From hardcore neo-Nazis to David Duke to such newer faces as Richard Spencer, many members of what has been termed the “alternative right” have displayed an admiration for Bashar al-Assad. Since Assad is the head of a political party that combines nationalism and socialism, and has dedicated a great deal of effort to killing Jews, perhaps this should not be particularly surprising. Liz Sly and Rick Noack write:
Assad’s politics—and those of his father before him—have historically been associated more with the left than the right. His late father, President Hafez al-Assad, was the closest Middle Eastern ally of the Soviet Union throughout the cold war. The son has enjoyed the stalwart support of international leftists throughout his attempt to crush the six-year-old rebellion against his rule.
In recent months, however, Assad has [also] become an icon for the far right, whose leaders and spokesman have heaped praise on the ferocity with which he has prosecuted the war, his [alleged] role in fighting Islamic State, and his perceived stance against Muslims and Jews.
That Assad’s harsh methods have resulted in [hundreds] of thousands of civilian casualties seems only to have enhanced his stature. In a video posted on Twitter, three men who participated in the Charlottesville protests hailed Assad’s use of barrel bombs to subdue communities that turned against him. One is wearing a T-shirt that says: “Bashar’s Barrel Delivery Co.” . . .
The far right’s love affair with Assad [should] not be entirely unexpected. His Baath party is fiercely nationalist and ethnocentric, focused on the promotion of Arab identity. One of the few [other] political parties permitted by his regime and one of his staunchest supporters in the war is the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which drew the inspiration for its logo from the swastika.