Senior Syrian Diplomat Defects
For the first time since the crisis in Syria began 17 months ago, a senior Syrian diplomat has defected from the Assad regime. Nawaf Fares, a former provincial governor and Syrian envoy to Baghdad since 2008, said that he was resigning from his post as ambassador and joining “the ranks of the people’s revolution in Syria.” In a televised statement, Fares urged “all honest members of [the Ba'ath] party to follow my path because the regime has turned it to an instrument to kill people and their aspiration to freedom.” Syria’s Foreign Ministry released a statement following the defection, saying the ambassador had been “relieved of his duties” and should face “legal and disciplinary accountability.” According to Iraqi officials, Fares fled Baghdad several days ago and is now in the Gulf state of Qatar.
Meanwhile, as the 90-day United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria comes to an end, a bloc of Western powers has drafted a U.N. Security Council resolution that would bring sanctions to bear against the Assad regime if it failed to implement a cease-fire and pull out troops from urban centers within 10 days. Russia, which has repeatedly stymied attempts at increasing pressure on Syria, will likely veto the measure. Additionally, Steven Heydemann writes on “the end game in Syria” and the inevitable collapse of the Assad government. Finally, Khaled Oweis reports on the increasing number of Sunni Syrian soldiers abandoning their posts. Lieutenant Adnan Suleibi, a recent defector, said “the Sunnis are cannon fodder and morale has been sapped. There are 75 men left in my brigade out of 250. The rest were killed, injured or deserted.”