Why America’s White Supremacists ♥ Bashar al-Assad

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Image of Bashar al-Assad (L) captioned "UNDEFEATED", on white supremacist James Fields' Facebook page, and a Charlottesville marcher with "Bashar Barrel Delivery Co." shirt

How the American far-right became curiously infatuated with Syria’s ruler


Mariam Elba writes for The Intercept:


It shouldn’t be surprising that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has become an idol among white nationalists in the United States.

During the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally several weeks ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, Baked Alaska — an infamous far-right YouTuber — live=streamed an encounter with a demonstrator wearing a T-shirt that read “Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.” The shirt alluded to the Assad regime’s frequent, horrific use of barrel bombs — weapons employed to indiscriminately target rebel-held areas of Syria.

That rally-goer shouted, “Support the Syrian Arab Army!” and “Assad did nothing wrong!” They gloated over how Assad can “solve this whole ISIS problem” with just two chemical bombs. James Fields, the 20-year-old white supremacist who allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer, posted a portrait of Assad, in military regalia and aviator sunglasses to Facebook. A superimposed caption read: “UNDEFEATED.”

“A More Homogeous Society”

There’s a simple explanation for how the American far-right became curiously infatuated with the Arab totalitarian leader: Their hearts were won over by the Assad family’s years-old propaganda campaign at home in Syria. Assad’s authoritarianism uses the same buzzwords as the far-right to describe the society he’s trying to build in his own country — a pure, monolithic society of devotees to his own power. American neo-Nazis see Assad as a hero.

As the chaos of Charlottesville and its aftermath was unfolding, Assad addressed a group of diplomats in Damascus about the ongoing war in Syria. “We lost many of our youth and infrastructure,” he said, “but we gained a healthier and more homogenous society.”

Whereas white nationalists aim to create a healthy and homogeneous society through racial purity, for Assad it means a society free of any kind of political dissent, excluding any Syrian living outside the territory his regime controls. Anyone who does not fit Assad’s specific definition of what it means to be Syrian is up for execution.

Alexander Reid Ross, a lecturer of geography at Portland State University and author of the new book, “Against the Fascist Creep”, said Assad is a figure that is central to a realization of “Eurasianism”. The notion “holds that Russia will lead the world out of a dark age of materialism and toward an ultranationalist rebirth of homogenous ethno-states federated under a heterogeneous spiritual empire,” Reid Ross said.

In other words, the Assad dynasty, with the strong backing of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian state in Russia, is the Middle East’s leading force toward creating a society that is spiritually, socially, and politically “pure.” Cosmopolitanism, with diversity in political thought and social identity, is an obstacle for those aiming to realize this vision.

Assad is a key figure in confirming the white nationalist worldview. “Holding on to Syria,” Reid Ross said, “marks for them a crucial foothold in a larger geopolitical mission — one that has everything to do with that spiritual purity associated with family, tradition, and nation.” To the far right, Assad is at the front lines in the fight against the Islamic State and, more broadly, the forces of “Islamic terrorism” in the Middle East under a nationalist banner that looks very much like their own.

And the admiration doesn’t run in only one direction. The Assad regime has cultivated relationships with far-right white nationalists for decades. One of these was allegedly Alois Brunner, who actually died in Damascus in 2010. There is reason to believe that Brunner advised Bashar’s father Hafez al-Assad on torture techniques used in Syria’s infamous prison system, even as the regime has denied ever harboring Brunner.

the Assad regime’s track record of being the primary perpetrators of escalating Syria’s civil war — which has likely left half a million dead and spurred a massive exodus of refugees — the United Nations, the United States, and certainly Russia are all looking for solutions to the Syrian crisis that keep Assad in power. Assad’s relationship-building and connections with fringe politicians in the West has contributed to creating international legitimacy for his continued rule, as well as fueling a propaganda machine that paints the dictator as one of the final Arab leaders standing up against American imperialism and “Islamic extremism.”

Radwan Ziadeh, a fellow at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, and a prolific, longtime Syrian dissident, said that the Assad dynasty’s central strategy in forging international legitimacy was to cultivate an image as a guardian of Christians in Syria and the wider region.

This mythos he built around himself has worked well in garnering support for the Assad family from outside Syria. Aside from Brunner and other Nazis taking shelter in Syria, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke visited Damascus in 2005, addressing a “demonstration” in support of Assad’s fight against Zionism, propping up Assad’s image as an anti-imperialist. (Palestinian refugees within Syria have suffered greatly under Assad’s sieges.)

Even more recently, as journalist Alex Rowell recently pointed out, far-right politicians from the French National Front, Golden Dawn in Greece, and Vlaams Belang in Belgium, among many others, met with Syrian government officials in Damascus over the past few years. The meetings came as the regime began to gain momentum against opposition forces with the help of Russian military intervention and support.

The Ba’ath Party, a multi-national party which was led by Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Hafez al-Assad in Syria, held meetings with international far-right parties. The Iraqi Ba’ath Party met with the National Front in France and Die Republikaner in Germany, both far-right parties in the E.U., according to Reid Ross. “The radical right and fascists see them as nationalists like them,” he told The Intercept.

Though Assad has also won some support from international political forces on the left, Reid Ross argued that the support from the right is crucial to Assad’s success. “The most important international support for Assad stems from a white supremacist base and a white supremacist administration in the U.S.,” he said.

Assad’s vision of creating a “healthy” and “homogenous” society is what white nationalists have aspired to create for themselves. We don’t need to look as far back as Hitler’s Third Reich to see what their world vision could be. We only need to look at Syria today.

“He destroyed Syria,” Ziadeh said. “The population of Syria dropped before 2011 from 23 million people to into 17 million and you have millions displaced inside the country. It’s a country in ruin.” What’s left, Assad hopes, is a society that uniformly supports his rule.

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56 COMMENTS

  1. The other point is that the Syrian Baath is literally a Fascist party. Syria was a French protectorate during WWII, which meant it was ruled by the Vichy government. Nazi Germans were thick on the ground there, and their ideas were very influential on some Arabs.

    See also the excellent book “Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World”.

    The Assads are Fascists pure and simple.

  2. For all the talk that Assad is a dictator, the Washington Post reported jubilation at the arrival of Syrian government forces to lift the siege of Deir-ez-Zor: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrian-backed-forces-reach-besieged-allies-outside-islamic-state-held-city/2017/09/05/75ce908e-922b-11e7-8754-d478688d23b4_story.html?utm_term=.8dbc6701a685

    “When the relieving Syrian troops reached the adjoining neighborhoods, they were greeted by wildly cheering crowds waving Syrian flags and photographs of Assad. “Our blood, our souls, we sacrifice ourselves for you, Assad,” the crowds chanted. Deir al-Zour is a majority-Sunni city, and the areas that were freed Tuesday have remained loyal to Assad throughout the six-year war, a reminder that by no means all of the country’s Sunnis have supported a rebellion largely comprising the Sunni majority.”

  3. “In other words, the Assad dynasty, with the strong backing of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian state in Russia, is the Middle East’s leading force toward creating a society that is spiritually, socially, and politically “pure.” Cosmopolitanism, with diversity in political thought and social identity, is an obstacle for those aiming to realize this vision.”

    So why are Syria’s religious minorities so supportive of Assad, and why does this author gloss over the fact that the jihadist rebels want to cleanse Syria of its Christian, Alawite and Druze communities? Syria under the Assads has always been an multireligious and diverse country even if it is basically a one-party state.

  4. Dictators are often very popular, at least with a majority of their subjects. The problem is that they make life hell for anyone who criticises or disagrees with them, or questions their divine right to power.

    Instead of being prepared to hand over power peacefully if they lose an election, these power addicts resort to violence and murder at the first sign of opposition. They see violence as the first and preferred solution to any problem. The whole point of Mussolini’s Fascist movement was the glorification of violence.

    • At least Bashar Assad stands for election, unlike the unelected British head of state who has refused to stand down until she dies. The hypocrisy of the monarchical regime of the UK is palpable.

      • Britzies are programmed from birth to be incapable of seeing their own screaming hypocrisy … without this early mastery of DoubleThink they could never live with themselves.

      • There is a complete difference between a ceremonial head of state and an executive head of state. Centuries ago, the King or Queen of England was the executive head of state, but for a long time now the monarch has been ceremonial. The executive head of state for Britain is the Prime Minister.

        Several other European countries have constitutional (ceremonial) monarchs.

        Many countries have Presidents as the ceremonial head of state, while in others, such as Syria, he is the executive. The USA is unusual in having the two functions combined in one office, but with limited powers. A British Prime Minister has more power than a US President.

        • The Britzie Queen is not “a ceremonial head of state”, as she has an active veto over every piece of legislation proposed, as well as the PM selected, by Parliament and jealously retains “royal prerogative” to start wars, eat swan, etc., etc.

          Nor is she a “constitutional monarch”, as Britzies have never had a Constitution, precisely so that the workings of government by and for the Ruling Class remain a mystery to the “commoners”.

          Also, constitutional is not a synonym of ceremonial; they are unrelated words.

            • Barbar is right in that the Queen still has the royal prerogative (allows her to declare war) and must give the royal assent to any piece of legislation. She also appoints all judges and ambassadors (on the advice of her Privy Council) who serve as her deputies. Yes, these powers are just nominal but that is true for every head of state (like the President of the Irish republic). The point remains that she has never been elected as sovereign and serves for life. Along with their totally unelected House of Lords, the British have no right to lecture other nations on democracy when they are the least democratic nation in the Western world.

              • Total nonsense, Mr. “warmonger” — Razm = war. joo = seeking.

                Britain has the longest history of democracy anywhere in the world, and playing with rhetoric and language is not going to change that. Obviously you have never studied British democracy. I am just waiting for you to say that Russia and Cuba are more democratic than Britain. What’s next, North Korea?

  5. Of course the simpletons of the american far-right became infatuated with Syria’s ruler. Should they instead support anonym liberal globalism, supra-national capitalism, cultural relativism, the disintegration of traditional family values, the gender and the arborist agenda and the like?

    • You could disagree with any or all those things, without parading around with swastikas and killing jews or african-americans. Factions and movements are much more about the ambitions of their leaders (who are the kind of people who want followers) than about the dogmas they support.

      • British Prime Ministers do stand for election, and they leave office peacefully if after the election they cannot command a majority in Parliament.

        Every country has a different constitution and you can’t draw parallels just from the names of office holders.

        • 1. British monarchs do not stand for election.
          2. British lords do not stand for election.
          3. British permanent under-secretaries of state (top civil servants) don’t stand for election.
          4. British judges do not stand for election.

          The British political system is a throwback to the medieval/feudal past with some democracy mixed in. Even the worst republican system, where all are equal, is preferable to a monarchical one where all are subjects.

          • I will grant you that the House of Lords is a mess. It even has priests sitting in it by right, which is almost like the Iranian constitution, and dates from the days when the Archbishop of Canterbury was a power in the land.

            Civil Servants are salaried employees and should certainly not be elected. They should be appointed on merit. They are politically neutral and their job is to efficiently carry out the policies of whatever government is in power.

            The same applies to judges. A judge should be appointed on his/her knowledge and experience of the law, which is a huge and highly technical subject.

            • Under Iran’s constitiution, the top clerical leader is himself elected (for life) by an elected body that can also remove him. The members of the Guardians council are appointed for six year terms, with half elected by the parliament. Supreme court judges are either appointed or elected by their peers for five years.
              =In the United States, all state and district judges are elected. This happens also in Switzerland and Japan. It means that corrupt and incompetent judges can be removed, unlike in the UK where they are completely out of touch, extremely wealthy and often suffer from senility. The exception in the U.S are federal judges and supreme court judges who are appointed for life – there are now moves to correct this as these judges have a habit of overturning the democratic will and effectively legislating on such matters as abortion and gay marriage. The issue about top civil servants is not that they should be elected, of course they should not, but that they exercise as much power as an elected politician in the British system, unlike in other countries. In the U.S, many top administration officials have to be approved by the Congress.

              • “You could disagree with any or all those things, without parading around with swastikas and killing jews or african-americans.”

                But then why con CAN parade with the hammer and sickle?

              • Total nonsense Mr. Razmjoo warmonger. The supreme leader can unleash the guards on any challenger to his throne and there are no checks and balances. The last guy who tried, Rafsanjani, met an ignoble fate trying to challenge your stupid and childish Islamic Republic democracy where there is no civil society. All candidates have to be vetted by the clerical hierarchy wearing ‘spiritual’ garb but practicing feather bedding and looting. Obviously you know next to nothing about Iran.

    • When YPG/Antifa/Woke Units finally cleanse Raqqa of conservative Sunnis,we will have a San Francisco in the middle East.Pants with no bums in them will replace 90s acid wash jeans,and other good things will happen.I can even see the Tiger and his young male entourage making a visit to mend fences with Assads woke enemies.

      • Yes, western leftist cultural colonialism. Much more dangerous than ISIS (wich didn´t engage in radical cultural deconstruction).

        • Indeed dangerous, as the teachers unions are indoctrinating children to such hatred of liberal democracy and capitalism. But then there are smart leftists such as Barbar who repudiate cultural puritanism and social construction.

          • The US is not a liberal democracy, it’s an oligarchy. Walmart not only exploits it’s workers with 3rd world working conditions and belong living wages, but it’s employment costs are subsidised by the government to the tune of billions

            • Just as you are exploiting Muslim and SE Asian workers in your business installing drywall in Sydney? Do you have any idea what the working conditions of the 3rd world is like, when you criticize Walmart? And Walmart passes its efficiencies to the consumer when it sells at cut-throat prices. Who do you think benefits from cheap goods at Walmart? Jeff Bezos or the average Jose? Would you rather see Walmart exploit its consumers to pay astronomic wages to its workers so they live like European government workers, working only 30 hours a week? Strange, I thought you had some idea how to run a business.

  6. America has white supremacists and so does the UK. Blacks and other ethnic British citizens are de-facto barred from becoming the head of state….. How about King Obama?

      • There is no rule against a black person marrying into the royal family, but it would be frowned upon by the ruling establishment. The monarch does have to be of the Anglican faith and cannot be a Catholic.

        • Re: “The monarch does have to be of the Anglican faith and cannot be a Catholic.”
          Whoa, I didn’t know that! Just like Syria where the head of state according to their constitution must be a Muslim.

    • King Obama has the spirit of a white man, don´t be confuse by the color of his skin. Malcom X would have called him a “House Negro”.

  7. Let’s see on the one side we have a dictator who provided stability, freedom of religion and a secular regime on the other hand we have a bunch of Fundementalist muslim extremists who can’t even stand each other let alone any non wahabi Muslims and kill first and ask questions later, hmm hmm hmm hard choice such a hard choice to make.

    I think any sane person would prefer Assad over these so called “moderate rebels” !!

  8. “Not sure the Supreme Leader is bound by checks-and-balances.”
    He is held to account by the Assembly of Experts, the council that elected him to the position and which can remove him at any point. He is also equal before the law.

      • In actual effect, the Leader is most accountable (unofficially) to the seminary clerics based in Qom. He had to build bridges with senior religious clergymen in the aftermath of the 2009 election. Some saw the Ahmadinejad government’s populism and anti-clericialism as a threat to their status within Iranian society. Unofficially, he is also accountable to the Revolutionary Guards whom he was the commande of in 1980-81.

        As for being equal before the law, nobody is above the Shariah and the constitution. There is a procedure within the Assembly of Experts that can be invoked if there are grounds to dismiss the Leader if he has been found to be in breach of the law. Again in 2009-2010, some in the Green movement were hopeful the assembly would dismiss Khamenei and make Rafsanjani the Leader because they claimed he stole the election and personally ordered the killings of protesters. Of course, the assembly didn’t buy it for a second.

  9. So convenient for the leftwing author of this article to condemn Bashar, ever since the left declared war on white supremacists (which are a tiny tiny minority in the US). What were you leftist doing before you decided to condemn white supremacist and fascist support for Assad? You were supporting Assad because of his anti-imperialism and “death to America” jargon, and his hatred of Israel and his rhetoric to push Israel into the sea. Now all of a sudden you have a problem with Assad? You were telling Obama not to send peacekeepers to Syria and not to punish Assad for crossing the red line.

      • It is a fact that the regressive left and StopWar left did all it could to stop Obama from aiding the rebels. And the non-regressive left had absolutely no interest to see that the carnage end. A war that in many ways parallels the Vietnam war did not receive a single protest to end this war. Of course there were exceptions, such as many commenters on this board who sided with the rebellion. Yourself as an example of hard left certainly sided with Assad. And now the author has noticed there is a nasty war going on, perpetrated by a repulsive president for life. But only after they discovered that white supremacists are supporting this dictator. Certainly questions their motivation.

        • 1. What does ‘regressive left’ mean in your jargon?

          2. You complain that others did not protest to end this war all the while you were busy chanting for its intensification, in fact you revelled in the carnage, as long as the ‘right’ people were being killed. Only now that you see your side losing badly do you affect to fake this ‘moral’ streak, but it’s not working.

          3. Have you seen the author Mariam Elba “supporting Assad because of his anti-imperialism and ‘death to America’ jargon, and his hatred of Israel and his rhetoric to push Israel into the sea”?

          4. When has Assad ever proposed pushing Israel into the sea?

          5. Anyhow, wouldn’t it be more economical and politically sensible to just push the hardcore Netanyahudniks into the sea, i.e. régime change, same as the Ayatollah has proposed with his “the Zionist Entity must be removed from the pages of time”, enabling the reasonable Israelis of all stripes to form a denuclearised non-Jewish-supremacist soviet state at peace with its neighbours?

          • 1- Please Google the term coined by Majid Nawaaz. For example the SPLC or Antifa. It is that sector of the left that is anti-democratic, anti-liberal/libertarian, and anti-open society. It includes all of the hard left, barring some such as Mariam Namazie.

          • 2- Completely false.
            4- Since he accommodated, financed, and supported Hamas.
            5- Wrong – Khomeini said, “Israel should be wiped off the face of earth (wiped off from the pages of history not time)”. Go and study Parsi, before you attempt to translate. And no, there will be no communist soviet state of Arabs in Isreal to take over, who will then slaughter the Jews.

        • Also, Assad is not a ‘president for life’, as he was elected into the office in the regular fashion and has successfully stood for re-election every 7 years since then.

              • Doesn’t matter if the US adopts the name “democratic” in its title — such as the DPRK has done. What matters is 1- is it a liberal society, and 2- is it a democracy. If both, then it is a liberal democracy. The American republic is indeed a liberal democracy. Republicanism is not in negation of liberal democracy.

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