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Who is destroying Syria?

Did Mr. Assad destroy Syria? I think the story is more complex.

I don’t wish to exonerate Mr Assad of any untried accusations, but there are other players whose involvement has, in my eyes, do them no credit.

The New York Times reported CIA involvement in moving weapons to various various rebel factions. More recently, after the chemical weapons attack of August 21, Russian President Putin’s op-ed was published in the Times. That was September 11.

My own concerns date from 2011, when I noted that Avaaz was asking for public support in supplying secure satellite radios to “peace activists”.

I wrote Avaaz Campaign Director Stephanie Brancaforte to clarify its policy on providing materiel to nonviolent protesters that could expose them to deadly risk.

Here is part of that exchange:

Tue, Jun 14, 2011
Dear Stephanie Brancaforte,

A recent story in the NYT…leads me to question the wisdom of providing protestors with satellite phones.

I am concerned that…supply of high-tech communications equipment may put people clearly in harms way.… I do not think it is a good idea for Avaaz to continue to supply satellite phones to nonviolent protestors.

I am hoping to hear…that the matter has been discussed at the executive level of Avaaz. I am very interested in the policy decision reached.

Thank you for your consideration.

*-* *

From: Stephanie
To: Robert
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 10:15 PM
Subject: Re: “safer communications equipment”

Greetings, …Yes, I very much appreciate your concern on the danger of filming or providing information in these locations. We would never send equipment to anyone who wasn’t already engaged in this line of work—we’re working with front-line activists who desperately want to get the information out about what’s happening in their countries, and who have long had to deal with regime pressure and scrutiny. We are also supplying tech equipment to free-lance journalists who are in the region but have poor comms equipment to get the story out.

I hope that clarifies things!

Best wishes and thanks so much for your feedback.

*-* *

Fri, Jul 22,
Dear Stephanie,

Thank you for your reply. May I take your words…as a statement of Avaaz policy on supply of satellite phones and tech equipment to front-line activists and free-lance journalists? Thank you for your consideration.

*-* *

From: Stephanie Brancaforte
To: Robert
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2011 10:55 PM
Subject: Re: “safer communications equipment”—Avaaz policy

Dear Robert,

For which purpose do you need a policy statement? If it is for officials or for publication/media?


The linked story associated with this exchange, and other items available on the Internet, cause me to question the value of blaming Mr Assad for the destruction of Syria.

Avaaz is not the only NGO with partisan involvement in this conflict. Human Rights Watch chose sides in 2011, choosing to repeatedly condemn the Assad government for the use of cluster munitions, with no chain of evidence. Respect for justice and good sense were abandoned, and in my opinion, they have done their reputation grave harm by condemning a suspected perpetrator instead of a known deed.

The role of HRW is queried (and not before time) by this article:

Your article is informative, and well-written, but Mr. Assad is not the only player in this conflict. The unending human suffering and tragedy deserve something better than the simplistic partisanship that has been encouraged from early on by NGOs whose links to the US government merit deeper examination.

Robert Rands


Sep 25 2013 - 4:49pm

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