The Assad family's long-standing mask game

Assad or We Burn the Country is written by Wall Street Journals Sam Dagher, the only Western journalist to be living in Syria when the Arab Spring burst into full bloom. The book is the first to point to Assad as the person responsible for the war in Syria through testimony from inside the regime: It is not the activists who accuse Assad of this book, but Manal Tlass – Bashar al Assad's close friend and adviser and so far with the highest official position that reveals the regime.

The jihadists we first meet on page 314 (in a book on 463 pages). This is not only because they are a consequence of the war in Syria and not its cause, but at least as much because 91,6 percent of the civilian victims in Syria have been killed by Assad's army.

Embassies and five-star hotels are now opening their doors again in Damascus. And in Saydnaya – the city where the Assad regime's most brutal prison is still operating; Amnesty International claims that 17 723 prisoners have been tortured to death here – our European MPs take selfies and raise glasses of French white wine to a bowl for the brave businessmen who cannot be intimidated by the embargo. Equally, all books on Syria tell the story of a war that is, admittedly, very complex, but which has one principal: Bashar al Assad.

Clamped on the power

Tlass fights for dialogue and reforms, but is put on the sidelines. Pictures of Syrian corpses roll across TV screens around the world, and Asma, Bashar's wife, does not understand the pictures: "There is no one dead here?" The American magazine Vogue recently described Asma as "a rose in the desert" and praised her efforts to help the poor, who still make up two-thirds of them. . .

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