Thu March 8, 2012
In Video, Man Said To Be Syrian Oil Ministry Official Says He's Defecting
As we've relearned from the overthrows of oppressive leaders in Libya and Egypt, among the signs to watch for when looking or evidence of cracks in such regimes are defections and transfers of money out of the country by a dictator's cronies.
-- A video has been posted on YouTube showing a man who says he is "Abdo Hossam El Din, assistant of the minister of petroleum and mineral resources and member of the Regional 10th Conference of the Arab Baath Party."
"I declare my defection from the regime and my resignation from my post as the assistant to the minister," he says, according to a translation sent to us by NPR's Kelly McEvers. "I am joining the revolution of this noble nation that did not and will not accept the injustice with all the atrocities committed by the regime and its supporters to suppress the demands of the people for freedom and dignity."
-- The Washington Post reports that "searching for any sign of splintering in Syria's ruling class, the United States has tracked what it suspects is the transfer of millions of dollars in foreign accounts by elites with ties to President Bashar Assad. But the flow of money is murky. U.S. intelligence officials said they cannot estimate the total amount and are still trying to assess what the transfers mean: Is Assad's inner circle starting to fray, or are wealthy Syrians simply hedging their bets?"
Meanwhile, CBS News reports that activists in Syria say state-run hospitals have been turned into torture chambers where opponents of the regime are whipped, beaten and electrocuted. NPR's McEvers, who has been reporting on the continuing crisis from Beirut, focused on the opposition's efforts to regroup in a report for Morning Edition. And Reuters reports that former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said today that when he goes to Damascus on Saturday, "he would urge [Assad] and his foes to stop fighting and seek a political solution to end a year of conflict."
The United Nations estimates that more than 7,500 people have died in the year or so since protests against the Assad regime began.