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

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.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Creative Director / Head of Creative

£65K - £75K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Creative Director...

Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful IT reseller bas...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Engineer / Technical Sales Representative - OTE £35k

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the Country's leading di...

Recruitment Genius: Logistics Coordinator - Part-Time

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence