News Release

Solutions for Syria

MEL DUNCAN
Advocacy and outreach director for Nonviolent Peaceforce, Duncan said today: “Recent headline stories about Syria have reported that the CIA is deeply involved in the arms flows and that the rebel groups are setting up an alternative government — headed by a U.S. citizen — that seeks to rule the country after a rebel military victory. Islamic fundamentalists, armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, play a major role in the foreign-backed rebel ‘coalition.’ The Russians and Iranians continue to arm the regime.

“Recently, a Syrian delegation, which our group helped organize, visited the U.S. and presented a different view of the conflict and its possible resolution. Representing the non-violent and secular opposition that has attracted increasing support in the war-weary country, they pointed out the dangers of the Islamic fighters gaining control and ruling a country with many diverse religious and ethnic groups. The non-violent movement calls for peacemaking and a negotiated settlement, rejecting foreign intervention on both sides of the conflict. In light of a stalemate on the military front, and the change in the mood inside Syria, the secular opposition may emerge as a major player for peace in the country.

“As the major powers trip over each other to flood weapons into the country, Syrian nonviolent civil society is not only being ignored but their existence denied by the diplomatic corps and media. It was refreshing to hear the Syrian delegation and to know that there is a movement struggling on the ground towards a peaceful settlement. Washington and its allies have been promoting a violent path which has proven to be a dead end. The rebel coalition, heavily influenced by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, cannot offer a democratic and secular future for the country. As support for the armed rebels wanes inside Syria, we need to promote the emerging forces for pluralism, democracy and peace.” See: “Syrian Delegates Push for Peaceful Resolution of Conflict.”

REESE ERLICH
Available for a limited number of interviews with major media, Erlich is a freelance foreign correspondent for the GlobalPost. He said today: “In recent weeks the Obama administration has leaked stories to The New York Times and other outlets indicating increased U.S. military support to ‘moderate’ and ‘nationalist’ groups in Syria. That includes the CIA vetting groups which then receive arms from Saudi Arabia. But Saudis are backing extremists seeking to impose a religious dictatorship on Syria, and the U.S. has little control once the arms reach Syria.”

In a recent GlobalPost article, Erilch wrote, “Based on a month of reporting in the region and in Washington, over a dozen sources have confirmed that wealthy Saudis, as well as the government, are arming some Syrian rebel groups. Saudi and Syrian sources confirm that hundreds of Saudis are joining the rebels. …

“In one documented case, a Saudi judge encouraged young anti-government protesters to fight in Syria rather than face punishment at home. Twenty-two year old Mohammed al-Talq was arrested and found guilty of participating in a demonstration in the north-central Saudi city of Buraidah.

“After giving 19 young men suspended sentences, the judge called the defendants into his private chambers and gave them a long lecture about the need to fight Shia Muslims in Syria, according to Mohammed’s father, Abdurrahman al-Talq.

“‘You should save all your energy and fight against the real enemy, the Shia, and not fight inside Saudi Arabia,’ said the father, quoting the judge. ‘The judge gave them a reason to go to Syria.’

“Within weeks, 11 of the 19 protesters left to join the rebels. In December 2012, Mohammed al-Talq was killed in Syria. His father filed a formal complaint against the judge late last year, but said he has received no response.”