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Tuesday, September 20, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Opposition: Assad regime can't pay military; Coup possible

LONDON — The Syrian opposition has determined that President Bashar Assad was running out of cash to maintain his embattled regime.


An opposition leader asserted that the Assad regime has no more than one month's worth of funding. At that point, the leader, Haythan Maleh, said Assad would be unable to pay his military and security forces.

"This regime is prone to collapse," Maleh, chairman of the National Salvation Conference, said.

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Maleh said Syria's leading businessmen were abandoning the regime and transferring their money abroad. He said the Western embargo on Syria's energy sector, the leading earner of hard currency, was hurting the economy.

"Within a month, authorities will be unable to pay the salaries of civil servants," Maleh told the Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al Awsat daily. Maleh also reported the erosion of the Syrian military. He cited defections from the army as well as what he termed the emergence of factions opposed to Assad.

"There are major undisclosed divisions within the Syrian Army, which could function as a decisive factor," Maleh said.

Maleh did not rule out a Syrian military coup as Iran withdraws support for Assad. But he stressed that despite the armed insurgency Assad could still be ousted by "peaceful means."

"There is no room now for the Assad regime to survive, and if it does not leave willingly, it will have to leave by force," Maleh said. "The blood that has been shed has closed the doors to any political solution."

Other opposition figures echoed Maleh's call. Hassan Abdul Azim, a senior member of the National Coordinating Committee for Democratic Change, has urged Syrian officers and officials to defect.

"We welcome all those who have no blood on their hands," Abdul Azim said. "For the overthrow of the tyrannical and corrupt security regime and for democratic change, the peaceful revolution of the Syrian people must continue."

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