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Fikra Forum Republishes Syrian Diplomat's Articles


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(Washington, D.C. – September 18) In light of today’s report in the Wall Street Journal revealing the identity of a former Syrian diplomat who covertly helped opposition activists, The Washington Institute’s Fikra Forum is republishing articles by that embassy staffer, Bassam Barabandi, which were originally issued under a pen name.

Mr. Barabandi began writing for Fikra Forum in June 2013 when he was still a Syrian government employee, and he continues to contribute to the online blog for Arab democratic activists while he pursues political asylum in the United States. The articles explore everything from strategies to counter Iranian influence in Syria, to President Bashar al-Assad’s possible reaction to U.S. air strikes, to opposition sentiments within Assad’s own Alawite ruling minority. Links to the articles are below.

Mr. Barabandi began his relationship with the Institute soon after the Syrian uprising broke out, when he and other key Syrian opposition figures worked closely, but privately, with Kaufman Fellow David Pollock, editor of Fikra Forum, and with Senior Fellow Andrew Tabler. The Fikra Forum articles became part of a double life in which the diplomat carried out his duties as a loyal member of the Syrian diplomatic corps, while providing passports to Syrian opposition activists and passing sensitive messages to U.S. officials.

Mr. Barabandi was forced to leave his post in July 2013 when he feared that his identity had been compromised. By that time he had provided an estimated 100 passports to opposition members. As cofounder of the organization People Demand Change, he continues to speak out for democracy in Syria.

What President Obama Should Have Said, September 11, 2014
For a Lasting Solution, Assad Must Go, December 19, 2013
The Alawites’ Quiet Opposition, November 15, 2013
Preparing for Geneva II: Strategies of Assad, Iran, and the Opposition, October 31, 2013
How will Assad React to a U.S. Strike? Strategies to Mitigate Unintended Consequences, September 5, 2013
A Syrian View of the Latest Developments, August 28, 2013
A Strategy for the U.S. to Counter Iranian Influence in Syria, June 6, 2013