Assad: I May Run Again Next Year
But not if Syrians don't want me: interview
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 4, 2013 4:45 AM CDT
In this photo, which the AP obtained from Syrian official news agency SANA, Assad speaks during an interview with Italy's RAI News 24 TV, at the presidential palace in Damascus, Sept. 29, 2013.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – Syrian president Bashar Assad says it's still too early to say whether he'll run for re-election in next year's presidential vote. Assad says "the picture will be clearer" in the next four to five months because Syria is going though "rapid" changes on the ground. He spoke in an interview with Turkish television channel Halk TV, aired late last night. Assad has been president since 2000; his second seven-year term ends in mid-2014.

Syria's opposition wants him to step down and hand over power to a transitional government, with full powers until new elections are held. Despite the civil war, he still enjoys wide support among minorities, including Christians and Alawites, members of the Shiite Islam sect. Assad said that if he feels Syrians don't want him, he "will not run."