News / Middle East

Ex-Syrian PM: Assad Government 'Enemy of God'

Riad Hijab, Syria’s defected former prime minister, speaks at a press conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Amman, Jordan, August 14, 2012.
Riad Hijab, Syria’s defected former prime minister, speaks at a press conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Amman, Jordan, August 14, 2012.
VOA News
Former Syrian prime minister Riad Hijab appeared publicly Tuesday for the first time since his defection, calling President Bashar al-Assad's government an "enemy of God" and saying it is collapsing.

In a news conference in the Jordanian capital Amman, Hijab said he defected last week from the government and joined the 17-month Syrian uprising of his own will. He said he was not dismissed from his post as Syrian authorities claimed and urged other Syrian leaders to break from the government.

High-Profile Defectors from Syria

  • Prime Minister Riad Hijab defected to Jordan on August 6, two months after taking top post.
  • Nawaf Fares, Syria's ambassador to Iraq became first Syrian envoy to defect on July 11, 2012.
  • Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, highest ranking military officer to abandon Syrian government on July 6, 2012.
  • Colonel Hassan Hammadeh flew his MiG-21 warplane to neighboring Jordan during a June, 2012, training mission and was granted asylum.
  • Imad Ghalioun, member of Syria’s parliament, left country in January, 2012, to join opposition.
  • Adnan Bakkour, former attorney general of Hama, appeared in video in late August 2011 announcing he had defected.
Hijab said the Assad government currently controls only 30 percent of the nation and is collapsing morally, economically and militarily.

The former prime minister is the highest-ranking political figure to defect from the Syrian government. He fled to Jordan with his family.

Hilal Khashan, an analyst at the American University of Beirut, says that Western supporters of the Syrian opposition, including the U.S., are trying to identify ex-members of Assad's regime who are able to form a core leadership for a new Syria.

"The U.S. is trying to identify defectors from Assad's regime as leaders of a post-Assad Syria," Khashan said. "It's clear [from] that, based on comments by Hijab today, when he said that there are good decent people in Assad's administration and that they should join the uprising."

US Considers Multiple Options

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says he is confident the United States could enforce a no-fly zone over Syria, but that a "major policy decision" needed to authorize such a mission has not been made.

Panetta told the Associated Press the United States is considering multiple options for Syria and indicated a no-fly zone is not a top priority.

"We have planned for a number of contingencies that could take place and one of those possible contingencies is developing a no-fly zone. But we've also pointed out difficulties in being able to implement that," he said. "It's not on the front burner as far as I know."

Last year, the U.S. and its NATO allies implemented a no-fly zone over Libya as rebels fought against and eventually ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi.

But the circumstances are different in Syria, which has much more sophisticated air defenses than Libya.

President Assad's forces have increased air attacks in recent weeks, targeting rebel strongholds in key places such as the nation's largest city of Aleppo.

Syrian rebels have said they need a no-fly zone to protect against the attacks.

Diplomatic Efforts

Foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will be holding a summit in Mecca late Tuesday night, after agreeing to recommend suspending Syria from the group.

The move by the 57-member OIC could lead to a diplomatic dispute during the summit between Syrian ally Iran and pro-opposition Saudi Arabia.  

Also Tuesday, United Nations humanitarian chief Valerie Amos begins a three-day visit to Syria and Lebanon to discuss ways to urgently boost relief efforts to civilians caught in the conflict.

A U.N. statement Monday said the visit is aimed at drawing attention to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria, and the impact on people still in the country and those who have fled to other countries, including Lebanon.

"The humanitarian situation in Syria has further worsened in recent weeks as fighting has spread in Damascus and to Aleppo and other cities," the statement said. "Two million people are now estimated to have been affected by the crisis and over one million have been internally displaced."

In China, the foreign minister is scheduled to hold talks with a special envoy to President Assad.  China says it is also considering inviting opposition members to visit.

China has joined Russia in vetoing three United Nations Security Council resolutions threatening Syria with sanctions for using heavy weapons against civilians.

Violence Continues

Fighting continued in northern Syria Tuesday after rebels circulated a video Monday of what they claim is the downing of a Syrian plane and the captured pilot. The rebel video cannot be independently verified.

Opposition activists posted amateur video on YouTube Monday showing a fighter jet flying through the sound of heavy fire, erupting in a ball of flames and trailing a line of smoke.  Someone off-camera celebrates, saying the plane had been hit in the town of Mohassen in Deir Ezzor province. Later, video was released of a man, identified as the pilot, surrounded by armed men.

State media say a pilot ejected Monday after suffering technical problems during a "routine training mission" in eastern Syria, and that authorities are searching for him.

According to eyewitness reports, the Syrian government has been using fighter jets as part of its most recent assaults on rebel-held areas across the country.

On Tuesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported government shelling in Idlib province that it said killed four people. The Observatory said clashes between government forces and rebels were taking place in other areas of the province following rebel attacks on military targets.

The group says more than 20,000 people have been killed since the nation's uprising began in March of last year.

A Syrian refugee woman carries her baby as they walk amidst dust at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, August 13, 2012.A Syrian refugee woman carries her baby as they walk amidst dust at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, August 13, 2012.
x
A Syrian refugee woman carries her baby as they walk amidst dust at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, August 13, 2012.
A Syrian refugee woman carries her baby as they walk amidst dust at the Al Zaatri refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq, near the border with Syria, August 13, 2012.
Refugees Increasing

The United Nations refugee agency says the numbers of those fleeing fighting in Syria continue to escalate. The agency has registered 157,577 Syrian refugees who have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey and expects those figures to rise sharply.

Agency spokesman Adrian Edwards says the number of registered refugees does not reflect the actual number of Syrians who have fled into neighboring countries because many are reluctant to be counted.

"These are fairly general impressions that our team is receiving that people have been reluctant to register because they fear that this information might get back to Syria and have negative implications for them," Edwards said.

The UNHCR reports 283 Syrians crossed the border into Jordan on Saturday night compared to what had been a steady average of about 400 people arriving each night since July. It says the decline may be because of dangers refugees encounter while fleeing.

On another front, the agency has opened a new registration facility in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.  Agency spokesman Edwards says there is an increasingly perilous situation along the Lebanese-Syrian border.

"The security situation for refugees in the northern border areas of Lebanon has been deteriorating," he said. "Northern parts of the Wali Khalid area, where several hundred refugee families reside, has been targeted by shelling from the Syrian side of the border two to three times a week."

Along the Turkish-Syrian border, the stream of refugees fleeing conflict in Syria's most-populous city, Aleppo, is increasing. In the last four days, the U.N. reports 10,000 Syrians have arrived, bringing the total number of refugees in Turkey to nearly 60,000.  

U.N. emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos arrived in Syria on Tuesday for a three-day regional trip to discuss humanitarian aid for Syrian civilians trapped in battle zones.

The U.N. estimates some 1.5 million Syrians are internally displaced and in need of emergency help.

VOA's Lisa Schlein contributed to this report from Geneva and Edward Yeranian contributed from Cairo. Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Five-Nation Tour to Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

Secretary of state will visit Egypt, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam to discuss security issues, Iran nuclear deal, Trans-Pacific Partnership More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
    Next 
by: Corrupt_Citizen from: New York
August 15, 2012 10:44 PM
This guy has nothing to lose now he knows if he loses ground he can seek shelter in Iran who will welcome him as a hero or be hidden away by the Hizbollah terrorist network who right now are working on a way of getting him out safely and transferring his weapons to their side. Isreal needs to beef up the security at the borders, they should seek international help to keep these light arms from getting into the arms of Hizbollah who in the past was not afraid to use them against Isreali woman and children.

by: LeRoy Padmore from: Jersey City,NJ
August 15, 2012 4:23 AM
Riad Hijad need to be arrested for the atrocity that he and the Assad regime has cause.he is not innocent of what is going on.he was part and parcel of the problem in Syria.He help killed the Syrian people,his hands are not clean.now things are turning bad for them,then he wants to look like the good guy.He need to be arrested for war crime.he was part of that problem.The UN needs to Arrest Hijad.we are calling on for his Arrest now.they all started this problem.He is not a good man himself.

by: The All Seeing from: The Stars
August 15, 2012 4:07 AM
I wonder how much money these american/zionist mercenary's people are getting paided to defect from Assad, most likely coming from american tax payers. If Genghis khan was trying bring down Assad and these so called rebels tried to defect to his side, he would have them executed for disloyalty. Who want's defectors, corrupt folk in the army.
In Response

by: Claris Cole from: USA
August 15, 2012 2:15 PM
hey fool, learn your history... Genghis Khan is reviled only in Iran... in the US he is actually extolled for killing Muslimes... so right of the bat we know that you are an Iranian imposter...

by: John from: Perth Western Australia
August 15, 2012 2:41 AM
Where Islam is in the majority so will violence and totalitarianism be present. This is the major reason why there will never be peace in the middle east
In Response

by: Jessie from: German
August 16, 2012 11:05 PM
Absolutely right. The facts all over the world prove that Islam represents evil and violence, where there is Islam, where there is crime and disaster. France,Germany,Holland,Thailand,China,Pakistan,Indonesia,Philippine,England...look at those countires ,all are troubled by domestic Islamist . Why all terrorists come from Islam world ? Reason lies in the Islam doxy, which lacks of humanity,equality, while drum for the war and violence. Until today, the women in Islam are lowly than men, and you can see no peace and technology brough by them, just the blood and death.
In Response

by: Joanna from: Canada
August 16, 2012 12:41 AM
John, not only if they are majority... look at France, Muslims are not the majority (yet) but they are still 97 percent of crimes rapes murder drugs welfare recipients law suits alleging "racism" squalor filth and degradation... look at Germany same story... look at Holland - a virtual disaster!!! look anywhere you wish you will see the despicable face of Islam in the same light... they have learned to speak the language of "victemhood" and they are using it against the countries who extended welcome to them... Look at CANADA!!! horrific displays
In Response

by: Frank Mitchell from: USA
August 15, 2012 8:56 PM
Yeah okay. Says the guy from a country founded by blood-thirsty thieves who slaughtered, raped, and pillaged their way to the top of a no name desert with freak animals. Tell me, what contributions has your country made to improving humanity? Islam has given us shampoo, soap, pants, the concept of zero, algebra, chemistry, coffee, need I continue?
Go back to school chump.

by: Greg from: usa
August 14, 2012 5:53 PM
So after serving in the Syrian government/Assad for many years, he just realized assad is enemy of god? Why didn't he pack and leave years ago if that was the case?
In Response

by: Stu from: USA
August 15, 2012 2:43 AM
That was exactly my feeling. You know the reason why. He doesn't want to go down with Assad. We all know that a leopard doesn't change its colors.

by: Erik from: Warsaw Poland
August 14, 2012 3:34 PM
What God?

by: wideNCawake from: NC - USA
August 14, 2012 3:18 PM
dogmatism and wasted ideologies have really screwed this world over --- for it is proven.

by: SwanGo from: NC
August 14, 2012 3:02 PM
I wish the media would stop trying to rally American public support for a Syrian invasion. STOP BEATING THE WARDRUMS... our heads hurt enough already.

by: Nick from: San Francisco
August 14, 2012 2:41 PM
Assad is just another dictator whose family's been in power way too many years (like Quadaffi and Mubarreck)
As the evil monster he is, he is clearly an enemy of God. I don't care what religion you support, this is not a man of love and peace. He has to go, and his end is at hand, plain and simple.

by: Jake Ryan from: Shermer
August 14, 2012 2:24 PM
I guess he is preparing for when the Muslim Brotherhood takes over Syria. Thank god America is working so hard to depose Assad, Syria will be a much better ally to Israel once it is a fundamentalist Islamic state.
Comments page of 3
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs