Syrian Defense official defects

 

The head inspector of the Syrian defense ministry, Mahmoud Souleiman Hajj Hamad, has defected.  In an interview with Al Jazeera he reveals several fascinating facts about the inner working of the regime.  He made the decision to defect after going out and “…observing, inspecting and seeing in our own eyes that there are armed gangs among the protesters, and these gangs are killing protesters.”  Aside from being in the defense ministry Hamad was also an auditor for the interior ministry.  From this vantage point he was able to see the vast sums of money being transferred from the regime to the thugs killing protesters.  Hamad said about $40 million had been spent on loyalist militias who’s goal is to destroy the protesters.  Hamad also claims that Iran and Iraq have been giving Assad and the regime financial support.  He praises the Free Syrian Army, and also claims that there are many officials who do in fact want to defect.

“I affirm to you that 80% of officials and employees  in the government want to defect from this regime.  They want to defect and I was one of them, but their fright about themsleves and families from a dissolute regime, this prevents them from defecting.”

What effect  Mahmoud Souleiman Hajj Hamad’s defection will have on the political situation is unknown at this point.  During Libya’s push to overthrow Gaddafi we saw scores of government officials defecting from the regime.  These defections helped to isolate Gaddafi and his inner circle; adding to his eventual downfall.  But Syria is not Libya.  Most of the senior government positions are held by Alawite’s and staunch loyalists.  These loyalists will lose everything if the regime falls, and would most likely be shunned by whatever government takes power after Assad.  Every country involved in the “Arab Spring” has been different, and has reacted differently to internal change.

My best guess is that this will prove to be insignificant.  Unlike Libya and Gaddafi, Assad still garners a lot of support with in the country.  He is not universally loathed like many other authoritarian rulers ousted in the middle east.  Christians, Alawites, secularists, and much of the middle class are terrified of what could happen were the regime to fall.  That represents a large chunk of the population that is very invested in the longevity of Assad’s rule.  Assad also has more or less been able to control the army and security forces.  It does not seem likely that the army will help push him aside, as was the case in Egypt.  Conversely, the regime can not win by simply going out and killing people.  The opposition is only growing stronger in their resolve to see the regime disappear.  There is no way that all of these people will simply go back to their houses are forget what has transpired these past months.  Some form of negotiation is the only solution to the fighting.  When that will actually happen is anyone’s guess.  In the mean time another 5,000 civilians will  likely perish.

 

 

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