British Syrian Society

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The British Syrian Society is an association set up to promote relations between Syria and the United Kingdom. It was established in 2003 by Fawaz Akhras, father-in-law of Bashar al-Assad.[1][2] Its current director is former UK ambassador to Syria Peter Ford.[3]

As part of its lobbying work, the Society has over the years hosted visits to Syria by several supportive MPs.[4]

In September 2011, the HSBC bank said it would no longer represent the Society.[5]

Its co-chair Sir Andrew Green, a former British ambassador to Syria, resigned after emails showed Dr Akhras had advised Assad on how to rebut evidence of civilians apparently being tortured.[6] Dr Akhras had used a private email channel to the Syrian leader to offer advice on how the regime should handle criticism of its suppression of the opposition uprising, including how to counter video footage appearing to show the torture of children.[7][8]

Other resignations included the society's treasurer, Brian Constant, and Sir Gavyn Arthur, a former Lord Mayor of London.[9][10]

In 2016, the BSS organised a controversial international conference in Damascus, described by the Council for Arab-British Understanding as a regime “PR exercise”. Speakers included Bouthaina Shaaban, Ali Haidar and Fares Shehabi.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Robert Booth (15 March 2012). "Assad's father-in-law: the man at the heart of UK-Syrian relations". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  2. ^ Andrew Gilligan (15 March 2012). "Syria: Assad's father-in-law compares Syrian uprising to London riots". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  3. ^ Robert Verkaik Josie Ensor Patrick Sawer "Revealed: How Britain’s former Syria ambassador appeared on BBC to defend Assad... after quietly taking a job with dictator’s father-in-law", Telegraph 22 April 2017
  4. ^ "Nine Tory MPs who did not back Syria strike received Assad's hospitality Guardian September 2013
  5. ^ Robert Verkaik Josie Ensor Patrick Sawer "Revealed: How Britain’s former Syria ambassador appeared on BBC to defend Assad... after quietly taking a job with dictator’s father-in-law", Telegraph 22 April 2017
  6. ^ Robert Verkaik Josie Ensor Patrick Sawer "Revealed: How Britain’s former Syria ambassador appeared on BBC to defend Assad... after quietly taking a job with dictator’s father-in-law", Telegraph 22 April 2017
  7. ^ Robert Verkaik Josie Ensor Patrick Sawer "Revealed: How Britain’s former Syria ambassador appeared on BBC to defend Assad... after quietly taking a job with dictator’s father-in-law", Telegraph 22 April 2017
  8. ^ Ian Black "Assad's father-in-law under pressure to quit British Syrian Society" Guardian 22 March 2012
  9. ^ Robert Verkaik Josie Ensor Patrick Sawer "Revealed: How Britain’s former Syria ambassador appeared on BBC to defend Assad... after quietly taking a job with dictator’s father-in-law", Telegraph 22 April 2017
  10. ^ Ian Black "Assad's father-in-law under pressure to quit British Syrian Society" Guardian 22 March 2012
  11. ^ Luke Harding "Liberal Democrat peer to attend controversial conference in Syria" Guardian 28 October 2016

External links[edit]