Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Who Wants To Kill A Million?

Interviewer: for 40 years you've been talking about resistance against Israel. But not a single bullet has been fired from the Golan Heights. 
Bashar: correct, that's right. To be honest, we only use violence against our own people.
Interviewer: nice.
Bashar: we object to any protests by our own people. But we remain peaceful on the Golan Heights. And we have a peaceful army because we don't like to shed blood.


save our bullets: Bashar al-Assad


In my ongoing series on nonviolent forms of protest, I today want to shed a light on Masasit Mati from Syria. Masasit Mati is a group of Syrian artists that is practicing a very fine art of protest: the puppet theater. In eleven episodes so far, available on YouTube, they have lampooned the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Gene Sharp must be very proud of them, since they so well execute his method of nonviolence action number 35: drama and music / humorous skits and pranks.


Host: if you could commit a massacre in Damascus: who would you put in charge? Maher al-Assad, Rami Makhlouf, Asif Shawkat, Ali Mamlouk.
Bashar: it's a stupid question to be honest. I would charge my brother Maher "the killer" of course, because he has so much experience.
Host: your answer is correct! And you have gained a thousand killed!


going for the million: Syrian president


Masasit Mati's art of protest is called "Top Goon: diaries of a little dictator", and Bashar al-Assad is little indeed. Depicted as a grown up with childish manners, whining and throwing a tantrum of a spoiled child, Bashar is cast into a world that is not of his choosing, that was imposed on him by his late and dominant father Hafez. His only companion left is the shabih, an uneducated but ruthless militia hitman. Even their trainers of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) - certainly one of the worldwide masters of riot control - deem the shabih too unruly and too undisciplined and have given up training them, according to a recent report in Stratfor.


Bashar: I'm not crazy! I'm not crazy!


It is rare that I quote a Lebanese politician on these pages. And I certainly never expected that I once would cite Walid Jumblatt, the wryneck of Levant politics. But his words sounded true and right to me when he talked about the revolt in Syria this week. Quoting the Druze leader from the Chouf mountains: the double talk used during long years to control the people has lost its effect on men and women and on the revolutionaries of the Arab world. Even if it's true that gangs considered as terrorists exploit the chaos provoked by the repressive crackdown by state security to suppress the legitimate political and economical demands of the protesters, nothing can hide the fact that the people now want to realize their aspirations of freedom, democracy and a dignified life.


Bashar: what's up? What is this? Only 50 killed on my birthday? Didn't you promise me that everything would be over?
Shabih: really, Sir, I don't know what to tell you. It doesn't stop. 
Bashar: enough, enough, stop. I don't want to hear anymore of your nonsense. I want to be happy on my birthday. Even if you have to kill all the Syrian people.


happy birthday dear president: Shabih


I established contact with Masasit Mati this week and asked them for an interview. They gladly accepted but requested a delay in answering my questions, because they are busy preparing a new series of videos. How confident are they, and why, that their nonviolent protest will eventually topple the regime of Bashar al-Assad? Has the geopolitical context of this fight - the fact that this might be a proxy war of Arab States and Western forces versus an overarching Iran - any meaning for the common Syrian marching in the streets? How long will the pillars of the Syrian regime hold? You will read the answers to these questions, and much more, in this blog. Soon.


While your are waiting: enjoy season 1 of 11 episodes of Syrian Top Goon theater by going here.



1 comment:

  1. Masasit Mati's form of nonviolent resistance is brilliant I think. It is much more subtle, hidden in the form of entertainment, which reminds me of Aesop. A great article. I agree, I think Syria is a battle field for external players who do not consider first the Syrian people in their scheme. I have not heard of Masasit Mati until today, so I thank you for bringing them to my attention.

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