U.S. Official: Assad is ‘Dead Man Walking’

December 14, 2011  

The United States predicted on Wednesday that the downfall of Syrian President Bashar Assad is imminent, The Associated Press reported.

According to the report Frederic Hof, a senior official in the State Department, likened Assad’s regime to a “dead man walking” over its brutal crackdown on pro-reform demonstrators and its increasing international isolation.

Hof told Congress on Wednesday that Assad’s repression may allow him to hang on to power but only for a short time. He also urged the Syrian opposition to prepare for the day when it takes control of the state in order to prevent chaos and sectarian conflict, AP reported.

“Our view is that this regime is the equivalent of dead man walking,” Hof was quoted by AP as having said. He added Syria was turning into “Pyongyang in the Levant,” a reference to the North Korean capital, noting it was difficult to determine how much time Assad has left in power but stressing, “I do not see this regime surviving.”

Hof warned Syrian troops and Assad’s top aides that Assad may be setting them up for possible war crimes or criminal charges, in light of his interview last week in which he said that the army was not his to command.

“It’s difficult to imagine a more craven disclaimer of responsibility,” Hof said. “Perhaps it is a rehearsal for the time when accountability will come.”

Addressing the opposition, Hof said it must take care not to hurt chances for a democratic transition. He added the opposition needs to broaden its reach.

Hof’s comments came after the United Nations was warned that Syrian citizens are dying by the thousands, with the death toll in Syria rising by at least 1,000 in the past 10 days — and more losing their lives in the daily bloodbath that comes with each clash between loyalist troops and opposition forces.

The figures reflect the deaths of those killed by government troops, according to UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay, who said more than 5,000 have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March. 

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