Details of a recent meeting between US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford and several leaders of the militants fighting to topple the Syrian government have been revealed by al-Manar News Network.
Minutes of the meeting were reportedly revealed to al-Manar by sources close to former Syrian prime minister Riyad Farid Hijab who defected to the militant side after the war started in Syria more than two years ago.
The sources said Ford was furious at the opposition leaders and censured them one by one at the meeting which was held mostly over the upcoming peace talks between the sides of the Syrian conflict dubbed Geneva II.
The American ambassador told Michel Kilo who is said to be one of the leading thinkers of the Syrian opposition, that “From now on your relation is with us not with Bandar bin Sultan and this has been decided based on our Saudi friends’ request,” The Arabic website wrote in its report.
Ford also told Haitham al-Maleh, another opposition figure who was a judge before the Syrian crisis started, “We have paid for your criminal hearing four times and we know that you have done nothing. We wanted you to work in luxurious offices and improve your financial condition. Now you have to support taking part in the Geneva II conference and find a legal way so that decisions are made with half of the coalition members plus one, instead of the two-thirds”.
Maleh was a political prisoner on several occasions since the 1960s. His most recent arrest was on 14 October 2009, a day after giving an interview on ‘Panorama’, a political analysis show on Barada TV, a London-based satellite channel associated with the Syrian opposition and allegedly funded by the US government. He was referred to the Damascus military court and tried on charges of spreading false and misleading information that would “affect the morale of the nation”, and sentenced to three years prison.
The US envoy told Burhan Ghalioun, a French Syrian professor of sociology at the Université de Paris III Sorbonne University in Paris, and the first chairman of the so-called Syrian National Council (SNC), that “You have been out long time ago”.
Ghalioun however said that he was willing to take part in the conference, and if anyone has told the American side that he was against it, they were all humors.
He then turned to Maher Al-Naimi and Jamal Maarouf, leaders of another opposition group called Syria Revolutionaries Front, and told them they need the group to be present at the talks. He said their supports would be cut if they refused to participate.
Ford further told members of the Turk delegation present at the meeting that, “you shouldn’t have more than one representative in the coalition but to get approval from the Turks we have given you more than you deserve. Now you have to agree with taking part in the conference”.
The Syrian government and the main exiled opposition group, the National Coalition, are due to send delegates to the conference, which begins in the Swiss town of Montreux.
Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies are supporting the militants and Takfiri terrorists operating inside the Arab country.