The defection of General Manaf Tlass, a commander in the Syrian Republican Guard, and son of the Syrian regime’s former pillar, Lieutenant General Mustafa Tlass, has been referred to as the most significant sign of weakness of the Syrian regime.
But is this defection really a sign of weakness? Let’s remember that general Tlass was a brigade commander in the Syrian Republican Guard. How come he did not defect with his brigade? Why did he have to sneak out of Syria to announce his defection? The answer is simple to any military expert: Tlass did not enjoy the loyalty of his men. Let’s also remember that many militiamen in Rastan, one of the opposition strongholds, are from the Tlass clan. Why couldn’t he just join them? Could it be because he knows quite well that they are losing the battle?
So a general who does not trust his own men to announce his defection amongst them, and who did not dare to join his cousins in their “fight for freedom”, is supposed to break the backbone of the regime? Using what? Prayer obviously. The man who enjoys expensive scotch and Cuban cigars could not wait to perform Umrah rituals right after he left the country. And what else? Yes, he thanked Saudi Arabia for "the opportunity to visit it", and hoped it would help Syria drawing a road map. Did he also thank the Saudis for the Wahhabi fighters they are sending to fight his own brigade in Damascus? I bet he did.
Manaf Tlass did not defect, he just ran away. And his defection will not be any more threatening to the Syrian regime than the defection of former Vice President Abdul Haleem Khaddam, who stated upon his defection that his victorious return to the country would be in six months. That was seven years ago.