Assad: If People Object, I Won't Run for Re-election
Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said Friday morning that he has not yet decided whether he will run for re-election next year, the Associated Press reported.
Interviewed by Turkey's Halk TV, Assad stressed that if the Syrian people are not interested in his serving another term, he won't run.
Assad says “the picture will be clearer” in the next four to five months since Syria is going though “rapid” changes on the ground.
Assad has served as president since inheriting the position from his father, Hafez Al-Assad; his second seven-year-term ends in mid-2014.
Syria’s opposition wants him to step down and hand over power to a transitional government with full powers until new elections are held.
Turkey, which shares a 560-mile border with Syria, is one of Assad's fiercest critics and a staunch supporter of the opposition, although it denies arming the rebels.
During his interview, Assad accused Turkey of allowing terrorists to cross into Syria and attack the army and Syrian civilians.
"In the near future, these terrorists will have an impact on Turkey and Turkey will pay a heavy price for it," Assad said after calling the Turkish Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, "bigoted."
Despite the civil war, Assad still enjoys wide support among minorities, including Christians and Alawites, who are an offshoot of the Shi'ite Muslim sect.
“If I have a feeling that the Syrian people want me to be president in the coming period I will run for the post,” Assad said. “If the answer is no, I will not run and I don’t see a problem in that.”