The news agency Agence France Presse has revealed that secret high-level contacts between the European powers and Syria have taken place since May 2013 (that is to say, before the outbreak of the chemical weapons crisis at the end of August).
According to the agency, "While the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, Eva Filippi, never left Damascus, the representatives of Austria, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Denmark and the EU have been meeting all along in the Syrian capital on a regular basis." The agency continues by reporting on meetings between members of French and British secret services and General Ali Mamlouk, commander of the General Security Directorate.
AFP alleges that the European diplomats were apparently instructed not to meet with the 179 personalities appearing on the list of those responsible for the repression. However, (1) the majority of the people listed held positions that would have precluded them from playing any role whatsoever in the repression and (2) the diplomats are now wondering whether the revolution and the repression they saw on Al-Jazeera ever actually existed. Even more peculiar is the fact that general Ali Mamlouk features prominently on the list of people they should not have met.
The news agency, however, doesn’t utter a word about either the top-level meetings taking place, or the procession of major company representatives that are discretely flocking to Damascus in anticipation of the lifting of the economic sanctions.
« Quand les Européens reprennent discrètement le chemin de Damas », AFP, November 29th 2013.