اتوار، 8 اپریل، 2012
Persian Gulf Kingdoms suffer freedom deficit
Interview with Omar Nashaba, editor of al-Akhbar Daily from the Lebanese capital city of Beirut, to further discuss the issue of the Istanbul conference by the Western, Saudi-backed anti-Assad forces.
The program also provides opinions of four additional guests, Turkish Journalist, Raghib Toran from Istanbul; strategic expert, Talib Ibrahim from the Syrian Capital city of Damascus; Republican Party activist, Kamal Naawash from Washington; political analyst, Salah Takleddine also from Beirut.
Do you think that this conference, --The Istanbul conference-shares the same common fate, if we may say, as the Tunis Conference?
Nashaba: I think it has a lot of points in common. However, the Tunis conference was the first conference that was a clear international declaration of international interference in internal Syrian affairs in a way that violates basic diplomatic rules and basic international law.
The interesting thing about this conference is that the tone, --I felt-of some speeches was higher and that was explained by some analysts, as because they --on the ground-the people, they support in Syria have been regressing, I mean their action is no longer as destructive as it was at the earlier stages.
I am not talking about the very, very early stages. Very, very early stages were and they still are some people in Syria, who have a true will for democratic reform and some changes that are very basic and that no one can disagree with.
In fact, President Assad himself is [has] talked about these demands and he actually recognized that there is a need for democratic reforms and these democratic reforms are under way.
They are a bit slow, it is true; the people have the right to protest that the reforms are slow, however these reforms are there.
I do not think that there is anyone in their full mind would actually consider that it is time to destroy everything in Syria, just because we have some demands that had not been met.
Let us give this a chance, the whole direction is and the whole direction that opposes these conferences. These conferences, the so-called friends of Syria that do now show any sign of true honest friendship, because true honest friendship is, to care about preserving the Syrian institutions.
Let me give an example, just briefly; let me give an example of services in Syria. We are living here in Lebanon; we [have] suffered from 17-year war that destroyed most of our institutions.
Most of the services are really not available to the citizens. In Syria you have basic medical services available to citizens, at low prices.
You have education services provided, you have electricity, you have better Internet connection and communication and telephone lines and mobile phones are better and cheaper than Lebanon.
You have basic services that are there and I think that if one really is a friend of Syria, one should preserve these institutions. How do you preserve them? By having a ceasefire, by stopping the smuggling of weapons into Syria and by calling for a dialogue and there are elections coming up.
I do not see who, in their right mind would actually stir up destruction of Syria as has been done in these conferences.
[In reply to Takleddine] I think it is an illusion, truly, I mean, we will discuss this further, but I think it is an illusion, because everything, all the givens, if you observe what is going on in Syria, if you listen to the Syrians, if you actually observe the facts, since it started in January, until today there was no scientific indication that this is a matter that is even close to the reality.
Dr. Nashaba, what do you think went on in Mr. Erdogan’s visit to Tehran, to Iran? What do you think Iran’s, message was to him?
Do you think that, as I asked earlier, was it suicidal [sic]?
Nashaba: Well, no. The answer is very clear, by the fact that Iran does not participate in the conference.
I think that it was an attempt by the Turks and by the Turkish diplomacy to [put] pressure on Iran to participate in the conference. I think-there were some leaks that Turkish diplomacy promised that they would tone down in order to allow the Iranians to step in.
Iran has a fundamental position and it is a position, related to its interests and to its regional politics [policies].
Now this is a very important matter and it is also linked in a … it is part of the arrangement, if I may say, between Iran and the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.
I think this is a matter that has been…, that they went over, and I think there were sometime, time issues that were discussed and some actual facts on the ground that were analyzed closely by the Iranians and by the Russians and the Chinese and based on that, they built [a] kind of strategy to deal with this issue on an international diplomatic level.
The fact that this has been going on for more than a year, a year and a couple of months and this trouble has been going on and the behavior of the regime and the fact that the regime was able to maintain its control, especially after the Baba Amr fell into the hands of the Syrian Army, showed a very important advantage to Iranian, Russian and Chinese policy in this region and also it reflected on international diplomacy.
The fact, also that is one element, there are several elements, I will mention only some of the most important elements. The fact that the Syrian army is united as the guest from Damascus just mentioned. There are only individual deserters.
There is no regiment, or large group or large section from the Syrian army that deserted. There are individuals, few individuals here and there; that is a question that recurs in all trouble of that sort.
The fact that there is no defection on the diplomatic level, because you mentioned Libya and Tunis and Egypt, there is no defection on the diplomatic level, however there are -like-- hundreds of Syrian embassies all over the place and they could defect.
There are no defections, there are no defections in the Baath Party, there are no serious defection within the Syrian government, they control over the land, over the resources, over the … .Well, there are some terrorist attacks on some pipelines inside Syria, but it stops there. They are no control of border, check points to anything of that sort.
Syria, under the leadership of President Assad, is in full control, and therefore…
But there are still security problems?
Nashaba: There are security problems, there have been security problems even before that. One should remember that even one year before these troubles started in Syria, there was an explosion inside Damascus, next to the…, there was an issue with the Shaker al-Abbsi, there were leaks that he was imprisoned there and that his people put a bomb there.
There were incidents.
There was assassination of Emad Moghnie, the leader of the Resistance inside Syria. There are some security measures that must be improved within the Syrian territory. There are some people who are infiltrating the Syrian territory to do acts that destroy the security and stability of the country, that is an issue that will continue unfortunately, however I think that President Assad and the regime and the government is in full control.
On the issue of freedom, yes I agree. If I may, because I was asked by my friend about the issue of freedom. I just want to say that, yes the issue of freedom is not related to Syria. I think it is related to the whole region. Let’s look at it from this perspective, -- in a realistic perspective--.
Yes, in Lebanon we have a especial case, we have went through and we suffered 150,000 … .
[In reply to Takleddine] Yes, but we have a 150,000 people who were killed in Lebanon.
I hope so, and I think this conference in Istanbul, and the coming conference perhaps in Paris, is only increasing the possibilities of destruction and it is an attempt to push these people to actually create destruction inside Syria.
I just want to say, --very fast, please-the issue of freedom is related to the whole region. I agree with you, there is the freedom deficit in the region, especially in Saudi Arabia and in Qatar and in Emirates and in Manama and in the other Persian Gulf countries.
It is really putting the whole scale of the freedom lower. I think Syria is not really, if one wants to look and pick the priority for the battle for freedom, one starts with Saudi Arabia.
[In reply to Takleddine] it is not about the regime, it s about the Syrian people. I would refer to the Doha institute, who made a research about this and they made a survey and they realized that -the Doha institute-- 55 percent of the Syrian people do not want the overthrow of the regime.
[In reply to Takleddine] they [the other 45 percent] should come to the dialogue, not take guns and shoot at government institutes.
But if I start by saying that the regime wants to do it, then I am closing all the prospects for dialogue.
Thank You For Reading.