In another sign that Syria is on the verge of collapse, the brother of Syria’s parliament speaker was assassinated on Tuesday by gunmen as he drove to work in Damascus.
The regime of President Bashar Assad has been hit by a wave of such death and destruction that seven Syrian generals early today defected to Turkey, arriving at the Turkish border province of Hatay seeking refuge.
The situation has gotten so severe that U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi called it a “big catastrophe” that was on its way to becoming as lawless as Somalia. The pan-Arab daily Al Hayat published his comments, saying the international efforts now are focused on getting a “binding resolution by the (U.N.) Security Council” to start a political process that will lead to change.
“I don’t want to go too far in pessimism, but the situation in Syria is very dangerous. The Syrian people are suffering a lot,” Brahimi said. “I believe that if the crisis is not solved in a right way, there will be the danger of Somalization. It will mean the fall of the state, rise of war lords and militias.”
The east African nation of Somalia has been mired in war for two decades after warlords overthrew a longtime dictator in 1991 and then turned on each other. Backed by African Union troops, the remnants of government in Somalia are currently battling Islamist extremist rebels linked to al-Qaeda.
Somalia is such a symbol across the globe of lawless disorder and dysfunction that Brahimi used “Somalization” as a synonym for chaos.
Mohammed Osama Laham, brother of Parliament Speaker Jihad Laham, was killed in the Damascus neighborhood of Midan, according to the SANA news agency.
It comes months after four of the president’s top security aides were killed in a rebel bombing of state security headquarters in Damascus on July 18.
Laham’s assassination came a day after some of the most intense fighting in Damascus in months.
The seven generals who defected join dozens of other generals who have abandoned Assad’s regime. More than 110,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey since the uprising began in March last year. Activists say more than 36,000 people have been killed in 19 months of fighting in Syria.