Khaddam: Syrians will take up arms if they are not protected.

publisher: رويترز

AUTHOR: John Irish

Publishing date: 2011-11-02


Former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam said in an interview on Wednesday that Syrians will be forced to take up arms to defend themselves unless the world intervenes to protect civilians who are protesting against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

Khaddam (79 years old), who fled to Paris in 2005 after about 30 years of service under Assad and his late father, President Hafez al-Assad, attempted to form an exiled government four years ago but disagreed with other opposition groups.

Khaddam is planning to announce the formation of a new group next week that supports opposition efforts to overthrow Assad and establish democracy.

Khaddam told Reuters in his first interview from Paris, where he is under constant police surveillance in a luxurious neighborhood, that the international community must intervene to stop these crimes and protect civilians; otherwise, Syrians will find themselves compelled to bear arms to defend themselves.

Calls for foreign intervention in Syria have been growing after seven months of a harsh security crackdown by Assad’s forces, which the United Nations says has resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 people so far.

There is no desire in the West for military intervention in Syria, and NATO has ruled out a campaign there like the one it conducted in Libya.

The Syrian protest movement has remained largely peaceful, but an increasing armed uprising has emerged in some areas, and a defected Syrian colonel announced the formation of an opposition army in Turkey.

Khaddam, who resides in a luxurious house in an upscale Paris neighborhood under constant police surveillance, expected that the Arab initiative aimed at ending the violence would fail.

He said that this initiative calls for dialogue between Assad and the opposition, but not on the basis of ending the regime. He stated that the Syrian street and all opposition factions rejected the settlement.

Syria is located in the heart of the Middle East and shares borders with Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan. Assad warned in a recent interview that Western powers could cause an “earthquake” if they intervene in Syria.

Khaddam, who resigned from his position and left the Ba’ath Party in 2005, described President Assad as a “weaker” personality who is unable to make decisive decisions.

Prominent opposition figures don’t trust Khaddam due to his long history in the Ba’ath Party and the wealth he accumulated during his service.

Khaddam denies having blood on his hands, saying that he focused on foreign affairs during his time in the government.

He claimed that he opposed Assad’s domestic policies despite working with him, but he didn’t confront the regime because the punishment for opposition was lifelong imprisonment or death.

He said that after leaving Syria, he was the first to call for regime change because he knows that this regime cannot be reformed.

Khaddam acknowledged that he has no affiliation with major Syrian opposition groups like the Syrian National Council led by Burhan Ghalioun, also based in Paris.

However, he said that the “National Committee to Support the Syrian Revolution” will encourage unity among Assad’s opponents and work to raise funds and gather international support.

He also stated that the opposition abroad will not overthrow the regime; it’s the revolutionaries inside Syria who will achieve that, and the role of the opposition abroad is to support them, not replace them.