U.S. Seeks a New Opposition in Syria

Quoted in TIME.com.

Indeed, many feel that Clinton’s reorganization is too little too late. “The opposition Secretary Clinton is trying to unify has become largely irrelevant, even infusing it with elements from inside may not be sufficient,” says Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian exile who is active in the opposition in Washington. “Syria’s current fragmentation necessitates working with local groups, that is, the rebels and whatever political forces are coalescing around them.”

In announcing it the way she did, Clinton also alienated one of the few friends the U.S. has amongst the Syrian opposition, the SNC, which announced it would hold its own meeting just prior to the Doha gathering as a snub to the U.S. “The SNC will fight for its survival, many opportunists will fight for inclusion, seeing a window in Clinton’s announcement,” Abdulhamid says. “It’s going to be a free for all and a freakshow in Doha. The U.S. should have worked on this quietly.”

 

Analysts: Romney knowledgeable, less hawkish at presidential debate

Quoted in the Washington Times

On Syria, close observers felt neither candidate presented a serious plan toward resolving the bloody civil war that threatens to destabilize the entire Middle East.

“In Obama’s case, this is quite disheartening because he’s been following the situation and been involved in it from the beginning,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It’s as if he’s putting together a eulogy rather than a policy.”

While Mr. Abdulhamid credited Mr. Romney with doing “some good posturing” on Syria policy, he added that it was “not clear if Romney is going to bring a coherent policy other than saying we’ll throw some weapons at the problem and hopefully it will solve itself.”

As Romney, Obama debate foreign policy, few see easy answers in Middle East

Quoted in KansasCity.com

The lack of a commitment to military intervention – such as a no-fly zone or airstrikes, but not foreign boots on Syrian soil – is maddening to pro-intervention Syrian opposition figures such as Ammar Abdulhamid, a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington research center.

While Abdulhamid said the Obama administration’s involvement in the Arab protests was “overall a positive one,” Syria is “a nightmare scenario” that was facilitated by government officials’ “lack of resolve, leadership and vision.” Syria, he and other activists say, could end up as a stain on the administration’s otherwise sensible response to the Arab uprisings.

“If they make it through this coming election, I just hope they have plans to give this tragedy the time and resources it requires to be brought to resolution in a manner commensurate with the aspirations of the pro-democracy activists who started this whole thing and were, in effect, betrayed,” Abdulhamid said.

Doha’s Four Seasons Hotel Tea Lounge a painful exile for Syrians in Qatar

Quoted in The National

To Ammar Abdulhamid – a prominent opposition member in the United States who is adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defence of Democracies – exile is the wrong place to look for Syrians around whose charisma, political ingenuity and force of intellect an opposition will somehow coalesce.

“Syria’s future leaders are in Syria,” he says. “The political process will be determined by Syrian actors, despite all the dabblers and the dabbling taking place.”

 

Holding Civil Society Workshops While Syria Burns

Quoted in Foreign Policy

“In truth, we are not talking about major expenditures here,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a prominent Syrian activist and fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, cautioning that OSOS was too new to assess its effectiveness.

Syria’s civil war leaves its cities, economy and cultural heritage in shambles

Quote in The Washington Post.

“In terms of infrastructure, major parts of Syria have effectively been bombed back to Ottoman times,” said Ammar Abdul-Hamid, a Syrian activist and a Washington-based fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies…

“We have a long way ahead before we put the country back together again,” Abdul-Hamid said. “But once we do, and we will, it will be our achievement.”