Top Syrian Defector Vies To Be Opposition’s Leader

General Tlass is being pushed by the US and Saudi Arabia, but no one but himself buys him as a post-Assad leader

Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, who defected from the Syrian regime earlier this month, is presenting himself as the top pick for Syria’s new leader after Bashar al-Assad, whose regime is being called upon by the US and its allies to step down.

“I left [Syria]… to try to help the best I can to unite the honourable people inside and outside Syria to set out a road map to get Syria out of this crisis,” General Tlass, currently in exile, told the Asharq Alawsat newspaper in Saudi Arabia.

“The interview in a Saudi-owned newspaper,” according to The Independent, “indicates that Brig Gen Tlass…must have at least tacit support from the powers that be in Riyadh. The US is also said to be pushing him forward as a candidate to lead the transition.”

The Syrian National Council, the disorganized exile group pretending to be the viable choice for Syria’s political transition should Assad fall, is not ready to accept him. They and the rest of the opposition inside Syria have been skeptical of all of Assad’s former comrades.

“There is no way that he can work with the opposition now, maybe after the regime falls but not now,” said Haitham al-Maleh, a prominent dissident. “He is the son of Mustafa Tlass. The opposition inside the country are never going to shake a hand stained in blood.”

The US and its allies in the Gulf are officially committed to regime change in Syria and when they latch onto some former regime apparatchik – whether Ahmed Chalabi in Iraq or Omar Suleiman in Egypt – it usually means no good.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for