Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has sent envoys abroad in the hope of reaching some kind of deal with opposition leaders to form a unity government, leading French newspaper Le Figaro reported on Tuesday.
Veteran journalist George Malbrunot quoted a Syrian opposition figure as having rejected Assad’s offer to join a unity government.
“I refuse to participate in a national unity government because the Assad regime gives me the freedom to form the government but maintains interior and defense ministries,” the unnamed opposition figure said.
“I do not want to be held captive as long as the security apparatus still exists.”
Malbrunot reported that Assad had sent two envoys ─ one to Paris and another to Dubai ─ to pursue this option.
Malbrunot also wrote that Russia was working behind the scenes on a resolution that could see President Assad relinquish power to the vice president much like the manner in which outgoing Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh handed power to his deputy.
According to the Russian proposal, Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa would be fully in charge while Assad would stay on until the next elections.
Malbrunot said that the Baathist regime in Syria is now “politically dead,” adding that what’s keeping it in power was its brutal iron lid on the main cities of Aleppo and Damascus, which has been transformed into a fortress.
The Assad regime also reportedly continues to survive on the support of the minorities, including Christians, Druze, Kurds, in addition to the Baathists, who fear retribution opposition Sunni Muslims should the regime collapse.
But U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford warned in September 2011 that President Assad was losing support among key constituents and risks plunging the country into sectarian strife, a fear recently echoed by several international figures.
Ford said there was economic malaise in Syria, signs of dissent within Assad’s Alawite minority sect and more defections from the army, but the military is “still very powerful and very cohesive.”
He said Assad could still rely on the military to try and crush the protest movement but the killing of peaceful protesters was making him unpopular within the ranks.