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Syria: Negotiating Defection on Twitter

Following reports that former Syrian spokesman Jihad Makdissi had fled to the US, on 25 December activist Rami Jarrah, also known as Alexander Page, released private Twitter messages that show Makdissi had been in contact with him for months. This could be, as Twitter users have named it, “the first defection negotiation in history.”

On 25 December THE_47th   tweeted:

I think @AlexanderPageSY just had the first twitter defection negotiation in history. Check out his screenshots of his DMs with @makdissi

 

Makdissi is the most senior member of the Syrian regime to defect since the prime minister, Riyad Hijab, left the country in August. Since the beginning of the revolution in March 2011 and the following the crackdown against demonstrators, Makdissi has worked closely with the foreign ministry and the information ministry. This defection is another big blow to a regime that continues its war against its own population, as shown by the latest deadly airstrikes against Syrians standing in line waiting for bread.

The messages released by Jarrah show conversations he had with Makdissi in July. The first group of messages show Jarrah introducing himself as a Syrian who was stripped of his passport and accused of being a foreign agent. Makdissi replies:

 

In the following messages Jarrah shares his story on how he had to flee Syria and asks Makdissi:

 

In the following DMs (Twitter direct messages), Jarrah´s shares his will to fight not only dictatorship but also any foreign attempts to profit from instability in the country:

 

The following messages show the same narrative the Assad administration has used for decades to justify the need to rule with iron fist and put stability above everything else. Contradictorily, Makdissi also emphasizes the “need to stay away from violence and support dialogue”:

 

 

On another conversation on 21 July, Makdissi shares his lack of trust on the Syrian opposition:

 

 

On the last message Jarrah shares, Makdissi says he will take his recommendations into consideration:

Jarrah has told Global Voices Online that he has a record of other conversations with Makdissi. What will the former spokesperson´s role be from now on? Twitter users have expressed concern that he may have gone from serving Assad to serving the CIA. Kindakanbartweeted:

From serving Assad to serving CIA, Makdissi is in Washington according to guardiannews Syria http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/24/syrian-official-us-intelligence-agencies

Rami Jarrah is this year´s winner of the CJFE International Press Freedom Award. The rest of his conversation with Jihad Makdissi can be seen here.

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