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News Analysis: PM defection deals painful blow to Syrian leadership (2)

(Xinhua)

09:38, August 07, 2012

His defection came amid unconfirmed news that three other cabinet ministers, including the ministers of finance and defense, accompanied him. However, the Finance Minister Mohammad Jlailati was quick to deny the rumors.

In a telephone call to the Syrian official TV, Jlailati said "I am a Syrian citizen before being a minister and I am talking from my office and practicing my job freely and transparently."

Abdul-Aziz Khair, an opposition figure, told Xinhua that the defection is an "additional indication of the increasing political unraveling of the regime."

"Over the past weeks, a number of important defections have occurred at the level of high ranking military officers and from the narrow circle of decision makers in the regime," he said.

Khair said this incident indicates that the regime is " politically wobbling and that it's rapidly unraveling. It also sends an alert to the regime on the necessity of responding to the people's demands and the necessity of starting a new transitional era that would see Syria on the hoped-for track of democratic change."

George Gabbour, a political analyst, said "this is an important incident but we should deal with it rationally and seriously so that it does not lead to bloodshed in the name of preserving the Syrian blood."

Syria tried to belittle the importance of Hijab's defection and said he was sacked and was officially informed of the decision on Sunday.

Hijab's defection was welcomed by different opposition parties. The Syrian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood has released a statement hailing the news.

"We call on all the men of the Syrian state in various positions to hasten to align with their own people, to align with the blood of the children in Syria," the statement said.

Some news agencies emphasized that at least two other ministers have defected along with Hijab and said they will not divulge their identity for safety reasons.

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