Syria’s Head of Military Police Defects, as Death Toll in Revolution Climbs to 45,000

Maj. Gen. Abdul Aziz Jasim al-Shalal, head of Syria’s military police, defected late Tuesday to Turkey, joining the revolutionaries against the regime. He announced his defection in a YouTube video, saying that the Syrian army is no longer fulfilling its primary mission, of defending the country from attack, but rather has become a gang attacking the country’s own people. He said that many officers want to defect. He also alleged that the regime did indeed use gas against rebels recently.

Euronews has a video report:

Meanwhile, over 100 Syrians were killed around the country on Wednesday as the regime continued to fight an ever-widening insurgency and popular revolution. Regime forces were alleged by rebels to have massacred 20 non-combatants in Qahtaniya, Raqqah Province. The Syrian Human Rights Observatory in the UK now estimates that the death toll in the revolution that began in spring, 2011, has climbed to 45,000.

Facebook comments by anti-regime dissidents say that Maj. Gen. Shalal had for some time been sympathetic to the uprising, and had sometimes had police barricades removed for more effective popular protests. He may have been suspected by the regime in recent weeks of insufficient loyalty, and was scheduled for retirement next month.

He was not well known in Syria, since the MPs mainly deal with discipline issues among the troops themselves. But his defection is surely a blow to regime morale for exactly that reason. If it is true that the head of Syria’s military police has for some time been cooperating with the revolutionaries, that is yet another very bad sign for the collapsing regime of President Bashar al-Assad and his Baath Party.

Shalal is not the most senior military figure to go over to the other side. Manaf Tlass, Brigadier General of the Syrian Republican Guard and his brother and father (a former Minister of Defense) have defected. And, a prime minister, deputy ministers, and a number of ambassadors have also joined the opposition.

8 Responses

    • “blood on his hands, sensing a dark fate ahead of him, he tries to ameliorate his circumstances.”

      Agreed. I am always skeptical of high ranking government and military members of harsh dictatorships under fire who suddenly “see the light,” usually when they sense the eventual demise of the regime. It is a blow to Assad’s regime that he defected, but it is no testament to Shalal’s humanitarian bonefides.

      • If he’d done this in March or June or even December 2011, that would be one thing, but this is a rat fleeing a sinking ship.

  1. Is that estimate of 45,000 killed inclusive of those, if any, killed by the “rebels,” which is a mix of Syrians and non-Syrians ?

  2. “Defected,” as in “changed loyalties,” with regrets and apologies and restitution for past bad acts, or just what gregory says?

    Interesting how things repeat. The Bourbons (save a few) moved on with a bunch of portable wealth to Austria and such places, continuing to live the high life. The Nazis (save a few) moved on with a bunch of portable wealth to Argentina and Paraguay and such, link to dailymail.co.uk. Or became part of the US state security apparatus, or got to live out comfy little lives here in the Land of the Free. link to nytimes.com

    And the “Right” got their knickers in a phony twist over “Who lost China,” as a result of their supporting a fellow kleptocrat and his syndicate. Anyone heard of or remember Chiang Kai-Shek and his lovely wife Madame Chiang and the Kuomintang, whose greed and corruption made them vulnerable to “the Communists,” who are more of the same, of course — and anyhow the Chiangs and the Kuomintang got to basically invade and steal a place once called “Formosa,” now called Taiwan, dispossessing and apartheiding the inhabitants, link to taiwandc.org ?

    How about Batista? several African dictators? Et Freakin’ Cetera?

    And I guess the smart people, who become participants in or apologists for “the way things really work, behind the myths and lies and deniability screens,” have the “right” idea: support and advance the interests of those who kill big, steal big, and when the heat’s on, take it on the lam to some place run by aspiring or implanted kleptocrats, supported very often by US “freedom exporters” from the CIA and “our” corporations and agencies and departments, who will shelter the SOBs from consequences and let them live out their comfortable lives.

    I bet ol’ al Shalal does better than ok — his skills are patently portable, and the new crop of oligarchs this Syria business is producing will keep him in beer and skittles until he passes.

    And “We the People” are supposed to keep ordering and arranging our beliefs and lives and filling our fearful psyches with visions of Enemies, on the basis of the lies and myths and “USversusTHEMism” ™ crap we are force- and stealth-fed by these folks. And keep on generating lots of income for the Few to take from us by trick or force, and just go along with the whole state-security faux-Liberty/pseudoFreedom mythology, Forever War and 2-Minute Hate and the whole shebang.

    Because, you know, “national interest.” Which means exactly WHAT, again?

    Best we can do, right?

    • Isn’t it funny that Chiang’s Kuomintang now is a puppet of Beijing, basically bought up for the purpose of opposing Taiwan’s ruling party and its position of Taiwanese independence, which both Chiang and Mao rejected?

      See, when new guys have the big money, all of the games America ran start operating very differently.

      • You seem to think that rejection of Taiwanese independence by the Kuomintang is a recent repudiation of America’s position. For 40 years, ever since the Shanghai Communique, issued on February 27, 1972, at the conclusion of Nixon and Kissinger’s visit to China, the U.S. has recognized the “One China” policy and rejected the idea of Taiwanese independence. The pertinent language follows.

        The U.S. recognizes “that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.”

        America has accepted the “One China” policy for 40 years. The game did not begin to “operate differently” because “new guys” had “big money.”

        • Yeah, the ChiComs maintain that there’s “one China,” all subject to Beijing rule. And the Kuomintang, that semi-reformed bunch of corrupt thugs who have “become respectable” by commercial success, maintain that there’s “one China” under THEIR rule, that Mao and successors are mere usurpers.” And “the US,” in a dazzling display of NoSpeak, does what, again?

          Even the sentence you selected, “The U.S. recognizes ‘that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China,” read with open eyes, gives the lie to your interpretation; the US play on this situation is to try to keep the Mainlanders from just overtly taking the place as the Kuomintang had done, and to satisfy the right-wingers there who want, like Miami “Cubans” and their US “friends on the ‘right’”, to retain the hope of eventual “restoration” of a coordinate bunch of kleptocratic reactionaries. link to washingtontimes.com Oh, and of course to provide a long history of profitable “U.S.” arms sales to the Kuomintang, requiring a lot of fast dancing to keep various stake-holders happy or at least not actively hostile.

          Here’s another sentence, from the prior link:

          The U.S. “one-China” position acknowledges China’s view on Taiwan, but it does not explicitly recognize China’s sovereignty over Taiwan, and nor does it recognize Taiwan as a sovereign country.

          And of course you obscure the historical bit that “Taiwan” used to be, prior to and between a couple of invasions including Chiang’s, its own nation with its own indigenous population, markedly self-considered “NOT CHINESE.” link to taiwannation.com.tw

          That arch restatement of the “US position” ought not to obscure the complicated and typically ugly reality.

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