Syria: Assad to Russian TV, we are last bulwark of secularism

'I must live and die in Syria'. Opposition seeks unity in Doha

08 November, 17:43

President Bashar al-Assad (archive) President Bashar al-Assad (archive)

(ANSAmed) - Beirut, November 8 - The Syrian regime is 'the last bulwark of secularism' in a region shaken by revolts which have brought to power Islamist movements, Syrian President Bashar al Assad told the Russia Today TV channel.

'If there are problems in Syria - especially considering that we are the last bulwark of secularism, stability and coexistence in the region - then the domino effect of that would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific', said the president in comments published on the website of the television channel.

The Syrian regime is a close ally of Iran, a Shiite Islamic regime, and claims that Sunni fundamentalist groups including al Qaida have a key role in the revolt against Assad. Syrian President Bashar al Assad told the Russia Today TV channel he will not leave Syria as suggested by British Premier David Cameron. 'I am not a puppet made by the West to go to the West or to another country', said Assad. 'I am Syrian, I was created in Syria and I must live and die in Syria'.

Cameron said two days ago that a safe passage enabling Assad to leave Syria 'could be arranged' as a way of ending the crisis in the violence-torn country.

The Syrian opposition's bid to unify forces in exile with rebels operating within the country and to come up with a more representative leadership appears to be falling apart in Doha. This appears to be the outlook at the opening of Thursday's meeting in Doha, which aims to overcome the Syrian opposition's internal divisions, and which is being held under the auspices of Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE). Also present are representatives from Western countries including France, Germany, the UK, the US, as well as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Today's meeting follows on a four-day internal debate by the Syrian National Council (SNC), which is the main opposition front in exile, and which last night elected a new, strongly Islamist executive council, ousting important leaders such as Burhan Ghalioun, George Sabra and Riad Seif. The SNC also postponed to Friday the choice of a new president to replace Abdel Basset Seyta, who joined the 40-member general secretariat. Former MP and historic opposition figure Riad Seif is the leader of the US-supported Syrian National Initiative (SNI), which seeks to unite the opposition abroad with the rebels operating and fighting on the ground in Syria. The SNI also proposes creating a government in exile along the lines of that formed by anti-Gaddafi rebels in Libya, a proposal which the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated SNC, rife with friction between Islamist and secular factions, views with suspicion. (ANSAmed).






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