Thursday

26th Apr 2018

Syrian opposition tells EU that Assad will fall in 'weeks'

A leading Syrian dissident has told EU institutions the days of Syrian President Bashar Assad are numbered. But there is little the union can do to influence events.

"In maybe a couple of weeks, we will be the winners and the regime will fall down - they are finished now," Hatham Maleh - a 79-year-old lawyer, human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience - told EUobsever in Brussels on Wednesday (12 July).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Maleh in the European Parliament: 'How can a man put a pistol to your head and say I make a dialogue with him?' (Photo: EUobserver)

Putting numbers on the violence, he said Assad's forces have killed 2,000 people, imprisoned over 15,000 and driven another 15,000 out of the country. About 1,500 people remain unaccounted for and there are 3,000 tanks deployed across Syria.

Maleh put Assad on a par with Libya's Colonel Gaddafi in terms of deliberate killing of unarmed civilians.

"Demonstrators through the streets are going in a peaceful way. They don't use any kind of weapons or pistols or something. But the regime started killing people and shooting at them as a target," he said.

"You can't make dialogue with a killer - how can a man put a pistol to your head and say I make a dialogue with him? It's impossible."

Maleh spoke to this website after briefing MEPs in the foreign affairs committee, telling euro-deputies it would be "good for us and good for you" in terms of future EU-Syria relations if the union does what it can to help the opposition.

Experts, such as the International Crisis Group's (ICG) Peter Harling, who is based in the region, say that Assad's brutal handling of protests has aggravated the situation.

"Demonstrators have turned to something else. It is not regime reform they are pursuing. It is regime change," he said in an ICG flash analysis out also on Wednesday.

With outside military action out of the question due to risk of regional war involving Iran and Israel, the ICG noted that a failing economy leading to a revolt by Assad's underpaid forces is the biggest threat to his authority.

For his part, Burhan Ghallioun, a Syrian expert at the Sorbonne university in Paris told MEPs: "Turkey, Iran and Egypt play a much more important role in the future of Syria than the US or Europe ... the EU must work with regional powers."

The US and France, the former colonial ruler in Syria, have in recent days stepped up diplomatic pressure after pro-Assad mobs attacked their embassies in Damascus.

President Barack Obama said on TV on Tuesday "I think that increasingly you're seeing President Assad lose legitimacy in the eyes of his people."

French defence minister Gerard Longuet and Prime Minister Francois Fillon urged China and Russia to drop their opposition to a draft EU resolution at the UN Security Council condemning violence.

"It [China and Russia's position] is indecent because Bashar Assad has mobilised incredible resources to neutralise his opposition," Longuet said.

"The silence of the UN Security Council on Syria is becoming insupportable ... each day that passes makes it more difficult for President Assad to stay in power," Fillon said.

Feature

Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ

Spanish special forces seized a boat from African 'pirates' as diplomats watched on Monday, in a drill marking Spain's bid to grab a top EU military mission from the UK.

EU toes the line on Syria air strikes

EU foreign ministers to back Western air strikes on Syria, the same way they backed the UK over Russia's chemical attack on an ex-spy in Britain.

Analysis

Is Germany more hawkish on Russia?

Germany's socialist foreign minister just said the EU should "step up pressure" on Russia. Merkel aired "political" doubts on a Russian pipeline.

News in Brief

  1. UN expects over $4bn in pledges for Syria
  2. Commission wants more public data made available for reuse
  3. Study: Brexit will hit all European farmers
  4. European media face rise in 'verbal violence' from politicians
  5. Greenland PM to keep power despite poll slump
  6. Commissioner optimistic on FYROM name solution
  7. Italian court keeps NGO migrant rescue boat docked
  8. German Jews warned not to wear skullcap in public

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  11. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  12. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip

Latest News

  1. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  2. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  3. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs, Italian admiral says
  4. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work
  5. Time for EU to take charge of global health research agenda
  6. EU in race to set global Artificial Intelligence ethics standards
  7. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  8. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ