We are witnessing the birth pains of a new and vile authoritarianism in Syria

HA Hellyer writes:

Domestic officials’ records in Syria are being updated and so many Syrians who have been worrying about missing loved ones are finally getting a bit of closure. But it is a bittersweet type of transparency – because the regime is declaring that many of those who were missing have actually been killed.

As one Syria expert, Dr Thomas Pierret, put it, there has been “bulk delivery of death notifications to families of Syrian prisoners” by the Assad regime. In other words, the Syrian regime is admitting, owning up to, and almost boasting about, how it killed scores of detained Syrians who opposed the regime.

Such a move doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Syrian opposition sources have also reported many new arrests of activists who chose to remain in formerly rebel-held areas like Eastern Ghouta rather than become refugees. The message is clear. The Syrian regime isn’t remotely interested in accountability, nor is it intrigued by the notion of reconciliation. It looks for only domination and subjugation, without responsibility.

It’s an important note at this time. Because for so long, apologists for the Syrian regime have been constantly pushing the idea that if the rebels would just give up, then the killing would come to an end. The oft-referred to “reconciliation” or “de-escalation” measures are very much a part of this framing.

But the reality is very different. It isn’t that the killing would come to an end – it is simply that destruction and wanton brutality would be left unopposed. This isn’t simply surrender. It’s the birth pains of a new and vile authoritarianism in Syria. [Continue reading…]

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