Syria: Not His Brother's Keeper

For months, signs of a power struggle within the government of Syrian President Hafez Assad swirled like so many dust devils around Damascus, the capital. Last week the intrigue blossomed anew. Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas, in an interview published in the West German magazine Der Spiegel, declared that Assad's younger brother Rifaat, one of Syria's three Vice Presidents, is "persona non grata forever." If Rifaat had not gone into exile in Geneva in June, Tlas added, "the army would have struck."

Whether Tlas is to be believed or not, Rifaat, 47, had made no secret of his ambition to succeed Hafez,...

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