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Syrian PM Defects, Assad Regime Trembles

The pace of defections from the Assad regime is picking up, with Prime Minister Riad Hijab being the latest high-level civilian official to skip town. A Sunni Muslim from the eastern part of Syria, he announced from Jordan that he has cast his lot with the resistance. The regime claimed that he had been fired, but its actions belie its words:

Unconfirmed reports suggested that two other cabinet ministers had also deserted and there were claims that a third, Finance Minister Mohammad Jalilati, had been arrested while trying to flee.

But Syrian state TV said he was still in his office working as usual, and it broadcast what it said was a phone interview with Mr Jalilati categorically denying reports that he had been detained.

The Assad regime is seriously beginning to weaken. It seems unable to restore order in Syria’s two largest cities, and its defections are reaching closer and closer to the hard core. Assad can’t be sure who he can trust now.

It’s crystal clear that the regime cannot reassert control over the whole country. And while the opposition is far from ideal and revenge killings and further disorder are likely, the sooner the fighting ends, the less ugly the aftermath will be.

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  • Walter Sobchak

    “the sooner the fighting ends, the less ugly the aftermath will be.”

    The best case scenario is that Syria breaks apart into ethnic cantons where various groups can hole up and defend themselves. The worst case is that jihadists take over the country and use it as a platform to launch genocides against Alawites and Christians. We are a lot closer to the worst case than we are to the best.

  • Kevin

    If we are already beyond any hope of moderate forces triumphing, then a prolonged war might bleed both forces hostile to the United States. Of course the humanitarian consequences of that would probably be horrific. But we might be beyond even that possibility as the opposition seems to be gathering momentum. Will the Russians try to step in to save Assad? Probably not, Putin doesn’t need a Mediterranean quagmire.

  • thibaud

    What do you think US policy should be, Mr Mead?

  • Mick The Reactionary


    “Assad Regime Trembles”

    Assad tremble is nothing compared to Syrian Christians trembles.

    Another victory is withing reach for Arab Springers and brainless democratizers in B. Hussein Obama regime.

  • Mick The Reactionary

    @Walter Sobchak:

    “The best case scenario is that Syria breaks apart”

    Respectfully disagree.

    By Far the best case is for Turkey, Saudis and Iran to get involved to the fullest and all sides to lose after after running out of manpower and jihadi zeal.

  • Nathan

    @ thibaud – We’ve had enough posts from Professor Mead without a recommendation now to conclude that he doesn’t see any easy way out of it, and I’d tend to agree. Due to a number of factors (overstressed military, budget problems and opposition from Russia & China) any possibility of aggressive involvement is remote by now. Possibly we could have had a larger impact at the outset, but that’s a bygone.

    Given what appears to be Mead’s conclusion, that this needs to end quickly, I’d imagine that our efforts would be best spent in attempting to establish relations with the rebels (not necessarily arming them and certainly not with high-grade equipment) and in doing everything we can to encourage Assad to take an exile/escape deal (probably through the Arab states we aren’t enemies with), however remote that possibility might seem given the number of times he’s refused so far. Probably we also continue the dog & pony show at the UN as well, if only to broadcast our intentions.

    The obvious downsides alone seem to argue against deeper involvement than that at this point, and that ignores the high likelihood of unintended consequences. If we ever had any effective means to influence this situation, I think those means are long past eroded.

    So long as I’ve already mentioned the UN, I’m chalking this up as one more episode that demonstrates just how laughably ineffective the UN is at accomplishing anything that matters.

  • Cunctator

    How important is the Syrian PM? Is he a significant figure in the regime or just a placeholder?

    The downfall of the Assad regime has been predicted for over a year now, and it is still there. I would not hold my breath that Assad and his gang will disappear from the political stage anytime soon.

  • David

    #7 Cunctator,

    The Syrian PM is NOT a significant figure, because he is not in the small, decision making circle. He is a bureaucrat, who was probably bribed to change sides.

    The most tragic part is the fate of the minorities (Christians, Alawites, Druze, etc.) who will be slaughtered (!) by the peaceful members of the religion of peace! And, B. Hussein Obama is … well… missing in action! Where is Jeremiah Wright when you need him?

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