With his scrubby hair and the open, friendly face, Manaf Tlass looks more like an intellectually cultivated, uninvolved civilian, not like a typical top officer, who is in the elite unit, the “Republican Guard”, under the command of Maher, brother of the President Assad.
However, Tlass comes from an old family that supports the Assad leadership: his father Mustafa has already served the father Hafez al-Assad for 30 years as defense minister. Much larger than the actual military rank of Manaf is his importance as a personal friend of the President and as an informal member of the “young guard”: The modern, reform-minded successor generation of the old pillars of the Assad regime.
Manaf has attended the same military school as his colleague of the same year, Bashar Al-Assad. The family Tlass has close ties to Paris: Mustafa’s grandfather went there in 2003 to undergo a surgery on the heart, a widowed sister of Manaf is living there – and even Manaf was on his way to there, as it was said on Friday.
Another, younger relative, Abd al-Razzak Tlass, has emerged as one of the leaders of the Syrian opposition in the Syrian city of Homs and also appeared on television in the Western propaganda. His fate remains unknown; first he was declared to be dead, and then, he allegedly turned up again.
The Tlass family is from the city Rastan, 160 kilometers north of Damascus, where the uprising has overlapped into this area early. When the army struck back with its usual hardness, numerous Sunnis have then begun to take the side of the insurgents, including those, who had originally enjoyed the patronage of the Tlass family.
According to unconfirmed reports from Syrian military circles, Manaf Tlass was able to succeed in the negotiations about the release of thousands of civilian hostages from the hands of the local insurgents in Homs in the recent weeks, just to then notice the contrary action of the army, which has initiated the bombardment of the last stand of opposition there – like expected, with high civilian casualties: a disastrous mistake if the information is correct.
And maybe, this is pure speculation, President Assad had here again no possibility to assert himself against his own establishment in Syria; a weakness, that he is rumored to have since his inauguration in 2000, as he was not able to implement the well overdue and openly declared reform projects.
In another, meanwhile confirmed information, it is stated that the special unit that is reviled as “Shabiha” has gained more power in the leadership circle of the Syrian Intelligence Service. If this is true, this is also not very good news, because these units often enjoy a negative reputation for lawlessness, involvement in criminal activity and behavior, as well as brutality, targeted for personal benefits.
The New York Times has reported on Saturday, that the distrust between Sunni and Alawite parts of the Syrian military has grown strongly. That seems hard to believe, while the information, that mainly Alawite officers were generally supported in the Syrian armed forces, while Sunnis and others were basically satisfied with far smaller numbers of jobs and ranks, could apparently be correct.
In fact, all agencies have reported, that the escape of Manaf Tlass has taken him to Turkey and then to Paris, but he is currently not locatable in both countries. The conjectures, that he is in Moscow, do appear astonishing, since such a trip could be accomplished, without a possible escape, more easily and directly, after the two governments work traditionally very close together. Any surprises can still happen here.
In the above-mentioned contribution of the New York Times, there are also indications that the frustration in the Syrian military is increasing because of the costly counterinsurgency. This view may be confirmed from Syria, but not to the extent, that Washington is hoping for. In fact, the Syrian government has repeatedly and openly showed concession to the rebels, however, met with refusal; an old, rooted in the history of the last uprising of 1982 under Hafez al-Assad.
The situation is Syria expects decisions of Syria’s power elite in the coming weeks, either to reach five credible strategic policy changes and, overall, the new policy, in the middle of the revolutionary struggle in order to survive – or to go down with high certainty if only two of them fail:
- From the ranks of the Islamic movement in the country, important opponents of Assad must be gained so that they openly declare standstill, or declare the support of the government. If this does not succeed, Syria will certainly not be able to find a permanent peace – the terrible legacy of the reign of Hafez Assad must be overcome. The official Syrian policy so far, that only insurgents, who have no blood on their hands, may hope to return to social life, cannot be maintained forever, because there are too many accepted public servants, whose hands are pretty bloody. This duty of an inner reconciliation above the tombs, counts in both directions, regardless of which circles will emerge as a “winner” from the current conflict.
- The improvement of living conditions of the war-haunted civilian population must get top priority throughout the country. Everywhere, the damages of battles must be removed immediately and generously from government funds. The support of the victims of war must get the top priority in the policy. If the State is not able to demonstrate it to its citizens that he can provide an improvement in the living conditions, the State loses credibility and followers.
- Syria must urgently give up its absurd restraint in the global public relations. The US-led global propaganda machine as an openly avowed integral part (PDF) of the U.S. policy of aggression must be opposed to something urgently. The problem is, that Syria’s main supporter, China, Russia, and Iran are not able to really recognize this fundamental error of their policy because of their hopelessly outdated understanding of policy. Therefore, these countries commit themselves, in their own topics, the same mistake as Syria, which facilitates the “business” of the U.S. tremendously. The amazing ARD interview of the praiseworthy contemporary witness Juergen Todenhoefer (Jürgen Todenhöfer) from Sunday evening shows these deficits significantly – and luckily, there was no “colonial style” like in the interview of the ZDF-front man Claus Kleber with Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
- Militarily, it is urgent that civil losses are kept to a minimum. The “Treaty of Homs”, if this treaty was real, would be a prime example for such a policy. The Syrian fundamental evil of the corruption must be fought with all power. The conditions threaten the state, regardless of the internal war, to almost strangulate it permanently.
The author is aware, that it is nearly impossible in an internal conflict which is relentless supported by foreign powers, to initiate such inner “drastic treatments”, and to pull them through successfully.
But already the successful constitutional referendum in February of this year, which has ended one-party rule of the Baath party formally, as well as the parliamentary elections of 7 May, are such miracles, even if they work in itself highly imperfect: the Baath Party and its supporters continue to hold the political power, and in the Parliament, there are still sitting far too few actual opposition figures in order to really unleash the “appeal”, that could help to end the war.
And to concluded it again with the mass of experts: The Western resignation call on President Assad at this time is a recipe of chaos, and therefore, it is a political vehicle of Washington, which aims on own global and Israeli regional expansions of power by the creation of chaos in Syria.
Both policy objectives, the Western and the Israeli policy, however, have unacceptable, regionally and globally devastating side effects. At this point now, Russia would be in demand: If Russia is not able to help in order to stabilize Syria, it is also in danger to get knocked down by Washington and his machinations; this already happened with the ramshackle Soviet Union more than twenty years ago.
Now, Russia would have to fire up a kind of national emergency plan, which is able to pull off this rescue operation abroad, without hurting the Arab pride; political “minimally invasive”, so to speak. President Putin is not to be envied: he is faced with the challenge to enter into the history of his country and globe as either a failure or as a hero, an “average career” appears to be hardly possible or to be probable.
To help Syria means to stop the possible third World War around the Iran, which is a truism. It is less clear to many, that a war on Iran after the fall of Syria might already be the beginning of the end of Russia. China alone is then not able to withstand for a long time, thereby, the interest by China in Syria is clear. U.S. omnipotence, however, will probably slinking replace the civil rights around the globe with the powers of selected companies, which are led by financial interests.
Source: zeitfokus.de (Translation by SyriaNews staff)