Khaddam: I informed Hariri that Assad intends to assassinate him

publisher: لبنان الجديد New Lebanon

Publishing date: 2015-02-12


Former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam did not hide the fact that he was aware of the current Syrian regime’s intention to assassinate the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri. He mentioned that he specifically traveled to Lebanon to inform Hariri that Assad intended to assassinate him.

In an interview with “Al-Watan” conducted with the former Syrian Vice President, who defected from the Assad regime, from his residence in the French capital Paris, Khaddam called for the interests of the Arabs to unite, making their affairs stronger in the world. At the same time, he rejected labeling “ISIS” as “resistance” and described it as a “killing organization.” Khaddam promised that the downfall of Iran in Syria would be a decisive blow, and Hezbollah would not stay in Lebanon for more than two months after its collapse in Syria. All this and more details in the interview, refer to the dialogue for further information.

you were one of those whose statements were heard regarding the assassination of the Lebanese President Rafik Hariri. What happened to that case?

I was not summoned; instead, investigators came here to Paris, and I told them the truth about the assassination and who was behind it.

What were those truths that you mentioned?

One of the pieces of evidence and facts is that we were gathered at the party headquarters in Syria two weeks before Hariri’s assassination. Bashar al-Assad had a strong hatred for Rafik Hariri. During the meeting, Bashar spoke about Hariri as an agent for France and America, stating that his presence posed a threat to Lebanon and Syria. Since that moment, I became certain that there was a conspiracy to eliminate him. I then went to Lebanon, met Hariri secretly at his home, had lunch with him, and informed him that the Syrian regime aimed to eliminate him. I asked him to leave Lebanon immediately. Hariri responded, “But Maher al-Assad has invited me to stay.” I reassured him that these were just assurances, but he was not convinced, and a week after our meeting, he was assassinated.

Did they sit down with Bashar al-Assad and interrogate him?

One investigator came to him, sat with him for a while, asked him some formal questions, and left immediately because he was afraid of being assassinated.

Was there any sign of a political crisis before you left Syria?

Since 2006, five years before the revolution, I predicted that the country would go through a crisis. I informed major Arab countries and world nations that if they didn’t pay attention to the Syrian people, Syria would eventually become a haven for extremists from around the world. However, no one believed my words. In every interview, I repeated this, but to no avail.

Is what is happening in Syria a genuine resistance or are there military factions with political goals?

I say it frankly; the factions speaking in the name of the opposition bear significant responsibility. They wanted to fight against the corrupt Assad regime, but they were divided. Assad faced them united with Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. Therefore, any people fighting aggression while being divided cannot achieve their goals. Unfortunately, there is conflict among some factions, and one reason for this conflict is the aid that used to reach specific factions over others.

But you did not answer my question; do these factions have political goals, or are they just fighting factions?

Do you think armed movements like “ISIS” thwarted the Syrian resistance?

“ISIS” is an organization that practices killing for the sake of killing and destruction under the false guise of Islam. It poses a real danger to all Arab countries. It could have been controlled by not allowing its emergence if those countries had improved their economic, social, and political conditions. Extremism does not come from the sky, but these groups thrive and destroy societies because they infiltrated amid poor security conditions in Syria and Iraq.

Do you believe it’s more of an intelligence fabrication? Before answering, there’s a question: where do these weapons they possess come from?

There are confirmations that they are affiliated with a state or states whose aim is to destabilize the region’s security. There is Arab and Gulf dissatisfaction with Iran’s interventions in the internal affairs of countries. How do you view such accusations?

Unfortunately, the Arabs did not take Iran seriously as a state with its own strategy and major goals. Iran presents itself as the major state that should lead the region. Therefore, Iran, at the beginning of the Iranian Islamic revolution, aimed to establish an international Islamic system led by Iran. However, this goal failed after the Iran-Iraq war. Iran then changed its direction, relying on two things: stirring up sectarianism among Shia communities in the region and making their allegiance to “Qom” a religious orientation. The second thing is focusing efforts on strengthening scientific capabilities, enabling Iran, with Russia’s assistance, to produce all kinds of weapons. The only solution is not to confront Iran directly militarily but to help the Syrian people confront it. If Iran falls in Syria, it will fall directly in Lebanon and Iraq. Hezbollah will not last more than two consecutive months, and it will be confined within its regional borders, facing internal difficulties. Thus, the head of the snake will be cut off.

But Iranian policy differs from one president to another; a conciliatory president may be followed by one who fans the flames?

This is an old Iranian policy. The first president comes to extend a hand, and the next one comes with the aim of igniting tensions. They talk in their meetings with neighboring countries about the importance of security, yet their actions on the ground differ completely.

Ahmed Jarba, do you see him as a future figure in Syrian politics?

I don’t believe he is the right person in the near future if Assad is overthrown because politics is not that easy. The country needs someone more competent than him. Also, he did not fulfill his national duty when he was in the Syrian Coalition. I believe the solution is to hold a Syrian national conference sponsored by a major country like Saudi Arabia. The conference should be supported by all regional countries, and a consensus figure should be nominated from all Syrian factions. The Kingdom has a savvy foreign minister, Prince Saud, a close and very intelligent friend, played a significant role in shaping the region’s policies, influenced international decisions, and had a stance on the Palestinian issue that I won’t forget.

Throughout your political career, have Saudi-Syrian relations gone through the tension they are experiencing now?

In fact, since I was the foreign minister during Hafez al-Assad’s era, relations were distinctive. But tensions started when Bashar al-Assad assumed power. He was not politically qualified, got trapped by Iran, and adopted their policy of not reaching out to Arab countries. The Iranian policy imposed that he should not extend his hand to Arab countries and make negative statements about them. I consider Saudi Arabia the state capable of helping all Arab nations, and thus, any harm to it is rejected.

There’s been much talk about the Geneva Conference and its results. How do you view the decisions made?

The Geneva Conference complicated matters and did not resolve them. Some of its decisions seem to suggest a desire for a military coup through an army officer to rule the country, resembling Bashar al-Assad’s scenario.

In the Gulf, there’s a Saudi proposal by the late King Abdullah to establish a Gulf Union. Do you expect its success?

The best recent decision by Gulf countries is King Abdullah’s reconciliation with Gulf states, hosting them, and their agreements with each other. Their fate is one, and undoubtedly, establishing the union is an important and progressive step. We hope it happens and is followed by similar projects in other Arab countries.

The recent U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, what impact has it had on the region’s countries?

In my opinion, the United States made a major mistake, given its size as a great power. Its agreement with Iran will not be effective because Iran will not offer anything that serves U.S. policies. Iran is playing the nuclear bomb card, which does not exist fundamentally, to gain time. If Iran threatens with a nuclear bomb, 200 nuclear bombs will fall on its head, erasing it from the map.