President Bashar Assad could in a “worst case scenario” retreat to an Alawite stronghold if he falls from power in Damascus, Jordan’s King Abdullah II warned in an interview aired yesterday.
Speaking to CBS News, the Jordanian monarch said that such an outcome to the Syria crisis could splinter the country and cause ethnic strife for decades to come. “I have a feeling that if he can’t rule greater Syria then maybe an Alawi enclave is plan B,” King Abdullah II said in an interview published on the channel’s website.
“That would be, I think for us, the worst case scenario because that means then the break up of greater Syria, and that means that everybody starts land grabbing, which makes no sense to me. If Syria then implodes on itself that would create problems that would take us decades to come back from,” King Abdullah II told CBS interviewer Charlie Rose in the interview conducted on Sunday. Assad belongs to Syria’s ethnic Alawite sect, which is a minority in Syria despite its monopoly on power.
The king also said he expected that Assad would try to maintain his bloody grip on power “indefinitely” and predicted Syria could slip into an “abyss” if a political solution to the crisis was not found soon, as the Syrian president “believes that he is in the right.”
“In his mentality, he is going to stick to his guns … I think the regime feels that it has no alternative, but to continue. … I don’t think it’s just Bashar. It’s not the individual. It’s the system of the regime.”
“For Bashar, at the moment, if I’m reading the way he’s thinking, is, he’s going do what he’s going to do indefinitely.”
The king also said that continued international quarrelling over how to ease the Syria crisis, which has seen Russia and China at odds with the West, risked deepening the danger.
“The longer we take to find a political solution, and the more the chaos continues, then we may be pushing Syria into the abyss,” he said.
“The abyss is complete and utter civil war which will take us I think years to come back from.”