No govt backing for Damascus workshop, clarifies UK official

Exposes machination of Syrian regime and its media which was trying to mask the real motive behind workshop

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A UK official has clarified that there is no British Government backing for a workshop organized by the British Syrian Society on the “ramifications of the war in Syria”.

Gareth Bayley, UK Special Representative for Syria, also said the workshop in Damascus does not represent the British government’s views.

The rebuttal from London has exposed the machination of the Syrian regime and its media which was trying to mask the real motive behind organizing the workshop to whitewash the regime’s image in the west.

The event was held in Damascus, away from media limelight and clouded in secrecy.

According to Asharaq Al Awsat website, Syrian state media in Damascus did not mention any details of the workshop and the private newspaper Al-Watan published a brief story about the commencement of the workshop on Sunday, citing the British newspaper The Guardian.

According to The Guardian report, the line-up of speakers included Raymond Asquith (Lord Oxford), a Lib Dem peer, alongside British academics and many Assad government figures. Also participating were several prominent UK journalists.

Assad's father-in-law

The British Syrian Society was founded in 2000 by Fawaz Akhras, a London-based cardiologist, who is its chairman.
Akhras is the father-in-law of President Bashar al-Assad.

The society has functioned very much under the radar since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. It is seen by critics as a sign of the regime’s growing confidence that the society has chosen to emerge again in the public domain by oraganizing an international conference.

President Assad’s wife Asma recently gave her first public interview in five years, which was shown on Russian state TV.