by Elie Chalala. I have been watching and hearing too much about Assad's military and political victories, especially his spurious electoral 88 percent landslide. Watching Lebanese TV rarely gives you a break from the news of Assad's various and sundry supposed victories, especially in the neighborhoods of Homs. As if this were not enough, three days ago I was treated to Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's televised speech where he cited Homs as evidence of the regime's "victorious" performance, the likes of which will soon follow in other cities. The speech was designed to remind us that Assad will remain a fixture in Syria for some time to come, and any solution starts and ends with him.
Though I did not expect anything different from Sayyed Hassan, nevertheless I was amazed by how the man, along with the shameful mumannah Lebanese media, glossed over the city, which lies in ruins, and how they reasoned that some sort of victory had been won, apparently both in ruining Homs and slaughtering many of its people, as well as in the agreement between the rebels and the government, according to which the fighters would retain their light arms while withdrawing from some neighborhoods of the city.
In addition, the agreement only became possible after two and a half years of continuous war, and numerous human rights violations, culminating in one and an half years of an inhumane siege of Homs. The presumed “victory” and the agreement was put into the proper context by Lebanese journalist and author Hazem al Amin in Al Hayat:
“The regime army did not enter Homs because it defeated its hungry fighters, nor because it demolished the whole city over the heads of its people. The army entered because a few hundred fighters decided to withdraw…The regime itself placed the number of the withdrawn fighters at 980. How shameless does the victory announcement seem!”
Despite its advantage in numbers, its arsenal of advanced weaponry–Scuds, barrel bombs, chemical weapons and airpower–the Syrian Arab Army was able to “enter the city only when the fighters finally exited.” Throughout this atrocious campaign against Homs, a comparative handful of fighters were able to humiliate the Asssad regime, and defend Syria’s third largest city. The fighters were “Syrians and only Syrians, most of them were even from Homs itself.” In vouching for the regime’s victorious stand, the mumannah media had the audacity to claim that “the revolution has abandoned its capital.” Instead, the fighters’ “departure was painfully simple and tragic: they had been starved after months of eating grasses, some of which were poisonous.” After two and a half years, Homs has now been left a heap of rubble, with no trace of walls or a square in which a child could play. “The city’s population death count exceeds 20,000, with just as many missing. Is there a victory more false than this victory, or a more blatant impudence?”
“This is not a story about winning and losing, this is the story of the obliteration of a city. It appears this atrocious regime will not enter Homs with fanfare, because this time the destruction serves a different function.”
Hazem al-Amin reaches a conclusion that many observers share: the pain and the suffering the Syrian regime inflicted upon its own people in Homs by far surpasses what Israel did to the Palestinians. Mr. al-Amin calls it “the Transfer,” thus the title of his article. “The Transfer is Accomplished After the Destruction of the City” (Al Hayat, May 11, 2014).
“The Transfer,” al-Amin concludes, “was a mission that no army had accomplished in over half a century…The term was invented to describe what the Zionist organizations undertook during what they call their ‘War of Independence’ and what we call ‘Al Nakbba’ [or the Catastrophe.]” In the case of the Palestinians, the event occurred when the Zionist Hagana extracted them from their villages and towns, while in the case of Homs, “the ‘transfer’ was bloodier, and the cost to its people was greater than the price the Palestinians paid.” Yet the Assad regime and its cheerleaders in Lebanon still classify its army’s need to resort to war crimes and flagrant human rights violations against its own people as a “victory!”
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Featured image, collage.