Conflict & Justice

Syria: Ex-PM Riad Hijab says regime is collapsing


UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan in Damascus on March 10, 2012 following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.



Syria's former prime minister, Riad Hijab, who defected to Jordan last week, has claimed that President Bashar al-Assad's regime is on the brink of collapse.

Hijab, who was speaking for the first time publicly since he fled Damascus with his family, said Tuesday that Assad has lost control of two-thirds of the country, according to news reports. He also called on other top officials in the country to take his example and defect.

During the press conference in the Jordanian capital Amman, Hijab stated that 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, the Guardian reported. "It no longer controls more than 30 percent of Syrian territory."

Hijab is the highest-ranking political figure to defect from the Assad regime. He decided to leave Syria on August 5 before spending three days traveling to Jordan with the help of the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

"Syria is full of officials and military leaders who are awaiting the right moment to join the revolt," he asserted, BBC reported. 

UN emergency relief coordinator Valeria Amos arrived in Syria today to seek agreement on increasing the humanitarian aid to Syrian civilians who have been trapped or displaced by the continuing fighting between rebel forces and the government.

According to officials, a senior aide to Assad has flown to China to discuss the continuing crisis in Syria, BBC News reported.

Bouthaina Shaaban will meet Foreign Minister Jiechi later today as part of China's effort to implement the six-point peace plan recommended by the United Nations, the Chinese foreign ministry stated. China has twice vetoed UN resolutions against the Assad regime.

However, to deflect criticism and show that it is trying to develop a diplomatic solution, along with meeting Shabaan, Beijing has sent its own envoys to Syria. The Daily Times reported that China's ministry was also considering inviting members of the Syrian oppostion.

“To promote the political solution to the Syria problem, China has always actively balanced its work between the Syrian government and the opposition,” ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a brief statement on the ministry’s website.

Meanwhile, a GlobalPost reporter in Deir Ezzour, Syria, and Hugh Macleod and Annasofie Flamand in Beirut report on tribal bonds now turning against the regime.