Assad’s cousin: West is backing wrong opposition

By Anshel Pfeffer

LONDON – Ribal Assad jokes that “being called Assad is not the best way to gain friends today, especially being a relative of Bashar.” Indeed, being the first cousin of the Syrian president who over the last year has overseen the murder of some 9000 Syrians in the bloody repression of the Syrian revolution is not a great distinction, but the 36 year-old son of the former vice-president and security chief is attempting, from exile, to clear the family’s name.

“Only two members of the Assad family are in the regime,” he insists. “The rest of the 99 percent of them are sitting at home without jobs” and he tells how the stooges of his cousin the president have persecuted his father, siblings and assorted cousins. He never calls the government in Damascus – the Assad regime. “It is a corrupt regime, a regime of killers, the worst dictatorship, but don’t call them the Assad regime, or the Baathist or Allawite regime. There are two million members in the Ba’ath party, most of them are members because that is the only way they can get a job, not because they are killers.”

Currently living in London, Damascus-born Assad has been an exile from the age of nine, leaving Syria along with his father Rifat following a failed coup attempt. Since then he has returned only for a few visits, during one of which he claims to have been the target of an assassination attempt. But he feels that his family history obliges him to get involved and is using every possible platform to campaign for what he claims is a democratic future for Syria. On Wednesday night this week, he appeared at a small hall in north London, speaking to “The International Forum” of Hampstead Garden Suburb.

It is hard to reconcile the softly-spoken well-groomed, babyface with the stories of atrocities carried out by his father, uncle and first cousin. He carries a range of titles – founder of the Organization for Democracy and Freedom in Syria, chairman of the Imam Foundation which promotes interfaith understanding and director of the London bureau of his father’s Arab News Network (ANN) satellite television channel. He says “I miss the country I love but being here makes me free to criticize the regime and champion for reform.”

But does he have a formula for extricating Syria from its current bloodshed and can an Assad even deliver a credible solution? “My agenda is not as simple as overthrowing a corrupt regime or supporting the most vocal and violent elements of the oppositions. My agenda is real democracy.” And while he is full of criticism for the actions of his cousin Bashar, (ten years his senior, whom he claims never to have spoken to) his real enemy is actually the most prominent of the Syrian opposition groups, the Syrian National Council (SNC).

    “The west is in danger of supporting the wrong people. “Why was the SNC chosen to represent the Syrian people? How did it rise to prominence?” He blames them of human rights violations that could be worse than his cousin’s regime. “The SNC have transformed the actions of peaceful protestors who were chanting ‘peaceful, peaceful'” he charges. “They have chosen a moderate leader to hide this but radical Islamists have entered the fold backed by insidious elements in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This is the reason that Damascus and Aleppo have not yet risen, they are afraid they will be replacing the regime with something worse.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar backing Salafist Islamist elements are just two of the regimes Assad blames for advancing their ulterior motives in Syria. The main culprit is

    “Turkey with its imperial agenda. It was Turkey who chose the SNC which is really the Muslim Brotherhood. When they held in Ankara a meeting of the opposition, they called only the Islamists, and disregarded all other groups. It’s because Turkey is lead by an Islamist party. No-one in Syria believes them. If you want to have a real meeting, do it in London or Berlin. Not Ankara.”

Ribal Assad and the Muslim Brotherhood have a long history. He claims that the Brotherhood in Syria, unlike in Egypt, is a murderous movement committed to establishing an Islamic state and that when he was a child, the Brotherhood tried to bomb his family’s house. Assad is ready with details of Muslim Brotherhood terror but he is insistent that despite all contemporary records, it wasn’t his father Rifat Assad who commanded the infamous Hama Massacre in 1982, when Syrian forces who were putting down a Brotherhood rebellion demolished entire parts of the northern city, killing an estimated twenty to thirty thousand civilians. He was eight at the time but he is certain of the details – “it is a great invention, my father was never involved. A committee was appointed by President Assad to oversee Hama and he was not one of them. He commanded the republican guard unit and their job was to protect the capital, not to go north to Hama.”

While every report from the period clearly puts Rifat at the center of the Hama operation, it is imperative for his son to deny this was the case, if he is to have any credibility today and a chance of participating in the future of Syria. He also insists that his father, who until 1984 was widely acknowledged as the next leader, was in favor of democracy and a peaceful solution to the Middle East’s conflicts already in 1967.

He also believes that the only solution to the current situation within Syria has to be peaceful. “International intervention means a tug of war between Iran on one side and Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar on the other side. Iran will do everything in its power to support the regime and will use the Quds Force and Hezbollah and their militias in Iraq, they will never let the regime fall? They know that if the regime goes they are finished. The superpowers, Russia and China are already preparing to make Syria their proxy-playground.

The Saudis are financing the Islamist elements because they don’t want to see a democracy emerge in Syria. Military intervention will be a disaster and hundreds of thousands will be killed.”

He believes that the only solution is for the western countries to back the democratic opposition groups and insist on negotiations with the regime. He insists that if free elections are held in Syria, the Islamists will not take control as in Egypt and Tunisia. “Democracy is possible in Syria because 45 or fifty percent of the country are classified minorities. The Curds are twenty percent and the Alawis and Christians are each 17 or 18 percent. And the rest who are Sunni are not mainly Islamists either.”

He explains that his own Alawi sect and the other minorities have yet to join the revolution because “they want change, democracy and freedom, but they don’t want to replace a dictator with theocracy. That’s why Syria hasn’t moved forward and the international community should ask itself why. Put yourself in the place of an army general in Syria. How can they trust that this is genuine change?”

He is much more careful when speaking about Syria’s future relations with its neighbor Israel. His father has been accused in the past with links with the Zionist enemy and Ribal is careful not to speak to the Israeli media but he insists that his uncle was never interested in getting the Golan Heights back in a peace agreement – “the Golan was just an excuse for the state of emergency.” He himself thinks that Israel should return the Golan to Syria. “It is important for our self-respect, but I’m sure that everyone just wants to live in peace.”

March 30, 2012 | 7 Comments »

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  1. According to debka it is all over and this approach has ended by strengthening Iran and the enemies of Israel.

    What I think Israel should have done from the beginning was:

    Above everything else take up truthful political positions and positions which were totally independent of US and Europe.

    So I would say

    1. defend Assad against the Jihad
    2. strike immediately (should have been done ages ago) the Iranian Nuclear works
    3. warn Assad that Israel will obliterate him and will do this quite independently from Empire if he even squeaks for Iran
    4. Without doubt obliterate totally Hizbullah
    5. ditto Hamas
    6. ditto Fatah
    7. see reality as it is, Israel is now at war with Egypt, Sinai must be taken over and the fence placed between Sinai and Egypt etc.

    At present Israeli leaders toady up to world opinion. Take for example Saif Gadhafi. He is being held by the Empire/Jihad. Israel must demand his immediate release and must make an investigation in how blacks were murdered by the Empire Jihad etc. etc.

    If Israel is prepared to break from USA, act independently, seek unity with American people, strike in everything alone and independently from the US power elite but very close to the ordinary American people, then it will be successfully

    Israel will have played a proud as well as successful role.

    Israel will have defended the Christians even as there is hardly a peep out of American Christian organizations and the Vatican about their people being driven out.

    To act like that Jews need new leaders.

    And to act like that they need a firm dictatorship inside Israel, where the dictates of the Jews are placed at the forefront. Haaretz will close its doors. Make the throwing of a stone against a Jew a very serious offence meriting expulsion if a change of attitude cannot be made operative. And so on.

    Great events do not allow an individual or a country to do nothing….things can move from Weimar to Hitler

  2. A pox on them all. They are all totally evil; interchangeably evil. Replacing one with the other in Syria will merely substitute one murderous, corrupt hate filled regime with another eg, Egypt, Libya. Meanwhile let them destroy each other from within while we stand back and watch.

  3. @ yamit82: Yamit, I viewed the show, which had many scenarios, so what was the point you were making, was it the use of al quaeda in syria to produce terror? I start with Treyvon Martin: Zimmerman has morphed fro Hispanic to white and next may be Jewish. Perhaps it is a weapons test trying to see how the activists can be mobilized. Now the bigger picture of Obama. I have seen these tactics before in the Caribbean and they are standard marxist fare for taking power in a democracy. Obamas marxist exposures enables him to see the efficacy of the creation of disorder and using it to seize power. It also teaches the use of social and political activist organizations created under govt auspices for financial and loyalty reasons. Examples: cuban CDR, Acorn, proposed civilian militia will all receive financing from govt coffers but will be indebted and give loyalty to Obama. Increasing control and decreasing economy are not anathema in the plan. As the economic pie decreases those institutions which live off the govt become more, not less, loyal. Now about loyalty and support. The communist party in USSR was less that 10% of the population and yet was able to control the nation. The US is not acculturated to absolute loyalty through party structures alone. However, there is in the US a population of 20% who will give absolute loyalty to Obama and that population will make up the bulk of the foot soldiers of the institutions which now exist, and will be created, in support of Obama. Through NGO.s welfare, and govt contracts this population will be radicalized to see its future as one with Obama, whatever his policies. The use of the Sharptons,Acorn, new black panthers,farakhans muslims are the tools which will be used and are now being tested. The creation of Jstreet was pre planned as a front jewish support group for obama as a foil against anti Israeli moves. Now the MB and why is the west supporting them? The old order of arab dictators cannot maintain control of the muslim populations. The MB has the ability to control and manipulate the muslim population globally. Perhaps, in the same way the sauds made a deal with the wahabbis, the west(or their handlers) is making a deal with the MB to hand over control to an institution that is more able to maintain control and loyalty. The saudi connection as with the afghan soviet wars is operative. The question is what are the deals being made. We can look at the saudi wahabbi deal for indications; we can look at the first corporations in communists USSR deals for indications. Whoever can control populations and command loyalty has power and is courted to make deals. Politics makes strange bedfellows but all these players have already shown the deals they can make. Israel and the Jews will be scapegoats unless they can transform themselves into a military power that is willing to be imperialist, and aggressive and must be accommodated also with deals. This is another reason for Israel to have plans to seize Saudi oil and the Suez canal. Just a thought.

  4. “Democracy” in Syria, hey best of luck on that one!

    This whole Syrian episode has exposed the utter bankruptcy of the Ted Belman/Gerry Gordon branch of Zionist “thought” and practice and its utter hostility to Trotskyist theory and practice, which is indeed Marxism.

    The real importance of this is not just the fate of Assad and Syria but if applied to Israel these people and they are representing by far the majority will lead ISRAEL into utter defeat.

    Take this sentence quoted without comment by Belman:

    But does he have a formula for extricating Syria from its current bloodshed and can an Assad even deliver a credible solution? “My agenda is not as simple as overthrowing a corrupt regime or supporting the most vocal and violent elements of the oppositions. My agenda is real democracy.”

    So the cousin of Assad is going to come along and wave his magic wand and hey presto you have democracy.

    Some weeks ago Belman and Gordon were backing another grouping as an alternative to the group (SNC) Obama is backing. But it didn’t fly either. So they have fallen silent on that.

    However the answer is all too clear. I said it from the beginning and I say it still. Whatever kind of low life you think Assad (which of course he is) that is not the real point. The real point is that if Assad is defeated then that will register a major victory of US imperialism at present being led by Obama and for the forces of Muslim Brotherhood Nazi Qaradawi and associates.

    The Christians and Alawites can see what Belman and Gordon cannot and that is that if Assad is defeated by the Empire/Jihad their throats are cut, and will actually be cut, if they do not manage to flee.

    They are such political amateurs, people like Belman and Gordon.

    But amateurs like this can do such enormous damage.

  5. Ribal Assad and the Muslim Brotherhood have a long history. He claims that the Brotherhood in Syria, unlike in Egypt, is a murderous movement committed to establishing an Islamic state

    UNLIKE Egypt’s muslim brotherhood?