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Context of 'Late 2006: State Department Document Reveals US Interest in Supporting Syrian Activists Who Oppose Assad'

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The US State Department includes Iraq in its list of states that sponsor terrorism. [Phythian, 1997]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

Timeline Tags: US-Iraq 1980s

A US State Department report concludes that Iraq continues to support groups on the State Department’s terrorist list. [Jentleson, 1994, pp. 52]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

Timeline Tags: US-Iraq 1980s

The US State Department issues a public condemnation of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons (see 1984, March 15, 1984). [New York Times, 12/23/2003]

Entity Tags: US Department of State

Timeline Tags: US-Iraq 1980s

The US State Department says that President Chavez’s allegations (see February 20, 2005) that they are planning to assassinate him are “ridiculous.” [Voice of America, 2/23/2005]

Entity Tags: Hugo Chavez Frias

Timeline Tags: US-Venezuela (1948-2005)

Lorne Craner, president of the International Republican Institute (IRI), praises the Bush administration’s plan to spend three million dollars on the “advancement of democracy and human rights” in Iran (see April 11, 2005). “I am pleased to hear it has happened,” he tells United Press International. “The United States has been spreading democracy for years in other countries, it’s good we’re now doing it in Iran.” He also tells the newswire that IRI hopes to be awarded one of the State Department’s “democracy advancement” grants so it can work with Iranian groups. [United Press International, 4/11/2005] Only a year before, the Republican-controlled IRI was implicated in the ousting of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide. It was accused of providing a cover for the training of a 600-member paramilitary army of anti-Aristide Haitians (see (2001-2004)).

Entity Tags: International Republican Institute

Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran

A “democracy and public diplomacy” working group at the State Department drafts a two-page document discussing ways the US can support Syrian activists who oppose President Bashar al-Assad. The document, which notes that the US is already “supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora Syrian activists” in Europe, says that the country’s upcoming March 2007 elections “provide a potentially galvanizing issue for… critics of the Assad regime.” It proposes a secret “election monitoring” plan, in which “Internet accessible materials will be available for printing and dissemination by activists inside the country [Syria] and neighboring countries.” The operation would also involve providing financial backing to an opposition candidate, as well as funding “voter education campaigns” and public opinion polling. The document makes it clear that the efforts would be clandestine. “Any information regarding funding for domestic [Syrian] politicians for elections monitoring would have to be protected from public dissemination,” it says. Funding for the program would apparently be funneled through the International Republican Institute through a State Department program known as the Middle East Partnership Initiative, or MEPI. Time, which is the first to report on the memo, quotes one US official familiar with the document who says, “You are forced to wonder whether we are now trying to destabilize the Syrian government.” Joshua Landis, a Syria expert who is co-director of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Oklahoma, tells the magazine the proposed operation is “really just an attempt to pressure the Syrian government” into doing what the US wants. [Time, 12/19/2006]

Entity Tags: International Republican Institute, Syria, US Department of State, Joshua Landis

Timeline Tags: US confrontation with Iran

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