Syria’s deputy oil minister yesterday said he was resigning to join the anti-government revolt. Abdo Hussameddin announced his defection in a video posted on YouTube. He is the highest-level political figure to leave the government of President Bashar Assad since protests erupted a year ago.
Hussameddin, 58, read out a four-minute speech in a YouTube clip denouncing the regime he said he had served in one capacity or another for the past 33 years.
“I, Abdo Hussameddin, deputy oil and mineral wealth minister in Syria, announce my defection from the regime, resignation from my position and withdrawal from the Baath Party… I am joining the revolution of the people who reject injustice and the brutal campaign of the regime.” Hussameddin — deputy oil minister since August 2009 — added: “I tell the regime, which claims to own the country, you have nothing but the footprint of the tank driven by your barbarism to kill innocent people.”
He said he was stepping aside although he knew that his house would be burnt and his family persecuted by the regime. An activist who shot the video and posted it on YouTube told the AFP news agency that the opposition had helped to arrange the resignation.
The Syrian government has not publicly commented on Hussameddin’s announcement. A spokeswoman from the opposition National Transitional Council of Syria said she believed many more cabinet members and their deputies were prepared to defect.
Meanwhile, violence continued across Syria on Wednesday as opposition groups said 39 people were killed. According to the UN more than 7,500 people have died as a result of the violence in Syria over the past 12 months.