Support for the Exile Opposition
Since July 2011, Berlin has redoubled its efforts to win influence with the Syrian opposition. July 5, 2011, an exiled Syrian delegation, led by Radwan Ziadeh, came to the German Foreign Ministry for talks. "It was a good meeting," recalled the head of the delegation 3 weeks later. "Germany is in agreement with us." Ziadeh, who had gone into exile in 2007, soon began working for the US government-financed "United States Institute of Peace" (USIP), an institution studying possible interventions in conflicts around the world. Toward the end of July 2011, it was learned in Berlin that the director of the foreign ministry's Regional Desk for the Middle East, Boris Ruge, had been to Damascus twice for talks, also with representatives of the opposition. Ziadeh, in the meantime, had taken on the function as "Director for Foreign Relations" for the Syrian National Council (SNC), an exile organization, strongly influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood, which western governments have declared to be the "legitimate representatives" of the Syrian people. In cooperation with USIP, the German Chancellery-financed German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) has been convening in-depth talks in preparation for the aftermath of the overthrow of the regime, with about 45 Syrian exiled representatives of the opposition in the German capital. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) With the same objective in mind, the German government has established in Berlin an office, under German chair, for organizing the economic framework for a post-Assad Syria. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.)
Task Force on Syria
The "Task Force on Syria," which was established recently in Berlin, is taking up the above-mentioned activities. It could be "assumed that the regime will not retain complete control over the country," writes Germany's Foreign Ministry. This opinion must be considered within the context of the division of labor between western countries and their allied dictatorships at the Persian Gulf, in support of the armed Syrian uprising, which includes financial and logistical aid as well as military equipment. Berlin has declared that it is not involved in aiding with armament supplies. But, the Lebanese coastal waters, where the German Navy is deployed to prevent arms smuggling, is a known important transit route for supplying military equipment and foreign mercenaries. German vessels, in any case, have not been impeding any of this. In addition, Berlin has now announced the establishment of a "personnel reinforced task force" ("Task Force on Syria") to coordinate all activities and, with its help, advance concrete "plans for the day after transition." Therefore, the Foreign Ministry declares, contacts to the "opposition inside Syria," must be established.
With regions now under the control of insurgents, the West already has the opportunity of beginning to exercise systematic influence within the country. Fears that the current harsh repression reigning in Syria, could be replaced by no less brutal power relations, seem confirmed. Initial reports from regions under the control of the insurgents, describe arbitrary rule, illegal, mass executions as well as the important positions held by militant Islamist organizations. It has been reported, for example, that insurgents in Azaz, near Aleppo, simply "tied up and shot" government soldiers. The commander of the insurgents is known for his affinity to militant Islamism and his use of symbols resembling those of Al Qaeda. Militiamen, who are also operating with great brutality are basically in control.
Friends from the Industry
The head of Berlin’s new "Task Force on Syria", Boris Ruge, has maintained relations with Syria for a long time. An event in November 2010 is exemplary. In the previous years, the Assad regime had begun to orient policy more toward the interests of industrialists, thereby neglecting the poor rural population, as well as a large segment of the youth, left with hardly any perspective. The government's deregulation policy led to a growing impoverishment and ultimately, in the spring of 2011, to the uprising. Until 2011- Assad had ruled uncontested - Berlin had shown no interest in the population's growing impoverishment. In February 2010, in coordination with the German Ministry of Economics and the Syrian government, German industrialists founded a "Syrian-German Business Council." At a meeting of this business association in November 2010, Boris Ruge declared that he is convinced that the "Syrian-German Business Council" could help to "positively develop" German Syrian relations also in the future. The membership of this "Business Council" included high-ranking industrialists, who, in early 2011, were still being courted by Berlin. However, only a short time later, they, or their companies, found themselves on an EU sanctions list, for having provided "economic support to the Syrian regime." In the meantime, the decision had been made to seek regime change in Syria in collaboration with the Syrian exiled opposition. Since then, the impoverishment of sectors of the Syrian population, under the Assad regime, which had been previously ignored, is mentioned occasionally in the western media.
The same applies to repression under the Assad regime. For years, Berlin's intelligence services had maintained a rather close cooperation with their Syrian counterparts - cooperation in torture, included. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) A deportation treaty, enacted in early 2009, also facilitated Germany's deportation of numerous refugees into the hands of the Syrian regime. The German government kept its commitment in spite of a hunger strike by Syrian exiles  and, in October 2010, confirmed that every fifth refugee it had deported to Syria, had been arrested on arrival. Some of them remained in prison for up to three and half months. As recent as March 2012, Amnesty International had to call upon the German government to implement a ban on the deportation of refugees to Syria. In April 2012, only after massive public pressure, the governments of German federal states formally agreed to waive the deportation of refugees to Syria - but limited only for a six-month period.
Whereas the German government is still seeking influence within the Syrian opposition, its Commissioner for Human Rights, Markus Löning, declared last Monday that it is "simply inappropriate" to consider admitting Syrian war refugees into the Federal Republic of Germany. They should remain in the Middle East. In addition, Volker Kauder, Chairman of the conservative CDU/CSU parliamentary group, offered a prospect of preferential treatment for Christian refugees, who managed to escape religiously motivated insurgents: "We are currently examining the question," Kauder declared, of "how we can help at least Christians, who have fled into neighboring countries."