EXCLUSIVE: Assad will hang on to bloody end - cousin

Syria is at a 'dark' juncture which could lead to regional war, says exiled Ribal Al-Assad

The killing of senior security figures within Bashar Al-Assad's inner circle has put Syria at a "dark" and pivotal juncture that could lead to full blown civil war and a potential regional conflict, the embattled President's cousin told Arabian Business on Wednesday.

A suicide bomb blast in the Syrian capital Damascus on Wednesday left up to four senior officials from the regime dead, including Al-Assad's brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, Defence Minister Dawoud Rajiha, former Defence Minister Hassan Turkmani, and reportedly, Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar.

“I think it’s a disaster, I don’t know if it’s the beginning of the end but I think it’s a disaster,” Ribal Al-Assad,  who heads the London-based Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria.

 “We’re at a huge risk of civil and regional war,” he added. “It’s very scary because all sides have arms, all are committed to violence, all sides are committed to winning this conflict and it’s going to lead to more bloodshed. I think now we are going to start seeing civil war I think it was just the beginning, I think the number of dead is going to rise.”

“It’s the start of something very dark,” said Assad who is one of 8 sons of Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of the Syrian president who was forced into exile by his brother, Hafez al- Assad, in 1984 after an attempted coup.

Liwa al Islam, an Islamist rebel group whose name means 'The Brigade of Islam' claimed responsibility for today's attack, as did the rebel Free Syrian Army.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague condemned the attack officials, adding that it "strengthened" the argument for decisive UN action.

Leon Panetta, the US Defence Secretary, said Syria was "rapidly spinning out of control".

The conflict in Syria is now in its 16th month and has claimed over 10,000 lives according to the UN, although activists put the figure at more than 17,000.

“Assad will not go on his own,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a statement carried by the state-run Interfax news agency. He said calls for him to do so “are rooted in hopelessness” and that “the decisive fight” is under way in Syria.

Ribal Al-Assad said it was unlikely his cousin would step down or seek asylum in Moscow.

“You’ve heard him speak, you’ve heard Lavrov speak, and he’s not going to step down,” Assad said. “If he wanted to step down he would have stepped down from the beginning when everybody had asked him to. If he had stepped down and joined the people... and gotten rid of the corrupt people around him, who are dragging the country down that road [of civil war,] we wouldn’t have been where we are today.

"Today is a complete chaotic scenario with Islamist groups from everywhere,  from al-Qaeda, to unknown groups from Iraq and other places, to the Free Syrian Army to people just defending their homes. It’s chaotic,” he added.

In a report in April, the International Crisis Group (ICG) warned that upheaval in Syria was crossing “alarming thresholds” and that conflict was in “perpetual motion” and the “regime’s behaviour has fuelled extremists on both sides and, by allowing the country’s slide into chaos, provided them space to move in and operate”.

“Conditions have been created in which extreme forms of violence may well become routine," ICG  added. "In turn, this will further empower the most radical elements on all sides, justifying the worst forms of regime brutality and prompting appalling retaliation in response.”

For Ribal Al-Assad what is most concerning is the prospect of an all-out civil war and wider conflict that spills into neighbouring countries.

“It’s very scary,” he said. “They look like they’re at the door they look very close. If we go down the road of civil war everybody is going to pay the price.”

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on arabianbusiness.com may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Andy

Inshallah he will go the same way the Libyan leader went but that would be way to easy to just die with a simple bullet after looking at the way all those poor Syrian people were butchered,tortured and then killed or left to die. I believe in Karma so what goes around comes around. There is no way that all those people which were tortured,butchered and killed will go down in history without this leader suffering the consequences.

The more he continues to kill,butcher and torture the more enemies that he continues to make and the more enemies that he continues to make the lower his chances are of survival.

Posted by: Abdul hafeez Sheikh

This is start of the end of Bashar-Al Assad ,wen in Pakistan have seen various stages of the end of Dictators . I propose to Bashar Al Assad to see the writing on the wall and make history to go for free anf fair elections in his country and if he does so he may leave the presidency but his name will be remembered in History otherwise everybody knows his end

Posted by: Mohammad

Looks like a sign of WWIII (WORLD WAR 3) which will bring down the world harmony...Act or get reacted by the enemies of humanbeing...it will be too late if world muslim powers are not joining together to stop the bloodshed. YOU will know if it happens to your own family members...As a normal humanbeing, its a sincere request to all to bring in your voice...do something...

Posted by: Louie Tedesco

Still waiting for the GGC nations with all of their high tech modern Western weapons and superbly trained armies to take action and protect their Muslim brothers! Or are these armies only to parade about?

Posted by: Abdulaziz

We like to stay in denial about the present and remember the old good days when we came up with algebra. though, no one seems to care and why should they? The new history is being written and it SUCKS. I hope arab region would flourish like Europe after the war.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Saudi Arabia's new heir leads revolution of powerful millennials

Saudi Arabia's new heir leads revolution of powerful millennials

Why the youngest crown prince in living memory represents a broader...

Three things to watch as Saudi Arabia names new heir to throne

Three things to watch as Saudi Arabia names new heir to throne

Yemen, the Saudi economy and the Qatar-Gulf crisis will be high...

How Mohammed bin Salman rose to become Saudi Arabia's most influential figure

How Mohammed bin Salman rose to become Saudi Arabia's most influential figure

Profile: New heir to Saudi throne holds power beyond his years...

Most Discussed