If Syrian Vice-President Farouq al-Sharie manages to cross the border into neighboring Jordan, it will be a new blow for the regime; however, it will not topple it. Al-Sharie is from Daraa, the region where the revolution against Bashar al-Assad began after the arrest and torture of children for writing anti-regime slogans on walls. Daraa is an important passage way for dissidents and arms smugglers since it is located south of the capital Damascus, about an hour’s drive away. It is the gate to Jordan, and this is reason why it was the target of bombings and killings by Assad’s forces for seven months, but yet, they failed to quell its revolution.
Al-Sharie’s defection is important because he is part of the regime; he has known its utmost secrets for decades, unlike Riad Hijab the former Prime Minister, who defected after forty days of being assigned the title.
What directly pains the regime is the defection of its military and security leadership, as has happened with several officials in the past two months; Most recently it was Ya’rub al-Sharie, Farouk al-Sharie’s cousin, a security official in Damascus, preceded by the defection of Manaf Talas. The importance of the defected leaders and officers is their support for the Free Syrian Army and their ability to support the rebels... The explosion that targeted the “military command” headquarters last week, and the national security building, appears to be the result of infiltration by military defectors with the collaboration of staff in this sector.
As we can see, the defection of a man who is as important as al-Sharie, the Vice President of the Republic, and the assignment of Lakhdar Brahimi as a U.N. envoy to Syria to discuss a peaceful end for the Assad regime, are two important events, but they will not be changing anything in Damascus because of Russia’s enthusiastic position to protect the regime on all levels. What changes the situation, topples the regime and ends this tragedy, is to take care of the military fragment: Supplying the FSA and fighters with weapons and intelligence information… The Syrian Revolution has completed the basic stages of change; the first was to highlight that the regime’s fall is the desire of the majority of the Syrian people, gain the international support, and then it switched to the armed confrontation because of the regime’s violence. It is certain that the majority of the regime’s senior officials are willing to flee and that numerous members of the security and military forces are also willing to separate, but it will not be easy for them.
The regime has lost tens of pillars, ministers and security and military chiefs, but the stubborn head, Bashar al-Assad, remained and proved to have an unprecedented ferocity and brutality in our modern history. What he has committed in the past months of measured crimes against civilians went way beyond his father Hafez al-Assad’s cruelty, and beyond the harshest dictators in the region, such as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi.
(Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya. The article was published in the London-based Asharq al-Awsat on Aug. 19, 2012)