Leading article: Not enough to bring Assad down

Share
Related Topics

While it is certainly good news that Syria's Deputy Oil Minister has defected to join the year-long revolt against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, it is nonetheless important to get the development into perspective.

To put it into context, were his British equivalent – Charles Hendry – to resign, it would hardly rock the foundations of David Cameron's government. Not only is Abdo Hussameddin but a junior figure, he is also a Sunni, rather than a member of the Alawite elite which dominates the Assad regime. His change of heart is, therefore, far from the tipping point that the defection of Libya's Finance Minister proved for Colonel Gaddafi.

Meanwhile, the outlook remains altogether bleak in the rebel stronghold of Homs. The International Red Cross, and its local Red Crescent branch, are having difficulties getting supplies through to the desperate civilian population. The few remaining residents are collecting snow to obtain drinking water. Gunfire is still heard, even in the presence of the UN humanitarian aid chief, Baroness Amos. And President Assad still controls the vast bulk of both the nation's territory and its ruthless army.

There are some optimistic straws in the wind, not the least of which is that several senior figures in the military have now switched to the opposition. One armed group, claiming to be Alawites, defected on Wednesday; and there is also a gradual increase in the number of ordinary soldiers deserting to the rebels.

There are subtle shifts in the international community, too. Washington is talking of supplying the rebels with non-lethal aid and President Obama has asked the Pentagon to set out military options. China's envoy has told President Assad to stop the violence. And even Russia's President-elect, Vladimir Putin, has said he has no intention of providing asylum for the dictator if he is forced out.

But Syria's rebels are fragmented and poorly equipped. They have no tanks or artillery and their leaders are disorganised. It is a long road to the end of the Assad regime, and this week's developments are just a few tiny steps along it.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Internal Sales Executive - Hair & Beauty - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company supplies the ultim...

Recruitment Genius: Design, Marketing and Media Manager

£27000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: HR Assistant

£17447 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a leading centre fo...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A woman runs down the street  

Should wolf-whistling be reported to the Police? If you're Poppy Smart, then yes

Jane Merrick
 

Voices in Danger: How can we prevent journalists from being sexually assaulted in conflict zones?

Heather Blake
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
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