Andrew Gilligan and Dr Fawaz Akhras
Wafic Said, a British-Syrian billionaire and philanthropist, recently resigned as a director of the British Syrian Society (BSS). The problem is, he told the Guardian, “the BSS has buried its head in the sand, maintaining a policy of silence, which amounts to tacit support for the current regime in Syria and what is happening there”.
As the Guardian then reported, the BSS said it was “saddened and appalled at the violence and loss of life in Syria” – but the release was too little, too late for Said, who was also joined by the HSBC bank who said it would no longer represent the society in September 2011.
These decisions have not been helped by Dr Fawaz Akhras, the father of Asma Akhras, wife of President Assad of Syria. He is the co-chairman of the BSS. As well as comparing the Syrian uprising to the London riots, the recently “leaked emails published in the Guardian showed him advising Assad on how to handle the crisis.”
Akhras is now under pressure to resign his position by Sir Andrew Green, “a former British ambassador to Syria and co-chairman of the society.”
In other news, Akhras chose to compare the uprising to the riots in London last summer to the Telegraph journalist Andrew Gilligan. He told Gilligan “what would you do? Just watch them killing you?” justifying David Cameron’s threat to use the army.
The ever-diligent Private Eye reported last week that this was not the first time a Syrian has turned to Gilligan in “need of a sympathetic ear”, citing the time in October 2011 Assad was interviewed by him, where Assad pointed out that “[c]omparing Syria’s leadership with that of a Western country… was like comparing a Mac with a PC.”
The Eye, later in the article, asked why Gilligan, who “normally writes about Ken and Boris and isn’t known as a Middle East expert”, got exclusive access to Assad – before pointing out that last December Gilligan addressed a private meeting of the BSS to talk about, as PE put it, “his delightful chat with the president”.
Gilligan managed to body-swerve Mehdi Hasan’s question, in 2010, of when Gilligan will “quit [his] lucrative job at Press TV?” to which the answer then was 11 months ago, after quitting in opposition to the Iranian government’s increasing “Islamism”.
But can he explain away the relationship, with benefits, between him and Dr Fawaz Akhras?