Following are excerpts from an interview with former Syrian vice-president Abd Al-Halim Khaddam, which aired on New Syria TV on August 17, 2008:
Abd Al-Halim Khaddam: Is the Syria of today – whose national unity has been destroyed by the regime – the same Syria for whose independence and people's revival our fathers and forefathers have fought, relying for their strength on their national unity? Is the Syria of today the same Syria that used to embrace the Arab causes, and was the beacon of Arab unity and solidarity? Is the Syria of today, which is held captive by its Emergency Law – a law that instills terror by means of oppression, intimidation, imprisonment, killing, and the denial of liberties – the same Syria that used to be the beacon of freedom? Is Syria, where a loaf of bread has become people's goal, and job opportunities have become people's hope, the Syria of yesterday, which for decades was the land of wealth and blessing? Is the Syria of today, teeming with all types and forms of crime – murder, theft, bribery, corruption, and forgery, as well as the trafficking and abuse of drugs – the same Syria that used to be secure in light of an honest legal system, and security agencies that adhered to the law?
The tribulations of Syria and the suffering of its people stem from the nature of the regime. The monopoly of political rule and of the decision-making leads to two interrelated results. One is tyranny, oppression, and the denial of liberties. The other result is corruption. This corruption did not arise spontaneously. It was planned, with two goals: The first is to control the country's resources, and to create a circle of corrupted people, in an effort to take over the country's economy, and in order for it to be one of the tools for governing the country. With regard to the second goal of the corruption – it is to starve and impoverish the people, so that getting a loaf of bread becomes more important than national interests.
The regime uses sectarian [tensions] in order to intimidate the minorities, especially the Alawi sect, warning it that democratic change will harm its interests, while it knows full well that the Alawi sect, just like all the others, was and still is subject to oppression, poverty, and so on. Therefore, I address the Ba'thists among the Alawi sect, as well as the intellectuals, the clerics, the members of the trade unions, and all the sectors of society, and I call upon them to restore national unity, by unmasking the regime and supporting the national activity. The continuation of this regime does not pose a danger to just one group within the country, but to the country and the people in their entirety.