Diplomatic cables that came to light via Wikileaks show that Washington has been funneling cash to the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles, The Washington Post reports today.
Since 2006, the group has operated an influential London-based satellite channel. The U.S. support raised concerns within the Obama administration that it might compromise a reapproachment with the government of leader Bashar al-Assad, the newspaper says.
Syrian authorities "would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change," read an April 2009 cable signed by the top-ranking U.S. diplomat in Damascus at the time. "A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti-[government] factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive," the cable said.
The State Department has declined to comment on the leaked cables.