Assad’s premier defects — then gets fired

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reports:

President Bashar al-Assad on Monday issued Decree No 294 on dismissing Prime Minister Riyad Hijab from his post.

The President issued Decree No. 295 on designating Eng. Omar Galawanji as a caretaker premier.

Each time there is a major defection and a new crack opens in the crumbling Assad regime, we witness the same chirade: the defector flees, then gets fired. The sad thing is that as farcical as this might look from outside Syria, Assad is probably correct in believing that a segment of the population believe the lies they continue being fed.

BBC News reports: Syrian Prime Minister Riad Hijab has defected from President Bashar al-Assad’s government to join “the revolution”, his spokesman says.

Mr Hijab was appointed less than two months ago and his departure is the highest-profile defection since the uprising began in March 2011.

His family is reported to have fled Syria with him.

Riad Hijab is a Sunni Muslim from the Deir al-Zour area of eastern Syria which has been caught up in the revolt.

His spokesman Mohammed el-Etri told al-Jazeera TV that he was in a safe location.

“I announce today my defection from the killing and terrorist regime and I announce that I have joined the ranks of the freedom and dignity revolution,” ran the statement read by his spokesman.

Mr Hijab is the first cabinet minister to defect. The BBC’s Dale Gavlak in Jordan says the development underscores the cracks in the regime which are reaching beyond military ranks.

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.

I imagine a phone interview was all he could give. There’d be no point having him appear on TV reading a statement while a revolver’s pointed at his head.

Reuters adds: A senior Syrian intelligence officer has defected to Jordan, Al Arabiya television reported on Sunday.

It said Colonel Yarub Shara was head of the Damascus branch of Political Security, an intelligence organization responsible for monitoring and suppressing dissent.

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