According to the recently defected former Prime Minister Riyad Hijab, Bashar al-Assad's regime controls no more than 30% of the country and it's on the verge of collapsing.
“Based on my experience and my position, the regime is falling apart morally, materially, economically,” the former official, Riyad Farid Hijab, said at a news conference in Amman, Jordan. “Its military is rusting, and it only controls 30 percent of Syria’s territory.”There's no way to know for sure just how secure Assad's regime is, but there have been indications that Assad's lost control of vast swaths of the country. His security forces have been hard pressed to retain control of Syria's two biggest cities - Damascus and Aleppo. Rebels managed to assassinate key security members in a bombing several weeks ago. There have been a steady but increasing stream of defections, including Hijab.
He added that many high-level civilian and military officials in Syria — “leaders with dignity” — were waiting to defect. Mr. Hijab said he fled the Syrian capital, Damascus, because the government threatened his family and had no reasonable means to end the violence. He also urged the opposition to unify and to move ahead with plans for a transitional government and “a civilian democratic state that preserves the right, justice and dignity of all Syrians.”
But he said he had no interest in a formal position. “I have sacrificed myself in the campaign of righteousness,” he said. “I don’t want to satisfy anyone but God.”
Mr. Hijab’s claims about the weakness of the Assad government could not be independently verified, and he gave few details to support his harsh assessment. A Sunni technocrat from the eastern city of Deir al-Zour — which has been enduring shelling and fighting for weeks — Mr. Hijab was not a member of Mr. Assad’s inner circle, and he was appointed to the position of prime minister only in June.
It also appears that Assad's brother was grievously injured in that July 18 bombing. A Russian minister also indicated that Assad's willing to give up power:
Quoting Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov, the newspaper reported that Maher Assad's condition "is very serious and he is fighting for his life."However, Assad's security forces continue the bloodletting and no one within the security establishment is willing to tell Assad that his time is done for the sake of all Syrians. He's apparently content to continue the violence to preserve his power. The Russians have moved to deny Bogdanov's claims, which further suggests that Assad isn't going anywhere - at least for now. They claim that Bogdanov never gave any interview to al-Watan, which other media outlets quickly re-reported.
The July blast took place during a high-level meeting at the state security ministry in the capital. Among those killed were Defense Minister Daoud Rajha, former Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani, and Assad brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, who served as the country's deputy defense minister. The suicide attack was carried out by a bodyguard for the president's inner circle, a Syrian security source said at the time. Until now it was unclear whether Maher Assad had attended the meeting.
Bogdanov added that President Assad is prepared to give up power, according to the Al-Watan report. "We ask that this issue be dealt with quickly to bring about a solution to the crisis," he said. "We are speaking with the opposition and the Syrian government on a daily basis."
There are also indications that Russia and Iran are busy propping up Assad's regime, even as Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are assisting the rebels.
At the same time, al Qaeda and other terror groups, including Hizbullah are looking to fill the power vacuum, which is something that Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Israel are all keenly hoping to avoid.
Meanwhile, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria from its membership as another UN official envoy is visiting Syria so as to draw attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria. The UN mission will fail just as surely as Kofi Annan's attempts did; Assad has no intention of giving up power, or stopping the violence, and rebel forces are just as unwilling to stop their own efforts as they continue to maintain and gain territory, even if those gains come at a significant humanitarian cost or that retribution for being part of Assad's government includes war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Labels: Al Qaeda, Bashar al-Assad, Civil War, diplomacy, foreign policy, Free Syrian Army, human rights, Middle East, Russia, Syria, terrorism, United Nations, war crimes