The Assad regime is constantly looking to exploit any political, economic, or cultural event to try and reestablish itself after years of isolation. Recently, the regime’s media and affiliated social media pages celebrated the participation of one of its officials in an economic meeting in Paris. The Assad News Agency (SANA) reported on March 15th that the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce had taken part in the Arab-French Economic Summit, represented by Masan Nahhas, a member of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce.
During the summit, Nahhas stated that Syria was invited to attend by the Union of Arab Chambers and called for the lifting of sanctions on the country. The Federation of Syrian Chambers of Commerce and the Syrian-Iranian Joint Chamber of Commerce, of which Nahhas is the secretary, confirmed Nahhas’s participation in the summit and noted that French President Emmanuel Macron sponsored it.
Nahhas even noted that Macron sponsored the meeting. He posted photos of his meeting with the participants in the meeting, including the director of the Paris Chamber of Commerce.
It has nothing to do with the government
Nahhas’s participation in the economic meeting in Paris raised questions about the extent of the facilities provided by the French government to Assad regime officials and whether the meeting organizer is governmental or private.
Syrian human rights defender Zaid al-Azm, who lives in France, published a post on his Facebook page in which he said: “News is spreading on some pages of social networking sites that a delegation from the Damascus Chamber of Commerce of the regime authorities has visited the French capital Paris and participated in a conference organized by the Paris Chamber of Commerce.”
“The fact of the matter is that someone from the Damascus Chamber of Commerce participated in an event organized by another chamber completely different from the Paris Chamber of Commerce, the Arab Chamber of Commerce in Paris, the latter of which is a private association that has nothing to do with the French government,” Azm said.
Azm commented, “there is no truth that an official Syrian delegation representing the regime came to Paris. The fact is that the one who came represents only himself. Secondly, the Chamber of Commerce he visited was the Arab Chamber of Commerce in Paris, which is not a government institution at all.”
Media reports had earlier revealed that French officials had contacted Assad’s consulate in Paris to deport refugees, with the aim of ascertaining two migrants and obtaining a consular passport for them to return them to Syria.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.