In response to claims that the King of Saudi Arabia met with former Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam - a recognized opponent of Bashar Assad's regime – Syrian media announced Sunday evening that "Saudi Arabia is trying to create a civil war and implement US orders, in order to besiege Syria and harm its stability."
Arab-Israeli newspaper al-Sinara reported that, last Tuesday, during a ten day pilgrimage to Mecca, Khaddam met with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz.
According to the report, Khaddam, the king and the crown prince spoke of the situation in the Middle East, particularly regarding Syria's isolation from the international community, due to its political stance.
The newspaper reported that Khaddam told the Saudi leaders about recent developments among the Syrian opposition.
He also told them of his intention to open offices of the National Salvation Front (as the umbrella group for Syria's 17 opposition organizations is called) in a number of world capitals – including Washington and possibly one of the Arab capitals.
Pushing for regime change
In an interview aired by a television station owned by the al-Hariri family in Lebanon, Khaddam spoke to the Syrian people in honor of Eid al-Fiter, promising that "the tyrannical regime is about to collapse" and be replaced with a democratic one.
"The leader will find that the opportunists and hypocrites with whom he surrounded himself will run away. He and his corrupt family will find themselves in the hands of justice," he declared.
"Ask yourselves, six years after coming to power, what has Bashar Assad done other than proliferating corruption, increasing suffering and making incorrect decisions that hurt national unity?" he continued.
Al-Sinara also published that the Saudi king recently met with other Syrian opposition leaders – Sheikh Ali al-Bayanoni, the banished head of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood currently residing in Belgium, and Bashar's uncle, Rifat Assad.
Rifat, the late President Hafez Assad's second in command, fled Syria following an unsuccessful coup attempt in 1983, which took place while the president was hospitalized in a coma.
King Abdullah's meeting with Rifat Assad was conducted separately from his meeting with Khaddam, as the two have not spoken since the attempted coup.
Saturday, a diplomatic source in London confirmed the content of Khaddam's meeting with the Saudi king and crown prince.
In contrast, a senior Syrian opposition source refused to comment concretely, stating that "Khaddam is visiting Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage. The visit was not coordinated with anyone."
The Syrian source did confirm that "the National Salvation Front does intend to open offices in Washington in order to further relations – with the Syrian community and the American government – in order to explain the organization's stance and missions, and in order to create a democratic regime in Syria."