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Syria Snap Analysis: What the Prime Minister's Defection Might Say About State of the Conflict

Riyad HijabOne of the most striking claims over Prime Minister Riyad Hijab's defection is that the Assad regime not only picked Hijab to help lead it out of crisis but also threatened him with death. This may be an assertion to curry favour with the opposition, but if it is true, this means that President Assad really does not have anyone he can trust or turn to without fear of consequences. It could mean that the only reason there are not more defections is fear, but --- with the decision of Hijab and his brothers to leave Syria --- it is a fear that is slipping.

A potentially more significant claim, one that will likely be verified soon, is that Hijab has been working all along with the Free Syrian Army. First, this could establish how the FSA has been so successful, perhaps even explaining the effectiveness of the bombing that killed several top security officials, alongside a major FSA offensive in Damascus. If Hijab's story is confirmed, it could add credence to claims that there are many working inside the regime to help the opposition.

The greatest speculation may be about Hijab's role in a transitional government. Hijab is a civilian leader, so unlike defected General Manaf Tlass, he will have an easier time arguing that his hands are clean from the regime's worst acts. If the former Prime Minister has been working with the FSA all along, then he wlll have already built bridges with the military wing of the opposition, a critical step that others cannot claim.

But these are all just possibilities with so little is confirmed at this hour. Any Hijab/FSA ties will likely be exposed in the coming days. We will also soon know how accepting the FSA, the protesters in the streets, and the expatriate leaders in Turkey will be of a man who has been a member of the Baath Party for so long.

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