Syria: The Assads’ Twilight
Directed by Vincent de Cointet and Christophe Ayad
Icarus, 2011, 52 minutes
“Syria: The Assads’ Twilight” by directors Vincent de Cointet and Christophe Ayad, chronicles the history of the rise of the Assads’ regime in Syria from the 1970s to what seems to be the regime’s final days. Opening the documentary with newsreel of the March 2011 uprising against the tyrannical regime, the directors relate back to 1970, the year Hafez al-Assad led a bloodless coup that launched him to the 30 year presidency. The film offers an objective historical portrait about the Assads, with archival footage and analysis by Syrian and international politicians, dissidents, and political scientists.
Having won 97.3% of the vote, Bashar al-Assad was sworn President of Syria in July 2000, promising a modern liberal leadership. The following decade of the son’s rule proved to be as oppressive as that of the father, the directors reveal.
A biographer of Hafez al-Assad commends him for having courage, patience and determination to defeat his number one enemy, Israel. De Cointet and Ayad, however, tell of the regime’s failure to defeat Israel and the ruthless actions against all leaders of the opposition, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. Highlighted is the 1982 massacre in Hama for which no records exist except for the oral stories that are told clandestinely by the Syrian people. De Cointet and Ayad add that the country’s economic failure exacerbated the problems for Bashar since his inauguration. Why couldn’t Bashar deliver the message of the modern liberal leader that he claimed to be in 2000? The film makers provide some interesting answers about the internal and external reasons behind the failure of the Assads. The clannish dictatorship set up by the regime, whose seat of power was based on family, party and intelligence personnel, resulted in rampant corruption, the banning of all forms of opposition, and the failure to balance the budget. The external forces are related to the regional and international politics, including clashes with Israel, Lebanon and Western interests in the region. “Syria: The Assads’ Twilight” is an informative primer for interested students, as well as the general public.
This review appeared in Al Jadid, Vol. 18, no. 66
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