The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: civil war

A killer twist to the Syrian civil war

by fpman

It is probably worth watching out for developments in the Latakia area in Syria these days. One of the last few strongholds of the Assad regime, it is simultaneously under attack from rebels and developing mixed feelings towards the Syrian leadership that has so far been the unquestionable protector of this Alawite-majority region.

This comes after Suleiman al-Assad, a first cousin once removed of President Bashar al-Assad has, on August 7, killed a Colonel of the Syrian Air Force, Hassan al-Sheikh in what is varyingly described as “a traffic dispute” or “a road rage accident.” Suleiman al-Assad shot Colonel al-Sheikh dead either “because he overtook him at a crossroads” or “because he did not give way in a traffic jam.”

The son of Hilal al-Assad, commander of Latakia’s defence up till his death in battle last year, has thus killed an officer of the force that is still able to give a bit of an edge against rebel forces where it matters.

The killer has by now been arrested. Locals are demanding his execution. Bashar al-Assad promised there would be punishment but will surely have second thoughts as to how he should mediate between the interest of justice (and sane governance, you might add) and the interests of his powerful family.

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A Gaddafi renaissance?

by fpman

With former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s family now “scattered around the Middle East from Egypt to Oman,” and two of his sons in jail in Libya, there is a sensible attempt to regain some lost initiative on their behalf by one of Muammar Gaddafi’s cousins, Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam. “Gaddafi cousin hopes to participate in Libyan peace talks,” says a Reuters headline from two days ago, and this being a Reuters headline it may just be that this is not a bridge too far.

Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, cousin of Libya's former president Muammar Gaddafi, talks during an interview with Reuters at his apartment in CairoAhmed Gaddaf al-Dam (photo: Asmaa Waguih, Reuters)

Post-Gaddafi Libya may need a Gaddafi, apparently. Militias are fighting each other, feuding for control of chunks of territory – the luckier ones feuding also for a share in oil revenues to be made utilizing the part of the infrastructure that is still intact after so much turmoil.

Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam is one of those members of the Gaddafi family who opted to stay as close to these chaotic events in Libya as possible: in Egypt. This brought arrest for him under former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi’s rule. The reasons are rather simple, in the end: Morsi’s was an Islamist regime that took power democratically, in the wake of the rule of a secular autocracy not altogether too dissimilar to Gaddafi’s (though Gaddafi’s relationship to Islam was to no small degree more complicated). So in broader regional terms Morsi was a new kid on the block, while Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam was from the old guard. Clash inevitable. As soon as Morsi was removed from power, however, Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam was once again unrestricted, or perhaps even encouraged, in his political activity.

On September 24, the General Court of the European Court of Justice struck down sanctions still in place against him, and a day before that Asharq al-Awsat began publishing a series of articles on him, the first part of which focused on what a great mediator he was in the Egyptian-Libyan disputes of the 1970s…

He may well be telling himself “Ready, Steady, Go” now, and he is doing so with some wind in his sails. How far that allows him to move in the quicksand of Libya… alright, I’ll just stop using cheap metaphors. We shall see, shall suffice, in the end.