Yesterday, Syria’s deputy oil minister, Abdo Hussameddin, announced his resignation and declared allegiance to the opposition, making him the highest-ranked civilian to defect from the Syrian government. The BBC reports:
Abdo Hussameddin, who is one of two deputy oil ministers, posted his video on YouTube late on Wednesday. Wearing a jacket, collar and tie, and sitting in a high-backed armchair, he read out a four-minute denunciation of the regime he said he had served in one capacity or another for the past 33 years.
“I, Abdo Hussameddin, deputy oil and mineral wealth minister in Syria, announce my defection from the regime, resignation from my position and withdrawal from the Baath Party,” he said. “I am joining the revolution of the people who reject injustice and the brutal campaign of the regime.”
Mr Hussameddin, who had served as deputy oil minister since August 2009, added: “I tell the regime, which claims to own the country, you have nothing but the footprint of the tank driven by your barbarism to kill innocent people.”
He said he was stepping aside although he knew that his house would be burnt and his family persecuted by the regime.
An activist who shot the video and posted it on YouTube told AFP news agency in Beirut that the opposition had helped to arrange the resignation.
The Syrian government has not publicly commented on Mr Hussameddin’s announcement.
A brave man, indeed. The translation of his full statement is here. It is not clear, as the BBC explains, whether Hussameddin is a member of the Assads’ Alawite sect, which dominates the civilian and military bureaucracy; almost all Alawites support the regime because they now see it as providing crucial protection for their minority status (and, at one point, a profitable clientelist relationship).