Below, a news item on Rifaat Al Assad's possible return to power in Syria. William comments: "This article was featured prominently on the front page of Al Quds Al Arabi on the 8th of May. It has been dismissed as gossip by many in the Arab world but there may be more to it."
Date: 5 May 2006
Source: Reform Party of Syria
Washington DC, May 5, 2006/RPS/ -- Closely guarded information obtained by RPS confirm that Rifaat al-Assad, the ex Vice President of Syria and brother to the late Hafez al-Assad, has traveled to Damascus secretly in December of 2005 and entered into a secret pact with Baschar al-Assad for a permanent but conditional return to Syria.
The information RPS has also confirms that Baschar al-Assad asked Rifaat al-Assad, before he could return, to attempt to destroy the Syrian opposition outside the country through the timeless tactic, used by Hafez al-Assad, of dividing his opponents or through the spreading of lies about its leadership. Both tactics intended to weaken the dissident movement that could bring down the Assad regime. Rifaat al-Assad stayed for close to five weeks in Syria negotiating the terms of his comeback and his TV station ANN, beaming from the British capital, has been broadcasting "We will return soon" messages ever since his pact with Baschar. RPS does not have information on what role Rifaat al-Assad will play once in Syria but given his age, it is unlikely Baschar al-Assad would have given-up any real power to his uncle. For Rifaat, this is an opportunity to keep the family's chokehold on power.
The timing of Rifaat al-Assad's trip to Damascus coincides as well with the defection of ex Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam. This explains Baschar al-Assad feeling weak and striking the pact with his nemesis uncle. ANN has also been broadcasting anti Khaddam programs ever since his defection on December 30, 2005 and ANN has invited individuals from RPS, whom Rifaat allured with money and promises, to appear as well with the full intention of splitting RPS.
Rifaat considers that any "regime change" is in fact a "family change" in Syria and has convinced Baschar, when Baschar knew that Khaddam was about to go public with his anti-regime message, that he could play a role to paralyze the opposition outside Syria if allowed to come back. Our information confirms that Assef Shawkat and his wife Bouchra opposed this pact but Baschar overruled on the basis that a weakened opposition can never be used against him by opponents of his rule whether within his own circle or outside. Ever since that pact, the homegrown Syrian opposition has suffered untold arrests, torture, and disruption of their activities by the Syrian intelligence services.
RPS is working closely with the US Congress to put a stop to ex corrupt rulers who are conspiring to return to power in support of a one-party rule no matter what the aspirations of the Syrian people are. Damascus symbolizes Sunni emergence in Islamic history and its adoption of a pluralistic, peaceful, and fully democratic system will have wide positive repercussions on all the other countries of the Middle East.