Former Syrian prime minister Riad Hijab made his first public appearance since defecting last week. He dropped a bombshell--in apparent preparation for a last stand in Aleppo, the Assad regime has ceded so much territory to the rebels that the insurgents control about 70 percent of the country.
“I assure you, from my experience and former position, that the regime is collapsing, spiritually and financially, as it escalates militarily,” said Mr Hijab, who served as a cabinet minister and provincial governor before Mr Assad made him prime minister in June.Assad is playing with fire here by betting everything on Aleppo. If he loses that city, he's effectively cut off from the outside world. The closest parallel I can draw is to the Libyan uprising, in which Benghazi and virtually the entire eastern half of the country went over to the rebels. In hindsight, once that happened, it was game over for Qaddafi--the only reason he held out for so long is that he had better-trained soldiers.
“It [the regime] no longer controls more than 30 per cent of Syrian territory,” added Mr Hijab. “So let the shining revolution be completed.”
Mr Assad is believed to have massed thousands of troops for the assault on rebel forces in Aleppo, the commercial capital. To mobilise these units, he has effectively turned over large areas of rural Syria to the insurgents.
Hijab also said he defected out of revulsion at the violent way the regime is trying to put down the revolt, saying he felt duty-bound to "wash my hands of this corrupt regime." If he's right about Assad controlling only 30 percent of the country, we may be talking in terms of weeks, not months, before he finally gets toppled. Especially if Aleppo falls.