For many Syrians, Qassem Suleimani is the man who brutalised millions just to save Bashar Al Assad

By | January 9, 2020

Kareem Shaheen writes:

The voice on the other end of the line sounded like nothing I had heard before. There was a gasping, exhausted weakness to it, as though the young man whose voice it was had put every ounce of energy he had left into articulating the words. It was the voice of somebody who was being starved to death.

The young man was a resident of Madaya, a town of about 40,000 people near the Syrian-Lebanese border. It was January 2016 and for months, the townsfolk had been living under a tight starvation siege that had reduced them to eating leaves, grass, and water flavored with spices to stave off their extreme hunger.

The men who imposed the siege belonged to Hezbollah, Iran’s most powerful proxy. Along with other Tehran-backed militias, overseen by Qassem Suleimani, they pursued scorched-earth tactics, brutal starvation sieges and naked sectarianism in their campaign to save the totalitarian regime of Bashar Al Assad as it fought for survival against a popular uprising.

The shock killing of Suleimani in an American airstrike near Baghdad airport over the weekend has left the Middle East in turmoil and apprehension. The instability, conflicts and battle for influence, and the violence that has plagued the region for most of the past two decades has been exacerbated by a sense of deep uncertainty about what comes next. No matter how it all unfolds, we can be sure that ordinary civilians in the Arab world and Iran will bear the brunt of it all.

But in Syria, ravaged by nine years of war, Suleimani’s legacy endures. It is a legacy of brutal and inhumane warfare, displacement on an unprecedented scale, and rampant sectarianism. His victims in Syria are forever scarred by the tyranny he helped impose. [Continue reading…]

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