The US government confirmed Thursday morning a Time magazine report that it was working to secretly strengthen factions opposing the Assad regime in Syria. The Time Web site revealed a report Wednesday that said the US government was working to affect its support for the opposing factions before the Syrian election in March 2007, in an effort to push towards a true democratic regime in the Syrian state.
Olmert envoy meets with Syrian official
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday that, "We are working to assist civil groups interested in promoting freedom and democracy in the Middle East. Furthermore, we are helping anyone who wants to promote freedom of expression in Syria, just like anywhere else in the world."
Time had reported that the US was already "supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora Syrian activists" in Europe.
The authors of the report, remaining anonymous, hoped that "these meetings will facilitate a more coherent strategy and plan of action for all anti-Assad activists."
The document said that Syria's legislative elections, scheduled for March 2007, "provide a potentially galvanizing issue for... critics of the Assad regime." To capitalize on that opportunity, the document proposed a secret "election monitoring" scheme, in which "Internet accessible materials will be available for printing and dissemination by activists inside the country [Syria] and neighboring countries."
The proposal also called for surreptitiously giving money to at least one Syrian politician who, according to the document, intends to run in the election.