Syrian Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Harmoush, possibly the most well-known officer to defect from the army because of a candid, strongly worded condemnation of the government’s orders to kill unarmed protesters, was paraded on Syrian state television on Thursday night after being captured by authorities. With a cut between his eyebrows and unshaven, Harmoush was apparently forced to publicly confess. What aired was a series of Syrian government talking points:
* Harmoush said he fled the army out of fear for himself, and, using the language of a child, said that he was a failure as an officer: “I had to be punished twice during my career.”
* “I am sure that the armed groups were the killers.”
* “During my service in the Syrian Army, nobody has ordered me to fire at civilians, or any others, I didn't see or hear any commander in the army that had given orders to shoot at civilians.”
* After fleeing the army, “I discovered that the majority of [opposition figures] have given promises, including financial and logistic aid, weapons and others, but none has been met.”
* “The first people to contact me following my defection were Muslim Brotherhood members.”
Rumors were spreading across Twitter and in the Arabic media that Harmoush had fled to Turkey, and was handed back to Syria by the Turkish government. Turkey denies the charge, saying that anyone seeking refuge there will not be forced to return to Syria.
Despite the setback for opposition forces with Harmoush’s capture, the Facebook group Syrian Revolution marches on, with the “Friday of Involvement Until the Regime Falls.” The site is overloaded with clips of protests from all over the country. One clip was filmed in the village of Saqba. Three soldiers sit in front of a closed-up shop with the tin door rolled down. The person filming murmurs, “It’s Friday, September 16th in Saqba – the Friday of Involvement Until the Regime Falls.”
A well-known Lebanese news channel, MBC, featured the article “Saudi women refuse Moroccan maids out of fear for their men” in the wake of a proposed measure to allow Moroccan women to be hired by Saudi families. Talal al-Bakri, a member of the royally appointed Shoura Council, a non-binding public advisory body, dismissed Saudi womens’ fears that their husbands will abandon them for the Moroccan maids if the government approves the measure. The council has been flooded with demands from women to ban the initiative. “Other women said Moroccans are good at magic and sorcery and that this could enable them to lure their husbands,” the newspaper A-Sharq reported, alluding to Saudi prejudices against Moroccan women as being promiscuous.