Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 20th March, 2016
In the Middle Eastern state of Badia, some high school students spray anti-government slogans on walls in the city of Adar. The regime, notorious for the brutality of its control and its favouritism towards the Ray people from whom its president hails, cracks down hard. Far from bringing the incident to an end, the regime’s reaction prompts yet more protests as marchers peacefully call for true democracy and freedom, only to be slaughtered or arrested and ‘disappeared ‘ or tortured. In despair, some youngsters instead turn to the armed Brotherhood, which takes on the regime by its own terms, taking the country into civil war. If this all sounds like what has happened in Syria since March 2011, it is because it is. George Nassif’s novel The Regime (Amazon kindle £6.61, paperback £9.99) is clearly inspired by the attempt by the Assad family and associates, including mafioso elements, to hang onto power in Syria, come what may. The author maintains a mask of fiction, even calling the United Nations the World Order Organistion and the United States, Hovan. As a fiction writer, though, he has the advantage of foreseeing the outcome of the civil war — and it is not the peaceful pro-democracy campaigners who win, though these are the ones the author supports, as is made clear by his use of first person narrative in the case of the protagonist who argues for Gandhian tactics against the regime. The style of the novel is often cliche-ridden and some of the dialogue is clunky, but the topicality and narrative thrust of the story means that it achieves what novels should do, namely to keep one reading to discover what happens next.