Avaaz in Syria

Letter by Ian Sinclair, London

ImageThe May 2012 Peace News editorial on Syria (PN 2545) argued ‘western movements... should look to the massive internet-based group Avaaz, which has channelled hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of satellite phones and other communications equipment into Syria.’

On 21 July 2012, under the headline ‘Stymied at UN, US Refines Plan to Remove Assad’, the New York Times reported: ‘The United States would provide more communications training and equipment to help improve the combat effectiveness of disparate opposition forces in their widening, sustained fight against Syrian Army troops’.

Am I the only person to be a little confused by the closeness of Peace News and the US government on this issue?

Editor response: Thank you, Ian. It does look confusing! As we understand it, the Avaaz contribution to opposition communications in Syria has been focused on supporting citizen journalists (documenting the war and getting the message out) and supporting nonviolent grassroots movements (moving medical supplies around and so on).We may be wrong about this, but we think they’re pretty separate from the armed militias.We think there is a world of difference between us as ordinary people giving logistical support to grassroots nonviolent movements in an oppressive country, and the US government ‘improving the combat effectiveness’ of armed groups, in order to overthrow a hostile regime and replace it with a more easily manipulated set-up. - eds