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.