Syrian envoy to Iraq defects, joins the opposition

Syria’s ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf Fares, has abandoned President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the second high profile defection this week. Fares had served as Syria’s envoy to Baghdad since 2008. Prior to the appointment, he was the governor to three Syrian provinces, and in the early 1990s, Fares led his hometown’s branch of the Baath ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

Syria's ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf Fares, has abandoned President Bashar al-Assad's regime in the second high profile defection this week. Fares had served as Syria's envoy to Baghdad since 2008. Prior to the appointment, he was the governor to three Syrian provinces, and in the early 1990s, Fares led his hometown's branch of the Baath Party. Fares announced his defection from the Assad regime as well as the Baath Party on Facebook and in a broadcast on Al Jazeera TV. He said that he is now siding with the "people's revolution in Syria" and continued, "I call on all party members to do the same because the regime has transformed it into a tool to oppress the people and their aspirations to freedom and dignity." According to Syrian state news, SANA, the foreign ministry made a statement that Nawaf Fares, "has been relieved of his duties." Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, a commander of Syria's Republican Guard, reportedly defected last week. However, he has not made a public appearance or joined the opposition, bringing up questions about his motives for leaving the regime. Meanwhile, Britain has circulated a draft resolution, backed by the United States, France, and Germany, to the U.N. Security Council. Britain's draft contrasts with the one distributed by Russia on Tuesday as it includes a Chapter 7 mandate, allowing for military intervention, and heavy diplomatic and economic sanctions. Russia's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Alexander Pankin said that Moscow believed sanctions to be a "last resort." United Nations and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan said Assad discussed the possibility of a transitional government in a Damascus meeting this week, as well as proposing an interlocutor for the regime.

Headlines  

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made his first official visit to Saudi Arabia, attempting to repair relations after tensions compelled Riyadh to recall its ambassador in April. An al-Qaeda linked suicide bomber killed 10 police cadets and wounded an estimated 20 outside a police academy in Yemen's capital on Wednesday. For the first time, Saudi Arabia will send two female athletes to compete in the Olympics. An Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip Thursday killed a Palestinian militant and injured four people.

Syria’s ambassador to Iraq, Nawaf Fares, has abandoned President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the second high profile defection this week. Fares had served as Syria’s envoy to Baghdad since 2008. Prior to the appointment, he was the governor to three Syrian provinces, and in the early 1990s, Fares led his hometown’s branch of the Baath Party. Fares announced his defection from the Assad regime as well as the Baath Party on Facebook and in a broadcast on Al Jazeera TV. He said that he is now siding with the "people’s revolution in Syria" and continued, "I call on all party members to do the same because the regime has transformed it into a tool to oppress the people and their aspirations to freedom and dignity." According to Syrian state news, SANA, the foreign ministry made a statement that Nawaf Fares, "has been relieved of his duties." Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, a commander of Syria’s Republican Guard, reportedly defected last week. However, he has not made a public appearance or joined the opposition, bringing up questions about his motives for leaving the regime. Meanwhile, Britain has circulated a draft resolution, backed by the United States, France, and Germany, to the U.N. Security Council. Britain’s draft contrasts with the one distributed by Russia on Tuesday as it includes a Chapter 7 mandate, allowing for military intervention, and heavy diplomatic and economic sanctions. Russia’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Alexander Pankin said that Moscow believed sanctions to be a "last resort." United Nations and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan said Assad discussed the possibility of a transitional government in a Damascus meeting this week, as well as proposing an interlocutor for the regime.

Headlines  

  • Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made his first official visit to Saudi Arabia, attempting to repair relations after tensions compelled Riyadh to recall its ambassador in April.
  • An al-Qaeda linked suicide bomber killed 10 police cadets and wounded an estimated 20 outside a police academy in Yemen’s capital on Wednesday.
  • For the first time, Saudi Arabia will send two female athletes to compete in the Olympics.
  • An Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip Thursday killed a Palestinian militant and injured four people.

Arguments & Analysis 

How Syria Divided the World‘ (Michael Ignatieff, New York Review of Books)

"The Syrian conflict has triggered something more fundamental than a difference of opinion over intervention, something more than an argument about whether the Security Council should authorize the use of force. Syria is the moment in which the West should see that the world has truly broken into two. A loose alliance of struggling capitalist democracies now finds itself face to face with two authoritarian despotisms-Russia and China-something new in the annals of political science: kleptocracies that mix the market economy and the police state. These regimes will support tyrannies like Syria wherever it is in their interest to do so."

The Ultimate Assault: Charting Syria’s Use of Rape to Terrorize its People‘ (Lauren Wolfe, The Atlantic)

""The data we have so far suggest sexualized violence is being used as a tool of war, although possibly haphazardly and not necessarily as an organized strategy," said Dr. Karestan Koenen, associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University and the lead epidemiologist on the mapping project. "These reports indicate that post-conflict intervention will need to address the consequences of sexualized violence for victims.""

America writes itself out of the script‘ (Michael  Young, The Daily Star)

"It is understandable that Obama’s aims are to revive the U.S. economy and shift foreign and defense priorities toward Asia, where American interests are bound to expand in the coming decades. What is less explicable is that at such a revolutionary moment in the Arab world, when foreign policy certitudes are collapsing almost on a daily basis, the administration does not appear to have any long-term overriding vision or interpretation of the region to help define how the United States must act to advance its national interests."

–By Jennifer Parker and Mary Casey 

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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