Syrian President Bashar Assad
Syrian President Bashar Assad Israel news photo: Flash 90

Rifaat al-Assad, uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, called on his nephew to step down in a recent interview on Al-Arabiya TV.

The interview took place on December 2 and was translated and presented on the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

During the interview, the former Syrian Vice President who was exiled after a failed attempt to overthrow his brother, former President Hafez al-Assad, suggested that someone from his nephew’s regime should lead Syria during the transitional period after he steps down.

When asked by the interviewer whether he wants to become the president of Syria, Al-Assad replied, “Absolutely not.”

“All I want is a transitional period that will end with the establishment of a framework for democracy in Syria,” he said, adding he has no one in mind that could be the leader during the transition period.

“Today, the Syrian people lives in fear and is divided,” Al-Assad said. “It seeks a sense of security and is afraid that someone will come to power and exact revenge. That is why someone who can offer a sense of security must come to power, even if only for a short transitional period.”

He added that he thinks holding dialogue with his nephew’s regime is “impossible.”

Later in the interview, Al-Assad said, “I love (Bashar al-Assad) and I tried, time and time again, to send him my children or intermediaries from Arab countries but he had a negative approach. He was afraid to have Rifaat al-Assad in Damascus because Rifaat al-Assad would continue his opposition. If I returned to Damascus today, I would continue to serve as an opposition to any government.”