Alawites need safe zone: Tlass
ISTANBUL - Anatolia News AgencyOne key to a smooth political transition in Syria will be to provide a “safety net” that convinces Alawites they won’t be massacred if they break with President Bashar al-Assad, Gen. Manaf Tlass, a senior defected Syrian general and a close friend of al-Assad, has said.
“My main work is to convince Alawites that they do not have to commit suicide along with the regime,” Tlass told the Washington Post. “Today, many Alawites are not happy with what’s happening on the ground, but where is the safe zone for them?” he said. “Alawites need to know that there’s a strong side that will guarantee their safety if they defect.”
A general in the elite Republican Guard charged with protecting the regime, Tlass is the son of former Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass, a close friend of al-Assad’s late father and predecessor, Hafez. Tlass told the Post’s David Ignatius that before there can be a political transition, there must first be a channel of trust between the rebel Free Syrian Army and reconcilable members of the military who are ready to break with al-Assad.
Without such links, Tlass said, al-Assad’s overthrow would plunge Syria into a period of anarchic violence, and Syria’s chemical weapons would be up for grabs. Tlass visited Ankara earlier this month as part of his efforts to play a role in post-al-Assad Syria.