Friday, January 06, 2006

Syria: Khaddam goes a step further, calls for Syrian revolt

Kash Kheirkhah

Former Syrian vice president Abdul Halim Khaddam, one of the longest-serving, most prominent insiders of Damascus' Baathist regime who is also considered the main architect of Syria's policy of military presence and political dominance over Lebanon is now calling for for a Syrian revolt. According to the BBC News, Khadam who back in 2004 said that "those who suggested changing the regime either did not understand that this would jeopardize the stability of the state or serve the plans of foreign elements and of Israel" now wants to topple President Bashar al-Assad's regime through a popular uprising:

Former Syrian Vice-President Abdul Halim Khaddam wants to oust President Bashar al-Assad through a popular uprising, he told an Arabic newspaper. Mr Khaddam told the Pan-Arab al-Sharq al-Awsat that the pressure for change had to come from within Syria.

On Thursday, he said Mr Assad should go to prison for complicity in the murder of former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri. A UN-led inquiry implicated Syria in the murder, but Damascus denies any involvement in the killing.

Speaking from Paris, where he has lived under protection since resigning his post in June 2005, Mr Khaddam said he wanted opposition groups to "create the right atmosphere for the Syrian people to topple the regime". This regime cannot be reformed, so there is nothing left but to oust it," he said. "The Syrian people will be the ones to oust it."

Mr Khaddam said he had not asked other nations to help Syria's opposition. "I did not contact anybody because change has to come from within. If the main vector for change is external, then the interests of the country are harmed."

Khaddam's political maneuvers have got Tehran's regime quite worried as well. His close ties with Tehran under Hafez al-Assad and the information he has on the Iranian Government's terrorist activities in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories only mean that he could spill the beans on Iran at any moment. This morning, Mohammad Ali Abtahi, former president Khatami's chief of staff and Vice President questioned Khaddam's past (a close ally and friend up until a few months ago) on his blog and wrote, " The world using Khaddam's image as a democracy activist now to destabilize Syria is an unethical act that will only hurt Syrian people." An alarmed-sounding Mr Abtahi, while blaming the world for putting the heat on Syria, failed to mention anything at all about the UN investigation commission's findings of top-level Syrian involvement in the assassination of Rafik Hariri and the wave of killings of prominent anti-Syrian figures such as Gibran Tueni that followed Hariri's murder. Obviously, Syria's current troubled situation is a pandora's box neither Mr, Abtahi nor any other Iranian official from reformists to hardliners can afford to open now.