"Defection Highlights Sectarian Divide in Syrian Government ":
"The prime minister's position was largely symbolic, with most authority concentrated in the president's hands. The former prime minister was not part of Syria's powerful security apparatus dominated by Mr. Assad's family and Alawite supporters who have stood by the president.
Aram Nerguizian, a Syria expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Mr. Assad also has been able to keep other Sunnis in senior government posts.
"You're going to see the Assad regime continue to try to populate some of these positions with minority groups like Orthodox Christians, but also critically with the Sunni community so that [the regime] maintains at least the impression if not the illusion of cross-confessional representation within the Cabinet," said Nerguizian.
Assad moved swiftly to replace Mr. Hijab, appointing another Sunni, Omar Ibrahim Ghalawanji, as caretaker prime minister. Ghalawanji was born in Tartus and served as a city councilman in Latakia - two coastal regions with significant Alawite communities loyal to Assad. Prior to Ghalawanji's new appointment, he served as a minister for local government.
Reached by phone in Beirut, Nerguizian said the Syrian president's actions show that he has developed an ability to survive internal crises. "As far back as March of last year, the Assad regime has learned and implemented all of the 'best lessons' of authoritarianism, in terms of how to repress, how to divide, and how to weaken opponents," he said.
Nerguizian said the Sunni defections also have hardened the position of Assad's Alawite generals, making them more concerned about survival than anything else. "I would not be surprised if the Assad regime looked at [Hijab's defection] and dismissed it outright, given the fact that individuals like him will not be viewed necessarily as life threatening.""
Scarily prescient Hersh from 2007: "The Redirection". Barry's just following pure neocon policies from the Bush Administration (in fact, he's free to do things that would have been considered too crazy if they had been suggested by the neocons). We're right back to Charlie Wilson's War, Americans formally allying themselves with Sunni jihadists for wider geopolitical purposes.