Inspiring loyalty

Armed crowds storm diplomatic missions in Damascus.”
                                                                           Reuters, 13 October, 2011

Some Syrians are just born lucky, especially those who aren’t being shot at by the army of the outstanding humanitarian and staunch democracy supporter Bashar Assad. As a result, one thing Syrians have an excess of is loyalty. They are so grateful to their President for not shooting them to death that they are loyal to him to a fault.

Strictly between us, it is not that difficult to inspire loyalty and devotion – all a dictator needs to do is not, I repeat, not to shoot his own people. At least not all of them and certainly not at once. Those who are being left alive for a while would be intensely grateful and adore the guy. They will call him daddy, mummy and Allah, rolled in one. Stalin, Hitler, Mao and their ilk perfected the technique into an art form.

Recently some Syrians, who happily avoided the wrong places where the Syrian Army was killing their compatriots, decided to express their love, adoration and support for the Assad Well-beloved (that is, I think, one of the titles of Syria’s President for Life). Excited crowds assaulted the diplomatic mission of Saudi Arabia, a former presiding member of the Arab league, which recently suspended the Syrian dictator for killing his own citizens on the streets of his country. The diplomatic missions of France, Qatar and Turkey were also affected.

From  time immemorial an attack on a foreign embassy was regarded as a casus belli by the wronged side. Syria’s flouting of an international law, dangerous and provocative beyond belief, is in line with her patron’s behaviour. Iran, Syria’s sponsor, has a history of assault on foreign embassies. One has to remember the Persian assault on the Embassy of Imperial Russia, when the famous Russian writer Griboyedov was killed by the frenzied crowd, or the “student” occupation and taking hostages of more than a hundred American Embassy diplomats. The recent assault on the Israeli Embassy by a mob of Egyptians, apparently acting with the full knowledge of the Egyptian authorities, was an early warning that embassies of foreign nations in the Middle Eastern region are not inviolate. Even Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and Socialist Cub, all three pretty crummy as regimes go, did not dare to break the sacred principle of diplomatic immunity and exterritorialy. For Syrian authorities, read Bashir Assad, to violate these principles could mean the point of no return.

This crowd, according to eyewitnesses, was shouting inanities, like “We will sacrifice our blood and our souls for you Bashar!” Strong stuff. One could smell devotion, loyalty and support from miles away, like a seal colony in Port Phillip Bay. (Warning! Quite a memorable olfactory experience, it could induce gagging and possible rapid involuntary gastric emptying in unprepared men and pregnant women.)

Even roughing up the diplomats and looting Saudi Arabian embassy’s grounds pales into insignificance in front of such loyalty to a dictator. Or were they “just following orders?” We’ve heard this at the Nuremberg trials.

Assad must’ve been pretty naughty even by the standards of an Arab league, if this conference, not renowned the world over for its traditions of tolerance, equality and democracy, suspended him. Normally the League does not pay attention to these kind of trifles – a thousand dead here, a thousand there. What’s few thousand between friends? For them to react the way they did, things must be pretty grim.

Can you imagine a crowd of excited Ozzies, storming the British High Commission, shouting at the top of their voices – ”We will sacrifice our blood and our souls for you, Julia Gillard!” because of Australia’s suspension from  the Commonwealth? The whole country would laugh them off the grounds, even before the Federal Police whisked them away to the emergency rooms of the nearest psych hospital in their divvy vans.

This prediction is based on one important difference. Our PM, however strongly some people disagree with her politics, is not, I repeat, is not a dictator. Bashar Assad is. He still might surprise us all as yet. He might be awarded Nobel Peace Prize.

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