— The Erimtan Angle —

‘Afshin Rattansi goes underground with the world’s most wanted publisher – the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange. He has just co-authored a book – The WikiLeaks Files, and it paints a picture of systemic US torture and killing as well as the destruction of the lives and livelihoods of billions of people right around the world. Published on Sep 9, 2015′.

Assange said that in the WikiLeaks trove of treasures there “is a cable from US Ambassador William Roebuck, who was stationed in Damascus, which apparently discusses a plan for the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria”; expanding as follows, “[t]hat plan was to use a number of different factors to create paranoia within the Syrian government; to push it to overreact, to make it fear there’s a coup”.[1]  Assange details then that the plan was “to take rumors that are known to be false . . . or exaggerations and promote them – that Iran is trying to convert poor Sunnis, and to work with Saudi and Egypt to foster that perception in order to make it harder for Iran to have influence, and also harder for the government to have influence in the population”.[2]

On the WikiLeaks website, one can read that ‘s cable literally put it like this: “There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business. Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here, (as well as prominent Syrian Sunni religious leaders), are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention on the issue”.[3]  The cable continues that “[w]e should continue to encourage the Saudis and others to allow Khaddam [‘(Abdul Halim) Khaddam and the National Salvation Front’, based in Belgium] access to their media outlets, providing him with venues for airing the SARG,s dirty laundry.  We should anticipate an overreaction by the regime that will add to its isolation and alienation from its Arab neighbors”.[4]  Earlier in the cable Roebuck says that “Bashar,s [sic] reaction to the prospect of Hariri tribunal and to publicity for Khaddam and the National Salvation Front borders on the irrational”.[5]

The good folks at Wikipedia then inform us that Abdul Halim Khaddam (born in 1932) ‘is a Syrian politician who was Vice President of Syria from 1984 to 2005. He was one of the few Sunni Muslims to make it to the top of the Alawite-dominated Syrian leadership. He was long known as a loyalist of Hafez Assad, and held a strong position within the Syrian government until he resigned his positions and fled the country in 2005 in protest against certain policies of Hafez’s son and successor, Bashar Assad’.[6]  In January 2006, the New York Times reported that a “former Syrian vice president, Abdel-Halim Khaddam, ratcheted up his allegations against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Thursday [, 6 January 2006] and said that Mr. Assad’s rule might not survive the political crisis caused by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon and the ensuing United Nations investigation. Last week, Mr. Khaddam caused an international furor when he told the satellite network Al Arabiya that Mr. Assad and other Syrian officials had threatened Mr. Hariri in the months before his death in a Beirut truck bombing in February 2005. In doing so, Mr. Khaddam became the most senior member of the Syrian inner circle to break ranks publicly “.[7]

The Roebuck cable also indicates that “[t]he [Assad] regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military. Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like Khaddam and Rif,at [sic] Asad [,Bashar al-Assad’s uncle] as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime,s [sic] paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction”.[8]

[1] Kit O’Connell, “Julian Assange: US & Israel Planned To Overthrow Assad In 2006” MintPress News (14 Sep 2015). http://www.mintpressnews.com/julian-assange-us-israel-planned-to-overthrow-assad-in-2006/209493/.

[2] Kit O’Connell, “Julian Assange: US & Israel Planned To Overthrow Assad In 2006”.

[3] “INFLUENCING THE SARG IN THE END OF 2006” WikiLeaks (2006 December 13, 16:03). https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/06DAMASCUS5399_a.html.

[4] “INFLUENCING THE SARG IN THE END OF 2006”.

[5] “INFLUENCING THE SARG IN THE END OF 2006”.

[6] “Abdul Halim Khaddam” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdul_Halim_Khaddam.

[7] Hassan M. Fattah, “A Critic, in Exile, Aims More Barbs at the President of Syria” The New York Times (06 January 2006). http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/06/international/middleeast/06syria.html?_r=0.

[8] “INFLUENCING THE SARG IN THE END OF 2006”.

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