{Bashar al-Assad} The Opthhamologist

Bashar al-Assad's regime is in the grips of Civil War with rebels successfully assassinating three key advisors in a bomb blast.  It looks increasingly likely his regime will fall after incredible bloodshed.
It was all supposed to be different.
Trained as an ophthalmologist,  he studied in London, where he met his eventual wife, Asma, a British citizen of Syrian origin.  By all accounts, he was not much interested in the 'family business' of politics.  It is likely he would have seen his life out as a comfortable doctor however the death of his eldest brother made him the heir apparent to Hafez al-Assad.
His father was by all accounts a ruthless ruler, a 'hard' man.  Bashar was definitely seen as an advocate of 'soft power' - he promised to usher in a new era of liberalism and democracy.  He pulled Syria out of Lebanon.
Both he and his wife were the darlings of the Western media, most notably in a fawning Vanity Fair profile, which painted both the Assad's in an almost Camelot light.
Perhaps this only emboldened his opponents who perceived him as 'weak'.  Would these uprisings have occurred under the hard rule of Hafez?  What is certain, Bashar quickly shed the velvet glove and revealed the iron fist within.  By all reports it has been a brutal response that has ensured it is a fight to the death for Bashar.
I opted to depict him in his former career - the ophthalmologist  - as he tends to a patient symbolizing Syria.  This figure was an homage to Rembrandt's famous Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp in which doctors examine a corpse.  An allusion to Bashar's former training within the Western culture and the proscription we expect of a doctor to 'do no harm'.   The 'eyewear' Bashar now prescribes?  pennies for the eyes in order to cover the dead.
Two versions: one with captions in case the point is missed; the other without.


  1. A Canadian penny, I guess. Nobody wants 'em anymore. I've always loved Rembrandt's Dr. Tulp but I never understood why he has that look on his face, staring off into space like he suddenly remembered he left his keys in the car... Your drawing, however, Fred, is wonderful.


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