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 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Vogue under fire for 'Big Booty' article
- 5 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
British tourists 'murdered' in Thailand: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Supply teachers needed for va...
£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...
£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad are currently look...
£400000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Markets An...