Six unsavory fates for Bashar al-Assad
Embattled Syrian president should step down now to avoid a violent demise.
Usually it's good to be the king, but not always. In Bashir al-Assad's case, the future ain't what it used to be. The embattled Syrian president is beset by people he calls "terrorists" as the people of Syria continue a 14-month-long uprising against his rule. It is difficult to imagine life returing to normal for Assad after some 14,000 of his own people have been killed in what is essentially a fill scale civil war.
Assad will soon find himself on trial, or worse.
1. The good life - The best possible outcome for Assad is a comfortable life in exile
This may be one of the best solutions for all of the large political players involved, but it will rob his people of justice. However, it is still a likely solution because a deal could be brokered that gets Assad out of Syria. In exchange for his exile into comfort, Syria can immediately embark on a program of political reform, hopefully sans violence.
Such a move allows the various players to save face and diminishes the likelihood of any direct international intervention in the region. It will keep the conflict from spilling over borders, as it presently threatens to do.
The decision will be unsavory for Assad however. Assad will be forced to flee his own country in disgrace. He will not likely ever be able to leave the country he settles in for fear of prosecution. he will always have enemies, some who may try to kill him in exile. And his family and closest supporters will face public vengeance. Still, it is the best of all fates for a man who has presided over the killing of 14,000 of his own people.
Who he joins: If he goes into exile, Assad will join brutal dictators such as Idi Amin and "Baby Doc" Jean-Claude Duvalier both enjoyed lives in exile following the collapse of their regimes. Amin found a home in Saudi Arabia and Duvlier in France.
2. International Justice - The International Criminal Court (ICC) might have jurisdiction to try Assad if he were to be captured or surrender to the court. Syira has signed but not ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC that would give the court jurisdiction in the case. A number of prominent officials have called for Assad to be brought before the ICC.
The ICC would give Assad a fair trial and if found guilty, he would face a prison sentence. It might be a better option than the ones that follow. Certainly, his trial would give some closure to the victims of his brutal regime's atrocities.
Surrender to the ICC might be a safe way out for Assad if he cannot get asylum somewhere. It may be better than some of the other options which follow.
Who he joins: If the ICC tries Assad, he will join Slobodan Milosevic and Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga. Lubanga is the first person to ever be successfully convicted by the ICC.
3. Trial before his people - Assad, if captured by his own people, may be put on trial in the Syrian courts. Assuming he gets a fair trial, he could face the wrath of his own people.
Once arrested he would likely spend many long, uncomfortable days in a Syrian prison. His trial might not be fair, insofar as he will be compelled to prove his innocence rather than simply bring his guilt into question. Certainly it will be difficult to argue that the brutalities of his regime were beyond his knowledge or understanding. It is unlikely he will be able to escape ultimate responsibility.
Once convicted Assad could face a public execution.
Who he joins: If so, Assad could join Saddam Hussein of Iraq in the annals of history. Despite being captured by US forces, Hussein was handed over to the Iraqi government for prosecution. The dictator was convicted and hanged.
4. Summary execution - Assad might check out a-la Gaddafi, by means of summary execution. That means being executed without the justice of a trial. Most likely, Assad will be captured by opponents who will be too impatient for justice to wait on courts to handle a case against the dictator. Depending on his behavior and the attitude of his captors, Assad could be murdered on the spot.
Who he joins: Mummar Gaddafi. Gaddafi was himself killed in such a fashion, although he was wounded beforehand and no longer fighting his captors. The deposed Libyan dictator was captured in hiding, brutalized by his captors, then shot to death.
5. Die fighting - Assad may die fighting. He has repeatedly stated in interviews that he is determined to cling to power and that he will not back down in the face of the opposition whom he labels as "terrorists."
Who he joins: If he dies in this fashion, he will join Osama bin Laden who was killed in a raid against his home. At the time of his death, Osama was reportedly attempting to hide behind his wives while possibly attempting to arm himself.
6. Suicide - Assad may decide that the end is near and he may not want to meet any of the fates described above. In such a case, he may take his own life.
Who he joins: Assad will be joining Adolf Hitler who took his own life by combination of pistol and poison as Russian soldiers closed in on his bunker.
Certainly no outcome can be pleasant or positive short of a peaceful end to hostilities and a fair day in court for all those accused of crimes. Tragically, this is the least common outcome when national leaders try desperately to cling to power in the face of rising, violent opposition. Assad has brought his fate upon himself and there is little question that it can end tragically. What remains is if his people can find a peaceful way forward after Assad's demise.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Assad, Syria, six, fate, death, demise, UN, civil war
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