Assad family controlled by foreign powers, former Syrian police chief says

HATAY, Turkey
Published 22.04.2016 10:59

Syria's Assad is just a "pawn" of foreign powers, according to a former Syrian police chief who spoke exclusively to Anadolu Agency.

Munir Shiriteh, who retired as a general in late 2010 after 31 years' service, claimed Assad "wanted his people to revolt" because "the regime is controlled by foreign powers, since the Hafez al-Assad term" - a reference to the current president's father who ruled from 1971 until his death in 2000.

He also said that foreign powers aimed to divide the Middle East into small states based on sectarian and racial lines.

Shiriteh, 60, offered no further explanation of his claims other than to say that the Assad family "does whatever the foreign powers want them to do."

Neither did he identify the foreign powers he was referring to although he did say a plan had been in place over the last 50 years to secure Israeli dominance in the Middle East, making Assad "just another pawn on the chessboard." The foreign powers with the most influence over the Assad regime are widely believed to be Russia and Iran, who have both provided significant assistance to the government in the conflict.

Shiriteh added: "The aim is to implement these dirty plans on Turkey and Iran too."

It was because of external influences on the Syrian government that Assad rejected offers from Turkey and the other countries to help implement reform in Syria as protests broke out in March 2011, the former policeman said, leading to civil war in the face of a brutal government crackdown.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency in Hatay province, southern Turkey, where he fled after being imprisoned by the regime following the outbreak of the war, Shiriteh said: "The military regime arrested me on suspicion that I was close to the rebels.

"I spent 65 days in prison and was released during a prisoner exchange between the Assad army and the opposition. Then I, my wife and my five children fled to Turkey with my savings."

During his time in prison, Shiriteh said he witnessed "inhumane, violent tortures" carried out on other prisoners although he was not physically harmed by "suffered unimaginable psychological torture."

He said that during his police career he had never been assigned to politically sensitive roles "because the regime knew that I was with the Syrian people."

It was shortly after his retirement and he had moved to live on Mount Turkmen in northwest Syria that civil unrest broke out across Syria as people demanded some of the rights granted to other populations across the Arab world in the Arab Spring.

Shiriteh said he did not take sides when the war began.

Now safe in Turkey, he offered a gloomy forecast for his country's chances of reaching a political settlement to the five-year conflict that has, according to a February report from the Syrian Center for Policy Research, seen more than 470,000 killed.

"The war does not end with politics," he said. "The opposition forces in Syria must be trained and well-equipped."

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