We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk

Middle East

Syria President Assad says ousted Baath party members made mistakes

All 16 members of the central committee which heads the governing party were removed

President Bashar al-Assad expanded on his recent reshuffle of the Baath leadership during an interview with the party mouth piece Al-Baath, published on Thursday.

All 16 members of the central committee which heads the governing party were removed, bar Assad himself, who stayed on as Secretary General. “When a leader does not solve a series of errors, this leader must be held accountable,” said the Syrian president.

Assad outlined his vision for the committee’s future role, saying it monitor the leadership’s work, evaluate it and hold leaders accountable.

“This is the real role of the central committee, which his supposed to hold accountable the leaders on a regular basis. This did not happen in recent years,” the president admitted.

The latest such a reshuffle was in 2005, when Assad removed many of the old guard who grew powerful under his father Hafez al-Assad. The 16 new leaders are said to be loyal to Assad’s hardline brother Maher, who heads the military’s 4th brigade.

Vice President Farouk al-Sharra, a lone voice advocating political compromise  to end the civil war that has killed over 90,000 so far, will stay on in that position, but was removed from the party’s leadership.

Parliament speaker Jihad al-Laham and Prime Minister Walel al-jalqi moved up to leadership positions within the party. 

During the interview, Assad also gloated over the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He stated the party “takes advantage of religion and uses it as a mask… and it thinks that if you don’t agree with it politically, that means you don’t stand by God.” A large contingent of the Syrian opposition is drawn from the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, Assad praised his allies Hezbollah and Iran. Hezbollah “does not judge people based on religion or sect, but rather on patriotism and politics,” said Assad.