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Al-Assad regime trying to discredit Syrian opposition – Burhan Ghalioun | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Prominent Syrian opposition figure Burhan Ghalioun has accused the Bashar al-Assad regime of launching a campaign to damage his reputation and “discredit” the Syrian National Council [SNC]. This was in response to rumors that Ghalioun has ties to the Syrian government, and visited Damascus on 27 September, something that the Syrian opposition figure strongly denies.

The Lebanese Salafist “Iqra” association issued a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, quoting a “spokesman of the [Syrian] Free Officers Movement” claiming that “we possess documentation that prove that he [Ghalioun] visited Damascus on 27 September.” The statement added that “if this is shown to be true then we reject him and all his projects, and warn against him.” This statement was accompanied by the image of what appeared to be an Egypt Air ticket to Damascus dated 27 September, 2011, in the name of “Burhan Mohamed Ghalioun”.

However Ghalioun, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from Paris on Tuesday, stressed that this is part of an “intelligence [agency] ploy” to discredit him. He stressed that he was in Turkey on 27 September, negotiating towards the formation of the SNC.

As for the Egypt Air ticket in his name, Ghalioun said that this ticket is in the name of “Burhan Mohamed Ghalioun” whereas his full name is Burhan Abdul-Halim Ghalioun. He also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Syrian intelligence apparatus is responsible for this, stressing that this is not the first time that the Syrian intelligence agency has used a case of mistaken identity to play such a “game” with him. He said that he was previously detained in a Syrian airport by the intelligence apparatus for a number of hours, only to be released after it emerged that they were looking for somebody named Burhan Abdul-Hakeem Ghalioun, rather than Burhan Abdul-Halim Ghalioun.

Ghalioun stressed that the claims that he has ties to the al-Assad regime and traveled to Damascus in late September are “absurd and cannot be believed.” He asked Asharq Al-Awsat “why would I go to Syria? If I did, why would I not have been arrested?” Ghalioun told Asharq Al-Awsat that these rumors are an attempt by the Syrian intelligence apparatus to discredit him and the SNC.

Ghalioun said that he was certain that such rumors were not being put forward by other Syrian opposition figures, stressing that this is a result of an “intelligence agency.” He also stressed that this was in order to “discredit the image of the Syrian opposition” by “confusing” the issue, saying that “even if the majority of people do not believe this news, it still affects the reputation of those involved.” Ghalioun also revealed that this campaign coincided with him putting his name forward for the presidency of the SNC.

Ghalioun also claimed that the Syrian regime – utilizing the internet – was also using other methods to try to discredit the Syrian opposition and the SNC. He referred to an internet website that bears the name of the SNC and which contains images of strategic Syrian regime sites, calling on NATO to attack. Ghalioun stressed that this website has no connection whatsoever to the SNC or any of its members. He said that nobody in the SNC has any experience working for the “Syrian intelligence” and so “we do not know where these Syrian intelligence and underground sites are located even if we wanted to reveal them.” He also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Americans and Israelis undoubtedly know the location of these sites and so do not need anybody to tell them where they are.” Ghalioun stressed that the “issue of [foreign] military intervention” is not in the SNC’s plans, particularly in light of “the Russian – Chinese veto.” The Syrian opposition leader accused the Syrian regime – or al-Assad allies like Tehran – of being response for such operations with the objective of discrediting the Syrian opposition and the SNC