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.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Istanbul this weekend to talk with Turkish officials about a post-Bashar Assad future for Syria. Clinton says it’s urgent to plan for a transition and make sure Syria’s institutions remain intact. She’s also warning against a sectarian war. But some Syrian exiles say the U.S. has done too little, too late and its messages won’t be heard as the warring factions become more radicalized. Continue reading →
Syrian human rights activist Ammar Abdulhamid, with the Washington-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, says his contacts in Syria tell him there is no evidence of a surge in aid to the rebels.
“I do not really see any intensification of these efforts. I see a lot of leaks, it seems to me, that were sort of primed to show that something is being done. But the reality is, so far on the ground, we have not detected any real involvement by the U.S. in the ongoing military operations in the country,” Abdulhamid said. Continue reading →
If Syria is allowed to fracture, each ethnic group hunkering down, says Ammar Abdulhamid, an exiled Syria opposition leader in Washington, “it won’t be easy to put humpty dumpty back together again. It would take decades of instability and violence to sort itself out. And that is what we’re most worried about.”
Unbeknownst to most Americans, reports suggest that the rebels fighting Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad may have taken control of a growing portion of the country, and may now be closer to wresting it away from him altogether. While some Syrian soldiers have defected to Turkey, many more are deserting, or simply refusing to fight. Is Assad’s central authority breaking down? Are new power brokers emerging? If so, how can the United States and its allies prevent further humanitarian catastrophe? Continue reading →