By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
February 20, 2012
On February 17, subscribers to the mailing list of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) received a message entitled “Want to Know What’s Going On in Syria?” inviting them to a special conference call briefing from Farid Ghadry, co-founder of The Reform Party of Syria. The invitation from the hawkish Israel lobby think tank — whose half-accurate motto is “Securing America, Strengthening Israel” — to the February 22 briefing reads:
In October of 2001, Mr. Ghadry, along with several Syrian-Americans, formed the Reform Party of Syria. A constitution was written and a constructive and comprehensive program has been put in place to bring regime change to Syria. Today, the party is enjoying the tacit support from many organizations and people in the U.S. administration and think tanks in Washington.
Mr. Ghadry and the other co-founders of RPS are hoping to return to Syria one day to rebuild the country on the basis of principles of real economic and political reforms that will usher democracy, prosperity, freedom of expression, and human rights in addition to lasting peace with open borders with all of Syria’s neighboring countries.
Not mentioned but well-understood by the men from JINSA is that the well-connected Syrian “reformer” has been groomed to facilitate that unlikely democratic utopia by leading Iraq war architect Richard Perle, a prominent member of JINSA’s advisory board until a few weeks ago. But as the Prince of Darkness’s biographer wrote in a 2007 Los Angeles Times article:
Unfortunately for Perle, Ghadry is seen in many quarters as a front man for Israel. Not only is he a dues-paying member of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful Israeli lobby in Washington, but a recent column on his Web site, titled “Why I Admire Israel,” seems to play right into the hands of those who believe the Bush administration’s obsession with regime change in the Middle East is really all about protecting Israel. Did Perle, the savviest of Washington power players, believe that Ghadry’s tub-thumping for Tel Aviv would make him more popular in Syria?
“No,” Perle replied. “I don’t. But he’s his own man. I don’t always understand what he’s doing and why he’s doing it.”
So, in his quest for idealistic dissidents to do in the Middle East what the Walesas and Havels achieved in Eastern Europe, Perle and his acolytes have tapped the discredited Ahmad Chalabi for Iraq, the suspect Amir Abbas Fakhravar for Iran and the allegiance-challenged Fahrid Ghadry for Syria. They’re just not making heroes like they used to.
Perhaps Farid Ghadry’s pro-Israel image problem is why there appears to be no mention of his conference call briefing on the JINSA website. There is, however, one rather revealing reference to Perle’s Syrian Chalabi. In its Events & Programs section, under “New York Cabinet Meetings 2009, 2010 & 2011,” there is the following brief entry:
“The Role of Syria in the Middle East: Friend of Iran, Host to Hamas, and Patron of Hizbullah” – Farid Ghadry, President, Reform Party of Syria
To put all this into the broader context of the supposedly Israel-threatening “Arab Spring” — which the LA Times reference to Perle’s “quest for idealistic dissidents to do in the Middle East what the Walesas and Havels achieved in Eastern Europe” seems to prefigure — a seminal event, which I have previously written about, was held almost five years ago that brought together Israel partisans concerned with “rolling back Syria” among other regional rivals and their native collaborators:
Under the direction of Natan Sharansky, the former Israeli minister who resigned his cabinet seat in 2005 in protest over Ariel Sharon’s Gaza disengagement plan, the [Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies] held a “Democracy and Security” conference in Prague in 2007. It brought together Israeli officials; their American neoconservative sympathizers with their favourite Middle Eastern dissidents in tow — most notably, Richard Perle’s Israel-admiring Syrian protégé Farid Ghadry; and the newly-installed Eastern European democrats swept to power in the wake of a wave of neocon-backed “color revolutions,” the latter group presumably serving to inspire the Arab and Iranian participants to emulate them.
So, if you want to know what’s going on in JINSA’s road to regime change in Damascus, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 202-667-3900, Ext. 224.