Assad in 'constant state of fear,' but refuses to leave Syria, Russian official says
MOSCOW — Russia's foreign minister said on Saturday that Syrian President Bashar Assad has no intention of stepping down and it would be impossible to try to persuade him otherwise, the Associated Press reported.
After a meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.'s envoy for the Syrian crisis, Sergey Lavrov said that the Syrian opposition risks sacrificing many more lives if it continues to insist on Assad leaving office as a precondition for holding talks on Syria's future.
Assad “has repeatedly said publicly and privately, including in his meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus not long ago, that he does not intend to leave for anywhere, that he will stay to the end in his post, that he will, as he expressed it, defend the Syrian people, Syrian sovereignty and so forth,” Lavrov said. “There's no possibility to change this position.”
But accounts of conditions inside the Syrian regime in recent days have shown that the nearly two-year-old conflict has taken a psychological toll on Assad, depicting the Syrian leader as isolated and fearful as his regime appears to be on the verge of crumbling around him.
After months of nearly continuous setbacks for his government, Assad all but vanished from public view in recent weeks, giving no interviews or speeches and making no “live” appearances on state-run television. U.S. and Middle Eastern officials now say Assad is nearly as invisible within the shrinking world of his presidency, restricting contacts to a small circle of family and trusted advisers.
Forgoing any public effort to rally his beleaguered forces, Assad has focused on his personal safety, according to analysts and news accounts.
Even Syrian media recorded the shift, describing the president increasing his security detail, moving to a different bedroom each night and tightening controls over food preparation to thwart would-be assassins. The reports could not be independently confirmed.
Moreover, Middle Eastern intelligence officials, citing accounts from defectors that could not be verified, say Assad has ceased going outdoors during daylight hours, out of fear that he will be hit by a sniper's bullet or other fire.
“His movements suggest a constant state of fear,” a Middle Eastern official said on the condition of anonymity.
Assad's words, however, continue to convey a resolve to remain in power. In his last televised interview in early November, the Syrian president vowed to “live in Syria and die in Syria.”
U.S. officials declined to discuss the mood within Assad's inner circle, but one senior official with access to intelligence reports said the rebels' steady advance on Damascus was having an inevitable impact. “Assad may still believe Syria is his, but the psychological strain of struggling against a determined and resourceful foe has to be taking its toll,” the official said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Malala donates prize money to rebuild Gaza school
- Ukraine denounces Russian stance on rebel vote
- Toronto replaces disgraced mayor, rejects brother’s bid for top job
- Kurds fighting in Kobani finally get reinforcements
- Ship leaks oil cargo near Stockholm
- Cuba to build first church in 55 years
- Libyan army holds triumphant parade in Benghazi
- U.S. official says Netanyahu lacks ‘guts’ to settle with Palestinian
- Zambia’s interim president sub-Saharan Africa’s only white leader
- Hundreds feared killed in Sri Lanka mudslide
- Iraq: Key town taken from Islamic State