khaddam 298.88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
An exiled former Syrian vice president said Sunday that President Bashar Assad's regime is on the brink of collapse and called on Syrians to prepare for the day when he will be overthrown.
Abdul-Halim Khaddam, who is wanted in Syria on treason charges, said in an address to the Syrian people that Assad's "oppressive" regime will soon be replaced with a democratic civil government, but he did not elaborate.
His address was on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic feast marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, and was broadcast on Lebanon's Future TV, an anti-Syrian station owned by the family of slain former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
"Ask yourselves, my brothers, after six years of his taking over the administration of the country, what has Bashar Assad done except spread corruption, increase suffering and (take) wrong decisions that have led to weakening national unity and subjecting Syria to Arab and international isolation," Khaddam said.
"I assure you that the corrupt and tyrannical regime is on the brink of collapse and in the near future, the ruler will see the opportunists and hypocrites that rallied around him fleeing. He and his corrupt family and entourage will find themselves in the hands of justice," he added.
Khaddam's address was aired several days after Arab newspapers reported that the former vice president met with Saudi officials, including King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan.
An Arab diplomat said the meetings took place in Saudi Arabia last week and were significant because they send a message to Syria that the kingdom is upset at Syria's policies and may be exploring other options to deal with the Damascus regime.
The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Saudi-Syrian relations soured after Assad, in a speech following this summer's Israel-Hizbullah war, described leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan as "half men" because they did not rally to Lebanon's defense.
The Saudis feel that Assad has broken away from these Arab countries to align himself with Iran.
A top member of Syria's ruling elite for nearly 30 years, Khaddam has lived with his family in France since he retired as vice president last summer.
He provoked an outcry last December when he told a pan-Arab satellite channel that Assad had threatened Hariri months before he was assassinated last year. Assad has denied the allegation.