The Gaza aid convoy spearheaded by George Galloway is splitting apart because the overland route passes through Syria. The Times of London (paywall) reports:More details from TheJC:
In February, leaked e-mails between Mr Galloway and President Assad’s media adviser were published in which he referred to the Syrian President as “His Excellency” and the Baathist state as “the last bastion of Arab dignity”.
The Syrian Government has responded brutally to a popular uprising in the country, leaving more than 9,000 dead and leading to widespread diplomatic condemnation. Opponents say that the Viva Palestina mission will lend credence to the regime.
The move has caused a rift with other groups due to take part in the convoy, two of which have pulled out in protest at the “sudden and unilateral decision” by the UK group’s sister charity Viva Palestinia Arabia to travel via Syria . . . .
Abdul Wahab el-Sayed Omar, of British Solidarity for Syria, said: “They could easily go through Egypt instead. The only explanation I can see is that this is a propaganda move aimed at helping the Syrian regime.”
Pro-Palestinian activists Viva Palestina are to send a convoy of trucks through Syria to Gaza – despite protests and withdrawals from their own members.Imagine that - using an "aid" mission to advance a political goal. Isn't that awful?
The charity, co-founded by Respect MP George Galloway, launched the convoy which departed last Sunday from the UK.
But the New Zealand and Malaysian affiliated branches of the organisation have withdrawn from the convoy after raising “strong objections with the convoy’s leadership in England.” The groups have withdrawn a total of nine vehicles and 19 volunteers from the convoy.
A statement on Kia Ora Gaza’s website said: “Right from the outset, Kia Ora Gaza insisted that the convoy avoid crossing Syria, where the Assad regime has killed, jailed and tortured tens of thousands of democracy advocates since March 2011.
“Given the Syrian dictator’s inhuman behaviour towards his own citizens, we don’t want the Assad regime making political capital from any humanitarian mission to Gaza.
“Second, given the devious plots of the Assad regime, the state of Israel and other imperial powers operating in the region, the risk to convoyers crossing Syria would be unacceptably high. However, our objections were overruled, leaving Kia Ora Gaza with no option except to withdraw.”
The convoy was originally intended to go by ferry from Turkey to Egypt, bypassing Syria, but the change of plan was described by Kia Ora Gaza as a “sudden, and unilateral, decision by [organising branch] leaders of Viva Palestina Arabia”.