Syrian regime is on brink of collapse, says former PM Riyad Hijab

The Guardian reports: Syria’s former prime minister, Riyad Hijab, has claimed Bashar al-Asssad’s regime is on the point of collapse, having lost control of two-thirds of the country, as he called on other top officials to follow his example and defect.

In his first public appearance since he fled Damascus with his family a week ago, Hijab told a press conference in the Jordanian capital, Amman, the Syrian army needed to “take the side of the people”.

“I assure you, from my experience and former position, that the regime is collapsing, spiritually and financially, as it escalates militarily,” Hijab said. “It no longer controls more than 30% of Syrian territory.”

Hijab said that while he was prime minister he had been unable to stop the regime’s policy of using heavy artillery against Syrian cities considered by the regime as being opposition strongholds. He said he had felt “pain in my soul” of the shelling of civilian areas.

“I was powerless to stop the injustice,” he said, urging other senior figures to defect. “Syria is full of honourable officials and military leaders who are waiting for the chance to join the revolution. I urge the army to follow the example of Egypt’s and Tunisia’s armies take the side of people.”

Sounds like Hijab stopped following the news from Egypt as soon as Mubarak stepped down. Moreover, given the level of destruction the Syrian army has already inflicted on so many cities, the idea that they might now “take the side of [the] people” and stop slaughtering them sounds less like a vision of the future than the rhetoric of a man whose first priority is to reinvent himself.

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