[UPDATED First Official to Defect:] Hazem Chehabi, Syria's Honorary Consul General/UC Irvine Foundation Board Member, Resigns Consul Post

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Hazem Chehabi
UPDATE: May 30, 1:13 P.M.: Hazem Chehabi, longtime Syrian honorary consul general, is the first diplomat to defect from President Bashar Al-Assad's government, according to the Syrian American Council. The national pro-revolutionary group lauded Chehabi's resignation from his 18-year-long post as consul general on the west coast.

Chehabi's move came in the wake of U.S. government recalls of top-level Syrian officials after a massacre in Houla, which sparked international outrage. Chehabi told NPR that he wasn't concerned with how the government would receive his resignation, and that he's worried about his country.

ORIGINAL POST, MAY 30, 10:14 A.M.: Hazem Chehabi, Syria's
longtime honorary consul general, and the target of a student movement calling for his dismissal from the UC Irvine Foundation Board, resigned from his government post yesterday. That move came just as the United States government ousted top Syrian envoys Tuesday, a move prompted by a massacre in the Syrian city of Houla, which killed more than 100 civilians. 

Chehabi told NPR's Morning Edition this morning that the massacre was a "tipping point" for him to withdraw from his government-appointed position, and there was no pressure from the U.S. State Department to kick him out.

The demand for Chehabi's resignation from his post as consul general has been ongoing since the uprising in Syria against the Al-Assad regime started 14 months ago, in particular at UCI where Chehabi chairs its foundation board, the fundraising arm of the university. Students were frustrated with Chehabi's post because he criticized the violence without attacking the government for its brutal and internationally-condemned crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Chehabi decided to finally submit his resignation, telling NPR he could no longer remain silent in the face of a "painful" situation in his country of origin. 

The Associated Students of UCI passed legislation in March demanding his removal from his post, but university officials gave no indication of follow-through on the legislation. Today, UCI sent this statement. 

"The continued violence in Syria is terrifying and intolerable," the e-mailed statement said. "We applaud Dr. Chehabi's resignation as consul general and look forward to his continued involvement with the UC Irvine Foundation."

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Free Syrian
Free Syrian

In 1991 Mr. Hazem Chehabi founded his medical institute with $200 million from his father, General Hikmat Chehabi, Chief-of-Staff of the Syrian Army from 1975 till 1998. General Chehabi was in office when the 1982 Hama massacre was carried out by the Syrian Army, resulting in the murder of at least 40,000 innocent civilians. General Chehabi stole at least $ 1 Billion from the Syrian people. Thus, Dr. Chehabi needs to return all the stolen funds to the free Syrian people and should then ask for forgiveness from those killed by his father. UCI too should return any money it received from Mr. Chehabi as it was money stolen from the Syrian people. UCI should never have such a person on its Board. 

Habfan
Habfan

Hazem is an American of Syrian origin.

Hama was carried out by Rifaat Al Assad's defense companies, a unit separate from the normal army. Everybody knows that.

His assets were most certainly taken away by the government in Syria after the very public defection. So I don't know what you are on about...

Habeeb
Habeeb

Habfan, Sorry but you are dead wrong. Hazem is a Syrian who got the US citizenship, all the money him and his father brought to the US (over a billion $$) was stolen from Syria and the Syrian people. This is just a fact. No assets were taken from him in Syria as him and his father are close to the Assad family. In fact, has has been appointed as the honorary consul general by the Assad family around 18 years ago, these thugs are all in bed together. Another fact for you, his med degree was not earned because he was such a smart guy, his high school grades were not enough to get him into a shoe polishing college. Thanks to his dad's power in Syria, he got into Med school only because his father is Hikmat Chehabi not because he was a smart kid.

Only now he dropped off from his post as a honorary consul general because he is afraid that his turn is coming soon and he will be questioned. It was a total cowardly act not because he ever cared about Syria and the Syrian people.

Habfan
Habfan

So the LA Times, Reuters, Al Arabiya, BBC, OC Weekly are all telling lies about the quality of his character? It is all a conspiracy, right?

Steve
Steve

THIS GUY IS A CON MAN HE IS AFRAID TO LOSE HIS STAY IN U.S. AND THAT'S WHY HE DECLARED HIS DEFECTION

909Jeff
909Jeff

there was no pressure from the U.S. State Department to kick him out. 

cough cough bullshit cough cough... 

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