I have only recently had the chance to watch the al Arabiyah interview with Rifaat al Assad, Bashar’s uncle. Rifaat is widely believed to be responsible for the Tadmur prison massacre, as well as with the Hama massacre during the regime’s battle with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in the eighties. Throughout the interview, an uncharismatic Rifaat is trying to portray himself as some sort of statesman. His solution to the current “crisis” is that a strongman from within the regime is needed, one who knows the threats to the regime, how to manage it, and who also knows “the people”. He rules himself and any of his children out, and he is clearly uncomfortable when asked how he amassed his enormous personal wealth.
Regarding the massacres, he points out that he was not responsible, and then says that there are “documents” on the internet that will prove who did so. He makes an interesting reference to an Islamic bourgeoisies – meaning the Muslim Brotherhood and their sympathisers.When he is challenged about the killings, he denies being involved with the Syrian presidency, and says that he was always against the law which sentenced members of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood to death automatically. Surprisingly, he says that the killings were carried out under an article of the Syrian constitution, and as law they were to be carried out without question. Somehow I don’t think the International Criminal Court will find that a sufficient defence. Ludicrously, he says that he was never a leader of the notorious Defence Companies, and that such companies never existed! His excuse is that people mistakenly referred to some armed defence unit with that name and it stuck ever since.
What a silly man, and I am still amazed that he can live freely in Europe and that nobody has ever charged him with crimes against humanity. Watching this interview makes me realise just how delusional, secretive and out of touch this corrupt and brutal regime is with the Syrian people. To the world, they lie, lie and lie, through their teeth. What goes on within their inner circle, I’d love to find out one day. Remarkable