Ex-Syrian ambassador calls for foreign military intervention
From Ivan Watson, CNN
updated 1:17 PM EDT, Sun July 15, 2012
Nawaf al-Fares, former Syrian ambassador to Iraq, is the highest-ranking diplomatic defector
The “totalitarian” regime is led entirely by Bashar al-Assad, al-Fares says
“They are aware that they are going to pay for it,” al-Fares says of the regime’s violence
Syria denies accusations of massacres and attacking civilians
Doha, Qatar (CNN) — The most senior Syrian diplomat to defect and publicly embrace his country’s uprising is calling for a foreign military intervention to topple president Bashar al-Assad. He also accused the Damascus regime of collaborating with al Qaeda militants against opponents both in Syria and in neighboring Iraq.
“I support military intervention because I know the nature of this regime,” Nawaf al Fares told CNN. “This regime will only go by force.”
Until a few days ago, Fares was Syria’s top man in Baghdad.
His defection marks a shocking about-face for an official who occupied a critically important post. Until Fares was sent to Iraq in 2008, Syria had no ambassador stationed in Baghdad for more than 20 years.
“I was at the top of the Syrian regime,” Fares said in his first interview with a U.S.-based TV network since his defection. “But what happened in the last year during the holy revolution, all of the killing, the massacres, the refugees, and the declaration of war by Bashar al-Assad against the Syrian people, stopped any kind of hope for reform or real change, which had been promised previously by Bashar al-Assad.
“I tried during the last year and a half to convince the regime to change its treatment of the people,” Fares added. “But I wasn’t successful, so I decided to join the people.”
Damascus confirmed news of Fares’ defection in a short article published by Syria’s state news agency SANA, which announced that the ambassador had effectively been fired for leaving the Syrian Embassy in Baghdad without official authorization.