The word is that Manaf had been told to solve the Harasta and Duma problems (the growing uprising on the outskirts of Damascus). He did a good job by negotiating with the opposition leaders in both suburbs, agreeing that both government forces and opposition would pull back.Hama Echo pointed me in a direction of a couple of picture of Manaf Tlass which may indicate that this defection is more about saving his own skin than any ideological differences with the Assad regime. In August 2011 the French anti-fascist website Reflex posted an article about members of the far right in France, including Frédéric Chatillon, founding a new website, InfoSyrie, to correct what they stated was the gross misrepresentation of facts by the Western media in the pay of the US and Israel.
The Alawi leadership said "no, that is not how we are going to do this." They pushed him aside and came down like a ton of bricks on the opposition in both neighborhoods, in an effort to assert state authority and crush the uprising through military means.
Manaf supported a policy of negotiation, flexibility and compromise. He was overruled by the military leadership and has since looked for a way out.
The article goes on to describe links between the far right in France and the Alawite and Assad regime members in Syria, and describes a visit arranged by Chatillon for his associates, that include Thierry Meyssan, chairman of the Voltaire Network; Dieudonné M'bala M'bala, a anti-Semitic political activist; essayist Alain Soral; Ahmed Moualek, president of La Banlieue S'exprime (LBS); and Marc George to Lebanon in 2006, via a 5 day stop over in Syria, where it's alleged Chatillon initiated links with some “second level” regime personals.
A future visit to Syria in 2008 with the same group, reportedly largely financed by the Tlass family, included hotels, sightseeing and drivers for their far right friends, including this meeting with Manaf Tlass (and other family members) pictured second from the left
Dieudonné M'bala M'bala with his arm around Manaf Tlass. Here's another picture from the same evening, showing, from left to far right, Frédéric Chatillon, Manaf Tlass, and Dieudonné M'bala M'bala
Read more on the Tlass family connections to the French far right here.
The Syrian website has an Arabic language article on the same subject here, and there's an English translation on the way that I will post once it's ready.
Updated July 9th The Damascus Tribune has translated the above article into English, which you can read here. Here's the main points:
- The Tlass family was responsible for funding the Voltaire Network International, and a number of other sites, at the behest of the Syrian government.
- Damascus gave Thierry Meyssan the money to relaunch the collapsed Voltaire Network in August 2005.
- The funding of Meyssan and The Voltaire Network International was assigned to Munaf and Firas Tanaf from 2006.
- During the 2008 visit to Damascus Thierry Meyssan recommended Frédéric Chatillon for a pro-Syrian PR campaign, that was also funded by the Tlass family, and led to the founding of RiwalSyria.
- In 2011 Riwal registered and launched infosyrie.net for the benefit of the Syrian regime.
Update July 9th The Syrian has now posted their own English translation.
The Tlass Family And Their Historical Links To The French Far Right
You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org