Syria’s New Assad Statues Send a Sinister Message: ‘We Are Back’
The rebuilding of monuments honoring Bashar al-Assad’s family taunts the opposition he brutally crushed.
In early March, just days before the eighth anniversary of the 2011 revolt against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian regime organized a boisterous celebration in the main square of the southern city of Daraa to unveil a new bronze sculpture of Bashar’s father, Hafez.
It depicts a youthful-looking Hafez fused from the waist down to a large rock atop a pedestal, with a series of steps leading up to the monument. The sculpture of Hafez, an army general who seized power in 1970 through a coup against his own Ba’ath Party comrades and ruled Syria with an iron fist until his death in 2000, looks immovable, indestructible, and above all, eternal. He’s a half-human, half-rock demigod gazing ahead coldly and resolutely, with his hands resting on the shoulders of two awestruck children pressed against his waist and clutching stalks of wheat—the main crop in the largely agricultural Daraa province.