Assad’s Biographer on CNN: Transition of Power in Syria will be Smooth

Published June 10th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

By Munir K. Nasser 

Washington DC 


Biographer of the late Syrian President Hafez Assad, who died Saturday, described the strongman of Syria’s death as the end of an era, but transition of power will pose no problems. 

In an interview with CNN Saturday, Patrick Seal, an expert on Syria and the ruling elite there, and a very close person to the late Assad said that Bashar Assad is “well prepared for the task.” 

Following is full text of Seal’s remarks: 

His death is the end of an era. It is a very important moment in Syria’s history, and the history of the region. His legacy will determine the successor government. The transition in my view is going to be very smooth. Dr. Bashar Assad has been prepared to take over, over the last six years. He is very well prepared for the task, and for the last couple of years he put his men in place. He will deviate for his father’s political legacy, the most important elements of which are the independence of Syria, refusal to accept dictates from the United States or from Israel, the importance of recovering every inch of territory lost in 1967, but also to make honorable peace. This has been his quest since the beginning of the Madrid conference. The essential element of that peace is the Israeli withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 line. 

Assad as a man: His remarkable consistency. His position has always been very clear and founded on the principle that there could be no compromise on land which has to be returned . Another important aspect of Assad ’s personality, that is the political order in the Middle East. Assad had not wanted a political order dominated by Israel. He has accepted Israel as a peer in the Middle East system. That is why he has always thought that some sort of a balance of power between the Arabs and Israel in the belief that a balance of power keeps the peace, whereas an imbalance will cause war, because the stronger party will always seek to impose its views and will on the weaker parties.  

On his negotiating style, Assad believed that a summit of Arab leaders should not convene without enough preparation. He feels that in negotiations with Israel, the I’s have to be dotted and the T’s crossed and details should be discussed one point after the other in a meticulous method, and nothing should be left vague or to the Israeli good will. That is why he always believed that the earliest summit between leaders was not the right way to proceed 

On the strategic alliances in the region: If you look on the map of the Middle East, Assad managed to grasp the series of axis, one is the Syrian Lebanese axis, which is very strong in place. The other is his strategic alliance with Iran. His third axis was the link between Damascus, Cairo and Riyadh. The Syrian, Egyptian, Saudi axis, and was a bedrock of his Arab policy. These three axes formed the basis of the regional order which Syria and President Assad has established and which his ayer will also seek to confirm –  



© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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