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The empowerment of the ‘Butcher of Damascus,’ Bashar Assad

An Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) webinar with Ahed Al Hendi.

Despite the fact that Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for the murder of approximately 500,000 of his own people and driving more than 5 million others from the country since the Arab Spring erupted in 2011, the Arab League has voted to accept Syria back into its fold.

What were some of the horrendous crimes committed by Assad, and why is the Arab League so ready to overlook them? Does it have to do with his strong alliances with Moscow and Tehran? How have the dynamics within the Middle East shifted so rapidly since Beijing brokered a rapprochement between Riyadh and Tehran?

Here to answer these questions and more is Ahed Al Hendi.

About the speaker: Ahed Al Hendi is a dissident who fled Syria four years ago. As a student, he was imprisoned and tortured by Syrian authorities for establishing a secular anti-regime student organization.

He is now the Arabic programs coordinator at, a New York-based human rights organization that amplifies the voices of pro-democracy bloggers in the Middle East. Al Hendi was elected as one of nine executive officers of the Antalya Conference held in Turkey. He has held meetings with many members of Congress in order to highlight human rights abuses in his home country.

He has also met with former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and with former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird to highlight the human rights abuses in Syria. Al Hendi is in touch with a wide network of activists in Syria every day and writes frequently about democracy in the Middle East.

In the past, Al Hendi worked with the Samir Kassir Foundation in Lebanon as its Syria researcher. He has been interviewed by leading American journalistic outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

His articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, The Daily Beast and Reuters, and in Arabic dailies such as Lebanon’s Al-Mustaqbal. Al Hendi was interviewed by Arabic-language channels such as Alhurra, RT Arabic and Radio Sawa and has appeared on Bloomberg Television and Al Jazeera English.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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