In a blast email sent to The Atlantic Wire and many others today from his address at the Syrian Embassy in Washington, D.C., spokesman Ahmed Salkini announced that he would be stepping down to accept "an exciting job offer in the private sector" in the D.C. area. In rather cryptic language, he noted, "I have been conspicuously silent since the beginning of the events in Syria, and at times, even unresponsive. For the latter, I apologize." He also reflected on the pain he'd felt during the Syrian uprising:
I leave my position during the most difficult, yet promising of times in Syria’s modern history. I have been pained by every drop of Syrian blood lost. Still, I am certain of, and comforted by, the fact that Syria will emerge from this crisis more democratic, unified, freer, and stronger than ever.
While, as JTA's Ron Kampeas notes, Salkini's email is "not quite a defection," an embassy staffer "declaring to one and all his decision to stay in the United States and his own 'conspicuous silence'" is not a good sign for the Assad regime. Here's Salkini in 2010 denying on Al Jazeera that Syria was supplying Scud missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Shortly after the appearance, Salkini penned an op-ed in The Christian Science Monitor lauding Syria for "being a state for all religions--and no religion. It is this formula that defines the true Syrian identity" and wards off extremism.