EU Probes Cigarette Deal That May Have Aided Syria

A quote in the Wall Street Journal:

The dissidents added that the Assad government uses cigarettes as a form of payment for the irregular military forces and militias, known as the shabeeha, who have had a central role in its violent crackdown. “Cigarettes are a favorite form of payment for the shabeeha,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a Syrian dissident and human-rights activist based in Washington.

To Power Syria, Chávez Sends Diesel

Quoted by Jay Solomon and Keith Johnson, The Wall Street Journal

“In general, we want to see all sanctions tightened and strengthened,” said Ammar Abdulhamid, a political activist based in Washington. “But the issue of diesel is complicated, as our own people could get hurt.”

Many Skeptical Syria Cease-Fire Will Hold

 Quoted by Jeff Swicord, VOA

“We wanted to give them a little time despite the fact that so many people are dying on the ground and in the streets that it is necessary to give the international community some time to find out if diplomacy is not going to work,” explained Syrian activist Ammar Abdulhamid. … Some in the opposition say that neither diplomacy nor military force alone will bring down the Assad government.  Ammar Abdulhamid says they must be used together. “When there is an actual threat of force or force being used, I think then we might see the possibility of the Assads listening because they can see a threat,” Abdulhamid added.  “They can see the seriousness of the international community.  They don’t just hear words.”

“Without outside help more blood will flow”

Interview by Spielgel Online, Germany

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Herr Abdulhamid, in der syrischen Opposition wird der Ruf nach einer militärischen Intervention aus dem Ausland immer lauter. Glauben Sie tatsächlich, dass die Nato oder eine andere Staatenkoalition Baschar al-Assad aus dem Amt bomben sollte, nach dem Vorbild Libyens? Continue reading

Ammar Abdulhamid on Syria’s uprising

Rights activist says the international response to violence in Syria is merely “symbolic” and “rife with hypocrisy”: an interview on Al-Jazeera online:

Rights groups have estimated that at least 1,600 people have died since the start of the uprising in Syria in March, but that number might increase considerably by the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Since Sunday alone, at least 150 people have been killed in Deir ez-Zor, Hama and Al-Buka-mal – a bloody progression from battles and sieges in other cities and towns such as DeraaHomsLatakia and Jirs al-Shughur. But how long can the protests – and the severe crackdowns on them – continue? Ammar Abdulhamid is a Syrian human rights activist and founder of the non-profit Tharwa Foundation (which promotes democracy and development in in Syria as well as the broader region). He told the foreign affairs committee of the US House of Representatives in the spring of 2008 that, “Change in Syria is not a matter of ‘if’ anymore, but of ‘when’, ‘how’ and ‘who’.”  Three years later, he still feels the same, and the questions seem closer to being answered by the nation of Syria itself. Abdulhamid tells Al Jazeera what he thinks of the of the international response to the unrest and how he sees the government and protesters arriving at their end games. Continue reading

Ammar attends President Obama’s speech on U.S. Policy in MENA

After weeks of demanding a strong statement by President Obama on the tragic developments in Syria, I was invited to attend his speech on U.S. policy towards the MENA region in view of the changes currently unfolding there. His references to Syria were encouraging, but were still below expectations, as he failed to call on Assad to leave. Nonetheless, one cannot expect President Obama to take such drastic step until the opposition got its act together. After which, I was interviewed at some length by The Washington PostContinue reading