"What is Assad scared of?" asks Farid Ghadry of Reform Party Syria (Web site is in Arabic).
Assad got up a petition against Gadry. The answer, IMO is that paranoid people and totalitarian regimes are always paranoid, and that it is in the nature of secret police regimes and investigative agencies to pursue the important along with the trivial or the unimportant. There is no way of knowing if Ghadry is important based on the fact that he is persecuted.
Remember that during the McCarthy era, the FBI pursued many harmless groups and inviduals, and generally missed actual Soviet spies. Their file on Albert Einstein was a lot bigger than their file on some actual communists and spies.
Washington DC, August 11, 2007/RPS Blog - Farid Ghadry/ -- Once in a while, we get these uncanny signals from Damascus that have no explanation. Such is the case of the latest attacks on RPS by the Assad regime. While RPS has been called by every name possible (traitor seem to be their favorite), the latest came from one corner we did not expect: The Ghadry clan in Syria.
In a scathing attack on RPS, its people, and yours truly, the Ghadrys of Syria have signed a petition (in Arabic) asking Baschar al-Assad to rescind my Syrian citizenship, and to add to the voracity of their attacks, they promised to file several lawsuits against me in Syria and abroad for high treason. All that because I visited Israel last June.
I must admit that the Assad imagination never ceases to amaze us. The problem with that scenario is that I am in touch with my family inside Syria and many support RPS work. Intimidation and vengeance are Assad's trademarks, so it comes as no surprise that Assad intimidated some members of the Ghadry family to sign such a petition in order to make us look weak inside Syria. But its effect will have the exact opposite as it was brought to my attention by a Syrian I never talked to before who told me that Assad must be really scared of RPS. In another call, one RPS member told me that he does not know anymore whether to laugh or to cry when he sees such troubling signals from a regime supposedly leading a country.
Never, not even during the height of our anti-Assad dissident work since 2003, has RPS received so many calls and emails of support to our visit to Israel. One gentleman from Hama called and said the following verbatim: "RPS is known by 70% of the people of Syria and its name is being mentioned constantly and positively by Syrians after your visit to Israel". Since we have no way of gauging the Syrian street except through what people inside Syria tell us, we will accept this assessment and even consider that the latest unprovoked attack by Assad, through pressuring my own family inside Syria, is testimony to what our supporters in Syria have claimed. If RPS does not represent a danger to the regime, Assad would not bother.
So what is Assad scared of? Is he sacred because RPS represents moderate Sunni Muslims in the country yet respects all minorities and all religions? Or is he sacred because its leadership and its supporters are Syrians who have never stolen money from the people of Syria and never been involved in any corrupt act? Or is he scared because RPS never used violence against the people of Syria? Or is he scared because we demonstrated our belief in transparency when we visited Israel openly and not secretly as is the habit of Arab leaders or his own people at the UN who pursue Israeli diplomats to men's toilets to talk to them? Or is he scared because we are supported by a west, tired of seeing Muslims commit self-suicide, because of our message of moderation and peace? Or is he troubled by the success of our trip to Israel and his intelligence services cannot break through the Israelis with their usual messages of extortion? An Israeli high official told me, when I was in Israel, that he has information that Assad was sh***ing in his pants because of RPS visit.
Syrians expect a regime change in Syria to be replaced by a true democratic system of government. They want the freedom to make peace with Israel and the freedom to help their country come out of the dark tunnel Assad has led the whole country into. Syrians want to have good relations with Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, the United States and the EU. Syrians want respectful politicians serving them and be accountable to their needs and future. It is not about the popularity of RPS or Baschar al-Assad attacks on dissidents but it is about the freedom and dignity of the Syrian people, which have been hijacked by a corrupt and violent family running the country as a fiefdom.
Finally, our message to Assad is the following: "Unless this regime breaks its cycle of oppression against Syrians and violence against its neighbors, RPS will always carry the banner of human rights and freedom until this regime falls".