Skip to comments.Overthrow President, Syrians Urged
Posted on 01/15/2006 6:25:16 PM PST by blam
Overthrow president, Syrians urged
By Patrick Bishop in Moukhtara
Walid Jumblatt seemed admirably composed for a man whose name had just appeared on a hit list of Lebanese public figures.
"The whole of Lebanon is on the death list, not only me," said the Druze leader and anti-Syrian figurehead. "The Syrian regime will not accept easily its defeat last year when the Lebanese people obliged them to get out. The regular forces left but [its] agents are still here."
Mr Jumblatt, 56, has taken precautions. For the moment he is not leaving his rocky domain in the Chouf mountains, south of Beirut.
But at the weekend the invective against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was flowing as unstoppably as the water tumbling through the gardens of his 19th century palace.
"The only way to topple this guy is to try him like Milosevic," he said. As for the Ba'ath Party that Assad heads, Jumblatt believes "there is no difference in essence between the Iraqi Ba'athists and the Syrian Ba'athists. . . the worst regimes are the Ba'athist regimes".
Under the Syrians, he said, "tens of thousands of people were imprisoned. Intellectuals and politicians from Syria from Lebanon from Palestine were killed, executed". They include Mr Jumblatt's father Kamal, murdered in 1977.
He urged the Syrian opposition to seek western support to help topple the beleaguered Damascus regime. "I am not calling for military intervention in Syria but I am asking the Syrian opposition to decide that without western help there can be no change - without [it] they will be in jail or exiled and will be blackmailed and killed."
Mr Jumblatt's voice rings particularly loudly in the ever bolder anti-Syrian chorus in Lebanon. The outcry has been joined by refugees from the regime they are hoping to undermine.
The most prominent is Abdul Halim Khaddam, the former Syrian vice-president, who has suggested from exile in Paris that Mr Assad was behind the assassination last year of the Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. He also announced that he was working to create a national alliance to overthrow the government.
Mr Khaddam's desertion to the opposition has more to do with his fall from grace from a system he served loyally for many years than any late conversion to the cause of democracy and human rights.
The 74-year-old was a confidant of President Hafez Assad but is believed to have been marked for removal by his son, Bashar, in a drive to remove the old guard and root out corruption. Asked about Khaddam's credibility, Mr Jumblatt said cautiously: "He is courageous. They can't accuse him of being a traitor."
Mr Jumblatt has made his own accommodations with the Syrians over the years, serving in governments they controlled and forming military alliances to protect Druze interests. He has moved steadily away from Damascus since Hafez's death in 2000, benefiting from latent anti-Syrian feeling that exploded into the open with the assassination of Hariri last February.
The international outrage that followed the killing has not stopped attacks on anti-Syrian public figures. Jebran Tueni, the editor-in-chief of the independent an-Nahhar newspaper was killed by a car bomb last month. "I hope he will be the last one to be assassinated but I don't think so," Mr Jumblatt said.
He has said enough to guarantee his place on the hit lists discovered periodically by the Lebanese security services. His outspokenness extends to Syria's Lebanese allies in Hizbollah, whom he recently called upon to decide where their true loyalty lay.
He has gained a reputation for an uncanny ability to back the winning side. As long as he is talking the way he is, Damascus has cause to worry.
Oh joy, and then the Muslim Brotherhood will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity instead, right? </ sarcasm>
Mr. Jumblatt better not start his car in the near future... I pity the poor aide who is assigned that task.
Diet-coke in my keyboard now, thank you!