WASHINGTON - Israel should not fear the prospect of Bashar Assad's downfall, as the Syrian people are not interested in war with Israel, a leading Syrian dissident says.
"Don't fear the fall of Bashar Assad. Syria will not fall into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood," exile Farid Ghadry told Ynet Monday in a reassuring interview in the US. "If the Muslim Brotherhood had a charismatic leader of Ayatollah Khomeini's type in Iran, you would already see his picture on Syria's streets."
From his current home in Washington, the dissident said the people rebelling against the Assad regime at this time comprise young Syrians whose average age is less than 22.
"The protestors have no money to get married and acquire the basic things in life," he said, adding that the young demonstrators have no interest in war with Israel, but rather, care about their socioeconomic future.
"Israel and the Palestinians or war are not on the agenda of the protestors, but rather, the young generation's future," he said. "These people lost their fear and that's the most important thing."
Ghadry, who closely monitors the situation in Syria via the phone and the Internet, added that president Assad presented Syrians with an appealing benefit package, which the people are still looking into, including the annulment of emergency laws and the establishment of political parties.
"These are amazing proposals, but I think the public will realize they stem from the weakness of the Syrian president, who has no intention to actually deliver," he said.
The Syrian masses' response to Assad's offer could be better gauged following the upcoming Friday prayers at mosques across the country, Ghadry said.
"There's great anger out there. Many people crossed the fear obstacle. It's a very interesting phase in Syria," he said.
The Syrian exile estimates that the next phase will be a military coup, should the army feel that Assad's position is shaky.
"We expect the army to be committed to elections and to democracy," he said.
The leading dissident added that he will not be a candidate in future elections, and noted that he and his people are in touch with the Muslim Brotherhood and are working towards the formation of a coalition that will act when the time is right.
Ghadry also said that he intends to board a plane and fly back home the moment the Assad regime collapses.
"I'm a Sunni Muslim from the city of Aleppo," he said. "An 82-year-old mother is waiting for me there, as well as a young public whom I have much to offer to on the economic front, and not on the war front."