PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, March 8, 2012

Syrian Official Defects To Rebels

Abdo Husameddine. (Photo via Youtube.com)

Abdo Husameddine. (Photo via Youtube.com)

Shelling and explosions hit a number of Syrian cities early Thursday, the same day the highest level political defection from president Bashar Assad’s government. Syrian deputy oil minister Abdo Hussameldin announced he would join the country’s rebel movement in a youtube video.

“In the name of Allah… I declare that I’m joining the revolution,” Hussameldin said in Arabic. “I’ve been part of this government for 33 years, and I have acquired many titles, and i do not want to retire serving the crimes of this regime.”

“I do not want to end my life servicing the crimes of this regime.”

– Abdo Hussameldin, former deputy oil minister and defector to Free Syrian Army

“I do not want to end my life servicing the crimes of this regime,” Husameddine said, adding that he was joining “the dignified people’s revolution.”

He appeared to address President Bashar Assad directly.

“You have inflicted on those you claim are your people a full year of sorrow and sadness, denied them the their basic rights to life and humanity and pushed the country to the edge of the abyss,” said Husameddine, wearing a suit and tie and appearing to be reading from a paper.

It was not clear when or where the video was made. There was no comment from Damascus.

Husameddine identified himself as an “assistant” to the oil minister and a member of the ruling Baath Party and said he has served 33 years in various government positions. Cabinet ministers in Syria may have several assistants known as deputies.

The defection came as international condemnation on Assad mounts.

On Wednesday, the U.N. humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, got the first independent outside look at the Baba Amr district of Homs following a deadly monthlong siege. The military took control of Baba Amr on March 1, but Amos was allowed in only Wednesday.

She said Thursday she was struck by the devastation she saw in the shattered neighborhood. She found it mostly empty after residents fled the fighting. Activists charge that Syrian forces conducted cleanup operations there, including executions and arrests.

“The devastation there is significant. That part of Homs is completely destroyed, and I am concerned to learn what happened to the people in that part of the city,” she said in Damascus, a relatively peaceful stronghold of Assad’s regime.

“I have been struck by the difference between what I have seen here in Damascus and what I saw yesterday in Baba Amr,” she added.

But shortly after she spoke, Syrian security forces opened fire to disperse mourners in Mazzeh, an upscale neighborhood of Damascus. The crowd had gathered for the funeral of a soldier who was allegedly executed last month for refusing to obey orders to shoot at civilians in Homs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Guest:

  • Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

June 6 Comment

Introducing A New Here & Now Website

Coming June 9, 2016, Here & Now listeners and visitors will experience our stories and journalism online in a whole new way.

June 3 Comment

Teenagers Create Impromptu Exhibit At San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art

As the pair toured the museum, they wondered if they could do better. So 16-year-old Kevin Nguyen decided to get creative.

June 3 3 Comments

‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Author Explores Conformity, Mental Health In New Teen Novel

Matthew Quick published his fourth young adult book, "Every Exquisite Thing," this week.

June 2 13 Comments

Do Meal Kits Provide Great Taste Along With Convenience?

Resident chef Kathy Gunst tested a multitude of meal kits, and gives co-host Jeremy Hobson the inside scoop.