In the past few days the Lebanese newspaper “Al-Akhbar” reported that Russia presented to Assad a draft for a new Syrian constitution.
The pro-Hizbullah newspaper described the Russian constitutional draft in detail, and it described Assad’s reaction to it, which was very negative, because the draft limits Assad’s powers and allows for regional autonomy and other ideas which Assad completely rejects.
Initially Assad instructed his Mukhabarat agents who are active on social media to deny the story, but the newspaper insisted on the story, so Assad issued today a formal denial of the entire story. He says that Russia has never presented any constitution to him.
This kind of media war between Assad and Hizbullah has become regular since the Russian military intervention in Syria. In the past I commented on one strange statement which Assad had issued, in which he said (with paraphrasing) that everything Al-Akhbar would report about him would be untrue unless he says otherwise.
Assad has been keen to portray the Russians as his most ardent supporters. This explains the enthusiasm with which Assad’s supporters greeted the Russian soldiers when they arrived in Syria. It seems that many of Assad’s supporters believed his propaganda about the Russian policy towards him. (In the past I explained how that propaganda was lying and misleading.)
Since the Russian intervention in Syria, the media of Hizbullah has been challenging Assad’s propaganda about Russia. For example, Al-Akhbar has published many reports about disagreements between Assad and Russia. Assad has responded by denying those reports.
Why does Assad want the Russians to appear as his main patrons and not the Iranians? This can be explained in several ways, but in my opinion the most important concern for Assad is to continue fooling his supporters.
Assad has been trying from the beginning to convince his supporters that he is so strong internationally, and that he has support not only from Russia but also from the US and the EU. In the past I commented on many news reports fabricated by Assad in which he claimed that the Americans and Europeans were secretly contacting him to show support.
Now it has become clear that the US and the EU do not really support Assad. Even the most stupid of Assad’s supporters should understand that by now. Thus, Russia remains as the only major world power which many of Assad’s supporters believe to be supporting him. (China is not involved much in the Syrian crisis.)
Recently the media of Hizbullah has been telling Assad’s supporters that even Russia does not really support Assad, which means that he is only supported by Iran. This is not a false propaganda by Hizbullah but it is really the truth (as I pointed out long ago.)
If Assad’s supporters understand that he is not supported by any major world power, that will belittle him in their eyes; many of them still believe until this day that he can rule Syria again like he did before the crisis. They think that the major world powers will recognize him again as a ruler of Syria.
Because Assad wants to continue duping his supporters, he has been warring with the media of Hizbullah over the reality of the Russian support to him. He claims that Russia supports everything he does.
My hope is that the formation of a goverment in Syria will help Assad’s supporters to understand that he is finished. If they understand that, Assad will fall quickly.
That does not mean that Russia will lose in Syria. Russia will continue to be a friend to many Syrians (perhaps most Syrians). Many Syrians were educated in the former Soviet Union, and many Syrians remember the economic aid and other aid which the Soviet Union provided to Syria. The recent Russian intervention in Syria has angered many Syrians while it was happening, but right now I personally do not feel bad about that intervention. It is true that the Russian intervention helped Assad retake Palmyra and the southern countryside of Aleppo, but the Russian intervention also forced Assad to accept the truce, which is a strategic blow to Assad. I had been calling for that truce for a long time before the Russian intervention happened.