Soon after the massacre his brother, President Hafez Al-Assad went to hospital. Rifaat spread rumours that Hafez was on his death bed, and Rifaats militias took to the streets of Damascus to ferment a coup.
He failed. Hafez came out of hospital and threw him out of the country. He was let back in in the 1990s, but caused trouble again and was kicked out for a second time.
Now, he is said to have met close associates of Bush, as well as conjuring up Mohammed Saddiq – the Syrian ‘witness’ who said that he defected from Syria with proof that Syria was behind the Hariri murder.
The US’s former head of anti-terrorism, Yossef Bodansky, announced Rifaat as Syria’s next President earlier this week.
It could be political posturing, and a way of upping the pressure on Damascus. But more likely, it’ll show that the US is more interested in exapanding its control – even if it means using warlords like Rifaat – than spreading democracy.
Rifaat has gained dubious support. From Faird Ghadry – the Washington based ‘opposition’ leader unknown in Syria. He said “If Rifaat Assad wants to help Syria and wants to be part of a democratic process then let him say so.”