Thursday, 24 September 2015

Yassin al Haj Saleh: Syria has become a global crisis

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 'It is impossible to envisage a ceasefire with this regime. Only the regime's collapse could lead to peace, said Saleh almost three years ago, in an interview with news website Syria Deeply; at the time he still lived in Damascus.
 He believes the same thing today. Four years after the Syrian uprising the Assad regime remains in power. These days Russia increases its military presence in Syria, and the USA is still leading attacks against Islamic state (IS). The tragedy of Syria has been unfolding because the international community has allowed Assad to remain, believes Yassin al Haj Saleh, who uses the Arabic term Daesh for IS.
 - As long Daesh exists, it is not enough to get rid of Assad regime - but it is not enough to fight only against Daesh, as the US does, says Saleh.
 - Building a Syrian majority for a new Syria requires both overthrowing the regime and simultaneously fighting Daesh. That can not be achieved without international support. One cannot let the country be in the hands of a regime that has killed more than 250,000 people. It is extremely unethical, says Saleh.
 International attention has largely been directed against the atrocities committed by IS in the past year.
 - Among Syria's victims is one of seven killed by Daesh and other groups. Six of seven were killed by the regime. Daesh' crimes are more "sexy" and meet with great fascination in the Western media.The mindset of the West prevents Western media from thinking about the six of seven killed by the regime in a less "sexy" way. The regime has also killed foreigners, so it's not about that. Or if it does, it gives an even worse impression of the international community, said Saleh, who believes that Assad could have been overthrown long ago if it was really a desire for it internationally.

 - Russia is not the solution

 The paralysis over Syria has been explained by international fears of an unstable post-Assad Syria where IS gets free rein.
 - But how much worse can it be, asks Saleh, throwing out his arms.
 - It seems like they think the situation in Syria began yesterday.The regime has been there for decades. Tens of thousands of people, myself included, have fought against the regime and been imprisoned. Many have been killed. If the world prefers one that Assad stays because they want stability, Syrians would be forced to pay for it. It will trigger and has already triggered a dynamic of extremism, sectarianism and militarism that has resulted in Daesh. Daesh did not emerge from nothing. Syrians are not extremists, but some have become extremists in the situation that has been allowed to develop, says Saleh.
 In addition to Iran, Russia is the Assad regime's loyal international backer. Peace in Syria can not come without Russian involvement, many believe. But Russia will not contribute to peace, says Saleh.
 - One cannot say "Russia" and "peace" in the same sentence - and especially not in Syria. Russia has helped the regime to kill Syrians for 55 months now, and use its veto power to prevent action in the Security Council. So how can we talk about Russia's role promoting peace? They still say that Assad must stay. They said that before Daesh existed. Russia has always taken the side of the regime. Russia has never said that they want a political process that really involves change, says Saleh.'

 Compare with the rubbish Noam Chomsky
¹ came out with on Democracy Now a couple of days ago.
 "The Obama doctrine vis-à-vis Syria?"
"It’s a good question. Washington hasn’t a clue. It’s obvious. And it’s a little hard to fault them for that. It’s very hard to think of a constructive outcome to this utter disaster.The United States has taken a somewhat hands-off position, except that it’s supporting its allies, who are very clear. As I mentioned, Turkey, a NATO ally, has been supporting the al-Qaeda-related jihadi front, namely the al-Nusra Front, a couple of others. The Gulf states, also U.S. ally, Saudi Arabia, where they have been strong supporters of what’s now become the Islamic State—technically, Saudi Arabia, the government, no longer—claims no longer to support them directly, but surely did in the past, and funders from the Gulf—wealthy Gulf states are still presumably funding them, as they have in the past. It’s pretty open in the case of Qatar. So there’s—these are indirect U.S. policies.
 The only conceivable hope for some resolution of this horrendous crisis, which is totally destroying the country, is the kind of negotiated settlement that was worked on by serious negotiators, like Lakhdar Brahimi, an international negotiator, very respectable, sensible. And the main idea, which—shared by any analyst with a grey cell functioning, is some kind of negotiated settlement which will involve the Assad government, like it or not, and involve the opposition elements, like it or not. There can’t be negotiations that don’t involve the parties that are fighting. That’s pretty obvious, just as South African negotiations had to involve the leadership of the apartheid state. There’s no other way. They can’t have other negotiations. It’s perfectly obvious that the Assad government is not going to enter into negotiations that are based on the condition that it commits suicide. If that’s the condition, they’re just going to keep destroying the country.  That unfortunately is the—has been the U.S. position of the negotiations. U.S. and its allies have demanded that negotiations be based on the precondition that the Assad government will not survive. It’s a horrible government, and I’d like it not to survive, but that’s a prescription for destroying Syria, because it’s not going to enter into negotiations on those terms.
 Right now, and in fact in the past, these have been proposals pretty much supported by the Russians. And, in fact, you may not have seen this, but for those of you who read the international press, British press, a couple of days ago there was a very interesting revelation that in 2012 the Russians had apparently presented a proposal for an interim regime which would not include Assad, and it was turned down by the United States and the West. That was reported in practically the entire British press—Guardian, The Independent, Daily Telegraph, across the spectrum. Didn’t appear in the United States for a while, but finally it did appear, not in print, as far as I can tell, but in an online edition ofThe Washington Post, where there’s an article of the usual type. It sort of mentions that this is rumored, but can’t take it seriously, and, you know, so on, probably didn’t mean it, and so on and so forth. Well, OK, you can draw your own conclusions.
 But as far as—if you ask what the Obama doctrine is, it doesn’t exist. We saw the Obama doctrine a couple of weeks ago when the Pentagon sent in these 50 fighters, who had been trained for years, and they were immediately captured, killed, or just defected, by Turkey’s ally, the al-Nusra Front, as I mentioned, apparently with Turkish intelligence support. Now that’s the doctrine, is nothing, except to support the allies, which are in fact supporting jihadi forces. But what the doctrine ought to be, I think, is pretty clear. What the chances are for settlement of those terms is hard to say—not very high. But if you can think of an alternative, you should present it. No other alternative has been proposed."


  Obviously he in this interview (1) Pretends to want Assad out, but in reality not. Just like President Obama, (2) Pretends that America is secretly backing rebels/jihadis because its allies are [sic], (3) Thinks a state of mass torture can be reformed the way the apartheid state was, (4) Imagines that the UN and local ceasefires are a route to peace, when the UN has done nothing to restrain Assad, and the local ceasefires have always been an opportunity to tighten the sieges and redouble the bombardment, (5) Does the Saudis fund ISIS, Turkey loves ISIS, the Russians wanted peace, conspiracy theories, the last of which Brian Slocock dismantled here². Clearly Chomsky is still getting his ignorance from his friend Patrick Cockburn's contrived ignorance. He doesn't quite go for the full acceptance of the war on terror retread, but still expresses regret. Of course he has no idea that there is any alternative proposed to defend Syrians from Assad other than a US invasion, because Cockburn and President Obama have said there is no alternative. He also lumps the authoritarian Islamist régimes in with their radical Islamist enemies, which has had no basis since Osama bin Laden took against the Saudi monarchy when they let the US establish military bases there in the 90s.
 "The major center of radical Islam, extremist radical Islam, is Saudi Arabia, unquestionably. They are the source of the Wahhabization of the region, which Patrick Cockburn points out is one of the major developments of the modern era."
 Crispin Blunt³, Conservative chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has a similar outlook to Chomsky's, not surprising as Patrick Cockburn was the most prominent witness at his committee's hearing on Syria a couple of weeks ago.
 From 7m42s:
"We have made strenuous efforts to try and stand up the Free Syrian Army and Western-oriented forces in there, and that's come a complete cropper. As we have seen, there is no hard power being exercised on the ground by parties to this civil war who are aligned to the West." He then calls Nusra al-Qaida, and then says they are in a coalition, but doesn't say with whom, and just says they are getting support from Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

¹[http://www.dagsavisen.no/verden/syria-er-blitt-en-global-krise-1.399727]
²[http://pulsemedia.org/2015/09/20/did-the-west-ignore-a-russian-offer-for-assad-to-step-down-as-president/]
³[http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06cr9wt/hardtalk-crispin-blunt-mp]

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