By Arab News
By Tariq Alhomayed
The Western sanctions, including the recent European Union (EU) sanctions targeting the head of the Syrian regime, Bashar Assad, and even his brother Maher Assad, were insufficient.
The EU therefore took the decision to impose other sanctions on the women of the Assad family, including Bashar Assad’s mother, sister and wife. This represents a striking decision, for what does the imposition of these sanctions truly mean? What follows on from this?
It is clear that the latest European sanctions indicate that the international community — including Europe — has now decided, or shall we say admitted, that the problem in Syria today is not a tribal or a sect, but rather a single family, namely the Assad family, both men and women. Therefore the EU has taken the decision to target the Assad family women with sanctions, effectively pinning a target on this family and making it an objective for anybody who wants to topple the Assad regime, particularly the military. The EU targeting the Assad family — and its women — in this manner is an implicit indication that the international community would give its blessings to a military coup taking place in Syria.
The sanctioning of the Assad family means that Europe and the international community is differentiating between the Assad family and the (Alawite) sect, as well between the family and Syrian Army officers.
These sanctions represent a clear message to Syrian Army officers, as much as they aim to suppress or intimidate the Assad family. This message is: Take action, and we will give you our blessing, because we differentiate between you and the Assad family. This is a message to all those capable of taking action within the Syrian Army, whether members of the Alawite sect or others; the important thing is that Europe is trying to tell Syria’s military officers that it distinguishes between them and the Assad family.
The irony is that the Assad family, which is the true ruler of Syria — politically and economically — has never sought the spotlight, even though it is in control of the source of this light; however it today finds itself in the eye of the storm, in an unprecedented manner. The Assad family is the true ruler and governor of Syria — as we mentioned before — not the Baathist party or anybody else; Syria is ruled by the Assad family council, and the women have a prestigious position in this.
This is something that the Europeans have become aware of, and they have therefore taken action to even sanction the women of this family.
These sanctions will, of course, have a significant material impact; for the issue is not targeting a tribe or sect, but rather targeting a single family, which is something that should be clear for all Syrians — not to mention Syrian Army officers — to see. Therefore the question that must be asked today is: Who is prepared to sacrifice themselves for a single family? The story here is not about a country or regime or even tribe or sect, but rather the story of a single family.
The European sanctions today are like a target used for archery practice, so the question is: who will hit the bull’s-eye — namely the Assad family — in order to save themselves, and Syria as a whole?
Simply speaking, the European sanctions mean that either you are with Assad or you are with Syria; therefore these sanctions have even targeted the Assad family women. This is a message that will be best received and understood by the soldier of the Assad regime; therefore there can be no doubt that the European sanctions represent a genuine and effective threat to the Assad regime.
— The author is editor in chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Write to him at [email protected]