Bellingcat

Thursday, 5 July 2012

UPDATED - Manaf Tlass And His French Far Right, Voltaire Network, Pro-Assad Friends

It's been widely reported today that Manaf Tlass, son of former Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass, part of Assad's inner circle, and commander of an elite unit in the Syrian army has fled Syria to Turkey.  Joshua Landis noted in his blog that he was a close confidant of Bashar al-Assad, and offered this possible reason for his defection
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.

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.
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 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

Other individuals in this picture include Thierry Meyssan on the far right at the end of the table, and 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

No doubt now Manaf Tlass has turned his back on the Assad regime his French pro-Assad friends might not be returning his phone calls anymore.

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.

Related Posts
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 brownmoses@gmail.com

11 comments:

  1. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.





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  2. u do not make clear the connection between the pictures and how they indicated to you that " that this defection is more about saving his own skin than any ideological differences with the Assad regime." could u expand please ?

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    1. The pictures show him courting far-right Europeans with a pro-Assad agenda at personal expense, which doesn't quite fit with the picture being presented by a lot of the media in the West: that he defected because of moral qualms. Hence the alternate reading: he defected to save his own skin as it looks more & more likely that the Assad regime will not survive.

      Given the adulation he has received in the press, it might not even be unthinkable that he's touted by the West as part of the "political solution" - i.e re-integrated into whatever nee government emerges.

      At least that's what I take from it...

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    2. ur analysis is sorta logical cuz it seems tlas was actually funding Voltaire in the name of the regime, and he pumped 180 000 euro in 2008 in chatillon accounts through a company belongs to the later under the name riwalsyria.fr

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    3. moreover, acording to a "affaq ahmad" a well known alawit defected aidie from the army intelligence: tlas with his very close links with the russains that goes back for decades may be a part of a future solution that put the russians mind in peace "published on the syrian revolution page on facebook"

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    4. Wonder if any of their money found its way into antiwar.com?

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  3. I've followed this post up with this
    http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/tlass-family-and-their-historical-links.html
    Seems his whole family has links going back years with the French far right, very anti-Semitic links.

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  4. It's as if you and @ReginaldQuill all got the same talking points in your inbox today...

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  5. Good work, Moses. I am encouraged by your ability and ease in offering corrections. This is the mark of someone with integrity. The oddest bit of all on this page is by Raymondo, who suggests that Tlas was/had been funding Voltaire ... how could this be shown to be true? If it is true, then I might have an answer to my question to Lizzie Phelan, Madhi Nazemroaya and Thierry Meyssan: "Who was paying your Rixos Hotel bill, please?"

    I am rather skeptical about the claim that Syria may be the paymaster for Voltaire.net's various field trips.

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  6. Forgot to ask about the mystery posting as PubliusX. Is there some significance to her murky suggestion about talking points? Perhaps unable to make and sustain an argument, and so reaches for the sleaze bottle?

    Ho hum.

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    1. I get it a lot, those kind of people think the CIA are running everything, or other such nonsense.

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