An Open Letter to a Supporter of the Syrian Opposition
By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
December 13, 2012
It is remarkable that Syrian American Council (SAC) board member Hussam Ayloush appears to be unaware of, if not indifferent to, the trojan efforts of Israel lobbyist David Pollock to promote the Syrian opposition (see, for example, my article, “Fikra: An Israeli Forum for Arab Democrats”).
As for Mr. Aylosh’s doubts that the rebels have any contact with Pollock, the following should be of interest.
In a May 30, 2012 Wall Street Journal article entitled “What Does the Syrian Opposition Believe?” Pollock seeks to allay concerns that the opposition to Assad is dominated by religious fundamentalists, which he describes as one of the main remaining obstacles to international intervention. Citing “a confidential survey of opposition activists living in Syria,” he stresses that “Islamists are only a minority among them,” many of whom “even widely admire the United States.”
Pollock goes on to explain how the survey was conducted:
Pechter Polls, which conducts opinion surveys in tough spots in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, completed the Syria opposition poll in December 2011. Respondents were contacted over a secure Skype connection by someone they could trust — all native Syrians — who asked them to fill out a short questionnaire anonymously in Arabic. Interviewers were selected from different social and political groups to ensure that respondents reflected a rough cross-section of overall opposition attitudes. To ensure confidentiality, the online survey could be accessed only through a series of proxy servers, bypassing the regime-controlled Internet.
Given the survey’s unusual security requirements, respondents were selected by a referral (or “controlled snowball”) technique, rather than in a purely random fashion. To be as representative as possible, the survey employed five different starting points for independent referral chains, all operating from different locations. The resulting sample consisted of 186 individuals in Syria identified as either opposition activists themselves (two-thirds of the total) or in contact with the opposition.
The brief bio at the end of the WSJ piece describes Pollock as “the Kaufman fellow at the Washington Institute and a consultant to Pechter Polls.”
Like the AIPAC spin-off that employs Pollock to promote the Syrian opposition in Washington, Pechter Middle East Polls, LLC is clearly a creation of the Israel lobby. President and CEO Adam M. Pechter is a former deputy publisher of the Middle East Quarterly, the Islamophobic pro-Israel “journal” produced by Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum.
Such are the freedom-loving forces that the Syrian opposition is prepared to collaborate with.