last updated: December 3, 2012
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- Reform Party of Syria: Founder and president
- Syrian Democratic Coalition: President
- Gatestone Institute: Columnist
- American Israel Public Affairs Committee: Reported member
- Endowment for Middle East Truth: Awardee
- International TechGroup Inc.: Founder
- EG&G Intertech Inc.: Former employee
- American University: BA
Farid “Frank” Ghadry is a Syrian-born writer and activist based in the United States, where he moved with his family at age 10. A defense contractor and technology executive by profession, he is the founder and president of the Reform Party of Syria, a Washington-based lobbying group made up largely of Syrian emigrants opposed to Bashar al-Assad’s regime. As of the fall of 2012, the website for the group appeared inactive. Ghadry is also the president of the Syrian Democratic Coalition, which purports to be an umbrella group encompassing other Syrian opposition movements.
Ghadry’s primary outlet appears to be his personal website, www.ghadry.com, where he posts regular dispatches against the Syrian regime, Islamism, and Democratic politicians. In an undated post about President Barack Obama, for example, Ghadry lamented that the president was “missing even more of a golden opportunity than [George W.] Bush did” to replace the Assad regime. Echoing themes promoted by the president’s Republican critics, Ghadry suggested that Obama was “appeasing” Assad and unwilling “to show how exceptional the United States is” or “to use America’s formidable assets in pursuit of its interests.”
Ghadry also demonstrates a keen preoccupation with the influence of Islamic actors in Syria. In a November 2012 blog entry, he alleged that the “men of evil ruling Qatar” were assisting the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in shaping the political situation in the country in preparation for the overthrow of Assad. “Many Syrians see the MB as a tool of the Iranians and are not willing to let Iran have a say in Syrian affairs in the future. Some of that is based on the Sunnis vs. Shia war being waged today in Syria but some is also a manifestation of residual anger over the killing of Syrian women and children by IRGC and Hezbollah snipers. After Assad, the battle for Syria’s soul will peg Muslims against Muslims, secularists against Islamists, and Syrians against Iranian hegemony. Thanks to the al-Thani of Qatar, Syria’s problems are far from over.”
In a 2007 appearance on Al Jazeera after he founded the Reform Party of Syria, Ghadry called for the United States to invade Syria, explicitly invoking the example of Iraq.
A number of Ghadry’s writings have also been posted on the website of the Gatestone Institute, a neoconservativeoffshoot of the Hudson Institute founded by the right-wing philanthropist Nina Rosenwald, where Ghadry is listed as a “columnist.” In one 2009 posting, Ghadry alleged that Middle Eastern cultures were inferior to the West and seemed to suggest that both Iran and Syria possessed nuclear weapons. “Middle Eastern countries with violent dictators, such as Syria and Iran, have brought the region to a boiling point because our non-evolutionary civilization is accelerating backwards on steroids of a deadly combination of hate and pride; hate administered against those who surpassed us in knowledge and pride because we do not seem to accept that reality,” he wrote. “In order to hide their weaknesses, Syria promotes ‘resistance’ and Iran promotes religious zealotry, and both rely on nuclear weapons to defend their existence as their regime heaps misery upon their own people spiraling further into the abyss of ignorance.”
Ghadry has also been an outspoken critic of prevailing Arab opinions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, arguing in part that the Palestinian liberation struggle has overshadowed other challenges within the Arab world. “The Palestinian Cause,” he wrote in another undated post on his website, “has been and remains the single most destructive element in our modern history as Arabs. The resources, the rhetoric, the attention, the tyrannies, the terror, the death, and the time expanded in support of one single cause for over 60 years has created a sort of a Palestinian Plague able to suck the oxygen out of all the other Arab Causes combined in each respective Arab country.” He added, “When is it fair to ask someone to pay for Girl Scout cookies with a gun pointed to their heads? Or ask them to help an orphan child in this hospital but not help another in another hospital? That’s the Palestinian Cause in its most basic of forms.”
But Ghadry’s views of the Palestinian struggle may also be colored by his professed admiration for the state of Israel, which he has called upon pro-democracy Arabs to view as “an extension of your hopes for your own country.” Ghadry is reportedly a member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who, during the last Palestinian intifada, demonstrated outside the Syrian embassy with members of the American Jewish Committee demanding that Syria halt its support for Palestinian militants.
In 2007, the Assad regime revoked Ghadry’s Syrian citizenship after he appeared before the Israeli Knesset and urged Israel to abandon peace negotiations with the Syrian regime. “Peace with Assad would be a disaster for Israel and for Syria,” Ghadry told YNet. “We have a message of peace, but Israel must be cautious about making peace with a dictator. Real peace is made between two peoples, not with a tyrant."
According to SourceWatch, “despite their lofty sounding names,” Ghadry’s “Syrian” organizations “exist mostly in the United States” and were founded with the help of neoconservative-leaning “pro-Israel” organizations. Ghadry himself was once derided by a future member of the opposition Syrian National Council as a self-styled “prince of Syria.”
However, although his connections to Syrian activist movements are dubious, Ghadry is well connected within neoconservative and interventionist factions in the West. Writing for the American Prospect, journalist Robert Dreyfuss likened Ghadry to “Syria’s version of Ahmed Chalabi,” referring to the formerly exiled leader of the Iraqi National Congress who lobbied the U.S. government to attack Iraq for years, apparently to pave the way for his own political career there. Dreyfuss alleged that Meyrav Wurmser—a neoconservative activist who founded the Middle East Media Research Institute—arranged in 2006 for Ghadry to meet with Bush administration officials Liz Cheney and John Hannah to discuss possible regime change in Syria. In 2008, the right-wing Endowment for Middle East Truth, where Wursmer was serving as a board member, gave Ghadry its “Ray of Light in the Darkness Award.”
In 2005, Ghadry reportedly met with Chalabi in the Northern Virginia living room of Richard Perle, a former member of the Defense Policy Board during the Bush administration and an avid proponent of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Ghadry praised Chalabi as a fellow emigrant who “paved the way in Iraq for what we want to do in Syria.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, Ghadry attended a 2007 conference hosted by the European Foundation for Democracy and funded in part by organizations supported by the controversial casino magnate and pro-Israeli rightist Sheldon Adelson. The guest of honor at the event was then-U.S. President George W. Bush, but dozens of other U.S. foreign policy hawks attended, including prominent writers and scholars from the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the American Enterprise Institute, the Hoover Institution, and the Hudson Institute, among many others.