Leaving Assad high and dry? First female Alawite defects
In an unprecedented move in the Syrian conflict, the first female officer from Bashar al Assad’s Alawite sect has defected from the regime. It follows the defection two days ago of seven senior Alawite officers in what many saw as the final blow to the Assad regime.
Activists uploaded a video to YouTube on Wednesday, which was later aired on the Sky News Arabic channel purporting to show a woman in military uniform, identifying herself as Zubaydah Almiqi. She said she was a “Colonel in the Directorate of Salaries” and described the al-Assad regime as treacherous.
Although there have been Alawite supporters of the rebels, most are seen as regime loyalists given they belong to the same sect at the current Syrian president. Any defections of members of this minority is a damning indictment of the level of support for the regime within Syria.
Almiqi's defection occurred as news spread that seven senior Alawite officers were publicly renouncing the regime. The general coordinator of the military council in the city of Homs, Khaled Bakkar, confirmed the defections. But sources within the Free Syrian Army (FSA) said the officers had not yet reached the military defectors’ camp in neighboring Jordan.
Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported earlier this week that there had been rumors for some time of a split in the Alawite brigade. According to their sources, the rift happened when fighting moved to Qardahah, the hometown of President Assad.
With violence spreading to the Alawite stronghold, many within the sect began to worry about the safety of their own families. However, the latest defection shows that the dissent is more widespread than just the Lattakia province.
Colonel Almiqi’s hometown is much further south, close to the Israeli border. She described her hometown in the Golan Heights as ‘sold’, in referenced to the occupation on the region that borders Israel.
With his most loyal supporters deciding to jump ship, the future looks bleak for a regime condemned both inside Syria and by much of the international community.
Tell us what you think. Is this a serious blow to the regime? Will Bashar al-Assad now be worried? Will we see more defections? Do let us know what you think.