Defecting Syrian PM in Qatar: spokesman
Published Friday, August 17, 2012
Syria's former prime minister Riad Hijab, who fled to Jordan after defecting almost two weeks ago, is now in Qatar, his spokesman said on Friday.
"Mr Hijab went to Qatar on Thursday for a three-day visit during which he will address the media to spell out his plans and his programme," spokesman Mohammed Otri told AFP.
He added that the former premier, who defected on August 5 after just two months in the post, would return to Jordan at the end of his Qatar visit.
Hijab was the latest in a string of high-level defections from President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which is becoming increasingly embattled as the 17-month conflict shows no signs of abating.
On Tuesday, he told media in Jordan that the Syrian regime was collapsing and has "cracked."
"The Syrian regime only controls 30 percent of Syria's territory. It has collapsed militarily, economically and morally," Hijab said.
Hijab, who was agriculture minister until being appointed prime minister on June 6, also urged Syria's security forces "not to point their guns at the Syrian people."
The United States lifted sanctions against Hijab and unfroze his assets following his defection in a move it said was aimed at convincing members of Assad's inner circle that they have not been permanently blacklisted.
Hijab was replaced as prime minister by former health minister Wael al-Halqi.