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Where is Syria's Deputy President?

Farouk Al-Sharaa disappeared 10 days ago. Syrian statements on whether he has defected are contradictory.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/20/2012, 9:05 AM

A-Shara (left)
A-Shara (left)
Reuters

Where is Syrian Deputy President Farouk Al-Sharaa? The answer is not known, ten days after he disappeared from view. The daily newspaper Makor Rishon writes that Ash-Shara is probably in Jordan.

Walid Al-Mualem, Syria's foreign minister, wrote in his Twitter account Sunday that Ash-Sharaa has been fired, but there has been no further confirmation of this claim. The director of Al-Shara's bureau denied the Twitter report, and official reports in Syria said Ash-Sharaa has no intention of defecting.

"Farouk al-Sharaa has not thought at any time to leave the country," said Syria's state television, after Arab channels had cited Syrian rebel sources who said he had defected to Jordan.

Sharaa, the most prominent Sunni in Assad's Alawite regime, was foreign minister before becoming vice president in 2006.

At the same time, the command of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) said in a statement that, according to preliminary information, there has been an "attempted defection" that "had failed."

"We do not confirm nor disclaim the information related to the defection" of the vice president, said the statement by the FSA, which was quoted in the Al Bawaba Jordan-based website.

"Such operations at this level, involving important figures, are part of a series of security measures that require great care," continued the FSA. Questioned by AFP, a Jordanian official denied that Sharaa is in the kingdom.

The statement by the Vice President's office said that "since the beginning of the crisis, especially since the (National Dialogue) meeting in Damascus during July 2011, Sharaa has been working with all parties to stop the bloodshed in order to achieve of a national reconciliation that would preserve the unity of the country (...) away from any foreign military intervention."