US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that the Syrian National Council “can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition” and a new opposition should be formed.
An interview with Danny Makki, the co-founder of the Syrian Youth in Britain, from London, to further discuss the issue. Makki is joined by Richard Becker of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition, from San Francisco, and Jihad Markada, a political commentator from Beirut. The following is a rough transcription of the interview with Makki.
Q: Another case of war crimes: Syrian soldiers executed by these insurgents. Aside from the people who committed this crime, shouldn’t countries supporting these terrorists - like the United States, like Saudi Arabia, like Qatar and Turkey - be held responsible at least partly?
Makki: This new phase in the Syria crisis just manifests itself because the recent massacre yesterday in Saraqeb showed the level of barbarism which is portrayed by the Syrian armed opposition in what is essentially a true massacre, a crime against humanity. You have up to 30 soldiers who’ve been shot in cold blood. They’re not armed. They had their arms tied.
The way in which it was glorified through the film is truly reprehensible and quite disgusting. It has been condemned by the very highest of international institutions such as the UN and such as Human Rights Watch, which has come out and has condemned the atrocity which has taken place.
However, I just want to point to one point, the first victim of every conflict is always the truth.
However, Saraqeb and what happened yesterday is not a new issue. It is not a new phase. This has been happening for over one year. It has happened for up to two years now.
We saw in the beginning of the so-called uprising, we have the same thing, which happened in al-Shughour, where up to 100 Syrian soldiers, military soldiers, professional soldiers were killed by the armed opposition.
This is not a peaceful, free, pro-democracy uprising. It is in fact a proxy war, and the rebels are using more of these forms of terrorism and filming it in a way to kind of spread fear.
This is truly a war crime and this is also manifested by the two recent explosions in Damascus today,which is essentially allowed for there to be a phase of militarization. This is the level that the armed opposition has reached because there is no political situation.
As Hillary Clinton, her remarks yesterday, in criticism of the Syrian opposition essentially showed that there is not harmony within the Syrian opposition; there is not harmony within the groups who are arming and funding the Syrian armed opposition. In fact, Hillary Clinton seeks to bypass the Syrian National Council which is an amazing development.
Q: If [intervention] is the aim of the United States and its allies, is it that they are afraid that they won’t be really able to do that because these groups that they have supported, of which we’ve seen many who have been fighting there and, obviously, a sound of alarm coming from Hillary Clinton… is it not going to allow them to do that if that is indeed what their intentions are?
At this point, it’s very confusing when she says, for example, the SNC should no longer be considered as the visible leader of the opposition. What does that mean? Is the SNC discarded at this point, again, trying to understand the positioning that the US is taking right now?
Makki: If the US is defeated politically in Syria then it will signal a major defeat for US hegemony in the region. This will have ramifications all over the Arab world and all over the region. It will not set the US for a strategic position in the Middle East, considering the US has a new strategic target which is China.
Also, one point is that Clinton’s statement is almost unprecedented in regards if one views this in chronological order since the beginning of the Syrian crisis until now. Clinton’s statement signals a major defeat for the Syrian opposition, and this is manifested in the fact that she wants to bypass the opposition.
This shows that there is no unity. There is, in fact, no sense of cohesion within the opposition.
In the Syrian crisis now, there are four major players. These major players and actors have a crucial role in continuing and prolonging the violence internally in Syria. These actors are: the [Persian] Gulf Arab states, which signify one; the Americans in the west, which is the second; the Syrian armed opposition; and the Syrian political opposition.
This plethora of factors and actors work as one unit to seek destabilizing the Syrian government; to seek regime change. However, if one of them fails, then the whole bloc falls.
If we see a Western downgrading of the Syrian crisis, acting very cautiously, not providing the support and assistance that is required from them, from their allies in the region, then this signals the change of policy.
I think this could perhaps be a big change of policy for the United States and the allies in the region. The United States could perhaps be looking for an exit strategy, and exit plan, considering that they did not want a quagmire in the Middle East at this particular time.
The Syrian government is a government which is still solid. It is functioning. All state institutions are functioning. It is not under the same pressure which some Western states think it is.
Regardless of how much Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are funding and arming the opposition, the Syrian state is still a sovereign state, a legitimate state, which is still functioning in almost every single aspect of governance.
Back to your guest in Beirut, he claims that there’s a regime in Syria. There is no regime in Syria. There is a state. There is a government. The Syrian state has a monopoly of legitimate force inside the territorial borders of Syria.
This is clear and this is certified by the international community, and this is within the UN charter. The Syrian state is acting upon what this UN charter advocates.
Q: Looking at the statements there by [previous guest speaker] Richard Becker, and we look at the timeline that has occurred, which has been two years, I would think that there’s been enough time for the US and its allies to think of different game plans and scenarios - and it doesn’t seemed like it’s worked. What options do they have? Are they running desperate at this point? Again, the timeline is important.
We’ve had a couple of UN Arab League envoys, at this point, giving a shot at it; and, of course, China has been relatively quiet coming up with this plan if it is going to work. What do you think?
Makki: For once, we have seen US hegemony in the Middle East defeated to an extent. The US has reached a deadlock situation. There are no more solutions. There is not much more they can do.
They have tried everything. They have tried immediate destabilization campaigns to destroy the Syrian government. It has not worked.
They have tried to create an armed opposition inside of Syria to fight the Syrian government. This has also not worked.
They have given state actors and regional powers power, money and arms to wage a war against the Syrian government. This has not worked. Everything they have tried has failed.
Now we have Russia, China. We have a multi-polar world system, which does not accept US hegemony. This is a fact.
It’s not just a war inside Syria. I can’t comprehend how any observer can describe it as a civil war. It’s clearly not a civil war. It’s perhaps a proxy war.
However, the presence of thousands of foreign fighters in Syria signifies that this is not necessarily a civil war. However, there is a geo-political struggle in the region. There is a regional conflict.
We have to look at the bigger picture. We have Russia. We have China. They form a status quo to the world order. They form a status quo to US hegemony, to US imperialism which is also backed by the European Union.
Their support for the Syrian people and the Syrian government is not based on just reports for military assistance. It’s based on the UN charter. It’s based on no interference in the internal affairs of other states; “no” to Western intervention; “no” to imperialism, and “no” to regime chance.
They understand and comprehend the fact that the West is using the Syrian crisis to affect the Iranian state; they’re using the Syrian crisis to reach Russia, to reach China; to weaken Russia and China’s resolve in the Middle East; and to have a Middle East which is under the hegemony of the United States of America.