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Man in the news: Bassem Sudan “a parliament member” heads a military militia

The general commander of the “Ba'ath Brigades” in Syria, Bassem Sudan

The general commander of the “Ba'ath Brigades” in Syria, Bassem Sudan

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Enab Baladi –  Saleh Malas 

“Rebuilding minds and fixing souls are the biggest challenges, not rebuilding the infrastructure (…) and what is really required of us in the forthcoming period is to work on two leads: the first is protecting Syria’s internal affairs while the second is to fight social media platforms and the Internet.”

“Fighting social media sites and the Internet” is on the list of Bassem Sudan’s priorities, the office head of the foreign branches of “the National Union of Syrian Students (NUSS).” Sudan is also in charge of addressing student affairs in the NUSS, as social media sites “weaken the citizens’ spirit,” according to what he said in a session in the People’s Council of Syria.

The head of the office of the foreign branches of the “National Union of Syrian Students

Sudan was born in 1969 in the province of Latakia, and he belongs politically to Syria’s ruling Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party.

Head of the “Ba’ath Brigades”

Sudan heads the “Ba’ath Brigades”, which was established in the second year of the Syrian revolution, to be a counter-militia of the regime that includes female and male volunteers from most of the Syrian governorates, and is supervised by the “regional leadership” of the “Ba’ath Party.”

The militia’s members receive cash and security privileges for their fight alongside the Syrian regime forces, as the volunteer receives a monthly salary of 30 thousand Syrian pounds (SYP- around 12 US dollars at the current exchange rate).

The Syrian regime also made a promise that the duration of their fighting will be calculated as part of their compulsory service, in addition to giving them a security card to facilitate their passage through checkpoints.   

The members of the “Ba’ath Brigades” participated in the clashes against the Syrian opposition factions in the rural areas in Hama and Idlib between 2016 and 2018, as monitored by Enab Baladi, as at least 15 members of the brigade’s volunteers were killed during the conflict in Syria.

The commander of the “Ba’ath Brigades” in Tartous governorate and the deputy commander of the “Ba’ath Legion”, Brigadier Sharaf Salama Muhammad, were killed in military confrontations in the countryside of Hama in 2017.

In 2019, a conference for the “Ba’ath Party” held in the town of Hamoryah in the Eastern Ghouta after an interruption of several years, put forward the “need to activate the Ba’ath Brigades in the liberated areas”, in addition, to improve all types of social services, agriculture, and education, and rehabilitate the public utilities after withdrawal was carried out by the Syrian opposition factions.

Syrian students serve as a tool in the hand of the Syrian regime’s policy

Since the “Caesar Act” came wholly into effect—whose provisions impose US economic sanctions on the Syrian regime in order to compel it to halt its bloody attacks on the Syrian people and change its political behavior—the government and pro-government media outlets have attacked the law an as inhuman, as it has caused the value of the Syrian pound to decline and the living conditions to deteriorate.

The office head of the foreign branches of NUSS Bassem Sudan supervised the preparation of pre-recorded Facebook videos that include clips for Syrian students outside their country as they agree on the regime’s policy toward sanctions. The Syrian student is “a soldier of the Syrian Arab Army,” according to what Sudan said in an interview with the official Syrian News Channel, also known as al-Ikhbaria Syria.

“The Syrian state established social protection networks decades ago,” said Sudan in one of the Syrian People’s Assembly sessions, and these networks aim to protect the citizens in one way or another, and secure a good life for him. Among these networks is the Ministry of Education, according to Sudan, without clarifying what these networks are and the difference between them and the state ministries and their regular institutions.

According to Sudan, the responsibility of the student whose affairs the Ministry of Education takes care of lies in three axes: cognitive responsibility, moral responsibility, and militant responsibility.

However, these responsibilities, which Sudan talked about, were faded by the regime’s repressive policy during the last nine years, as “School-aged Syrian children know nothing but war and displacement,” according to a report by Relief web, a humanitarian information service provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The report, issued last June, stated that a child has been killed every ten hours in Syria due to violence, and education was identified as the biggest challenge for families in Syria, followed by poverty, access to health care, and orphan care.

New candidature for the legislative elections

The rate of transparency and democracy in the legislative elections inside Syria is zero out of four, according to “the Freedom House” index of public freedoms in the world.

The Freedom House’s report said that in the most recent elections for the 250-seat People’s Assembly in 2016, state employees faced pressure to vote, military personnel were allowed to participate in the polls for the first time, and the ruling Ba’ath Party and its declared allies took 200 of the 250 seats.

According to the report, no transparency or accountability is surrounding the formal electoral process. The executive authorities, acting through the military-security apparatus, grant or withhold permission to participate in elections in areas controlled by the Syrian regime.

Sudan won the elections held in 2016, to remain in the People’s Assembly in a second legislative session from 2016 to 2020.

This year, Sudan stood in the legislative elections for the third session, which will be held on 19 July, after being postponed twice due to the new measures to steam the novel coronavirus (COVID 19).

Sudan is considered a candidate for the “National Unity” list in the city of Latakia, in western Syria, for “Category A.”

Military militia leaders in the race to the Syrian People’s Assembly

With the start of the legislative elections,  persons close to Iranian entities and militias in Syria came on the scene.

As monitored by Enab Baladi in the past few days on social media platforms, people close to the Iranian militia have nominated themselves to the People’s Assembly, including the leader of the “National Defence,” Khairallah Abdul Bari.  

Abdul Bari, who hails from al-Rastan in Homs, is considered close to the Iranian militias, and formed during the past years the “Rida Brigade” of the “National Defence.”

The Brigade, based in Homs, changed its name to “Rapid Intervention Brigade.” It includes more than two thousand fighters in Homs and Deir Ezzor, according to information obtained by Enab Baladi from local sources. 

Abdul Bari appeared in a previous photo with the former commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, during one of his visits to Syria.

Soleimani, the mastermind of the Iranian military presence in Syria, was killed early this year by the US bombing in Iraq.

 Abdul Bari nominated himself to the People’s Assembly as an independent candidate from Homs governorate, according to the image of his election campaign.

Enab Baladi also spotted pictures of the candidate Abdul Ilah al-Abdo, from Aleppo governorate. Al-Abdo is supported by the Palestinian “Jerusalem Brigade,” which is fighting alongside the regime forces.

Al-Abdo posted up a photo of him on social media, with the slogan of the “Jerusalem Brigade” in a sign of the brigade’s support to al-Abdo to win a seat in the People’s Assembly at the elections. 

The “Jerusalem Brigade” is one of the most prominent militias fighting alongside the regime forces, and it belongs to the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine”, which is loyal to the Iranian presence and has recently received training from Russia.

Most of the formation’s fighters who call themselves the “Syrian Arab Army Fedayeen” are from the “Neirab” Palestinian refugee camp,  the “Handarat” camp in the countryside of Aleppo. The number of “the Jerusalem Brigade” fighters currently ranges between two and three thousand.

In addition, the leader of the Damascus Center for “the Ba’ath Brigades,” Youssef Hassan Salameh, declared his candidacy for the current legislative elections. 

Iran has supported the Syrian regime over the past years, politically and economically, and militarily through militias fighting with the regime forces, and the establishment of military bases in several regions.

However, Tehran denies that it has forces inside Syria, and its officials have repeatedly pointed out that its presence is advisory only at the request of the Syrian regime.

Since its intervention, Iran has worked on a policy of “long-term penetration” in various sectors, intending to reinforce its presence in Syria.

 

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