Former foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi fled Syria because 'democracy had no place'

 

More than two months after abandoning the beleaguered Syrian government, the country’s former foreign ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, made his first public statement about his defection today saying that the “destructive” situation meant that he could no longer “bear to stay in the country”.

Mystery had surrounded the whereabouts of Mr Makdissi since he disappeared on 3 December. Some diplomatic sources had suggested that he had fled to either the UK, or the United States.

Sky News Arabia, which is based in Abu Dhabi, posted a letter purportedly from Mr Makdissi, in which he laid out the reasons for his defection.

Often the voice of the Syrian regime, and one of the few senior members of the administration who spoke fluent English, the letter said that Mr Makdissi had left Syria because “of the polarisation and violence that left no place for moderation and diplomacy.”

In his first tweet since the end of November, Mr Makdissi confirmed the authenticity of the letter: “I confirm authenticity of the Press Release issued today where I explained why I left the regime and my current political position,” he said.

The letter added that rather than fleeing to the West, he was with some, “honest brothers who are helping the Syrian people overcome their humanitarian crisis with no discrimination. I didn’t travel to Europe or the United States although my passport would have easily entitled me to [do so].”

Attempting to draw a line between himself and the Assad government, Mr Makdissi’s letter said that those rebelling against Assad’s regime had rightful demands, “that no one could deny. The rebels, however, were still unable to convince the minds of Syrians of their movement because of reasons that are well known.”

Mr Makdissi came to the fore last July when he threatened that foreign intervention in the Syrian conflict could be met with chemical weapons. “Any stock of WMD or unconventional weapons that the Syrian Army possesses will never, never be used against the Syrian people or civilians during this crisis, under any circumstances,” he said. “These weapons are made to be used strictly and only in the event of external aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Any hope that the disparate rebel groups may have harboured that Mr Makdissi had strategic information that he might be willing to share were dashed, however. The letter claimed that his information was the same as that of any ordinary Syrian. One of the few Christians to hold a senior government job, Mr Makdissi is not thought not to have been part of the Assad inner-circle, which is dominated by Alawite ministers.

Whether Mr Makdissi in fact voluntarily left his post has been a matter of speculation, with a number of reports at the time suggesting that he had been sacked for straying too far from the government position. The Assad regime often says that the uprising is being led by bands of foreign terrorists. The civil war, which will be two years old next month, has already claimed the lives of at least 60,000 people.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions