Let it never be said that Comics A-Go-Go! isn’t aware of the world’s current events. As the Arab Spring surges forward, we wonder just how long the son of Hafez Al-Assad can hang on. It’s odd, this thing with the dictators. Leadership spoils even the best of us. Bashar had some promise. The hope outside Syria was that he, of all the offspring of the ruthless tyrant Hafez, would relax the Al-Assad hold on the people of Syria. Oh, the naïveté.
There is a slim, albeit considered, possibility that we may see a middle-of-the road solution to the Syrian crisis. Preparations are already underway for a transfer of power (we predict that Bashar will be gone less than a year from now and most likely sometime this summer). However, rather than going all out to push for the chaos of a democratic venture or a trade-off for conservative sectarian tyranny, the option of keeping things within the Al-Assad fold could happen. Syrians don’t necessarily hate the Al-Assad family. They just dislike the terror of not knowing if they will be hauled off in the middle of the night to be tortured after drawing mustaches on the ubiquitous posters of Syria’s first son. Sooo, what about the second? Beker Al-Assad is currently residing in self-imposed exile in Amsterdam due to an embarrassingly public display of differing opinion between the two brothers on the issue of whether or not the existence of Israel was like the moon landing. Beker contended both were real. Bashar said he sided with Rush Limbaugh and said that both were made-up.
Once it was clear that Bashar would succeed his ailing father, he voiced his intentions to keep the regime rolling along with little change other than upgrading the national telephone system. Secret police? Same. Suspect incarcerations? Same. A dubious harem of Nordic women that may or may not have understood the solicitations to travel to Syria for six-month, all-expenses-paid employment as nannies for the spoiled and cruel children of the political elite? Same. Syrians now experience static-free, sterile “we know we’re being recorded” conversations with relatives but clearly that’s not enough, as demonstrated by the demonstrations.
Beker threw his taqiyah into the ring early on with a promise that he intended to reduce sanctioned police kidnappings to no more than two nights per week and that foreigners would no longer be held against their will regardless of gender. This “soft” approach did not sit well with both father and eldest son. With the threat of his own imprisonment, Beker secretly crossed the border into Lebanon one night and flew to Amsterdam where he held a not-so-veiled disdain for his older brother’s eventual acquisition of supreme power.
Beker isn’t well-known to younger Syrians and enjoys only tepid regard from his countrymen that remember his controversial attempt to bring the Winter Olympics to Syria. The venture would have saddled a country already in a brutal recession at the time with debt it could not hope to pay down. But, there is a rising consensus, particularly among the moderates, that Beker may be a good solution to turn down the heat in the Land of Hummus — at least temporarily until the population can figure out what to do next. In the end, Beker may be the least of the evils that awaits in the Syrian future. God speed, Beker.