Syrian President Bashar Assad at polling station 390 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/SANA)
Rifaat Assad, the uncle of Syrian President Bashar Assad, told the BBC Tuesday that his nephew will not last in power much longer.
Rifaat was exiled from Syria in the 1980s after a failed coup attempt against Bashar's father, Hafez, when the elder Assad was still ruling Syria and recovering from a heart attack.
Rifaat contended that the level of violence on the streets was too high and too widespread to be contained. "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," Mr. Assad told the BBC.
Before the failed coup, Rifaat had loyally served the regime. In February 1982, he famously suppressed an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama, leaving 10,000-25,000 dead.
Mr. Assad attacked Bashar's accession to the presidency in 2000, upon Hafez's death. He called the succession a "real farce and an unconstitutional piece of theater," according to the BBC. He believed that he was Hafez's rightful successor.
On the other hand, contradicting the demands of the Syrian rebels, the exiled Assad said that at least for a transitional period Bashar should "stay so he can cooperate with a new government and offer the experience he has."
Rifaat alluded to still wanting to rule Syria himself suggesting that if there were free and fair elections that "you will see that the Assad family has got much more importance and support than some of the meaningless figures [of the opposition Syrian National Council] who we see on TV screens now." Notably, he said the Assad family, not Bashar.
Syrian rebels have called for sanctioning Rifaat Assad along with the rest of the Assad family because of his past crimes.