Assad's Hollow Victory

(Economist-UK) Bashar al-Assad destroyed whole cities and gassed and starved his own people. Against all the odds, the monster has won. Yet it is a hollow victory. Assad has displaced half the population. Eight years of civil war have destroyed the economy and cost 500,000 lives. What rebels remain are holed up in Idlib province. The area is controlled by the hardest core jihadists linked to al-Qaeda, who will not go quietly. When the fighting stops, the tensions that originally threatened the regime will remain - but they will be worse than ever. Millions of Sunnis have fled the country, but millions remain. They have seen their homes looted, property confiscated and districts overrun by Assad supporters. Resentful, fearful and oppressed, they will be a source of opposition to the regime. Then there is Assad's cruelty. His secret police has tortured and killed at least 14,000 people in the regime's prisons. Nearly 128,000 people are thought to remain in the dungeons, though many are probably dead. Even as the war nears its end, the pace of executions is increasing. Some European leaders think it is time to engage with Assad, participate in reconstruction and send the refugees home. This is misguided. The refugees will not return willingly. Reconstruction will only benefit the regime and the warlords and foreigners who backed it.

2019-09-12 00:00:00

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