President al-Assad: The American presence in Syria will generate military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans and force them to leave

Friday, 15 November 2019 09:34

DAMASCUS-  President Bashar al-Assad has stressed that nobody believes that Turkey will repatriate 3 million Syrian refugees to the northeast of the country and this is a deceptive humanitarian slogan raised by Turkish regime to create an ethnic conflict in this area and to bring the terrorists and their families into this region in order to create a new extremist community in line with the vision sought by President of the Turkish regime, Erdogan.

In an interview given to RUSSIA 24 and ROSSIYA SEVODNYA, President al-Assad clarified that  most of the Kurds are patriots who support their state and the Syrian people, but there are groups, some of these groups are Kurds, some are Arabs, working under American command and there is currently a dialogue with them, since the return of the Syrian Army to north, to convince them that stability is achieved when all of us are committed to the Syrian constitution.

He said: “ After nine years of war, I think that most people understand the importance of embracing the state regardless of political differences.”

President al-Assad emphasized that every war will result in a lot of changes in society but it doesn’t mean dividing the country, moving towards separation; throwing out the constitution or weakening the state, confirming that the war should be an experience from which we come out with a stronger, not weaker homeland.

He pointed out that the American presence in Syria will generate a military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans, and consequently force them to leave.  “However, America cannot believe that it will live comfortably in any area it occupies.  We remind them of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Syria will not be an exception.”

President al-Assad indicated that the immediate and most effective solution is to unite as Syrians and as patriots and this would cause the Americans to leave the Syrian territory.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, first of all I’m grateful to you for finding the time to answer our questions despite the difficult circumstances.

The world’s attention is now focused on the situation in the northeast of the Syrian Arab Republic.  What is your personal assessment of the Russian-Turkish agreement on Syria?

President Assad:  Our assessment is certainly positive, not because we trust Turkey, which hasn’t been honest in meeting all the commitments it made previously, whether in Astana or elsewhere.  Our assessment is positive becasue there is no doubt that Russia’s involvement has positive aspects, because otherwise we would have been faced with three options.  The first was the Turkish plan or agenda, with its Muslim Brotherhood and Ottoman dimensions.  The second option was the American plan, which is connected with the Turkish one, and was meant for the Turkish incursion to complicate the situation in Syria, and consequently push us away from the solution we all felt we were approaching.  The third option was the German proposal, i.e. internationalizing the region, and consequently imposing international protection.  All these plans are ultimately designed by the American leadership.  Here is the significance of the positive Russian role, which outmaneuvered these plans and neutralized the Kurdish pretext, in order to prepare the ground for Turkey’s withdrawal.

Question 2: Why is Russia helping Syria, in general?

President Assad: We cannot answer this question without talking about the Russian role; Russia is a superpower and has international duties and responsibilities.  These responsibilities serve the world and also, Russia and the Russian people.  Russia has the choice of either playing the role of a superpower, or withdrawing into itself and becoming a very ordinary state, which would not be good for the world.  In this context, the military presence in Syria is part of the framework of the global balance of power, because the world today is not governed by legal criteria, but rather by the criteria of power.  Therefore, the Russian power, from a military perspective, is necessary for balance in the world.

A second aspect is fighting terrorism which has two sides: the first is moral and the second is legal, i.e. international law, because terrorism is supported by well-known states.  There is a third aspect, which is protecting Russian interests.  This terrorism has no borders, no political borders. Today, it might be in Syria, but also in the farthest point in Asia. It might also exist in Europe, like the terrorist operations which happened in the past years; and it might also be in Russia, and you recall what happened over ten years ago, when terrorists kidnapped and killed innocent people in schools and theatres.  You have known and lived through terrorism in the Chechen Republic and other places, and you still do.  You cannot fight terrorism only where it exists.  It must be fought all over the world.

Moreover, Russia, through the role it’s playing, has the exact opposite vision of the West, which believes that international law is at odds with its interests; Russia believes that international law serves its own interests and also its joint interests with other countries.  For all these reasons, Russia is helping Syria.

Question 3:  Going back to Turkey, what do you think of Ankara’s intention of repatriating the Syrian refugees to the areas under the control of the Turkish army and the militants which support it in the northeast of the country, taking into account that these refugees might number about 3 million people?

President Assad:  Nobody believes that Turkey will repatriate 3 million Syrian refugees to this area; this is a deceptive humanitarian slogan.  Even if they wanted to, this is not possible because it would create a conflict between the owners of the land, the cities, the villages, the homes, the farms, and the fields on the one hand, and these newcomers, on the other; those who own these places will never renounce their rights in these areas, so this would create an ethnic conflict.

However, the real reason behind Turkey bringing the militants and terrorists who fought and were defeated in Syria, is to move them and their families into this region in order to create a new extremist community in line with the vision sought by the President of the Turkish regime, Erdogan.  This is the real goal.  In either case, both are dangerous and aim at destabilizing Syria.  Therefore, we certainly reject it.

Question 4:  The Sochi agreement contributed to normalizing the situation in northeastern Syria and prepared the ground for the return of the legitimate control of the Syrian government east of Euphrates and some areas in the northeast of the country.  But the population in those areas has been cut off from the state’s central authority as a result of ISIS’s behavior.  What are the steps you intend to take in order to engage the local authorities of the Kurdish autonomous administration?  This is because fighting ISIS was carried out by both the government forces in that area and by the YPG.

President Assad:  I want to separate the two cases, because ISIS was created by American will and carried out its activities under an American cover.  We are convinced, and we have information, that America has used ISIS as a military tool to strike at the Syrian Army and to distract the military forces fighting terrorism, at the forefront of which is Syria.

With regards to the Kurdish forces, we need to correct certain concepts.  The term is being misused and it is being promoted by the West to give the impression that the forces operating there are Kurdish and that the region is Kurdish.  First, I would like to make it clear that this region in the north and northeast of Syria is an Arab-majority region; over 70% of its population are Arabs, not the other way around.  The groups fighting there are a mixture of Kurds and others; the Americans support the Kurdish groups and installed them in a leadership role in order to give the impression that it is a Kurdish region and to create a conflict between the Kurds and the other groups in Syria.  We remained in contact throughout the war with these groups, despite our knowledge that some were being used and directed by the Americans; they were armed and funded by the Americans and their public statements were dictated by them.  This does not mean that the Kurds are not patriots; I stress that most of the Kurds are patriots who support their state and the Syrian people like any other segment of Syrian society, but some of these groups are Kurds, some are Arabs, and there might be others working under American command.  These are the groups we have continued to engage.

Since the return of the Syrian Army to these areas, there is currently a dialogue to convince them that stability is achieved when all of us are committed to the Syrian constitution, because this constitution reflects the will of the people.  And when the Syrian Arab Army returns, it does so together with other state institutions, which are also an expression of the Syrian constitution and people.

Some progress has been achieved recently after the Turkish invasion in this area.  Russia plays an important role in this issue based on the same principles that I just mentioned.  Sometimes we move forward, other times we move backward partly because of the American pressure on the armed groups in Syria not to respond to the Syrian state; this is expected.  Now we are more optimistic that things are moving in right direction, because after nine years of war, I think that most people understand the importance of embracing the state regardless of political differences, or differences with the government or the ruling party.  The state in every part of the world embraces everybody; I believe that we are moving in this direction.

Question 5: Have I understood you correctly, that the status quo in the northeast of the country is as it is because of outside interference? I mean, the views that there are problems with the Kurds that can never be solved.

President Assad:  The problems are with some of the Kurds; I stress once again that most of the Kurds have been in Syria for decades and there are no problems with them.  There are however, extremist groups, extremist in the political sense, which are making propositions closer to separation.  Some of these propositions are related to federalism and Kurdish self-rule.  As I mentioned earlier, this is an Arab region, and if anyone is to talk about federalism, it shall be the Arabs, because they are the majority; this is self-evident.  Unlike, the situation in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey, there is no Kurdish majority in this region of Syria.

As to cultural and other rights, I always give the example of the Armenians because they are the latest comers to Syria – about a hundred years ago.  They have their schools, churches, and full cultural rights.  Why would we give cultural rights to one segment of Syrian society and not to others?   Simply, this group has made separatist propositions which we shall never accept, not today, not tomorrow, not as a state, not as a people.  This is the problem.  Today, all these American-supported groups claim that the situation has changed after the war – of course the situation has changed.  It is normal that every war will result in a lot of changes in society.  However, war doesn’t mean dividing the country, or moving towards separation; it doesn’t mean throwing out the constitution or weakening the state.  The war should be an experience from which we come out with a stronger, not weaker homeland.  We shall never accept any separatist propositions under any circumstances.

Question 6:  Mr. President, despite all this, how do you evaluate the role played by the YPG in the fight against ISIS?  Because according to their figures, thousands of their fighters were killed defending their towns and villages inside Syria.

President Assad:  A large number of Syrians have been killed defending their villages in all regions, not only in that region.  It is not fair to talk about one segment of Syrians, because all Syrians defended their homeland, and all of them have defended their towns and villages. When people sense an existential threat, they must defend themselves, this is self-evident. But I wouldn’t put this defense in a political framework because that would mean giving America a certificate of good conduct and implying that all American-supported forces have been fighting ISIS, and consequently America has been fighting terrorism.  We all know and we have all stated – in Syria, Russia, and other countries, that America has supported ISIS.

We must distinguish between the citizens who achieved real results defending their villages and killing or eliminating a large number of terrorists, on the one hand, and the political agenda which is linked to America, on the other; we need to be accurate.

Question 7:  In October, the deadline for the withdrawal of YPG 30 kilometers from the Turkish borders expired, and Ankara claimed that YPG has not withdrawn.  Where are the YPG units now?  Where are they located?  The equally important question is: how would these units be integrated with the Syrian Armed Forces, particularly since there was an announcement and a proposal in this regard?

President Assad:  The Russian-Turkish agreement regarding the withdrawal of these armed groups must be implemented.  As I said previously, they are a mixture of Kurds and Arabs, but their leadership is Kurdish.  They need to withdraw because they provided the Turks with the pretext to implement their plan, which they have been dreaming of since the beginning of the war; they need to withdraw 30 kilometers.

As to implementation, they announced that they would implement and this has happened in some areas, but it hasn’t been implemented fully and this is to be expected.  These types of measures do not happen overnight or quickly; there isn’t necessarily a central control over all the groups fighting in a particular area.  Militias often fight and take their decisions in a chaotic manner and that’s why things are implemented in a particular place and not in another.  We are cooperating with Russia in order to fully implement this agreement, after which we should tell the Turks to start withdrawing.

As for integrating these groups into the Syrian Army, we have followed a principle since the beginning of reconciliations in 2013 that all those who hand in their weapons get full amnesty and return to normal civilian life like any other citizen, and they may join the Syrian Arab Army.  This has happened in many places; some of those who had fought with the terrorists later joined the Syrian Arab Army and fought within its ranks and were even martyred.

After the Russian-Turkish agreement, the Syrian Ministry of Defense announced that it was prepared to integrate all those fighters into the ranks of the Syrian Arab Army using various means appropriate to that region.  The official response we received was that they were not prepared to join the Syrian Arab Army and that they insist on keeping their weapons in those areas.  Also, within the framework of Syrian-Russian cooperation, we are trying to convince these fighters to join the Syrian Arab Army and fight against the Turkish invaders, which is the correct and proper way to restore the lands whose loss they have caused in northern Syria. We have to keep trying and we’ll see how things progress in the next few weeks.

Question 8:  Mr. President, in fact, the war has ended in the largest part of Syria.  People are returning to their homes in their villages. What is the Syrian leadership doing in order to provide the necessary requirements for their life there? Are there statistics about the number of restored houses or schools in those areas? And what are the main difficulties faced in preparing for the restoration of normal lives for these citizens?

President Assad:  In Syria, the biggest concerns facing any citizen on a daily basis are the economic conditions and the ability to meet basic needs, as well as providing education to their children and healthcare.  In every area we enter, we immediately start to restore the schools and provide the necessary requirements, including teachers and other resources; we also ensure that hospitals are functioning.  Similarly, we pay attention to the living conditions. However, living conditions in Syria are subject, in one way or another, to a number of external factors, particularly the Western sanctions against Syria which affect the provision of heating oil, fuel, and consequently electricity.  The embargo imposed on Syria prevents foreign investment into the country, in addition to other forms of embargo.  We are able to provide the basic needs, albeit at a minimum; sometimes we are unable to provide them in a sufficient manner.  All of this is a result of the embargo.  We are looking for other methods; and our friends, Russia, Iran, and sometimes China, are providing some humanitarian assistance. These are the priorities and the needs of our citizens that we are trying to meet, albeit at a bare minimum.

Question 9:  The more important question is: in order to ensure the return of normal life to the country, and the return of refugees, it is necessary to provide job opportunities.  Is there a process of rebuilding destroyed facilities?  And is the process of rebuilding them difficult under these tough sanctions?

President Assad:  Yes, it is difficult, but not impossible.  Away from any delusional or imaginary scenarios, practically speaking, there are a number of industries – the pharmaceutical industry for example, where the number of factories has risen significantly since the beginning of the war, this is also the case in other sectors.  Of course, the pace is not as it should be, or as we want it to be, in order to provide for the return of refugees who are also looking for job opportunities.  However, the mere fact that we are able to create new industries, a few of which are heavy industries, is at odds with the existing economic conditions for a country in a state of war, which usually can only create small or perhaps medium-sized industries.  We need to now look for better ways to encourage investment because of the sanctions.  We are currently studying our old investment law – which has been amended several times, to encourage the inflow of capital or at least the investment of capital already within the country which is not subject to foreign sanctions.  Despite all this and despite the Western and American embargo, there are a few limited foreign investments.

Question 10:  Going back to the question of the political solution, militants continue to hand in their weapons; and we know that the Syrian government, and you personally, are doing a lot in order to reintegrate these people in society.  What are your next plans in terms of providing assistance to the militants and their families whose legal status have been settled?

President Assad:  This is an important point, and a critical challenge.  There are various aspects that need to be addressed.  First, we have children, because you correctly referred to families and not just militants in the abstract case.  These militants have a family and they are part of a community, albeit small, but an extremist community.  Their children have lived for a long period, sometimes their formative years, outside of the law and away from national curricula, as such they have learned wrong concepts.  We announced a few weeks ago that schools would integrate these pupils within their programs and according to their age, so that they could adjust into the national curriculum within a few years and assimilate to patriotic concepts.

A second aspect is the religious extremism which has been promoted for years, and has become entrenched in the minds of entire communities in the areas governed by Al Qaeda and Wahabi ideology under the names of ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Tahrir al-Cham, Jaish al-Islam, and others, it doesn’t matter who, because they all belong to one ideology and one doctrine. In Syria, the religious establishment plays a very important role in this regard; you cannot talk to those extremists in the beginning about national and humanitarian issues.  They must first understand that the religious concepts they have learned are wrong and distorted, and in contradiction with religion.  We are working extensively in order to flush out these wrong concepts.

The third aspect is that these communities have lived outside the law; they don’t know the meaning of the state, of laws, courts of law, traffic police, and other instruments used by society to organize itself.  This is the more difficult aspect.  The challenge here is how to reintroduce the state in the best possible way to these towns and villages, in order to restore concepts of law and order.  These are the areas we are constantly working on, through various institutions, in order to reintegrate this community into Syrian society and ensuring they have a strong sense of patriotism.

Question 11: Mr. President, I have an important question also about the humanitarian situation, which has to do with the Kurdish population.  During the war, Kurdish children used the Kurdish language in their education and have not received official certificates or government documents proving the educational stage they reached.  This is a big problem now, because they cannot continue studying and learning, and they cannot work in an official and a professional manner.  Is there a plan to solve this problem?  Is such a plan ready, or is it still under preparation?

President Assad:  This issue is linked to the previous question; the implementation of this point was announced by the Ministry of Education immediately after the Turkish invasion, two or three weeks ago.  The Ministry stated it welcomes the integration of students who studied the Kurdish curriculum into our national education system in the post-primary stage.  This is a practical solution and the normal course of action; otherwise how can we ask these students or young people to reintegrate into our homeland if they are isolated or unaccepted in the national education system.

Intervention: But there are children and young people who have completed their education, but they don’t have official government documents to certify that.  How can this problem be solved?

President Assad:  There is no other option but to accept these certificates.  Young people are not only integrated through school, but also through higher institutes, universities, and other educational institutions.  If we want them to properly integrate into society and become productive individuals who contribute to building their country, we must find the appropriate procedural solutions in order to integrate them into the educational system.  The first solution I referred to, was announced two weeks ago because it was the easiest and the quickest; other solutions are in the pipeline and will also be announced in the coming weeks.

Question 12:  Mr. President, according to the media, Trump announced an expansion of American presence in Syria, particularly in the northeast of the country, under the pretext of protecting the oil fields.  Is there a military solution to this problem?  And when would such a military operation start?

President Assad:  I have always said that an occupier cannot occupy a piece of land without having agents in that country, because it would be difficult for them to live in a completely hostile environment.  Therefore, the immediate and most effective solution is for us to unite as Syrians and as patriots.  This would cause the Americans to leave, and they would not be able to stay, neither for oil nor for anything else.

However, with time, when the occupier remains – the Iraq experience is still fresh in the minds of Americans and the result, for them, was unexpected; for us however, it was clear and I did say in one of my interviews after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that occupation will generate military resistance.  Similarly, the American presence in Syria will generate a military resistance which will exact losses among the Americans, and consequently force them to leave.  Of course, we are not contemplating a Russian-American confrontation, this is self-evident, and it doesn’t serve neither our interests, nor the Russians nor international stability; it is dangerous.  However, America cannot believe that it will live comfortably in any area it occupies.  We remind them of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Syria will not be an exception.

Question 13:  Concerning the American behavior here, particularly in relation to Syrian oil, don’t you believe that this behavior is that of a government gang?  And what are the losses to Syria as a result of Washington’s behavior?

President Assad:  You are absolutely correct, not only because they are looting oil, but because America is structured as a political system of gangs.  The American president does not represent a state – he is the company CEO, and behind this CEO there is a board of directors which represent the big companies in America – the real owners of the state – oil and arms companies, banks, and other lobbies.  So, in reference to Syrian oil, this is the expected result of the American regime, which is led by companies acting for their own interests.

Having said this, I would like to remind you of something more significant than merely describing them as a gang.  One of the most important factors, which led to Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II, was oil; some even say that it was the only factor and there was no other reason for him to invade.  Today, America is doing the same thing; it is imitating the Nazis.  So, we can very simply liken American policy today with Nazi policy: expansion, invasion, undermining the interests of other nations, trampling on international law, international conventions, human principles, and others – all for the sake of oil.  What’s the difference between this policy and Nazi policy?  Can anybody from the American regime give us an answer to this question? I don’t think so.

Question 14:  Would Syria lodge a complaint at the United Nations about the United States looting Syrian oil?  And does Damascus have specific plans to demand compensation for the looted oil from Washington?

President Assad:  Of course, this is to be expected.  However, you and I, and many others in the world know that there is no United Nations because there is no international law; and so, all complaints lodged at the United Nations remain in drawers.  As I mentioned earlier, there is a quasi-state, governed by gangs and based on the principle of power.  These gangs are thieves and the conflict between them is over profits, gains, and losses.  It is not a conflict over ideologies or political parties; the conflicts between Trump and others in America are conflicts over spoils and gains.

That’s why today we live in a world similar to a jungle, closer to the period before World War II, rather than after it.  We will send a complaint, but it will remain in the drawers.

Question 15:  In Istanbul, one of the founders of the White Helmets died a few days ago, the organization whose involvement in producing fake videos on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria was uncovered several times.  And now there are hypotheses that this founder of the White Helmets in Syria did not die, but was rather killed.  What do you think of that? What happened in Istanbul?

President Assad:  In order not to look at this as an isolated case, we must look at it in the broader context of similar incidents.  The American billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was killed weeks ago; they said that he had committed suicide in prison.  He was killed because he had many important details and secrets about prominent figures in the American and British regimes, and possibly other countries as well.

One of the leading members of the White Helmets was killed in a German prison; they also claimed he committed suicide.  Now the main founder of the White Helmets is killed.  He was actually an officer and worked throughout his career with NATO, in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, and Lebanon, and later he founded the White Helmets in Syria. What is the link between the history of this individual and humanitarian work, which is supposedly the domain of the White Helmets, but you and I both know, that they are part of Al Qaeda.  If we take into account the killing of Bin Laden and recently al-Baghdadi, I believe these individuals were killed because they had important secrets and thus had become a burden; and since their role had expired, it was necessary to get rid of them.  Therefore, if we look at all these stories as parts of one panoramic picture, we cannot believe that they committed suicide or died a natural death.  All these names, and maybe others, were killed because their role had ended and it was necessary to bury their secrets with them.  Why were al-Baghdadi and Bin Laden killed?  Because were they to remain alive, there may have come a time or circumstance where they would have revealed the truth.  Maybe the founder of the White Helmets was writing his memoir and this is not acceptable.  These are all probabilities, but they are very likely probabilities, because the alternative is not convincing for me.

Intervention: So, you believe that Western intelligence agencies are behind the death of the former MI6 agent?

President Assad:  Of course, these are the acts of intelligence agencies, the question is which ones?  In general, when we refer to Western intelligence agencies, including the Turkish and some other intelligence agencies in our region, we know that they are not run by independent states.  Rather, they are branches of the main intelligence agency, the CIA; this is the reality.  They all work under the orders of one master in coordination and in harmony with one another.  So, there is a high probability that the Turkish intelligence carried out the hit under instructions from foreign intelligence agencies.  Once again, these are probabilities, but this is the nature of relations among Western intelligence agencies or those working with them.

Question 16:  Mr. President, the constitutional committee has started its work in Geneva. Do you think that its work will be useful? And does Damascus have red lines if crossed by proposals of this committee that would be unacceptable?

President Assad:  There is an attempt to portray that the solution to the war in Syria will come about as a result of the constitutional committee.  The war did not start because of a disagreement or a division over the constitution.  The war in Syria started because there were acts of terrorism which killed members of the military, the police, and civilians and also destroyed public and other properties.  So, the war ends when terrorism ends.  There was a parallel political track through which America wanted to propose the idea of a transitional body.  This idea was rejected by us in Syria and by all countries that believe in international law.  Consequently, the Sochi talks began and created the constitutional committee.  The constitutional committee discusses the constitution; and for us, the constitution, like any other text, should be revised and amended in accordance with new developments in Syria; it is not a holy text.  We had no problem with this, and so, we continued along with this track.

However, in order not to be over optimistic and make unrealistic propositions, we must explain the structure of this constitutional committee.  It has three parties; one representing the viewpoint of the Syrian government, one representing civil society – which has different viewpoints, and the third party is appointed by Turkey.  So, imagine that you, as Russians, want to amend the Russian constitution, and you’re told that one of the parties in the committee mandated with this task is appointed by foreign countries.  You would not only reject that proposition, but you would also deem it as reckless and at odds with logic and reality.  This is what happened in the constitutional committee. We are negotiating with a party appointed by the Turkish government, which of course means America; the front is Turkey, but this is a de facto position.

In order to expect results from this committee, every one of its members should have their allegiance to the Syrian people, they cannot belong to a foreign state and publicly declare their allegiance to it.  Will they be allowed to be genuine Syrians?  Can anyone who belongs to another state come back and belong to his homeland?  I don’t want to give an answer, but I think these are logical questions that everyone watching this interview will have logical answers to.

Question 17: Mr. President, during the war, and a result of the sanctions, the Syrian economy has been greatly affected. And now there is a lot of talk about corruption. What are the reforms and changes to the economy which you intend to make in the near future? And are there mechanisms in place to support the national currency?

President Assad:  Strengthening the economy first needs modern and developed investment laws. I referred to this aspect earlier and mentioned that we are in the process of upgrading these laws.  You touched on fighting corruption in your question and this is an important aspect, whether it is to strengthen the economy, to enforce the law or to support the Syrian Pound; these are all interrelated.  We started fighting corruption many years ago and this is ongoing and at an accelerated pace, especially with the discovery of a number of corruption cases.  This is expected, because war creates chaos, and chaos is a very good environment for terrorism, on the one hand, and corruption, on the other.  We are moving forward in enforcing the law.

However, fighting corruption and strengthening the economy also need new laws.  The gaps that are related to the weakness of the economy, on the one hand, and to widespread corruption, on the other, are due to the weakness inherent in our laws.  Almost a year ago, we created a committee of legal experts tasked with developing the laws in order to close the gaps which allow for corruption.  This in itself supports the Syrian Pound while at the same time encouraging investment, because they are both interrelated.  Our policy is not one of speculation; it is a policy which aims to create a strong economy, which in itself would support the national currency.

Question 18: Mr. President, in the countries neighboring Syria, there are demonstrations against governments, mainly in Lebanon and Iraq, and last August there were demonstrations in the Jordanian capital of Amman.  Doesn’t that remind you of the start of the unrest in Syria in 2011? What is your take on that?  Who has an interest in what is happening?  And what are the initial objectives of this?

President Assad:  No, they are not similar to what happened in Syria.  What happened in Syria in the beginning was that money was paid – and this is documented – to groups of people to come out and demonstrate.  There were a few that demonstrated because they wanted changes in particular areas, but this was not the general situation.  The killing started from the early days.  There were shootings, which means that the demonstrations were not spontaneous.  The money was available, and the weapons ready, so, we cannot liken this situation with those in other countries.

Certainly, if these demonstrations in a number of neighboring countries are spontaneous and genuinely express a national desire to improve political, economic, and other conditions, then to do so, they must remain patriotic.  Countries which interfere with everything throughout the world, like America and the West, and particularly Britain and France and others, will certainly take advantage of this situation in order to play a role and push things in a direction that serves their interests.  The most important thing is that they [the demonstrations] remain within a national framework.  If they do, the results will surely be positive, because they express the will of the people in these countries.  But if there is foreign interference, it will certainly be against the interests of the homeland.  This is what we have known and experienced clearly in Syria.  That’s why I hope that these movements are a genuine driver towards improvement within all sectors and at all levels.

Question 19:  Mr. President, the last question, which might be a little personal. We know very well that you like driving cars; and every citizen in your country knows that you prefer to drive your car by yourself.  Now, the largest part of Syria has become free from war, and that’s why the roads have become safer.  Does your security detail have less work during your movements now?  And have you seen, by yourself, the positive changes in the country while driving your car, particularly that not every head of state drives their own car?

President Assad:  I have been doing this since my first day in office, I haven’t changed my nature.  I would like to stress an important point, which is that my security detail hasn’t changed before or during the war.  It has remained the same. We haven’t introduced any additional measures, neither in relation to driving a car nor with regards to the security motorcade.  They remain the same, because one of the objectives of the terrorists and those who support them, and the psychological pressure as a consequence, was to create a state of terror in Syria.  So, when officials feel afraid, citizens must feel afraid too; this is one aspect.

The other is not related to the war.  I drive my car because I don’t like the trappings of the position; this is my nature.  I’m self-dependent, I have always driven my car and that hasn’t changed.  I prefer to let my personality dictate the position rather than allow the trappings of power to dictate who I am.  This has always been my principle: before and during the war, and it will not change.  Neither terrorism nor anything else will succeed in changing my nature and my relationship with people.

As to its impact on people, I believe that every citizen in any country in the world likes their officials to be natural and not superficial, to be spontaneous without show and spectacle.  I believe that this is one of the strengths of any official who cares about his relationship with people, and who likes to be as close to them as possible.  An official cannot exaggerate and claim to live a completely normal life, but at the same time they should not separate themselves from people, otherwise they would lose this relationship.  This is one of the many aspects which connect me to the Syrian people.

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you for your candid answers.  We wish you all the best.  Thank you.

President Assad:  Thank you, I am very happy to meet you.  I would like, through you, to convey my warm regards to the friendly and brotherly Russian people.  Today, we don’t just have shared familial ties, as was the case in previous decades, we have also shed blood in our joint confrontation with terrorism.  Thanks again.

Journalist: Thank you

Adapted by the Syrian News Agency (SANA)

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US Is the Source of, Not “Solution” to Syrian War


Global Research, November 12, 2019

After the supposed US “withdrawal” from Syria – Western media outlets have causally reported on US troops now preparing to occupy Syria’s oilfields east of the Euphrates River.

Articles include carefully selected “experts” who avoid any mention of how illegal or indefensible the presence of US forces in Syria is to begin with, let alone any mention of “why” US troops are preparing to “claim” Syria’s natural resources.

The Guardian in its piece, “US plans to send tanks to Syria oil fields, reversing Trump troop withdrawal – reports,” illustrates a voluntary dereliction of due diligence in investigating or questioning Western actions in Syria.

One is left to assume what the US would claim as its excuse for remaining in Syria – likely based on a narrative of denying terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda or the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) and their affiliates access to resources to “fund” their return to the region.

The most obvious and sustainable solution would be to transfer control of Syria’s oilfields to Syria itself. Syria has overcome terrorist organizations in all areas Damascus has now restored order to, and with the restoration of its oilfields and related industries, would be in an even better position to both rebuild the nation and defend against the very elements who destroyed it in the first place.

But this assumes that the US is interested in preventing the resurgence of terrorist organizations in the region – ignoring the fact that the US deliberately created them in the first place and deliberately used them to both trigger, then fuel the Syrian war from its very beginning in 2011.

The US is the Source of Syria’s War 

As early as 2007, real journalists warned of US plans to bolster opposition groups linked to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda in a bid to undermine Iran and its ally Syria.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” would provide an ominous, but crystal-clear warning of what awaited both Syria and the wider region.

Hersh would warn:

The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

The article would mention the Muslim Brotherhood by name and described specific US support under what was then the Bush administration already being funnelled to the group in Syria.

The Brotherhood is an extremist front with direct ties to Al Qaeda and who were at the epicenter of the supposed “Arab Spring” in 2011. From 2011 onward – then under the Obama administration – US support continued in the form of both financial and military aid.

Articles like the New York Time’s, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” would admit to billions of dollars worth of arms from the US flowing into Syria to fuel the destructive war.

Despite Western media claims that the Syrian conflict was being fought between the government and “moderate rebels,” the US State Department itself admitted that within the first year of fighting, Al Qaeda had already established a dominate position on the battlefield.

In an official statement on the State Department’s own website designating Al Qaeda affiliate – al-Nusra – a foreign terrorist organization, it was admitted:

Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.

If the US and its allies were providing billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment to “moderate rebels,” who provided al-Nusra with even more weapons and equipment enabling it to dominate the battlefield?

The US – as it has done in virtually all other wars of aggression abroad – simply lied about the nature of those it was arming – having from the beginning and just as journalists like Seymour Hersh warned – deliberately armed and aided extremists to wage a proxy war of regime change against Syria.

Arsonists, Not Firefighters 

Nothing the US has done in regards to Syria has amounted to genuine efforts to end the conflict. Throughout the conflict the US continued to adjust its war propaganda to justify first its invasion and occupation of eastern Syria to “fight ISIS” – then to incrementally move toward justifying a direct US military intervention against the Syrian government itself with troops “serendipitously” already staged inside Syrian territory.

From 2015 onward in the wake of Russia’s intervention – direct US military intervention was taken off the table and the US occupation confined to eastern Syria where its unsustainable narrative regarding a Syrian “Kurdistan” withered.

Today – we find a US still attempting to justify its illegal and indefensible occupation of Syrian territory. Syria and its allies have attempted to provide Washington with a host of face-saving opportunities to withdraw and allow the conflict to finally end – returning peace and stability to the nation of Syria and its people.

The US continues to pose as part of a “solution” to the very Syrian crisis journalists like Seymour Hersh as early as 2007 revealed the US had deliberately engineered.

Just as an unrepentant arsonist would not be involved in efforts to extinguish the fire they started – the US cannot be involved in efforts to resolve a conflict it itself started – nor is the US at this point demonstrating any genuine desire to end the conflict.

Squatting on Syrian oilfields is yet another intentional tactic being used to draw the Syrian war out even longer – impeding the Syrian state’s access to its own resources needed to fuel the country and fund reconstruction.

Far from firefighters, the US is an unrepentant arsonist blocking firefighters from doing their job. US foreign policy has become so overtly malign that the Western media is unable to even address basic questions such as “why” the US is remaining in Syria – and doing so amid Syria’s oilfields.

Just as has been the case throughout the Syrian war, US machinations will be defeated by Syria and its allies patiently creating conditions on the ground in which current US policies are no longer tenable forcing Washington to fall back further still.

In the meantime, continued efforts to expose the truth of this war’s genesis and to prevent those who were responsible for it from attempting to prolong it further by posing as “peacemakers” and “protectors” is essential. If the US wants to pose as “peacemakers” and “protectors,” Syria and its allies may allow them to do so only to save face amid their total and otherwise unconditional departure from Syria.


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Tony Cartalucci is a Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from InfoRos

انكشاف «الهندسة» الخارجيّة التي تتلاعب بالحراك اللبناني!

نوفمبر 5, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

تذهب معلومات كثيرة مع القليل من الشائعات نحو اتهام أحزاب داخلية بالتسلل الى الحراك الشعبي وتحويله آلية لتخفيف هيمنتها الداخلية ودعم النفوذ الاميركي في لبنان.

كان هذا الكلام مرفوضاً من معظم القيادات الميدانية والفعلية للتظاهرات ويزعم أنه مجرد تحرك وطني طبقي يسعى لمعاقبة الفساد السياسي والإصلاح ومنع الانهيار. وهذا يتطلب اقالة المؤسسات الدستورية الثلاث أي رئاسات الجمهورية والنواب والحكومة بما يشمل ايضاً مجلس النواب بنوابه الـ 128 ومجلس الوزراء بكامل عدته الوزارية.

ما طرأ على هذا التقييم انبثاق تحليل جديد للقيادات الميدانية والحقيقية للمتظاهرين تجهر فيه بأن أحزاب الكتائب الذي يترأسه سامي الجميل والتقدمي الاشتراكي لرئيسه وليد جنبلاط والقوات اللبنانية لسمير جعجع، هذه الأحزاب تتلاعب بالحراك وتسعى لتحويله أداة في خدمة مشاريعها الداخلية والخارجية.

لم تصدر هذه الاتهامات عن فئات شعبية من المتظاهرين بل من قياداته الأكثر نفوذاً والذين وصفوا حلف جعجع – جنبلاط – الكتائب بأنه مناهض لمصلحة المتظاهرين واضعاً نفسه في خدمة الخارج. وهذه توضيحات قالتها هذه القيادات على شاشات التلفزة بما يدحض إمكانية تكذيبها. واضافت هذا الحلف تنظيمات إسلاموية متطرفة تسيطر على خط قطع الطرقات من مدينة خلدة صيدا وداخل مدينة طرابلس.

للتوضيح، فإن قطع الطرقات عند الخط الجنوبي مرتبط بموافقة وليد جنبلاط الذي تسيطر جماعاته عليه، وبتأييد رئيس الحكومة المستقيل الذي تواليه بعض الفئات المدفوعة الأجر من عرب المسلخ وجهات الناعمة والمتورطين من بلدة برجا والمحيط.

أما الجهة المتضرّرة من إقفال هذه الطريق الحيوية فتزيد عن نصف مليون نسمة من اهالي الجنوب التي يعبرونها صباح ومساء كل يوم لتلبية أعمالهم في العاصمة والعودة الى قراهم مساء. هذا بالإضافة الى اهالي صيدا والإقليم والشوف.

هناك ما هو مضمرٌ في إقفال طريق الجنوب، وله علاقة بكونه الخط الوحيد الذي يربط «المقاومة اللبنانية» بمناطقها المتاخمة للعدو الإسرائيلي في فلسطين المحتلة بما يكشف ان الاقفال المتواتر لهذه الطريق يُخفض من ارتباط المقاومة بأهلها ومداها الجغرافي الاساسي والاستراتيجي، فهل هذا مقصود؟

بالطبع ما دام ان قادة التظاهر اعترفوا بأن حلف جنبلاط جعجع – الجميل يعمل في خدمة الخارج هو الغرب، وبالتالي «إسرائيل»، لذلك لم يكتم هذا الحلف رغبته بافتعال قتال داخلي بين مقاومة تريد فتح خطوط أهلها الحياتية ومقوماتها الدفاعية الجهادية وبين فئات تقفل الطرقات، علماً ان بعض هؤلاء ينتمون الى تنظيمات إسلامية متطرفة، يصرون على إقفال هذه الطريق والاعتداء على المدنيين ولوجستيات حزب الله لافتعال فتن مذهبية. هناك دليل بسيط وهو ان قائد المجموعة التي تقفل طريق خلدة هو شيخ معمّم ينتمي الى الاخوان المسلمين ومعه ملتحون من أحزاب إسلامية أكثر تطرفاً فيما ينتشر مقاتلو حزب جنبلاط ومؤيدوه على خطوط الدامور والجية وسبلين، حيث مصالح جنبلاط الاقتصادية في الغاز والنفط والترابة.

أما لجهة الطريق من الرينغ وحتى مشارف البحصاص شمالاً فتسيطر عليها مجموعات جعجع بفرق صغيرة تقطع طرقاتها وتعطل أعمال الناس ومصالحهم.

لكن مدينة طرابلس تحتفظ بخصوصياتها بما يسمح لقادة الحراك الأصلي من بيروت، بأن قلة فقط تشكل جزءاً من الحراك الاجتماعي الفعلي فيما تنتمي الغالبية منها الى مجموعات إسلامية متطرفة قريبة من داعش والاخوان والنصرة وإلى جانب بعض مؤيدي الحريري من المستقبل وميقاتي الداعم بشرياً ومادياً، يكفي أن هناك بضعة آلاف من النازحين السوريين يشتركوا في الحراك مقابل عشرين دولاراً على الفرد الواحد وعشرة دولارات للطعام يومياً.

للمزيد من الإضاءة في القائد الميداني والمخطط والملهم هو النائب السابق مصطفى علوش المكلف بتحويل الحراك الى هيئة شاتمة لحزب الله والرئيس ميشال عون.

إن هذه المعلومات مستقاة من قيادة الحراك في بيروت التي تؤكد أن ساحتي رياض الصلح والشهداء هما الميدان الفعلي للتحرك الوطني الطبقي المصرّ على تشكيل هيئة وطنية كبرى تدعم صدور قرار رسمي باستفتاء على قانون انتخابات جديد ومدني، هي التي تنتج السلطات التي يتعيّن عليها معاقبة الفاسدين وسارقي المال العام وناهبي أملاك الدولة والجمارك والموازنات والقروض، للتوضيح فإن ساحات هذا الحراك تجمع اللبنانيين الحياديين المتحرّكين لإصلاحات اقتصادية واجتماعية وسياسية إضافة الى الموالين لأحزاب الشيوعي وحركة الشعب نجاح واكيم والسوري القومي الاجتماعي واليساريين السابقين والجمعيات الجديدة حتى أن هناك حضوراً لحزب البعث ومشاركة كثيفة للتنظيمات الناصرية.

لذلك ومع كشف قيادات الحراك الفعلي لتورط الاحزاب اللبنانية في حرف التحرك عن أهدافه الحقيقية يمكن القول إن مرحلة جديدة بدأت من عمر انتفاضة فعلية لن تسكت حتى تحقيق مطالبها في العدالة الاجتماعية والاقتصادية وتحرير السياسة من الطائفية والهيمنة الخارجية عليها.

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The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won

The Road to Damascus: How the Syria War was Won

October 18, 2019

by Pepe Escobar : posted with permission and crossposted with Consortium News

What is happening in Syria, following yet another Russia-brokered deal, is a massive geopolitical game-changer. I’ve tried to summarize it in a single paragraph this way:

“It’s a quadruple win. The U.S. performs a face saving withdrawal, which Trump can sell as avoiding a conflict with NATO ally Turkey. Turkey has the guarantee – by the Russians – that the Syrian Army will be in control of the Turkish-Syrian border. Russia prevents a war escalation and keeps the Russia-Iran-Turkey peace process alive.  And Syria will eventually regain control of the entire northeast.”

Syria may be the biggest defeat for the CIA since Vietnam.

Yet that hardly begins to tell the whole story.

Allow me to briefly sketch in broad historical strokes how we got here.

It began with an intuition I felt last month at the tri-border point of Lebanon, Syria and Occupied Palestine; followed by a subsequent series of conversations in Beirut with first-class Lebanese, Syrian, Iranian, Russian, French and Italian analysts; all resting on my travels in Syria since the 1990s; with a mix of selected bibliography in French available at Antoine’s in Beirut thrown in.

The Vilayets

Let’s start in the 19thcentury when Syria consisted of six vilayets — Ottoman provinces — without counting Mount Lebanon, which had a special status since 1861 to the benefit of Maronite Christians and Jerusalem, which was a sanjak (administrative division) of Istanbul.

The vilayets did not define the extremely complex Syrian identity: for instance, Armenians were the majority in the vilayet of Maras, Kurds in Diyarbakir – both now part of Turkey in southern Anatolia – and the vilayets of Aleppo and Damascus were both Sunni Arab.

Nineteenth century Ottoman Syria was the epitome of cosmopolitanism. There were no interior borders or walls. Everything was inter-dependent.

Ethnic groups in the Balkans and Asia Minor, early 20th Century, Historical Atlas, 1911.

Then the Europeans, profiting from World War I, intervened. France got the Syrian-Lebanese littoral, and later the vilayets of Maras and Mosul (today in Iraq). Palestine was separated from Cham (the “Levant”), to be internationalized. The vilayet of Damascus was cut in half: France got the north, the Brits got the south. Separation between Syria and the mostly Christian Lebanese lands came later.

There was always the complex question of the Syria-Iraq border. Since antiquity, the Euphrates acted as a barrier, for instance between the Cham of the Umayyads and their fierce competitors on the other side of the river, the Mesopotamian Abbasids.

James Barr, in his splendid “A Line in the Sand,” notes, correctly, that the Sykes-Picot agreement imposed on the Middle East the European conception of territory: their “line in the sand” codified a delimited separation between nation-states. The problem is, there were no nation-states in region in the early 20thcentury.

The birth of Syria as we know it was a work in progress, involving the Europeans, the Hashemite dynasty, nationalist Syrians invested in building a Greater Syria including Lebanon, and the Maronites of Mount Lebanon. An important factor is that few in the region lamented losing dependence on Hashemite Medina, and except the Turks, the loss of the vilayet of Mosul in what became Iraq after World War I.

In 1925, Sunnis became the de facto prominent power in Syria, as the French unified Aleppo and Damascus. During the 1920s France also established the borders of eastern Syria. And the Treaty of Lausanne, in 1923, forced the Turks to give up all Ottoman holdings but didn’t keep them out of the game.

Turkish borders according to the Treaty of Lausanne, 1923.

The Turks soon started to encroach on the French mandate, and began blocking the dream of Kurdish autonomy. France in the end gave in: the Turkish-Syrian border would parallel the route of the fabled Bagdadbahn — the Berlin-Baghdad railway.

In the 1930s France gave in even more: the sanjak of Alexandretta (today’s Iskenderun, in Hatay province, Turkey), was finally annexed by Turkey in 1939 when only 40 percent of the population was Turkish.

The annexation led to the exile of tens of thousands of Armenians. It was a tremendous blow for Syrian nationalists. And it was a disaster for Aleppo, which lost its corridor to the Eastern Mediterranean.

Turkish forces under entered Alexandretta on July 5, 1938.

To the eastern steppes, Syria was all about Bedouin tribes. To the north, it was all about the Turkish-Kurdish clash. And to the south, the border was a mirage in the desert, only drawn with the advent of Transjordan. Only the western front, with Lebanon, was established, and consolidated after WWII.

This emergent Syria — out of conflicting Turkish, French, British and myriad local interests —obviously could not, and did not, please any community. Still, the heart of the nation configured what was described as “useful Syria.” No less than 60 percent of the nation was — and remains — practically void. Yet, geopolitically, that translates into “strategic depth” — the heart of the matter in the current war.

From Hafez to Bashar

Starting in 1963, the Baath party, secular and nationalist, took over Syria, finally consolidating its power in 1970 with Hafez al-Assad, who instead of just relying on his Alawite minority, built a humongous, hyper-centralized state machinery mixed with a police state. The key actors who refused to play the game were the Muslim Brotherhood, all the way to being massacred during the hardcore 1982 Hama repression.

Secularism and a police state: that’s how the fragile Syrian mosaic was preserved. But already in the 1970s major fractures were emerging: between major cities and a very poor periphery; between the “useful” west and the Bedouin east; between Arabs and Kurds. But the urban elites never repudiated the iron will of Damascus: cronyism, after all, was quite profitable.

Damascus interfered heavily with the Lebanese civil war since 1976 at the invitation of the Arab League as a “peacekeeping force.” In Hafez al-Assad’s logic, stressing the Arab identity of Lebanon was essential to recover Greater Syria. But Syrian control over Lebanon started to unravel in 2005, after the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, very close to Saudi Arabia, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) eventually left.

Bashar al-Assad had taken power in 2000. Unlike his father, he bet on the Alawites to run the state machinery, preventing the possibility of a coup but completely alienating himself from the poor, Syrian on the street.

What the West defined as the Arab Spring, began in Syria in March 2011; it was a revolt against the Alawites as much  as a revolt against Damascus. Totally instrumentalized by the foreign interests, the revolt sprang up in extremely poor, dejected Sunni peripheries: Deraa in the south, the deserted east, and the suburbs of Damascus and Aleppo.

Protest in Damascus, April 24, 2011. (syriana2011/Flickr)

What was not understood in the West is that this “beggars banquet” was not against the Syrian nation, but against a “regime.” Jabhat al-Nusra, in a P.R. exercise, even broke its official link with al-Qaeda and changed its denomination to Fatah al-Cham and then Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (“Organization for the Liberation of the Levant”). Only ISIS/Daesh said they were fighting for the end of Sykes-Picot.

By 2014, the perpetually moving battlefield was more or less established: Damascus against both Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS/Daesh, with a wobbly role for the Kurds in the northeast, obsessed in preserving the cantons of Afrin, Kobane and Qamichli.

But the key point is that each katiba (“combat group”), each neighborhood, each village, and in fact each combatant was in-and-out of allegiances non-stop. That yielded a dizzying nebulae of jihadis, criminals, mercenaries, some linked to al-Qaeda, some to Daesh, some trained by the Americans, some just making a quick buck.

For instance Salafis — lavishly financed by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — especially Jaish al-Islam, even struck alliances with the PYD Kurds in Syria and the jihadis of Hayat Tahrir al-Cham (the remixed, 30,000-strong  al-Qaeda in Syria). Meanwhile, the PYD Kurds (an emanation of the Turkish Kurds’ PKK, which Ankara consider “terrorists”) profited from this unholy mess — plus a deliberate ambiguity by Damascus – to try to create their autonomous Rojava.

A demonstration in the city of Afrin in support of the YPG against the Turkish invasion of Afrin, Jan. 19, 2018. (Voice of America Kurdish, Wikimedia Commons)

That Turkish Strategic Depth

Turkey was all in. Turbo-charged by the neo-Ottoman politics of former Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the logic was to reconquer parts of the Ottoman empire, and get rid of Assad because he had helped PKK Kurdish rebels in Turkey.

Davutoglu’s Strategik Derinlik (“Strategic Depth’), published in 2001, had been a smash hit in Turkey, reclaiming the glory of eight centuries of an sprawling empire, compared to puny 911 kilometers of borders fixed by the French and the Kemalists. Bilad al Cham, the Ottoman province congregating Lebanon, historical Palestine, Jordan and Syria, remained a powerful magnet in both the Syrian and Turkish unconscious.

No wonder Turkey’s Recep Erdogan was fired up: in 2012 he even boasted he was getting ready to pray in the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, post-regime change, of course. He has been gunning for a safe zone inside the Syrian border — actually a Turkish enclave — since 2014. To get it, he has used a whole bag of nasty players — from militias close to the Muslim Brotherhood to hardcore Turkmen gangs.

With the establishment of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), for the first time Turkey allowed foreign weaponized groups to operate on its own territory. A training camp was set up in 2011 in the sanjakof Alexandretta. The Syrian National Council was also created in Istanbul – a bunch of non-entities from the diaspora who had not been in Syria for decades.

Ankara enabled a de facto Jihad Highway — with people from Central Asia, Caucasus, Maghreb, Pakistan, Xinjiang, all points north in Europe being smuggled back and forth at will. In 2015, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha set up the dreaded Jaish al-Fath (“Army of Conquest”), which included Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda).

At the same time, Ankara maintained an extremely ambiguous relationship with ISIS/Daesh, buying its smuggled oil, treating jihadis in Turkish hospitals, and paying zero attention to jihad intel collected and developed on Turkish territory. For at least five years, the MIT — Turkish intelligence – provided political and logistic background to the Syrian opposition while weaponizing a galaxy of Salafis. After all, Ankara believed that ISIS/Daesh only existed because of the “evil” deployed by the Assad regime.

The Russian Factor

Russian President Vladiimir Putin meeting with President of Turkey Recep Erdogan; Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov standing in background, Ankara, Dec. 1, 2014 Ankara. (Kremlin)

The first major game-changer was the spectacular Russian entrance in the summer of 2015. Vladimir Putin had asked the U.S. to join in the fight against the Islamic State as the Soviet Union allied against Hitler, negating the American idea that this was Russia’s bid to restore its imperial glory. But the American plan instead, under Barack Obama, was single-minded: betting on a rag-tag Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mix of Kurds and Sunni Arabs, supported by air power and U.S. Special Forces, north of the Euphrates, to smash ISIS/Daesh all the way to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.

Raqqa, bombed to rubble by the Pentagon, may have been taken by the SDF, but Deir ez-Zor was taken by Damascus’s Syrian Arab Army. The ultimate American aim was to consistently keep the north of the Euphrates under U.S. power, via their proxies, the SDF and the Kurdish PYD/YPG. That American dream is now over, lamented by imperial Democrats and Republicans alike.

The CIA will be after Trump’s scalp till Kingdom Come.

Kurdish Dream Over

Talk about a cultural misunderstanding. As much as the Syrian Kurds believed U.S. protection amounted to an endorsement of their independence dreams, Americans never seemed to understand that throughout the “Greater Middle East” you cannot buy a tribe. At best, you can rent them. And they use you according to their interests. I’ve seen it from Afghanistan to Iraq’s Anbar province.

The Kurdish dream of a contiguous, autonomous territory from Qamichli to Manbij is over. Sunni Arabs living in this perimeter will resist any Kurdish attempt at dominance.

The Syrian PYD was founded in 2005 by PKK militants. In 2011, Syrians from the PKK came from Qandil – the PKK base in northern Iraq – to build the YPG militia for the PYD. In predominantly Arab zones, Syrian Kurds are in charge of governing because for them Arabs are seen as a bunch of barbarians, incapable of building their “democratic, socialist, ecological and multi-communitarian” society.

Kurdish PKK guerillas In Kirkuk, Iraq. (Kurdishstruggle via Flickr)

One can imagine how conservative Sunni Arab tribal leaders hate their guts. There’s no way these tribal leaders will ever support the Kurds against the SAA or the Turkish army; after all these Arab tribal leaders spent a lot of time in Damascus seeking support from Bashar al-Assad.  And now the Kurds themselves have accepted that support in the face of the Trukish incursion, greenlighted by Trump.

East of Deir ez-Zor, the PYD/YPG already had to say goodbye to the region that is responsible for 50 percent of Syria’s oil production. Damascus and the SAA now have the upper hand. What’s left for the PYD/YPG is to resign themselves to Damascus’s and Russian protection against Turkey, and the chance of exercising sovereignty in exclusively Kurdish territories.

Ignorance of the West

The West, with typical Orientalist haughtiness, never understood that Alawites, Christians, Ismailis and Druze in Syria would always privilege Damascus for protection compared to an “opposition” monopolized by hardcore Islamists, if not jihadis.  The West also did not understand that the government in Damascus, for survival, could always count on formidable Baath party networks plus the dreaded mukhabarat — the intel services.

Rebuilding Syria

The reconstruction of Syria may cost as much as $200 billion. Damascus has already made it very clear that the U.S. and the EU are not welcome. China will be in the forefront, along with Russia and Iran; this will be a project strictly following the Eurasia integration playbook — with the Chinese aiming to revive Syria’s strategic positioning in the Ancient Silk Road.

As for Erdogan, distrusted by virtually everyone, and a tad less neo-Ottoman than in the recent past, he now seems to have finally understood that Bashar al-Assad “won’t go,” and he must live with it. Ankara is bound to remain imvolved with Tehran and Moscow, in finding a comprehensive, constitutional solution for the Syrian tragedy through the former “Astana process”, later developed in Ankara.

The war may not have been totally won, of course. But against all odds, it’s clear a unified, sovereign Syrian nation is bound to prevail over every perverted strand of geopolitical molotov cocktails concocted in sinister NATO/GCC labs. History will eventually tell us that, as an example to the whole Global South, this will remain the ultimate game-changer.


سورية قرّرت ولم تعقد تفاهمات… فرض الدور بالقوة


أكتوبر 14, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– خلافاً لما يقرأه الكثيرون في تسلسل الأحداث، فالذي حَدَث هو أن الرئيس السوري الدكتور بشار الأسد منذ بداية العدوان التركي أصدر أوامره بالاستعداد للجيش العربي السوري للتوجّه شمالاً ووضع الخطط والترتيبات وقراءة الميدان والخرائط واختيار الأماكن. وجيش محترف كالجيش السوري يملك في أرشيفه المعدّ سلفاً عشرات المشاريع والبدائل لكل فرضيّة والذي حدث أن الرئيس الأسد أبلغ الحليفين الروسي والإيراني قراره بردّ العدوان، مهما كان الثمن، فتلك مسؤولية الدولة السورية عن حفظ سيادتها وحماية وحدتها وعن أبنائها وأرضها. وأبلغت القيادة السورية لقيادة قسد بواسطة الروس والإيرانيين ومباشرة بالقرار السوري، وبأن مَن يقف بوجه الجيش السوري سيعامَل بالسلاح المناسب، والجيش السوري لن يطلب تفاهمات تتيح له الدخول إلى أي أرض سورية. فمن يعتبر أنه سوري مدعوّ للوقوف خلف الجيش السوري. أما السياسة فلها مستويات أخرى، لكنها ليست موضوعاً قابلاً للمقايضة في موازاة قضيتي وحدة سورية وسيادتها.

– وفقاً لهذه الصورة فقط يمكن قراءة ما يجري منذ ساعات مساء أمس، في الشمال السوري، القرار سوري والمبادرة سورية. والاحتضان من الحليفين الروسي والإيراني بدأ منذ تبلّغ الحليفان بالقرار، بالإعلان عن لا شرعية ما سُمّي بالعملية التركية الحدودية، وببدء الاتصالات بالقيادات الكردية والتركية للتحذير من عواقب التصادم مع الجيش السوري عندما يبدأ بالتحرّك في الميدان، نحو الحدود الشمالية، وتوجيه النصائح بالذهاب للتفاهم مع الدولة السورية، تحت سقوف واضحة، وحدة سورية وسيادتها خط أحمر، وعنوانهما انتشار الجيش السوري في كل الأراضي السورية. وأبدى الحليفان الروسي والإيراني الاستعداد للتوسط مع الدولة السورية لبدء مفاوضات تحت هذه السقوف، وتحديد المطلوب من القيادة الكردية إعلان عدم التورّط في مشروع انفصالي، أي إعلان حل الكانتون والترحيب بالجيش السوري وفتح باب السياسة بصورة منفصلة. والمطلوب من القيادة التركية اعتبار اتفاق أضنة إطاراً صالحاً لتنظيم الوضع عبر الحدود مع سورية وتحقيق المطلوب أمنياً، والترحيب بدخول الجيش السوري ووصوله إلى الحدود.

– الموقف العربي كان دون مستوى الحدّ الأدنى، ولا يستحق حتى المتابعة، لولا كلمة وزير الخارجية اللبنانية الذي وضع النقاط على الحروف، الخطوة الوحيدة التي قد يكون لها طعم ولون ورائحة، هي الاعتراف بخطأ إخراج سورية من الجامعة العربية والبدء بتصحيح الخطأ، بالتراجع عنه، لكن الموقف العربي تكشّف عن فضيحة، فهم يعلمون أن لحفظ وحدة وحماية سورية طريقاً واحدة وهي دعم الدولة السورية، وما عدا ذلك تنازع مع تركيا على إدارة الدويلة الانفصالية، بين دعم عربي أوروبي لدويلة كردية، ودعم تركي لدويلة عربية يقيمها الأخوان بقوة العدوان، ورغبة أميركية بتقاسم الدويلتين بين الفريقين وإدارة التقاسم بينهما في واشنطن، ويا لَلمهزلة عروبة تركية وعروبة كردية، وحكم أميركي.

– كما كل مرة سورية تبادر وتحسم وتفاجئ. الدولة والشعب والجيش والجامع المشترك رئيس شجاع ومبدئي وحاسم، وحلفاء أشداء صادقون، وكما تحرّرت حلب وبعدها دير الزور وتدمر والبادية والغوطة ودرعا، سيتحرّر شمال سورية غرباً وشرقاً ويعود العلم السوري وحده ليرفرف في سمائه.

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إيران والهجوم التركي على شمال سورية

أكتوبر 12, 2019

د حكم أمهز طهران

عندما يستخدم الاعلام الإيراني مصطلح الاعتداء التركي على شمال سورية، ندرك مباشرة حجم المخاوف لدى طهران من مخاطر عملية التوغل العسكرية التركية. لأن الإيراني لا ينظر الى الامن في المنطقة من منظور جزئي بل من منظور كلي، اي ان أمن المنطقة من امن إيران والعكس صحيح، لذا نجده دوماً حريصاً على طرح المبادرات العامة لا الجزئية، مثل، مبادرة معاهدة عدم الاعتداء في ما بين دول المنطقة التي تقدم بها وزير الخارجية محمد جواد ظريف، ومبادرة الأمل لأمن الملاحة في الخليج الفارسي التي عرضها بعده الرئيس حسن روحاني في الامم المتحدة والهادفة الى تشكيل مجموعة من دول المنطقة تشارك فيها الامم المتحدة.

لهذا كان موقف ظريف في المقابلة التي أجرتها معه صحيفة الرأي الكويتية الخميس، بأن الامن الاقليمي لا يمكن تفكيكه .

من هذا المنظور تتعامل إيران مع «الاعتداء» التركي على سورية، باعتبار مهدداً للاستقرار والامن في المنطقة، ويهدد بشكل مباشر سورية وسيادتها ووحدة اراضيها، باعتبار ان الاعتداء يستهدف منطقة شرق الفرات التي تعتبر أكثر من استراتيجية، ونقطة تضارب مصالح لدول متخاصمة ومتطاحنة، وأي اهتزاز فيها من وجهة نظر إيران، يمكن ان يعرقل دور محور المقاومة، ويهدد بعودة التكفيريين والارهابيين اليها، وصولاً الى مخاوف الصدام بين الجيشين التركي والسوري. وهذا ما يريده المشروع الصهيوأميركي. لا بل ان الاخطر في الموضوع، ان طهران التي تربطها علاقات جيدة مع تركيا، بالرغم من الاختلاف بشأن الملف السوري، وتشكل معها ثلاثياً ضامناً لاجتماعات استانة مع روسيا، ليس من مصلحتها ان يتضرر اردوغان في اللعبة الأميركية المخططة للمنطقة، حتى لا يصيبه ما اصاب صدام حسين عندما اوحى الأميركيون له بقبولهم باجتياح الكويت، ثم جعلوا من ذلك مبرراً لضربه.

وقد قرأنا امس، في تغريدات الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب ما يوحي بذلك، فهو هدد اردوغان بتهديدات غير مفهومة المقصد، فتوعّده بعقوبات مالية قاسية،، وقال مغرداً، لدينا واحد من ثلاثة خيارات: إرسال الآلاف من القوات وتحقيق نصر عسكري، ضرب تركيا بشدة من الناحية المالية وعبر فرض عقوبات، أو التوسط في اتفاق بين تركيا والأكراد! . وبعد ذلك خرج مسؤول في الخارجية الأميركية وقال إن تركيا لم تتجاوز الخط الأحمر بعد، وان ترامب كلف دبلوماسيين للتوسط بين الطرفين لوقف إطلاق النار، وتوعده بالعواقب إن تجاوز هذا الخط.

ماذا يفهم من ذلك؟ هل ترامب لم يعط الضوء الاخضر لاردوغان؟، ام أنه يجعل من الهجوم مبرراً لتوجيه ضربة مالية قاسية لحليف استراتيجي لم يحن موعد استبداله بعد؟ بل يكتفي معه بـ فركة اذن فقط من خلال العقوبات المالية؟

ولماذ استفاق ترامب فجأة على هذه المواقف بعد ان اعلن الجمهوريون العمل على قرار لفرض عقوبات على تركيا، بحيث يواجه اردوغان ونظامه «عواقب وخيمة» بسبب الهجوم بلا رحمة على مَن وصفتهم بالحلفاء الأكراد في شمال سورية؟

هنا تدرك طهران أن من اولويات أميركا الحفاظ على العلاقات الاستراتيجية مع تركيا، لكنها تخشى من ان تقوم واشنطن، وعلى عادتها في بيع الحلفاء والشراء بهم، بازاحة اردوغان من المشهد، والإتيان ببدائل ذات ولاء كامل لواشنطن، لا سيما أن الأخيرة متهمة بالمشاركة في الانقلاب الفاشل عليه، في العام 2016. ومصدر الخشية هو المخطط الأميركي السعودي، الهادف للقضاء على مشروع الاخوان المسلمين في العالم، لمصلحة المشروع الوهابي السعودي، فاذا ما قضي على الاخوان، تخلو الساحة السنية للوهابية.

الصراع طاحن بين مشروع الاخوان الذي يقوده حاليا اردوغان ومشروع الوهابية الذي تقوده السعودية. والكل يدرك ان رؤوس الاخوان قطعت في غير دولة، بدءاً من عزل الاخوان في مصر من الحكم وسجنهم، مروراً بإقصاء الاخوان عن المشهد التونسي، وتقييدهم في المغرب، ومحاصرتهم في غزة، وضغطهم في قطر، وصولاً الى عزل الرئيس السوداني الاخواني عمر البشير بالرغم من انحيازه أخيراً للسعودية وارسال جيشه للقتال الى جانبها في اليمن. بمعنى انه كما يقول المثل: «لم يبق من العجرمة الا هذا المسّاس». أي انه لم يبق من قادة الاخوان الفاعلين، الا اردوغان، الذي يشكل رأس حربة هذا المشروع حالياً، فاذا ما سقط اردوغان انتهى مشروع الاخوان عملياً في العالم، وتسيّد المشروع الوهابي الخادم المطيع للأميركي والاسرائيلي، هنا لا نبرئ المشروع الاخواني ايضا، لكن نضيء على صراع بين مشروعين احدهما اقرب الى الأميركي الاسرئيلي .

من هنا كانت ردة فعل الخارجية الإيرانية غاضبة مستنكرة، داعية انقرة الى وقف الهجوم فوراً وإخراج قواتها من سورية، والعمل على تنفيذ اتفاق أضنة الذي يزيل المخاوف والقلق التركي… لأن طهران تدرك حجم خطر هذه العملية على تركيا اولاً، وعلى محور المقاومة ثانياً، باعتبار ان المنطقة المستهدفة تدخل في اطار جغرافية حركة المحور الممتدة من افغانستان الى إيران فالعراق وسورية ولبنان وفلسطين.. وهو بالنسبة لها، اهم من خط الحرير الصيني الذي يمرّ في تلك المنطقة ايضاً.

ولكن لا بد ان نشير الى ان من مصلحة طهران ايضا القضاء على القوات الانفصالية الكردية في سورية باعتبارها امتداداً للانفصاليين الاكراد في الداخلي الإيراني، مع التذكير بأن إرهابيي منظمة پیجاك الكردية الإيرانية الانفصالية، يتقلدون مناصب هامة وقيادية في التنظيمات الانفصالية الكردية في الداخل السوري.. وكذلك مصلحة الرباعي التركي السوري العراقي الإيراني وحتى مع الخماسي الروسي، انهاء الفكرة الكردية بالانفصال، لكون هذا الفريق الانفصالي يعتبر اسرائيل ثانية في المنطقة، بحسب خصومه.

وتدرك إيران ايضاً ان اجتياح تركيا للاراضي السورية، سيدخلها في حرب استنزاف على غير مستوى، بما يوصلها في النهاية الى الانسحاب تحت الضغط عاجلاً أم آجلا.. ولن يحميها الحزام الامني الذي تسعى لإنشائه على الحدود على غرار الحزام الامني الاسرائيلي في لبنان الذي ضم ميليشيات انطوان لحد التي تخلى عنها الاحتلال فور اندحاره عن ارض لبنان.

ستبذل إيران قصارى جهدها، لإنهاء الاعتداء العسكري التركي بأسرع وقت، بالتعاون مع الروسي، وستحاول طمأنة اردوغان الى وضعه السياسي والانتخابي لاحقاً لأن احد اهداف التوغل تعزيز شعبيته المهتزة، وتذكيره بمحاولة الانقلاب الفاشلة التي قيل بعد وقوعها، إن إيران لعبت دوراً هاماً في افشالها وإعادته الى السلطة، لان البديل كان أميركياً 100 بالمئة. وكذلك ستحاول مع روسيا وبالتنسيق مع الحكومة السورية، طمأنته، الى دوره في اي تسوية في سورية، من خلال حفظ حقوق تركيا على الحدود، وفي ضبط من يخاف منهم ويسميهم الارهابيين في الداخل السوري.

والا فان الاسرائيلي الداعم الأكبر للانفصاليين الاكراد، بدأ بتحريك الكونغرس والشارع الأميركي ضد ترامب لتحريضه على اردوغان، والتحريض خلال الحملات الانتخابية لدورة رئاسية ثانية، له أهميته الخاصة في الحسابات الداخلية الأميركية..

أيضاً ستسعى إيران الى إقناع مجلس سورية الديمقراطية ، بالعودة لحضن الدولة السورية، وتبديد هواجسه، مستفيدة من الدرس الذي تلقاه الاكراد، بتخلي أميركا عنهم وبيعهم اكثر من مرة سواء في سورية او العراق. لتؤكد لهم ان ليس هناك من حصن واقٍ لهم الا دولهم الأم، الوحيدة التي تحتضن دون ان تخوّن او تبيع أبناءها.

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قسد وأردوغان توأمان يتقاتلان


أكتوبر 11, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– يعتقد الرئيس التركي أنه يملك قوة راكمها خلال سنوات الحرب على سورية يجب أن تحجز له مكاناً في مستقبلها، وهي مجموعة من عشرات آلاف الأخوان المسلمين المنظمين في جيش عميل لتركيا/ وهو يباهي بذلك ويرفع العلم التركي ويقاتل تحت قيادة الجيش التركي، بما يعيد للذاكرة صورة جيش العميل أنطوان لحد الذي كان يمسك بالشريط الحدودي المحتل في جنوب لبنان قبل تحريره. ويرغب أردوغان ببناء شريط مثله يعيد إليه أعداداً من النازحين ويستولي على نفطه، كما طمحت إسرائيل بالاستيلاء على مياه نهر الليطاني في جنوب لبنان، وقوة الارتكاز التركية من السوريين تشبه الجماعات التي تستند إليها قسد الذين كانوا يرفعون الأعلام الأميركية ويباهون بتبعيتهم لواشنطن، ويقدمون هوية الكانتون الذي قاموا ببنائه على هويتهم الوطنية السورية. وبالمناسبة فعشرات الآلاف هنا وعشرات الآلاف هناك يختصرون عملياً ما سُمّي بـ الثورة السورية ذات يوم على ألسنة الأميركيين والأتراك، وهو الآن يتكشف عن مجموعة عملاء سوريين للأميركيين والأتراك يدفعون ثمن عمالتهم الغبية، أو يؤدون مترتبات عمالتهم الأشد غباءً.

– رغم أصوات القذائف وغارات الطيران، تبدو الأصوات الأعلى هي لتحذيرات متشابهة يطلقها أردوغان وقيادة قسد، ووجهة التحذير هي أوروبا، فالفريقان لا يراهنان على كسب الحرب عسكرياً، وقد أظهرت المواجهات الأولى فراراً متبادلاً من الميدان للجيش الأخواني الذي زجّ به أردوغان، ولجيش قسد، فقد أعمت العيون حياة الترف التي عاشها جيش الأخوان في فنادق تركيا، وفي ترف عائدات البلطجة التي أتاحها لهم أردوغان في مناطق تركية متعدّدة أدت إلى انتفاضات استهدفت النازحين السوريين في اسطمبول وغيرها. وبالمقابل وفي حياة لا تقل ترفاً عاشت جماعة قسد وفرضت الخوات على العرب والأكراد، ويزجّون في المعارك بالذين قاموا بتجنيدهم بالقوة خلال السنة الماضية، وليس خافياً أن عشرات الآبار المحاذية للحدود حفرتها جماعة قسد وجماعة أردوغان مقابل بعضهما البعض تربطها أنابيب تحت خط الحدود، يفرغ فيها جماعة قسد بالصهاريج نفط سورية المنهوب، ويعيد تحميله جماعة أردوغان من الجهة المقابلة لبيعه وتقاسم عائداته مع القسديين، والبنية الرئيسية في الفريقين لا تريد أن تحارب.

– الرهان على وصول الأصوات إلى اوروبا، ومَن يسبق يكسب الحرب، بقدر من القصف والصمود، والأصوات متشابهة. القسديون يلوّحون بخطر عودة داعش، وانهيار معسكر الهول وفرار السجناء إذا تواصل الهجوم التركي، وأردوغان يلوّح بدفع مئات آلاف النازحين السوريين نحو أوروبا، إذا بقيت تضغط وتهدّد بالعقوبات الموجّهة لتركيا دفاعاً عن قسد، وأوروبا الواقعة بين شاقوفي الابتزاز بتدفق النازحين وانفلات إرهابيي داعش، هي ما سيقرّر مستقبل الحرب، والفريقان متشابهان في لعبة الابتزاز، توأم من نصفين برأسين وجسد واحد.

لن يُسمح لأردوغان بالتوغل عميقاً، كي يبقى كابوس داعش نائماً، ولن يسمح لقسد بالحفاظ على الإمارة المستقلة كي لا يتدفق النازحون نحو أوروبا، وستبقى المبادرة للدولة السورية التي ستقرر ساعة صفر وحدها تكون فيها قد قلبت الطاولة فوق رأس الفريقين حماية للسوريين عرباً وأكراداً وأشوريين، وحماية للثروة السورية، التي يتقاسمها اللصوص عبر الحدود، وهي ساعة ليست بعيدة.

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