8/10/ U.S. Backed 'Syrian Opposition groups'; "Syria is the best way to undermine Iran"


3/31/10 By Ribal Al Assad, Director of the Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria (ODFS)
Syria qualifies as an afterthought when discussing the threat of Iran. But to dismiss this country as a minor player in the region is dangerously to underestimate the significance of its links with Iran.
At the end of February the leaders of the Syrian and Iranian regimes met in Damascus. This display of unity among the ‘resistance’ of the region came just as international community was beginning to believe that the Syrian government had seen sense and was moving away from Iran. However Syria and Iran reaffirmed their close links and announced a new policy to waive visa requirements between their nations.
Iran is a major influencer in the Middle East. Its tentacles stretch deep into Syria, the West Bank, Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Iran’s aim is to manipulate and use proxy groups to exert greater influence and control in the region. The Iranian regime, the leader of the ‘resistance’, has expansionist and destabilizing tendencies. In its southwest, Iran occupies the populous, oil and gas rich, Arab land of Al-Ahwaz. Also of its southern coast, Iran occupies three small islands, the Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa, which are claimed by the United Arab Emirates. The UAE's claim is backed by the Gulf Cooperation Council and other Arab states... Syria should have no illusions about the intentions of its senior partner in the ‘resistance’. It is my belief that Syria will never be in a position to distance itself from Iran unless and until it has national unity, a democratically elected government through free and fair elections where all political parties who believe in democracy participate; where all citizens have full rights under the rule of law; and where the rights of individuals, groups and minorities regardless of religion, ethnic group or sex are protected by a new constitution....The Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria (ODFS) aims to campaign for several fundamental developments; human rights guaranteed by law, a free media, economic liberalisation, and zero tolerance of extremism. Syria will never be free from the grip of Iran unless it embraces these democratic principles and gives its people a voice and a stake in the future of their country. The people of Syria want a free economy, not one propped up by corruption and Iranian influence. They want a democratic government, not a dictatorship. They want to be free to express themselves and their opinions, without fear of oppression. They want to be able to forward an email that features a cartoon of a public official, without being thrown into prison for such actions.
Engaging with Syria is a worthwhile ambition, but fruitless for as long as the Syrian regime sees Iran as his benefactor and friend. Having set up the ODFS here in London, my aim is to talk to politicians, policy makers and journalists about the stark state of affairs in my home country, and to promote the basic idea that a free and democratic Syria is not just good for my countrymen, but good for the Middle East and vital for global security.
ODFS researches and analyses current events and policy in Syria and the Middle East, and provides information to parliamentarians, civil servants, media, think tanks, academics, students, the public and all other interested parties in Britain and around the world.
What we do. Coming Soon http://www.odf-syria.org/about/what-we-do
Founder & Director Ribal al Assad, lives in London, studied politics at Boston University, holds a degree in Business from the InterAmerican University in New York. He is fluent in Arabic, English, French and Spanish.

Syria Faces Unusual Critic: Assad's First Cousin
Robert Siegel talks with a very unusual critic of the Syrian regime, Ribal Assad, President Bashir Assad's first cousin. Ribal's father, Rifaat Assad, was an enforcer for the regime in back in the 1980s. Ribal was born in Syria, but he spent most of life outside the country. He discusses his reaction to the unrest in his homeland — and the group he founded, Organization for Democracy and Freedom in Syria. http://www.npr.org/2011/06/15/137205535/syria-faces-unusual-critic
Rafif Jouejati wrote: Dear NPR, please keep in mind this is the son of the architect of the Hama massacre in the 80s. Not a credible source. Thu Jun 16 16:49:29 2011

Getting Serious in Syria
Michael S. Doran and Salman Shaikh, Saban Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution.
6/22/11 http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1001
...How can the United States compress the timeline of collapse so as to minimize human suffering and ensure the speediest rise of a new order hospitable to the United States? To do so, Washington must first jettison the completely unsupportable pretense of a regime-led transition toward democratic reform. This policy only encourages Assad to think that he can ride out the protests. Instead, the United States should be working assiduously to convince Assad to go, and to go soon.
This task of persuasion should entail five steps:
1. The United States must begin with a strong declaratory policy announcing that it is now working to build the best possible bridge to a post-Assad Syria.
2. Washington should then convene a conference of interested powers, in conjunction with Turkey and France, to develop a Syrian “contact group” devoted to establishing a stable order and to preventing a power vacuum. Crucially, such a contact group should also seek to involve Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
3. The United States must work with other key actors to help turn the Syrian opposition into the nucleus of a transition government. As the experience with the Libyan opposition forces has shown, engagement with the Syrian opposition movement would prove invaluable to increase its effectiveness and professionalize its efforts.
4. The United States must promote defections from the Syrian security services with an eye both to convincing Assad to leave and to preserving the Syrian Armed Forces as a future national institution. In doing so, Washington must warn officers, down to the brigade level, that they are being monitored and that they will be held personally accountable for the atrocities that are committed under their command. (This should not be a bluff.)
5. The contact group should take all available steps to starve the regime of cash and other resources, including taking a leadership role on preventing the regime from generating revenue from oil exports.
Michael S. Doran is senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution. Salman Shaikh is director of the Brookings Doha Center and fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. A version of this essay will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming book from the Saban Center at Brookings, The Great Arab Awakening: America and the Transformation of the Middle East (Brookings Press, 2011).

US imperialism IS zionist: its israeli proxy exists and acts only by being a US surrogate
Saban Center for Middle East Policy is a research organization established at the Brookings Institution in 2002 through the donation of nearly $13 million by the Israeli media-mogul Haim Saban. Its current director is Martin Indyk, who earlier founded the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an AIPAC spinoff, to counter the Brooking Institution which was seen as not pro-Israel enough. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Saban_Center_for_Middle_East_...

Vice President for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Indyk served as U.S. ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs during the Clinton Administration. He is known as the framer of the U.S. policy of dual containment to 'contain' Iraq and Iran, both viewed as Israel's two most important strategic adversaries....

Syrian Leader Blames ‘Foreign Conspiracy’ for Turmoil
CAIRO — The much-anticipated speech by the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, on Wednesday was a well-choreographed effort to showcase his firm grip on power, as he refused to offer concessions and labeled pro-democracy demonstrators as either “duped” or conspirators to destroy the nation...
Mr. Assad fell back on the strongman’s standard justification for holding on to power: “The first priority,” he said, “was the stability of Syria.”...
He acknowledged that Syrians’ demands had not been met, but said the grievances were “being used as a cover to dupe the people to go to the streets.” He added that the state would not put changes into effect under outside pressure. “We are not in favor of chaos and destruction.”... It was unclear how most Syrians would receive Mr. Assad’s speech... “The slogans of the protesters will change from ‘The people want to reform the regime’ to ‘The people want the fall of the regime,’ ” said Ammar Qurabi, chairman of the Syrian National Association for Human Rights, who was in Egypt at a conference. “Assad has proven that this is a regime that cannot change.”

'strategic non-violence', essential handmaiden and partner in US 'regime change' (see many previous digest issues)
CANVAS (Center for Applied NonViolent Action and Strategies) has worked with activists from 50 countries. It cannot point to 50 revolutions
BY TINA ROSENBERG | FEB. 16, 2011 http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/16/revolution_u?page=0,7
The most prosaic reason is that often the people it trains aren't the ones in charge of a movement. Some groups, like Georgia's and Ukraine's dissidents, choose to model themselves on Otpor. In Iran, by contrast, though small groups of CANVAS trainees held successful actions, the leaders of the Green Revolution have not adopted Otpor's tactics...
CANVAS has worked with dissidents from almost every country in the Middle East; the region contains one of CANVAS's biggest successes, Lebanon, and one of its most disappointing failures, Iran. Popovic wonders whether Iran could turn out differently next time: What would happen if the Green Movement were to organize not around election fraud, but staged a Salt March instead, focusing on unemployment, low wages, and corruption? Iran is like Tunisia and Egypt were: a young, relatively well-educated population and a corrupt authoritarian government dependent on fear to keep people in line....

Global “Revolution” Backed, Financed by US State Dept, George Soros, CANVAS
Related articles: # Egypt is Another “Color Revolution” on the Back of Real Grievances – El Baradei Tied to George Soros
# George Soros: The United States Must Stop Resisting the Orderly Decline of the Dollar, the Coming Global Currency and the New World Order
# Want to Understand the Egypt Issue? George Soros is Writing Egypt’s Constitution

Syrian Opposition is a conglomeration of Western-backed “human rights activists”
Syria was included under George Bush’s “Axis of Evil” and mentioned in a 2007 speech by US General Wesley Clark as slated for destabilization and regime change.
The Syrian revolution uses a strikingly familiar logo. The Otpor fist was originally used [NB: by US/Soros eastern european 'color revolutions' for control of former Soviet nations] in Serbia in 2000, and handed off to the various movements trained by the US funded CANVAS organization, including the Tunisian & Egyptian youth movements- now the Syrian Youth Revolution. “A prominent Syrian opposition figure says the country is “a bomb, ready to explode” as protesters demand freedom and an end to president Bashar al-Assad’s “cancerous regime,” reports Australia’s ABC News. This prominent Syrian opposition figure is “human rights activist” Haitham Maleh, of the Human Rights Association of Syria, recently released from a Syrian prison.
Haitham Maleh, and Muhannad al-Hassani, another activist whose plight is being used to stir up unrest, both received “pro-bono” legal services from the CFR stacked “Freedom Now” organization. Freedom Now receives funding from the George Soros Foundation, Moriah Fund, the Lantos Foundation which includes Israeli President Shimon Peres as an “adviser,” Real Networks Foundation (which also funds Democracy Now) and the Charles Bronfman Prize which proclaims on its website “Jewish Values. Global Impact.” Freedom Now also receives “pro-bono” legal support from the Pillsbury law firm, a CFR corporate member.
Understanding who these “human rights activists” are, who is supporting them, and the role they play in the latest round of the Western-backed “Arab Spring,” we can better understand articles like the Jerusalem Post’s ‘More than 100 killed in Syrian anti-government rallies.’ In the very first paragraph, the article concedes that the reports were cited from human rights activists and witnesses, thus a continuation of the absurd, unsubstantiated reporting seen earlier in Libya where unverified reports by the criminally irresponsible corporate media laid the groundwork for an equally criminal military intervention.
The clownish London-based Syrian Human Rights Committee puts on a poorly staged demonstration outside the Syrian Embassy in England. As silly as the SHRC looks, a good majority of the information the mainstream media reports on from Syria comes from “human rights organizations” like this.
Kamal Labwani, in 2005 was arrested in Syria after returning from a trip to Europe and the United States where he met with government officials, journalists, and “human rights” groups in his effort to “change” the Syrian government. Amongst U.S. officials Labwani consorted with was George Bush’s Deputy National Security Adviser J.D. Crouch. Considering that the United States had openly declared Syria a rogue-state, and was targeted in a speech by John Bolton for possible US military action, Syria’s accusations that Labwani was guilty of “communicating with a foreign country and inciting it to initiate aggression against Syria” doesn’t seem so far fetched. In most nations the punishment for treason is death... Labwani got 12 years.
Once again, we see an entire Western - backed opposition in tandem with corporate media... all part of a now irrefutable larger agenda consuming the Middle East and Northern Africa.

This cable represents a follow-up to "Re-engaging Syria: Human Rights" (ref A) and outlines ongoing civil society programming in the country, primarily under the auspices of the Bureau of Human Rights and Labor (DRL) and the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI).

U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups, cables released by WikiLeaks show
By Craig Whitlock, April 17, 2011 http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/us-secretly-backed-syrian-opposition...
The State Department has secretly financed Syrian political opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel that beams anti-government programming into the country, according to previously undisclosed diplomatic cables.
The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.”

WikiLeaks cables detail U.S. involvement in the Middle East
Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria. The channel is named after the Barada River, which courses through the heart of Damascus, the Syrian capital.
U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005. The financial backing has continued under President Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad. In January, the White House posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years.
The cables, provided by the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks, show that U.S. Embassy officials in Damascus became worried in 2009 when they learned that Syrian intelligence agents were raising questions about U.S. programs. Some embassy officials suggested that the State Department reconsider its involvement, arguing that it could put the Obama administration’s rapprochement with Damascus at risk. Syrian authorities “would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change,” read an April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time. “A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti-[government] factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive,” the cable said... the cables indicate money was set aside at least through September 2010. While some of that money has supported programs and dissidents inside Syria, The Washington Post is withholding certain names and program details at the request of the State Department, which said disclosure could endanger the recipients’ personal safety.

Syrian Organizations in the United States form a Syrian Coordination Committee (SCC)
United Business News, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/syrian-organizations-in-the-unit...
DALLAS, Aug. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Due to the ongoing massacres of the Assad Regime in Syria, ten Syrian-American organizations have established a national coordinating committee (Syrian Coordination Committee, SCC) to provide a united voice in support of the ongoing revolution in Syria.
While serving as a foundation for future collaborations, the shared mission of the SCC is to:
- Fully support the people in Syria by toppling the Assad regime.
- Support the development of a new Syria grounded in democracy, equal representation, civil liberties, freedom, human rights, human dignity, and pursuit of happiness for all Syrians.
The SCC will operate independently of the member organizations and will not interfere with each organization's operations or procedures. It is open to all Syrian-American organizations that share the same goals.
The immediate goals of the SCC are to coordinate resources to mobilize the community, help in organizing humanitarian relief for those impacted by the Assad regime's polices and raise awareness to ensure that the interests of the Syrian people are clearly articulated across the U.S. The goal of the SCC is to become the bridge between the U.S. officials and the Syrian people.

The U.S. Department of State urged its citizens to leave Syria immediately
8/6/11 http://en.rian.ru/world/20110806/165591014.html

U.S. to call on Syria's Assad to step down
8/10/11 http://en.rian.ru/world/20110810/165676709.html
The United States is preparing to issue an explicit call for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, CNN reported on Wednesday, quoting U.S. government sources.
The statement is expected to be made after U.S. officials consult with the UN Security Council, the sources said. The issue has reportedly been under discussion over the past few weeks.
So far, the United States has only urged the Syrian authorities to immediately end violence against protesters and launch full-scale democratic reforms

Bloodshed in Syria backfiring on government
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s attempt to crush dissent through a massive military offensive appears to be backfiring, with fervent condemnations both at home and abroad undermining his government’s chances of survival. The Obama administration stopped just short of demanding Assad’s ouster, but appeared to be edging closer to that position Tuesday. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters “you can’t have any kind of partnership with a regime that does this kind of thing to innocents,” indicating that Washington is preparing for a final break with its two-year-old policy of engaging Assad. U.S. officials are readying additional economic sanctions on Syria and encouraging European countries to impose bans on its oil and gas sales. The coming days are also expected to bring renewed pressure at the UN for firmer action against Syria after a statement last week appealing for an immediate halt to the violence was ignored....
There is still no sign that Assad’s fall is imminent. Opposition hopes for significant defections from the army or divisions in the government have not materialized. The protest movement remains without leaders and has offered no plan for replacing Assad, other than to continue staging protests. But the government can expect escalating pressure not only from its domestic opponents but from the wider world.

Syrian President Bashar Assad target of war crimes investigation
A fact-finding mission funded by at least one Western government is gathering evidence to be used to indict Bashar Assad over his brutal crackdown on Syria's democracy movement.
At least one Western government is bankrolling a project to gather evidence that could be used to indict Syria's President Bashar Assad at an international tribunal over his crackdown on the country's democracy movement, said a jurist leading the effort and a diplomat whose government is sponsoring it. The fact-finding mission mostly involves assembling testimony from Syrian refugees to sustain a war crimes trial at the International Criminal Court, said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity...
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher called on the Security Council in June to authorize the ICC to investigate Assad on charges of crimes against humanity. "The charge: using lethal violence to repress peaceful demonstrations in support of democratic rule," they wrote in a piece published by the Financial Times....
An ICC indictment would add to the Syrian regime's growing isolation. Over the last week, the Security Council, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council all issued statements condemning the crackdown. Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies pulled their ambassadors from Syria. And the foreign minister of Turkey, Ahmet Davutoglu, met Assad in Damascus, the Syrian capital, Tuesday for talks that could be a prelude to pulling its envoy from the country. That could deliver even more of a blow than the Arab withdrawals. "Turkey has had far better relations with Damascus than most Arab governments," said Vali Nasr, a professor of international affairs at Tufts University and the author of several books on the Middle East and South Asia. "Turkey is a big army and a big economy next door. It has a stick to carry with the Syrians. Most Arab governments at best have a checkbook influence on Syria."...Saudi King Abdullah's demand for an end to the "killing machine" targeting civilians. Syria, a strategic partner of Iran, and Saudi Arabia, which is close to the West, have long competed for influence in the region. "What Saudi Arabia has done is open a new and blank page with the Syrian people," said Kassem, a 23-year-old Damascus university student who asked that his last name not be published. "After all of its financial support to the regime, which certainly prolonged the regime's life, Saudi Arabia is finally saying it is with the Syrian people."

The ICC, which answers to the [e.g. UN]United Nations Security Council, recently indicted Moammar Kadafi and his sons on charges related to their violent suppression of the rebellion in Libya.
The Western official stressed that no decision had been made among diplomats to press the Security Council to refer Assad and his family to the court.
As part of the effort, international legal experts also held a workshop in Turkey last month to train Syrian activists in how to document alleged crimes against humanity, said Nabil Halaby, a Lebanese-based human rights lawyer who is part of the project. A report detailing the unnamed group's findings is scheduled to be released to governments, human rights groups and the media by the end of the month. "We have interviewed Syrian refugees in Jordan, Turkey and northern Lebanon and have also met with Syrian activists," Halaby, who identified his backers as unspecified foreign governments, told the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday.

What Does ICC Stand For?
Imperialist Crime Cover-Up
By Diana Johnstone
June 03 2011, Counterpunch
...The International Criminal Court is an instrument not of international justice but the judicial arm of Western intervention in weaker countries. The ICC could well stand for Imperialist Crimes Cover-up...it studiously ignores truly “international” crimes, such as U.S. and NATO aggression or the many massacres of civilians that result... the only alleged crimes it has undertaken to prosecute have all been the result of internal conflicts taking place in countries on the African continent... as a way of putting political pressure on, or justifying military action against, weak governments the Western powers want to replace with leaders of their choice...one of the most blatant illustrations of double standards. The United States manipulates the ICC without recognizing its jurisdiction, and having further protected itself by bilateral agreements with a long list of countries that provide immunity for United States citizens as well as by Congressional laws to protect U.S. citizens from the ICC.
Concerning the Kadhafi indictment, Scheffer is quoted by AFP as saying the move might increase pressure on Kadhafi to think about finding refuge in a country that has not agreed to ICC jurisdiction. This is a senseless remark, since Libya itself has not agreed to ICC jurisdiction. Nor has Sudan, which has not prevented the ICC from going after its president, Omar Al Bashir, even though the ICC is supposed to apply only to countries that have recognized its jurisdiction. But non-recognition of ICC jurisdiction proves to be of no protection for weak countries...
Diana Johnstone, author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions, can be reached at diana.josto@yahoo.fr

VIDEO: US NATO Kills 85 Civilians In Libya
US NATO has been bombing Libya over four months 'to protect civilians from troops loyal to Gadhafi'