Bashar al-Assad’s rule in Syria is doomed, warned his uncle who lives in exile in Paris.
Rifaat al-Assad, the brother of Bashar’s father Hafez, told BBC in an interview that the accelerating pace of violence in Syria is so great that his nephew will not be able to maintain his power for much longer.
The problems are now general to all parts of Syria -- there are no places that have escaped violence - -so I don't think he can stay in power, Rifaat said.
I would say, though, that he should stay so he can cooperate with a new government and offer the experience he has.”
Regarding a post-Assad Syria, Rifaat added: “A commission should go from the Arab League and the [United Nations] Security Council to monitor free and transparent elections.”
However, Rifaat, now 73, also noted that the Assad family is still pretty much accepted by the Syrian people.
Then you will see that the Assad family has got much more importance and support than some of the meaningless figures [of the opposition] who we see on TV screens now, he said.
However, Rifaat is hardly a stranger to violence himself. In February 1982, he commanded a military assault on the city of Hama to stamp out the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria -- an offensive which led to the massacre of up to 40,000 people. That figure is four to five times the estimated number of casualties inflicted in the current crisis.
Indeed, Syrian opposition groups have declared Rifaat should be also be subjected to western sanctions since he committed crimes during his reign in Syria.
Rifaat was exiled in 1984, after he tried to take over power in Syria from his brother Hafez. Somehow, he managed to retain his formal position as Syrian vice president until 1998. When his nephew Bashar assumed the presidency in Syria, Rifaat was outraged, asserting he was the rightful heir to the leadership in Damascus.
In a profile from last year in Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, it was revealed that Rifaat owns a luxurious £10 million Georgian mansion in Mayfair, one of the poshest neighborhoods in London. He also had properties in Spain and France.
He has never been indicted for his partictuapation in the Hama massacre.
Philippe Sands, a human rights lawyer and professor of law at University College, London, told the Telegraph: “Absent a criminal investigation or indictment, there is no reason why someone cannot live in this country without facing legal difficulties, unless they have been characterized as persona non grata for other reasons. But international crimes to which universal jurisdiction attaches are generally not subject to a limitation period for investigation, so it cannot be assumed that a comfortable existence will necessarily continue, particularly if new facts or allegations emerge.”