Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Defence Minister Switched Then Killed

This is the question circulating in Syria at the moment. President Bashar al-Assad's Defence Minister, who was replaced yesterday (Monday), has been found dead in his home today. Reports from authorities say that he was suffering a deterioration in his health, and that his illness was the cause of his dismissal. His death, reported by the opposition and activists, is yet to be confirmed, but otherwise presents and interesting coincidence.

It has been suggested by London daily al-Sharq al-Awsat that General Ali Habib was axed from the Syrian government as a result of his objection to military intervention in Hama, which has resulted in the death of hundreds of civilians. This is because he believed it would lead to soldier defections. Opposition websites further claim that he was assassinated by Al-Assad's men, in particular, Bashar's brother, Maher Assad.

Habib has been replaced by General Daoud Rajha, Al-Assad's former chief of staff. President al-Assad spoke out on Sunday to say that Syria is on the path to reform. The events of this weekend, in Syria and in the Syrian government, demonstrate that this is unlikely.

This article is incorrect! See more recent post on the Syrian Defence Minister.

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