About the Syria programme
Why set up a Syria Programme?
Caabu started a specific Syria programme in 2011 to highlight events in Syria, improve the understanding of the uprising and protests in the country, raise issues of human rights, and international law and the humanitarian situation.
It stems from the conviction that the situation in Syria poses a significant threat to the country, to the region and international peace and security.
Caabu's position on Syria
For the last three years, the events in Syria have horrified us all. Caabu’s position has been based on our principles about supporting human rights, democracy and international law. Caabu has taken a steadfast and resolute position against the brutality of the regime, worked to get its leading figures and institutions sanctioned, raised major issues of human rights abuses and condemned those countries such as Russia and China who have protected the regime at the United Nations. Caabu’s director, Chris Doyle has played a leading role speaking out at rallies, in the media and other events. The Assad regime and armed opposition groups should be held fully accountable for all crimes as well all other parties to the crisis.
Wary of pushing the international community into making matters worse, Caabu has not called for a military intervention into Syria, which would risk escalating a civil war and increasing fatalities. Caabu has pushed for targeted sanctions but not the broad based sanctions that decimated Iraq’s civilian population for 13 years leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths. This is a position that has been taken up by most governments around the world including the UK.
Since May 2013, Caabu has called on the UK and other EU member states to accept more Syrian refugees, in particularly the most vulnerable. Caabu has argued that the burden of the refugee crisis cannot just be placed upon Syria's neighbours; Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq, and that the UK has a moral duty to be part of the UN's resettlement programme for Syrian refugees. Alongside a number of charities, NGOs and other organisations, Caabu was a signatory on a letter to David Cameron, published in The Independent in January 2014, urging the UK to resettle the most vulnerable Syrian refugees as a result of the crisis.
Since the start of the uprising Caabu has been actively engaged with all relevant government departments on a regular basis. Chris Doyle had a one hour meeting with Alistair Burt, the former Foreign Office Minister responsible for the Middle East. He also addressed internal FCO seminars on Syria.
Caabu has been in holding events in Parliament, press briefings and its staff have been speaking at events about Syria. On 12 September, we held a major event in the House of Commons looking at the future prospects for Syria addressed by Dr Samir Seifan and Dr Samir El Taqi. Chris Doyle also addressed a New Statesman panel on Syria. Other speakers have included Haitham El Maleh, Catherine El Talli, Bassam Ishaq, Samir Aita, Dr Talal Al-Mayhani and Monzer Akbik, Chief of Staff to the president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, Ahmad Jarba. Caabu also hosted a BBC Radio 4 panel debate on Syria as well as helping to arrange programme for three visiting opposition activists from Syria that included a Caabu/LSE meeting with Louay Hussein. In June 2012, Caabu also hosted Shaykh Sayyid Muhammad al-Yaqoubi for a briefing session.
On 6 February 2013, David Lesch, the author of Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad addressed a Caabu meeting in Parliament
Media and Communications
There is an active media and communications programme.Chris Doyle, Caabu’s Director has been in high demand in the media, interviewed on nearly all domestic news channels including Newsnight, BBC Ten O’clock News and Channel 4 News. He has been quoted in nearly every major news paper on Syria during the crisis.
Syrian Development Network
Caabu has also set up a Syrian Development Network, the latter with the kind support of the Asfari Foundation.
The Syrian Development Network (SDN) aims to support and synchronise efforts to provide humanitarian relief, reconstruction and development aid to Syria. The SDN will provide information on specific aspects of the Syrian situation, encourage discussion between various organisations and individuals, help identify areas of particular need, and encourage joint action.
The programme is headed by Caabu's Director, Chris Doyle, who is a regular visitor to Syria and an expert on the country and its politics. The journalist Michael Goldfarb wrote "he knows the Syrian situation as thoroughly as anyone outside official channels in Britain does".