Syrian envoy defects, turns the gun against Assad

Nawaf al-Fares on Thursday, urged the military and Ba’ath party to stand up against the President.

Zeenews Bureau

Beirut: Nawaf al-Fares, the highest ranking diplomat to defect from Syrian regime, on Thursday, urged the military and Ba’ath party to stand up against the President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and join the revolution.

Fares, who was Syria`s ambassador to Iraq, said in an interview to a Qatar-based channel al-Jazeera, that no peace plan other than Assad’s exit was acceptable in Syria. He further added that President Bashar al-Assad could be ousted only by force.

"There is no roadmap ever with Bashar Assad, because he delays and ignores any plan, any statement that is agreed on internationally," Fares said in an interview.

"There is no way that he can be pushed from power without force and the Syrian people realize this."

Fares said in a in a televised statement on Wednesday night that he had resigned from his post and also from the ruling Ba’ath party to join the ranks of the people`s revolution in Syria.

Condemning Assad`s regime, Nawaf urged the soldiers to revolt against the “criminal regime”. “Isn’t your slogan nation, honour and loyalty? The people still believe in you. Turn your guns towards the criminals of the regime,” said Nawaf.

"Where is the honor in killing your countrymen? Where is the national allegiance? The nation is all the people, not one person in particular," he said. "The allegiance is to the people, not to a dictator who kills his people."

Nawaf al-Fares is the second high-level official to have defected Assad regime within a week. Earlier on on 6 July, Manaf Tlass, the Republican Guard commander and Assad’s confidant also defected to Turkey.

Reacting to defection, Syria`s government said that Nawaf had been fired. In a statement, Syria`s Foreign Ministry said Fares had been "relieved of his duties" and should face "legal and disciplinary accountability."

Nawaf’s defection might trigger more defections from Assad’s circle, exposing fissures within Syrian regime which has so far withstood an Opposition, backed by Western powers.

The defection by Nawaf al-Fares and Tlass also signify and aggravate the conflict between Alawites and Sunnis as both Nawaf and Tlass belong to Sunni sect and chances of them miffed against an Alawite regime only get higher given the government crackdown on civilian areas dominated by Sunnis.

Though Tlass hasn’t yet made a public statement like Nawaf, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Tlass had been in contact with the Syrian opposition.

"I know that there is some closeness between the opposition and the general... contact has been made," Fabius said.

Other high profile defections include journalist Ghatan Sleiba, and the Oil Minister Abdo Husameddin.

Ghatan Sleiba, who worked for pro Assad al-Dunya channel and the state-owned al-Akhbariya network, defected to Turkey on 26 June, whereas Oil Minister Abdo Husameddin, defected on 7 March.

With Agency Inputs