The official Syrian Arab News Agency, or SANA, claimed that President Bashar al-Assad is in Damascus on Thursday, contradicting other reports that he had fled with his family to the coastal city of Latakia. SANA/Reuters

Britain and the US are believed to have offered Syria's President Bashar al-Assad clemency in exchange for agreeing to a transfer of power.

The plan would also see Assad offered safe passage to Geneva to take part in peace talks aimed at shaping a political transition in Syria.

The scenario was hatched following a meeting between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, with the latter allegedly telling his American counterpart that Russia was not hung up on Assad staying in power.

After 16 months of regime-led violence in Syria and with more than 10, 000 people killed (activists estimate the number to be over 15,000), a Yemen-style power-transfer deal that would see Assad living out his days in Syria would infuriate his people.

Syrians want justice and want rid of a dynasty that has oppressed the majority for decades, turning to wholesale slaughter in recent months

Assad, a former ophthalmologist turned head of state, quickly made friends after his ascendency to power in 2000.

He was warmly welcomed in Paris , dining in the capital's best restaurants with Nicolas Sarkozy and met the Queen during a visit to the UK.

Fast forward 12 years and not many friends are left but for the exception of his real "besties", namely, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Where then would Assad go if the streets of Syria, full of armed, angry militants calling for revenge, made his stay in the country too dangerous?


Before succeeding his father, Assad studied and later on worked as an ophthalmologist in London.

Reports suggest he was living the good life in the capital, making decent money and enjoying the liberal Western-life style that his wife, Asma, and he are now missing (emails leaked to the Guardian earlier this year showed them craving Harrods-style luxury items). But her family are in the UK and her father is working in London's Harley Street as a cardiologist so maybe he could help Assad find a job.

If they want more privacy the Assads could set up home in Bradford in the constituency of rebel MP George Galloway who once called Syria "the last castle of Arab dignity". George and Bashar could use the opportunity to discuss the Palestinian issue and how to end the Gaza blockade.

With Prime Minister David Cameron labelling Bashar a "wretched tyrant" and a travel ban to Europe imposed, the return to London, however, seems likely to remain a dream only.


Could Vladimir Putin, Assad's strongest ally within the United Nations Security Council invite his friend to stay with him in Russia?

The country has lobbied in favour of the Assad regime for more than a year and although support is slightly dwindling, Russia would probably be keen to keep the relationship with Assad going even if he leaves power.

He would after all remain an influential figure with the vast web of connections he has in Syria and its neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Iran.

However, as Napoloen and Hitler found out to their cost, Russia can be a gloomy place of endless winters. For Assad, a son of the sun-soaked Levant, retirement in an igloo of an apartment amid the slush and snow of grimy Moscow must send a shiver down his spine.


Iran has remained a faithful ally throughout the Syrian crisis. Ahmadinejad is the first to back Assad's Western conspiracy theories. Both of them are Shia Muslims, from different branches but still, both of them love science (Ahmadinejad announced he will quit politics in 2013 to return to his academic scientific career), both despise Israel and both are being "persecuted" by Western leaders.

The Iranian choice however might not be as welcomed by Asma, the "rose in the desert".

A stylish woman and until 16 months ago a defender of women's rights, it is unlikely she would want to become subject of the Islamic Republic's conservative religious tenets. This Arab Marie Antoinette would rather take her chances with an angry Damascus mob than endure the fashion disaster of a hijab and the traditional black cloak Iranianwomen wear over their clothing.


Chavez, who ridiculed the idea of an uprising in Syria against Assad the "humanist, doctor, educated in London, in no way an extremist; he is a man of great human sensitivity", might be the best host.

As the Syrian uprising gained pace, he warned the world that after "a few people" would be killed the "Americans would come to bomb the people to save them".

Despite international outcry against Assad, Chavez has proved his true loyalty by continuing to court a bilateral relationship with his regime throughout the uprising.

He has even sent shipments of diesel to Syrian government, proving he was still a reliable hand in difficult times.

With a hot climate, a Caribbean coastline and a host of dodgy, offshore private banks in the nearby West Indies to stash the cash he has systematically looted from the coffers of the Syrian treasury over the years, Venezuela would indeed be a great spot for Assad to live out the rest of his days in splendid isolation.

Indeed, with the Venezuelan president counting as his other "true bothers" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Vladimir Putin, imagine the pool parties he and Assad could throw. Let the good times roll...?