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The word from London is that the British journalist Patrick Seale is gravely ill.When it comes to the Middle East, Seale has been a clarifying presence for some five decades. Seale has been a contested figure for at least part of that time. Seale's biography brings out the complexity of the man and his leadership.Though over 30 years old, Seale's biography of Assad is still relevant in deconstructing the principles of the Syrian security order, and more broadly to see why a power remained in good health, in the sense of crime of course, until the debacle that began in 2011 .Before his biography of Assad, Seale had written another classic, "The Struggle for Syria". Seale was always careful when writing about the Syrian regime, but he could not have been impressed with what followed Hafez Assad's death in 2000; even less so the futile savagery of Bashar, which has undermined all that the father built with patience and cynicism.Seale's entree into Hafez Assad's hermetic circle was admired by many people, some of whom would later try to imitate him. If that were necessarily true, how would Seale explain Bashar Assad's actions in 2011?As these words are being written, Seale is alive.
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