Syrian President Still 'Firmly in Control'
The United States cannot confirm that Syrian President Hafez al-Assad suffered a cerebral haemorrhage earlier this month and thinks him "still firmly in control," a White House official said Sunday.
"We have no new information on president Assad's health ... we believe he is still firmly in control of Syria," the official, who was traveling here with President Bill Clinton, said on condition of anonymity.
Britain's Sunday Telegraph daily on Sunday reported, citing diplomatic sources in Damascus, that Assad could have just a few months to live after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage earlier this month.
The brain haemorrhage has left him weak and caused him to have double vision for two days, and only able to appear in public with the help of heavy medication, the paper reported.
A Western diplomat told the paper that Assad's poor health was in part behind the impasse in peace negotiations between Israel and Syria.
"The centralised style of Assad's rule, together with his deteriorating health, are contributing to the current paralysis of the Syrian regime," said the diplomat, who asked not to be named.
Assad did not make his traditional April 7 address to the nation to commemorate the creation of his ruling Ba'ath party, nor did he participate in independence celebrations 10 days later, the British daily said -- YPSILANTI, Michigan, (AFP).
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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