Syria’s former ambassador to Iraq, who defected this week, has told Al Jazeera that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime is “dying”.
In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Inside Syria programme on Saturday, Nawaf Fares said the regime is in power only due to Russian and Iranian military support, and the hesitation of the international community to take concrete action.
He said he believes that 95 per cent of the Syrian people were against the regime.
“From the inside, the regime is dead – economically, socially and in all domains,” he said.
Fares, who announced his defection on Wednesday, also said that Assad’s forces were “shaking” amid increased defections in the Syrian army.
“The army will never stay solid as it is. [The regime is] now concentrating on the [military] elites to go to the hot areas, but there are threats of defection,” he said.
“Even officers are oppressed. [The regime] will never go on forever.”
A veteran of Assad’s rule who held senior positions under the late president Hafez al-Assad, Fares is from Deir Ezzor, the eastern city on the road to Iraq, which has been the scene of a ferocious military onslaught by Assad forces.
Fares, a Sunni who is said to have close ties to Syrian security, is the second senior diplomat to quit the embattled government. The first was Bassam Imadi, the Syrian ambassador to Sweden until December.
He said he defected because he was “now convinced that this regime will never do anything for the sake of people”.
“Lies are going on. The head of the regime is lying. Killings are everywhere, destruction is everywhere, and oppression is everywhere.
“The regime and Bashar al-Assad gave us illusions. The international community received illusions that the regime’s reforms will meet the aspirations of the Syrian people.”
He urged other Syrian officials to take a similar stance.
Fares told Al Jazeera that his family in Syria has been facing “immense pressure” following his defection.
‘Genes of a dictator’
Syria’s government-sponsored media said Fares left his post due to a personal row with regime officials. But Fares said this was inaccurate.
“I had no personal problem with the regime. I was promised by Bashar al-Assad personally to be the vice head of the [ruling Baath] Party,” he told Al Jazeera.
“His office talked to me a week before my defection and told me to come to Syria to prepare myself for this job.”
On the personality of Bashar al-Assad, Fares said: “The real Bashar is quite different from the one we see. He carries the genes of a dictator. His father killed people 30 years ago.”
“Those who deal with him know that he is a liar,” he said.
When international envoy Kofi Annan was in Damascus on Monday, Fares said that Assad promised he would implement Annan’s peace plan.
That was only few days before the UN monitoring mission in Syria said that the government had carried out a deadly air force operation in the village of Tremseh in Hama province on Thursday.
“This man says something and does something else. All the world leaders know this. He is not honest. He is not serious. He is buying time,” Fares said.
The entire interview with Nawaf Fares on a special edition of ‘Inside Syria’ will air on Saturday at 1730GMT.