Alastair Campbell reveals offer to work on behalf of Syrian government to improve its global image
Assad regime once sought help with its publicity from former No 10 director of communications
Paul Gallagher is a reporter for the Independent and Independent on Sunday having joined the group in 2012. He has previously worked for the European Voice, Daily Mirror and the Observer and been based in Brussels, Belfast, Tokyo and London.
Wednesday 11 September 2013
Alastair Campbell has revealed he was recently asked if he could work on behalf of the Syrian government to improve its global image.
Faced with mounting criticism over its handling of the civil war that has torn the country apart since 2011 and currently the subject of intense international debate following its alleged use of chemical weapons, the Assad regime once sought help with its publicity and media management from former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s former director of communications and strategy.
Mr Campbell told The Independent an approach had been made some months ago by a middle man in the UK.
“A while ago I was asked by a third party if I wanted to help the Syrian government with its communications,” he said.
Mr Campbell, who turned the request down, refused to say who the third party was, other than confirming it was not Portland, the PR company he provides ‘strategic counsel’ to.
“I don’t know if they got anybody,” he said. “Who you work for is an interesting issue. There was a point of course where, like Tony Blair and Libya for example, we got criticised for going out to meet Gaddafi. But it resulted in him giving up his weapons. People always say, ‘well how did he get the weapons?’ But big powers do try to develop relations at every levels with these governments.
"I can remember in 2001 when Tony did a press conference with Assad in Syria and Assad whacked him over the Middle East. We often talk about ‘doing an Assad’, which in communications terms means two politicians standing alongside each other and one whacks the other.”
Campbell said he is still in regular touch with Mr Blair who, because of his Middle East peace envoy and his experience in office means he has “an important role to play in this. He should say what he thinks”.
Campbell also spoke of his enjoyment working with Kosovan prime minister Hashim Thaci, while acknowledging that the latter had been accused of involvement in organ trafficking, which the prime minister strongly denies.
“I really enjoy the stuff I’m involved with in the Balkans. It’s an interesting part of the world, a government trying to make change. Let’s try and help them.”
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 3 The confessions of men who ordered mail-order brides
- 4 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
- 5 Yazidi sex slaves undergoing surgery to 'restore virginity' after being raped by Isis militants
General Election 2015: Tories sack candidate who said she would never support 'the Jew' Ed Miliband
The four utterly contradictory polls that tell the story of this election and why it is pointless trying to predict the outcome
9/11: Iranian General accuses US of organising September 11 terror attacks
General Election 2015: Prospect of Labour-SNP coalition makes one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband, says survey
General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
£65K - £75K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Creative Director...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful IT reseller bas...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the Country's leading di...
£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...