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Assad Brother Challenges Bashar Succession

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  • Islamic News and Information Network
    Assalamu alaikum, Assad Brother Challenges Bashar Succession ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ By Kate Dourian
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 12, 2000

      Assad Brother Challenges Bashar Succession
      By Kate Dourian


      LONDON (Reuters) - The exiled younger brother of the late Syrian President
      Hafez al-Assad challenged the nomination of Assad's son Bashar as next
      leader Monday and declared he embodied the only legal authority.

      But it was unclear whether Rifaat al-Assad could count on serious support
      within Syria, where the political and military establishment have been
      quick to rally behind the 34-year-old Bashar to succeed the veteran
      autocrat, who died Saturday.

      ``What is happening in Syria is a real farce and an unconstitutional piece
      of theater which is a real violation of the law and the constitution,''
      Rifaat told Reuters through his spokesman in Marbella, Spain.

      ``The only legal constitutional reality is embodied by Dr Rifaat
      al-Assad,'' spokesman al-Hareth al-Khayer said.

      Rifaat, 62, has lived in exile since 1986 in France and Spain after his
      ``defense brigades,'' now disbanded, mounted a failed challenge to his
      brother's authority.

      He was stripped of the title of vice-president two years ago, and a
      newspaper said Monday the Syrian authorities had issued a warrant for his
      arrest in an apparent bid to prevent him attending Assad's funeral

      ``Rifaat al-Assad is a leader of the Syrian people, loves his people as
      his people love him. He will go to his people and take up his
      responsibilities to fulfil the will of the people,'' the disgraced
      brother's spokesman said.

      Asked if this meant Rifaat would ignore the threat of arrest and travel to
      Syria for the funeral, Khayer said: ``Despite all the illegitimate
      roadblocks imposed by the illegal presence in Syria, Dr Rifaat al-Assad
      will destroy these roadblocks and will arrive in his land and join his

      Syria Said To Threaten Rifaat With Arrest

      The Saudi-owned newspaper al-Hayat Monday quoted a very senior Syrian
      official, whom it did not name, as saying the army and intelligence
      services were granted ``full powers to arrest Rifaat and do anything to
      stop him from entering the country.''

      Rifaat commanded security forces in a bloody crackdown on a Muslim
      fundamentalist uprising in the city of Hama in 1982, in which human rights
      groups say some 10,000 people were killed.

      Although he is no longer considered a serious political force, an attempt
      by Rifaat to attend his brother's funeral could upset plans for a smooth
      succession of power to Bashar.

      The Assad family is no stranger to internecine strife. Bashar will need
      the backing of his powerful brother-in-law, Atef Shawkat, reported to have
      been shot and wounded in a family dispute last year, who controls a key
      security service.

      Before he can officially exercise power, Bashar, a trained ophthalmologist
      and relative political novice, has to wait for parliament to approve his
      nomination on June 25 and for voters to accept or reject him as president
      in a referendum.

      Syrian security forces last year arrested supporters of Rifaat in Damascus
      and the coastal town of Latakia and closed a private port he owned there.
      Family sources said several people were killed in the crackdown.

      Assad family members said at the time the motive behind the crackdown
      appeared to be to intimidate Rifaat's branch of the family and strengthen
      Bashar's position as heir apparent.

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