A former Syrian vice president, Abdul Halim Khaddam, explained the machinations behind plans by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to face the ongoing anti-regime protests and the increasing regional and international pressure, while several Syrian writers lashed out at the Arab League mission for failing to protect civilians and stop regime brutality.
“Assad spoke to one of the Lebanese ministers, an ally of his, and told him he will never offer any concessions,” Khaddam, who resigned and moved to Paris in 2005, told Al Arabiya’s The Last Hour on Tuesday.
Assad, Khaddam added, also said that if the Arab world and the international community keep putting pressure on him, he would ignite civil war in Syria and establish an independent state in the coastal area.
“His main aim now is to divide the country and he is taking advantage of the current silence of the international community, which gives him more chances to stay.”
Khaddam called upon the International Community, particularly Western countries, to start taking action through the Security Council.
“They have to protect the Syrian people and to prevent the regime from killing protestors.”
Khaddam pointed out that inside the Syrian opposition there is a group that supports holding negotiations with the regime.
“Those are hoping that they can take part in ruling the country and they are the reason why the opposition is now divided into two groups: one tolerant towards the regime and another adamant to topple it.”
Meanwhile, the Syrian writer Hussein Oudat criticized the decision of the Arab Ministerial Committee on Syria to give the monitoring mission more time.
“What was supposed to be a decision has turned into a list of wishes made by the Syrian authorities,” he said.
Oudat pointed out that the mission of the observers’ committee was to determine how serious the Syrian regime is about implementing the initiative, which was reduced to a protocol approved by the regime.
“Then observers ended up monitoring only a small part of this protocol.”
He added that Arab monitors in Syria are not qualified to carry out investigations and that they lack a clear strategic plan for monitoring the situation.
“Plus, they do not have the necessary financial support for such a mission.”
Oudat criticized the observers committee’s lack of independence.
“The Syrian regime provides committee members with means of transportation and regime loyalists accompany them to places that the regime decides they should visit and which are not necessarily the places they should see.”
According to Syrian journalist Ayad Sharbatji, the majority of people are eyeing the monitoring committee with suspicion.
“Syrians trust neither the head of the committee nor several of its members, who are representatives of their respective repressive regimes that support Bashar al-Assad,” he told Al Arabiya.
Sharbatji added that members of the committee have already deviated from their original mission, which is making sure the terms of the Arab initiative are being implemented.
“The Arab League also failed in putting pressure on the Syrian regime to pull out the military and security forces from the streets or to release political detainees.”
Instead of stopping its violence against protestors, Sharbatji added, the regime is actually becoming more brutal in crushing protests.
“The regime is also playing games with observers, for no sooner do they leave a place after inspecting it than security forces start another round of killing and destruction in it, and when the people ask observers to come back to see for themselves what happened, they refuse most of the time.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)