The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Elimination and exclusivity decisions | Consultative meeting to be held for forming Syrian lobby in USA

A group of Syrians living in the USA has been preparing for holding a consulting meeting in Washington dubbed “Freedom, Justice and Dignity.” The meeting aims at exerting pressure on the US president, Joseph Biden, to adopt a clear stance towards the Syrian crisis.


However, this alleged meeting, which is supposed to be held by the end of this month, faces several problems created by bodies seeking for imposing their hegemony over decisions, identifying specific figures to attend the meeting and forcing others to withdraw, such as Hussein Assaf and Rasha Al-Ahdab.


In an exclusive interview with SOHR, the human rights activist Hussein, Assaf says, “there is a central figure in the preparatory committee has been directly making decisions and identifying specific names to be invited to attend the meeting, without consulting or coordinating with the group. This figure is attempting to impose his hegemony over the decision of the organising committee, while some participants have complied with the committee’s decision, although they knew that the decision was neither consultative nor nationalistic. This figure seemed satisfied not only with dominating decision making, but he also eliminated some other figures and bodies known for their loyalty to the Syrian Revolution over their ideological backgrounds. Moreover, this figure turned to accuse some founder members of the organising committee of treachery.”


“After our decision to withdraw, this figure claimed that we were not among the organising or preparatory committees. This shameful act has confirmed our right decision to withdraw, as it is impossible to produce this national project in such toxic and unhealthy environment, in which we, the founders, have been driven to withdraw over statements claiming that we have not been invited and have had nothing to do with the project. Such practices have made it difficult for us to continue within a teamwork which does not even respect the slogan of the meeting, freedom, dignity and justice. We feel that our dignity has been violated, and we strongly believe that preparations for a national conference needs time, study, preparations, implementation and harmony among the committee’s members; and those factors have not been achieved.”


Commenting on the most major role of this consultative meeting, the lawyer and human rights activist, Rash Al-Ahdab has told SOHR “this meeting is supposed to be a consultative and orientation meeting for the Syrian community and its objective is to form a Syrian lobby to exert pressure, as we had suggested in the beginning. We set the draft of the first meeting, which included our intention about forming a Syrian lobby and identified its objectives and the objectives of the efforts to unit Syrians.”


On the other hand, Al-Ahdab has commented on the accusations against Ayman Abd El-Nour regarding his predominance on the measures and procedures of the meeting and invitations, saying “our stance stem from our nationalist principles and moral stances away from any kind of personal matters. We wish good luck for every Syrian gathering, meeting or conference. We did not only withdraw because of the organising mechanism, but we also faced essential matters which were not clear or justified at that time. We do not want to repeat mistakes that had made in the past by going into meeting carrying our names as organisers, inviters and participants. There is a considerable difference regarding the moral, legal, political and humanitarian responsibilities.”


Commenting on Syrians’ reaction on the disagreements which ignited among the conferees even before the hold of the meeting, as well as accusations of failure to hold a consultative meeting and reaching an entry point to break the deadlock on Syrian crisis, Al-Ahdab says, “there are many pillars should be available for the success of any meeting or conference, which are manifested in credibility, transparency, enjoying team spirit, modesty, professional and experience.”


Mrs. Rasha has noted out that she was the first to found the meeting team, under the name “Washington meeting,” added Aram Al-Domani and Ayman Abd El-Nour, and she was the first to set a draft for the meeting. She also referred to the elimination of Hussein Assaf from the team.


It is worth noting that the objectives of the meeting are manifested in discussing organising mechanisms for the efforts of Syrians in the USA regarding their communications with the congress, protests and other activities in order to unify these efforts, as well as calling for periodical meetings to prepare and implement initiatives under an institutional framework.


The members who had withdrawn from the meeting warned against the non-compliance with neutrality regarding sending invitations to figures from all gatherings and orientations. They also warned against the contentious secrecy followed by some participants regarding the supporting body from the beginning, where this body had been announced about only two days after the withdrawal of those members, referring to the fact that they assumed the expenses of transportation, traveling and residency, and that they refused to take any financial support from anybody. The members who had withdrawn from the meeting also warned against the practices which led to turning this event from a consultative meeting into a conference in a short time.