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Syria’s Manaf Tlas Defection Confirmed: His Statement From Paris – OpEd


How important is the Tlass Defection

Absolutely important – The Tlass family has been at the heart of the regime from the beginning. They are the keystone of the Sunni-Alawi alliance that has cemented the regime for 4 decades.

Abdul Halim Khaddam and the Tlass family were the two leading Sunni families in the state from the beginning, when Hafiz al-Assad, the architect of the regime, built the structures that have endured since. Bashar preserved the blueprint drawn up by his father.

Vice President Khaddam defected in 2005. His departure sent a shudder through the regime, but this time is different. The Tlas defection sends the sign that the regime is done for. No longer is this uprising merely about angry young men in the countryside. It has reached to the very top. The elite Sunnis are looking for the exit door – but it will be hard to replicate this defection. Manaf got the golden parachute into Paris. His family is all out – his father, brother, wife and children. He planned this carefully. He has the power and the means.

Other generals have no bodyguards, no visas, no money…. It will be a long and painful process for most to defect.

What is more the Alawite officers have their backs to the wall.

The regime will not just collapse. This is not “The Tipping Point” but it is very significant for morale. It sends a message: the game is up.

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Syria Comment - Joshua Landis

Joshua Landis maintains Syria Comment and teaches modern Middle Eastern history and politics and writes on Syria and its surrounding countries. He writes “Syria Comment,” a daily newsletter on Syrian politics that attracts some 3,000 readers a day. It is widely read by officials in Washington, Europe and Syria. Dr. Landis regularly travels to Washington DC to consult with the State Department and other government agencies. He is a frequent analyst on TV and radio.

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