Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Clashes in Syrian capital revive calls for action against Bashar al-Assad

Regime defector expected to outline leadership bid as deadly wave of clashes sweeps Damascus

Martin Chulov and Julian Borger
guardian.co.uk, Monday 16 July 2012

".....Now, almost 17 months later, an armed opposition is continuing to show signs of being able to hold ground in strategically important areas, a far cry from even three months ago, when rebel groups were focusing on hit-and-run operations.....

The already convoluted and fraught internal politics of the Syrian opposition is likely to take another dramatic turn in the next few days, when Manaf Tlass, a prominent Republican Guard general who defected to Paris earlier this month, is expected to deliver a speech aimed at underlining his claims to a post-Assad leadership position.

"He is going to approach the political, military, and social vision for the future," said a close friend of the Tlass family.

"It will give his impression of all aspects – the FSA (Free Syrian Army), the regime, the regional situation, and the international setting. The speech is under construction and there are a lot of people working on it."

The family friend said that Tlass was consulting foreign governments as well as the opposition Syrian National Council about the speech. He added that in the 10 days since Tlass fled Syria the Assad regime has sent a series of intermediaries to try to lure him and his father, Mustafa Tlass, a former Syrian defence minister, back to Damascus.

"The regime sent messengers from every direction, offering the father a lot of sexy deals, that he was going to be vice-president and offering Manaf the ministry of defence," the friend said, adding that the Damascus government's recent public acknowledgement of Tlass's departure probably reflected its acceptance that he is not coming back.

"We expect that the moment Manaf goes public with his speech they are going to start attacking the family," the friend added......"

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