with the Arab Spring.

"The Sudanese Arab Spring is not late. Strictly speaking, it is an extension to a previous spring that was aborted by forces taking the mantle of religion," he said.

Islamist parties in the Arab world were given a chance in power, with generous time to deliver. But the outcome has been terribly negative.

The Sudanese Arab Spring took place before all other Arab Springs. The Sudanese overthrew Gaafar Nimeiry's rule in a peaceful uprising, and established a democratic government.

"But then the duo, Hassan Al Turabi and Omar Al Bashir, came to bring [democracy] down through a military coup."

The Sudanese have their distinct say on the developments unfolding among the Arab nations. Their warning message to these nations is not to allow a repeat of the Sudanese model.

* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk