Syrian Deputy Oil Minister Abdo Hussameldin announced his defection on Thursday, becoming the highest ranking civilian official to abandon President Bashar al-Assad since the uprising against his rule erupted in mid-March 2011.
Abdo Hussameldin announced last night his resignation from the regime, resignation from his position and withdrawal from the Baath Party. In a message posted on YouTube, the Syrian official said he had joined "the revolution of the people who reject injustice and brutal campaign by the regime."
Rami the activist who shot and posted the video said he was helped by members of the opposition. For safety reasons, he didn't disclose where the video was shot.
In his message, Abdo Hussameldin says he served the Syrian government for 33 years and does not wish to end his life "in the service of a criminal regime." "That's why I took this track, knowing that this regime will burn my house, my family and will spread lies," he adds.
The Deputy Minister of Oil also attacked Russia and China. He accused the two nations of not "being friends of the Syrian people, but partners for the killings of Syrians." Russia and China have blocked twice UN resolutions condemning repression in Syria.
Abdo Hussameldin finally called other members of the government to abandon "a sinking ship."
Some politicians in the West are already comparing this event with what happened in Libya a year ago. At that time, when Muammar Gaddafi was facing a threat of being ousted, first, Foreign Minister Fatah Younis left his government. Then, the head of the Libyan Oil Company Omran Bukra didn’t return to Libya from a foreign trip.
Meanwhile, Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun on Thursday welcomed the defection of the deputy oil minister and told AFP he expects more government officials and politicians to follow suit, Alarabiya news reported.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 27 people were killed in violence across Syria on Wednesday alone, 10 of them in the central Homs province.