Farid Ghadry, president of the US-based Reform Party of Syria (RPS), testified on June 7 before the House Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia.
In his testimony, which was posted on the RPS blog, Ghadry said that he "do[es] not believe that the Syrian opposition is mature enough to assume power in Syria," and that the RPS' "short term aim, as such, is to give up on the issue of regime change in Syria until the opposition unites."
Ghadry went on to accuse other opposition parties of behaving "like the Ba'athists ruling the country with a set of exclusionary policies, which are in conflict with real democracy." He applied this characterization to the Damascus Declaration groups, which he dubbed "non-existent," as well as to the National Salvation Front, which he described as an "unholy alliance."
He also mentioned prominent detained dissidents to "honor their work and lend them our full support," and called for the release of all political prisoners. He then said that the Kurdish movement inside Syria was "mature" and that the Syrian Democratic Coalition, a coalition of liberal organizations including the RPS, claims a rising popularity inside and outside Syria because it "has no history of corruption or atrocities against the Syrian people." He recommended the US and Europe "invite the 10 most prominent Syrian opposition leaders in the hope that they can unite and become a viable alternative."
Ghadry then posted a letter to the chair of the Subcomitte, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in which he asked a further amendment of the Syria Accountability and Lebanon Sovereignty Act (SALSA) to "prevent the US administration from supporting any present or past regime officials that participated in major decisions as Ba'ath Party Officials, and who were, or still are, involved in corruption," a clear reference to former VP Abdel Halim Khaddam, whom Ghadry called in his testimony "the ultimate corrupt official."
Ghadry made several policy recommendations and suggested amendments to SALSA to include forcing the Syrian regime to lift emergency laws, and rescind Article 8 of the Syrian consitution, which states that the Ba'ath party is the leader of the state and society.
Then on June 17 Ghadry met with Vice President of the US, Dick Cheney, at an AEI World Forum conference in Colorado. According to an RPS press release, Ghadry "took the opportunity to convey to Vice President Cheney the situation and aspirations of Syria's growing democratic opposition. Mr. Ghadry urged the United States to increase its support for democracy and human rights in Syria, and stressed in particular the importance of vigorously defending these activists inside Syria who have recently been the target of a systematic and brutal crackdown by the Assad regime."