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Ex-Assad consultant warns of a civil war

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 10/28/2011 12:00:00 AM | İpek Yezdani - ipek.yezdani@hurriyet.com.tr

Samir al-Taqi, a prominent Syrian intellectual and a former consultant to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said if the oppression continues in Syria, there will be a serious threat of civil war in the country.

Samir al-Taqi, a prominent Syrian intellectual and a former consultant to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said if the oppression continues in Syria, there will be a serious threat of civil war in the country.

“As secular people in Syria, we are losing ground in favor of the sectarian forces. Unfortunately, the more oppression in Syria continues, the more division along sectarian lines will deepen. We are heading toward a very difficult period in which facts are indicating a civil war,” al-Taqi told Hürriyet Daily News in an interview on Oct. 27.

Turkey should have a more preemptive role in solving the crisis in Syria, al-Taqi said. “Besides the solution of the Syrian problem, in order to restore peace and international stability in the region, it is in the interest of Turkey to avoid a civil war in Syria.”

Al-Taqi was a member of Syrian parliament and a foreign policy consultant to Assad. He was also a political activist and supporter of political reform in Syria. He left Syria last year after the administration refused to carry out the reforms that he and a group of Syrian intellectuals had demanded.

“It is the same story for hundreds of intellectuals who were hoping to play a role to foster the reforms in Syria. These elite experts also had to leave Syria after I left,” al-Taqi said.

The need for reforms in Syria has been spelled out since 2000 both by the intelligentsia and the Syrian people. But the political regime in Syria has been arrogant toward the demands of the people, al-Taqi said. “The intellectuals used to foster the reform demands in Syria, everybody hoped it will be solved within the regime, but unfortunately the political system was so arrogant and too short-sided to see this.”

It is no longer possible to solve the crisis in Syria with the continuation of the existing forces “because the forces, which needed to be sidelined and reformed, have become much stronger now,” al-Taqi said. “And it is very difficult to reform them within the system anymore.”

Al-Taqi believed the current crisis in Syria was not only about Assad’s attitude. “The regime itself and forces of the old corrupt ruling elite are still very powerful as a whole body. They reject any trend toward reforms. And of course Assad is not outside of this.”

Developments in Syria have come to an irrevocable point now, according to al-Taqi, “but the regime still fails to understand that there is no turning back to the period before March 2011.”

The Syrian National Council formed by Syrian dissidents outside the country is the “best possible constellation of opposition forces,” said al-Taqi, but “it still needs to be matured.”

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