Hands Off Syria (HOS) was formed by concerned Australians and Syrian-Australians, in response to the outbreak of the ‘dirty war’ on Syria. Hands Off Syria: 1) Supports the right of the people of the Syrian Arab Republic to self-determination, meaning that only the Syrian people deserve the right to determine their own domestic and international policies. 2) Maintains that this ongoing war amounts to indirect protracted imperialist aggression by foreign powers, that have armed and financed an unpopular insurgency, comprised largely of foreign mercenaries, in an attempt to overthrow the Syrian government. Based on this principle and premise respectively, Hands Off Syria: 1) Supports the military self-defence of the Syrian Arab Republic by its national armed forces. 2) Opposes all hostile actions by foreign governments against the Syrian Arab Republic (hence the name ‘Hands Off Syria’). Hands Off Syria opposes all actions by the Australian government that are hostile to the Syrian Arab Republic and as such demands: 1) That the Australian government reestablish diplomatic relations with the Syrian Arab Republic. In December 2012, then Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced that the Australian government “acknowledged the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces [the ‘Syrian National Coalition’ for short, or ‘SNC’] as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people”, and in doing so, declared the actually existing Syrian government of President Bashar Al-Assad to be illegitimate. This policy rejects the democratic will of the Syrian people because it demands that the existing democratically elected Syrian government resign, and be replaced completely by the SNC, which is an unelected body of Syrian exiles with no official legitimacy inside Syria. Given that the Australian government claims to oppose Australian citizens joining terrorist organisation like the (so-called) Islamic State on the basis that such a phenomena poses a threat to domestic security, wouldn’t it be most prudent for Canberra to reestablish diplomatic relations with the government in Damascus that actually fights these terrorist organisations? 2) That the Australian government WITHDRAW from the international body known as the ‘Group of the Friends of the Syrian People’. In August 2013 the the government announced that it participates in an international body called the ‘Group of the Friends of the Syrian People’ (GFSP), which includes participation in working groups on sanctions against Syria. The document reads: “Australia also participates in the Group of the Friends of the Syrian People, including its working groups on sanctions (we co-chaired with Bulgaria and UAE the 6th sanctions working group meeting in Sofia on 26 February), and on economic recovery and development.” The core members of the GFSP include the United States, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, which are the same countries complicit in destabilising Syria. As such, the GFSP is a predatory body completely at odds with the right of the Syrian people to determine their own future. 3) That the Australian government drop ALL economic sanctions against Syria immediately. In June 2011 the Reserve Bank of Australia began issuing media releases, each one further strengthening the sanctions regime against Syria. The RBA’s sanctions are part of a coordinated effort by the NATO-Axis to weaken the Syrian economy, which is already forced to cope with the devastating financial impact of war. The international sanctions regime against Syria is often justified on the grounds that they’re “targeted” in the sense that they don’t explicitly prevent the export of basic necessities like food. However, what this ignores is that sanctions needn’t directly prevent the trade of basic necessities to make those goods increasingly scarce and unaffordable in the targeted country. Imposing barriers on trade, especially on financial transactions, increases both the real and perceived ‘sovereign risk’ for entities doing business in that nation, which undermines the value of that nation’s currency. 4) That the Australian government proactively investigate the possible involvement of Australian business entities in hostile actions against Syria. In April 2014, award winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh published a report detailing among other things, the hitherto classified contents of a January 2014 US Senate Intelligence Committee report, which included a secret agreement reached in 2012 between the governments of the United States and Turkey for the smuggling of arms to anti-government militias in Syria. Hersh claims that this was facilitated by “a number of front companies [that] were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities”, which suggests a degree of involvement by Australian business entities in perpetuating this destabilisation campaign. Given that there were very few private ‘Australian entities’ operating in Libya in 2012, if only as a consequence of there being no functioning government or state in Libya at the time, there’s reason to suspect that at the very least, elements in the Australian government may be involved is such smuggling.