By Micah HalpernI've Been Thinking:
Over the past 3 years, since the fighting in Syria began, President Bashar Assad has ventured out in public only a handful of times.
There was always an important reason for the public appearances.
Often, they included a trip to a mosque. But the real purpose of appearing in public is to say that I am still in Damascus and I am the man in charge. Assad needs everyone, allies and enemies alike, to know that the conflict did not shake him.
So yesterday, on Sunday, Assad went to prayers at the al Hamad Mosque in northwest Damascus. The trip was broadcast across the Arab world, most especially on Syrian state-sponsored TV.
To all appearances Assad went to the al Hamad Mosque to celebrate the traditional birthday of Mohammed. In reality Assad was saying that the end is in sight, that the rebels have crumbled and that the country is getting quieter.
Assad was saying that although there are still areas withering away by virtue of violence, the conflict will soon be over. He was saying that the rebels are fighting amongst themselves and his supporters and troops will soon secure the entire country. And even though a few pockets of rebels may continue to exist in Syria, the country is his to once again preside over. Totally and completely.
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