Fresh Embezzlement Charges Against Syrian Opposition Leaders
New charges of corruption and misappropriation of funds and against leading figures in the so-called ‘Syrian Coalition’ opposition body have surfaced in recent days, shedding more light on the corruption and betrayal of trust once bestowed by anti-government rebels upon those who were supposed to safeguard the interests of their ‘revolution’. Accusations of corruption included the former Qatari and Saudi-backed Head of Coalition along with some prominent figures who appear to have amassed illegal personal fortunes on the back of the Syrian ‘revolution’ which broke out in March 2011.
The anti-Syrian government STEP News network has released a fresh report on social media platforms accusing former Head of the Syrian Coalition Ahmad Al Jarba and key opposition lady figure and former Head of Support Coordination Unit in the Coalition, Suheir Al Atassi, who quit her post and left the coalition altogether March 2015, of embezzling millions of US dollars from money donated to the Syrian opposition and its leading political body. In its new video report, Step News highlighted that the Syrian opposition leadership which was formed partly to” combat corruption within the ‘regime’, was itself plagued with bribery, embezzlement, misappropriation of political funds and high-level corruption scandals of its own.”
Opposition Network Publishes Fresh Corruption Scandals
The opposition news network claims that worst cases of embezzlement took place under the cover of the Syrian Coalition itself, particularly during the presidency of Ahmad Al Jarba whom it says has been trying to reconcile with the government in Damascus through enlisting the mediation of the Russians. STEP News maintains that it has received information from certain ‘sources’ that “Al Jarba had deposited some $70 million in several EU bank accounts, most were opened in the name of his cousin Ali Assi Al Jarba.”
The network goes on to claim that documents have proved Al Jarba had spent large funds on “fake” expenses in favor of his brother during the former’s presidency of the coalition in 2013. “In that same year, Al Jarba took possession of $85 million out of a $100 million Saudi grant to the coalition, and deposited the seized money in personal bank accounts in Kurdish-controlled Erbil, Iraq,” STEP News claimed. Sami Al Ereidi, a leading figure in Al Nusra terror group had accused Al Jarba of embezzling another $75 million dedicated to treating wounded rebels. The network claims that “Al Jarba has bought his way up the opposition ranks to the Presidency of the Syrian Coalition through bribes and vote-buying spending $5-10 million under an article called ‘from my own money’ squandering coalition money on his aids and supporters,” STEP News reiterated. Other charges filed against Ahmad Al Jarba include faking his university degree and other misdemeanours.
More Shame Smacks Coalition Quitters
In 2015, Suheir Al Atassi resigned from the Syrian Coalition against a backdrop of embezzlement charges. “She was then accused of stealing $20 million from external grants and aid packages dedicated to Syrian refugees at camps in neighboring countries,” STEP News claimed. Atassi then responded to the accusations by stating that she has “documents that indict all members of the coalition”. One year later, opposition sources reported that Attasi had bought real estates in Washington, DC including a plot of land worth $12 million. Another opposition figure, Kamal Al Labwani has recently accused Al Atassi of embezzling a $5 million American grant. Lately leaked documents reveal more embezzlement scandals within the coalition, including “the disappearance of $400,000 from the Makkah Office during Hajj (Pilgrimage) seasons between 2013-2015,” STEP News reported.
Although similar incidents of corruption, embezzlement and extortion had been common among Syrian rebel and opposition groups in the early years of the Syria conflict, particularly in Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, where videotaped fiery exchanges were released of rebel leaders fighting over the embezzlement of millions of dollars by leader of Al Rahman Corps and other militia commanders in the area, recently published accusations against top opposition figures are bound to further discredit their cause and erode any remaining credibility they might have once enjoyed among their rank and file supporters.
While the timing and real purpose of newly-released corruption charges against some leading opposition and coalition figures remain relatively opaque, they demist the fact that whilst ordinary Syrians were being used as fodder for the nine-year-old war that has ravaged their country and destroyed their everyday life, their bosses in five-star hotels in Turkey, Europe, Gulf Arab countries and elsewhere have been little than a bunch of corrupt individuals and war profiteers on the back of an ill-fated and clinically dead ‘revolution’.