As thousands of Syrians take to the streets to demand the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, the Washington Post reported Monday that the United States has been secretly backing Syrian opposition groups since George W. Bush occupied the White House.
A “previously undisclosed” diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks revealed that for a number of years the State Department has funneled money to a London-based satellite 24-hour TV channel that airs anti-government programming to Syria.
As the Post reported:
The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad…
Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria…
The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005. The financial backing has continued under President Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad.
The State Department declined to comment on the released cables.