The one clear fact: large numbers of people are being killed in Syria

Loss of faith in the objectivity and independence of our press, and hearing conflicting reports about violence in Syria, prompted a reading of the no more objective Syrian press and a look at the ‘bare’ facts of the life of Bashar al-Assad.

Described as a quiet, thoughtful man, he studied medicine at Damascus University and, in 1988, began to work as an army doctor in a large military hospital on the outskirts of Damascus. Four years later, he went to the UK for postgraduate training in ophthalmology at the Western Eye Hospital, part of the St Mary’s group of teaching hospitals in London.

After his elder brother Bassel died in an automobile accident in 1994, he was recalled to join the Syrian army and also engage in public affairs. He became a political adviser to his father, President Hafez al-Assad, and head of the bureau to receive complaints and appeals of citizens and lead a campaign against corruption.

Bashar was appointed leader of the Ba’ath Party and the army, and later was elected president, winning 97.2% of the votes.

Tony Blair lauds the Syrian president

When his father died in 2000, Tony Blair said Hafez al-Assad would be “sorely missed”. He added:

“Hafez al-Assad was a figure of stability in the Middle East and much respected in the Arab world and beyond. Although I never had chance to meet him, we regularly exchanged messages about the peace process in which he was a crucial player. The best testimony to his memory would be for all involved to redouble their efforts to bring a just and lasting peace to the region.”

Soon afterwards, the Israeli foreign minister deplored Blair’s reception of the new president

Blair received the new Syrian president and his wife at No.10 but the Israeli Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu criticised Britain for welcoming President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria, telling The Times that Assad’s visit here did not send “a good signal”. The Kuwait news agency reports that when Netanyahu visited London he ‘conspicuously’ did not include a meeting with the British Prime Minister.

Two questions come to mind:

Has President Assad, who spent ten years of his life working to heal people, become a man who freely orders attacks on them?


Are the US and UK promoting regime change because Bashar Al-Assad has been an outspoken critic of the United States and Israel – both countries with a wealthy and powerful pro-Israeli lobby?

Balancing the mass of media reports: a reader sends the thoughts of Robert Fisk:


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