The first cable addressed the issue of Mustapha’s freedom to move within the United States in response to the Syrian Foreign Ministry ban on foreign Ambassadors movements within Syria (Highlighted, of course, by Ambassador Ford visit to Hama on Friday) and the other one dealt with the activities of the Syrian Embassy staff, perfectly condoned by the Consigliere himself without a doubt, of spying on Syrians and American-Syrians in the United States. The second cable is an anticipatory one in case Assad decides to revoke Ambassador Ford credentials, the US State Department sent a signal to Assad, with the second cable, that it will also ask Mustapha to leave the country on the basis of a knowledge it has acquired.
This diplomatic tit for tat also means some in the foreign service have yet to give-up on reforming Assad by pressuring him into a corner. What a waste of time! Assad can reverse any decision he makes today very easily. Hezbollah missiles can return to Syria anytime and so will any severed relations. Any in-country reforms are reversible as well.
To many outsiders, the Syrian Embassy spying may be a shocker but to many in the Syrian communities across the world, this monitoring of expatriates has been going on since 1970. It is done for one reason only: If you oppose the regime and you are not within our grasp, we willÂ harass, detain, torture and kill your next of kin in Syria to stop you. Welcome to the Assad era of Stalin and Hitler combined.
The Syrian Embassy staff, as explained to me once in 2004 by someone who operated within its deep walls, percolates as a miniature security operation the kind we find in Syria. All the other side consular and diplomatic activities are really second fiddle to its primary goal of protecting the regime from its many enemies. Taking pictures of dissidents demonstrating peacefully in front of the Embassy should be the least of our worries because according to my source, the staff has a team of experts whose job is to eavesdrop on telephonic conversations and to hack emails of individuals, including US citizens deemed enemies of Assad, using, in my estimation, the very sophisticated technologies sold to them by some European countries.
Additional information provided: Certain rooms in the Embassy are accessible only to a very handful of people and the regular staff has gotten used to seeing strange new faces come and go all the times for short stints.
Even the staff itself is constantly monitored. The information I received came to me via Syria and not Washington.
It is incumbent upon the FBI, as rightly requested by a BlogÂ ElliottÂ Abrams posted on the Council for Foreign Relations website today, to investigate all of the staff of the Embassy. Their footprint of activities encroaches upon theÂ sovereigntyÂ of the United States and its citizens. If we let them off the hook by another slap on the wrist, the Embassy will expand its activities far and deep into Washington DC and beyond to endanger the lives of US and Syrian citizens and their next of kin inside Syria.