April 16, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11278

The Raven Project Leaks – Minutes Of December 2011 Meeting Between Qatari PM And French Philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy Discussing Plans For Overthrow Of Assad Regime (From The MEMRI Archives)

April 16, 2024
Qatar, Syria | Special Dispatch No. 11278

The following is a translation of a Qatari document in Arabic that was leaked from Project Raven.[1] The leaked document reportedly details a December 2011 meeting between Hamad Bin Jassim Aal Thani, then Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister, and French Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, who is described in the document as a "special advisor and envoy" of then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy. According to the document, drafted by the Qatari hosts, the two discussed plans to encourage mass protests against the Syrian regime in which unarmed protesters would be killed, in order to set off a violent revolution in which Syrian rebels and jihadi forces, armed and funded by Qatar, would ultimately overthrow the regime.

(Top Secret)

Meeting Minutes

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Aal Thani

Prime Minister and Foreign Minister


The Honorable Mr. Bernard-Henri Lévy

Special Advisor and Envoy of His Excellency the President of France Sarkozy

(Tuesday, December 20, 2011)

Following an exchange of greetings:

The guest:

We are proud of our partnership with you. We managed to attain our joint objectives in Libya; France will not forget the immense role Qatar played in ensuring Europe's [supply of] energy for the coming decades, and the immense role Qatar continues to play in supporting the peoples' revolutions for freedom, spreading democracy and building a new Middle East, free of tyrannical dictatorial regimes. A new Middle East and stability will not be attained without the ouster of Assad and the other dictatorial regimes in the region.

The Honorable Sheikh Hamad:

We have implemented the first step by forcing Assad to agree to accept and sign the Arab League plan for [holding] dialogue with the opposition, withdrawing the army from the cities, protecting unarmed civilians and releasing political prisoners. A delegation of Arab observers will be dispatched to Syria to verify [this], along with Arab and international media that will provide clear coverage of the events. 

We gave him [Assad] many chances, but he failed to draw [the right conclusion from the events], and he is betting on his army's and security forces' [ability to] crush the revolution and on Russia hiding his crimes and preventing the passage of a Security Council resolution calling to protect the unarmed civilians.

We told him that he must see and understand what has happened in many countries, and that it is paramount to heed the people's will, and that betting on staying in power by means of the army has never succeeded anywhere. [We told him that] the Arab initiative was his last chance, and that his only choice was between implementing [the Arab League plan] and a comprehensive Arab boycott and siege.

The guest:

What, in your opinion, are the next steps we must take in order to use the Syrian army's withdrawal from the cities and villages as an opportunity to provide every kind of support to the Syrian opposition and the rebels, in order to change the [power]-balance on the ground[?]

The Honorable Sheikh Hamad:

First, we have directed the delegation of Arab observers to cooperate with the Syrian regime, keep its activity neutral, and confine it to areas distant from the areas of conflagration, in order to gain the regime's trust so that it withdraws the army from the cities and villages. That is our main objective. It must be accompanied by critical declarations and statements about the delegation's performance, from us and from the Western governments, especially the U.S., France and the media.

Second, we have come to an understanding with the opposition that, immediately after the Syrian army's withdrawal from the cities and villages, the activists, the protest organizers, will call [on people] to take to the streets and occupy the public squares in the large cities and in all the other Sunni-majority cities. Assad will try to suppress the protests, [and] unarmed protesters will be killed, especially children and elderly people, right in front of the media and the Arab observers. That will enrage the masses. The funerals will set off the revolution and the violence, and  increase the number of defections from the army and the regime. Then the gunmen will move freely and take over the areas vacated by Assad's forces, as well as the densely-populated areas in the cities. This will move the campaign from the villages into the cities, especially Damascus and Aleppo. Thousands of protesters in the cities will join the rebels and take up arms. The Syrian army, with its vehicles and heavy military gear, will not be able to move inside the cities and neighborhoods and confront the rebels. This will increase the rebels' ability to control the rest of the neighborhoods and strategic areas in the cities, and establish facts on the ground. 

Third, we will pull out the delegation of Arab observers before the end of its term of operation, on the grounds that the Syrian regime has not implemented the Arab League's plan for stopping the violence, that the unarmed civilians were not protected and [that the regime] has not fulfilled its overall responsibility. These actions must be accompanied by an escalation in the global media, in order to  arouse antagonism among the people in the West and the Arab countries against Assad, his relations and his immediate associates, and hold them responsible for the killing and the crimes against the unarmed protesters.

Fourth, the U.S., Europe and the Arab states will step up their political, media and diplomatic pressure on Russia, in order to convince it to change its position and pressure Assad to negotiate with the opposition and stop the killing of protestors.

Ultimately, the only way to eliminate Assad is to support the Free [Syrian] Army and the rebels by means of arms, especially high-quality arms that will create a balance of deterrence; by reinforcing them with foreign fighters and jihadis highly competent in guerilla warfare; by establishing army bases in the countries neighboring Syria, especially Israel, so as to train gunmen and draw volunteers, while providing them with logistical support, as happened in Turkey, and opening safe passages to Syria for them. The Syrian opposition, all of it, is not hostile to Israel. Its members stressed to us that, if they control Syria, their second goal, after establishing a democratic state, will be [making] peace with Israel.

The guest:

You must provide the funds, and then, immediately after the withdrawal of the Syrian army from the cities and the villages, our media and security networks will send millions of message by phone, email and the [television] channels, calling on the Syrian people and the Sunni sect to use the presence of the foreign media, along with the Arab observers, [as an opportunity] to take to the streets and occupy the public squares in all the large cities, especially in Damascus and Aleppo.

We will act to [create] an unprecedented increase in the global media's opposition to Assad and all his relations and immediate associates, in order to hold them responsible for the crimes against the unarmed protesters. Our PR firms and myself will step up the French, European, American pressures on Russia to change its position.

The French forces in Libya have finished training a large number of Libyan fighters, headed by Mr. [Al-Mahdi] Harati, and they will soon be sent to Syria to assist the Free [Syrian] Army. I will speak with President Sarkozy about the option of equipping them with suitable weapons, and I will talk to my jihadi friends, especially in Chechnya, about sending fighters who specialize in guerilla warfare. It is important to involve Israel in the Syrian issue. I will talk to them and we will coordinate with them on this matter.

The Honorable Sheikh Hamad:

We will provide the necessary financial support.


Abdullah bin Eid Al-Sulaiti

Director of the Prime Minister's Office                             

Appendix: The Original Documents

Below are pictures of the original documents in Arabic.


[1] Project Raven was a confidential initiative to help the UAE surveil other governments, militants, and human rights activists ( See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1734 - 'Project Raven' – The Origin Of The Qatari Government Letters Leak – December 22, 2023; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10966, Documents Reportedly Reveal 2010 Agreement Between Then-French President Sarkozy And Then-Qatari Crown Prince Tamim Bin Hamad, In Which Qatar Pledged To Pay Sarkozy 300 Million Euros, November 20, 2023; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10973, The Raven Project Leaks: Alleged Qatari Support Of 3 Million Euros For Human Rights Watch, November 21, 2023; MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10978, The Raven Project Leaks: Former South African President Reportedly Received $2 Million For Thabo Mbeki Institute, November 22, 2023; Special Dispatch No. 10986, The Raven Project Leaks: $15 Million Reportedly Paid To Islamist Movements In Northern Mali And The Sahel, November 29, 2023; Special Dispatch No. 10988 - The Raven Project Leaks: Qatar Reportedly Paid $10 Million To Lebanese Politician Walid Jumblatt In 2018 - November 29, 2023.

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