Khaddam: Ninety percent of Syrians support foreign military intervention

publisher: مغرس maghress

AUTHOR: سليمان الريسوني

Publishing date: 2012-05-03


He said that there is one solution in Syria, which is the fall of Bashar and the arrival of a popular democratic system.

Inside his house near the Arc de Triomphe, in the heart of the French capital Paris, “Al Massa” met with Abdel Haleem Khaddam… One of the most knowledgeable about the intricacies of the Syrian dossier, as he served as deputy and foreign minister for Presidents Hafez and Bashar al-Assad, responsible for two of the most dangerous and mysterious Middle East files: the Lebanese and Iraqi files. Abdel Haleem Khaddam admitted, sitting on “Al Massa’s” chair, to the secrets of his relationship with the father and son regime “drowning in corruption and tyranny”; he talked about Hafez al-Assad’s obsession with passing on power to his family members, and how Bashar al-Assad sought his company, starting to criticize his father’s regime, calling him “Uncle Abdel Haleem”. He also recalled the moment he found himself as the president of the republic after Hafez al-Assad’s death, and the backstage of amending the constitution to make Bashar the president of the country. He talked about how Bashar decided to leave Syria and transform into the biggest enemy of a regime he claimed was planning to establish a state on the coast, where the majority of Alawites, to whom the Assad family belongs, reside. Abdel Haleem Khaddam also discussed his relationship with Hassan II and Mehdi Ben Barka, and how the Syrian stance shifted regarding the Sahara issue, saying that Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika did not rid himself of the ideas of his predecessor Houari Boumediene.

  • If the aspiration for a divided Syria and the establishment of an Alawite state was previously justified by the ambitions of Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of the current Syrian president, what prompts Bashar al-Assad today to do so?
  • He knows that he cannot continue to govern all of Syria after fueling deep sectarian resentment between the Muslim majority, which constitutes about 88 percent, and the minority Alawite sect, which accounts for less than 8 percent. But if you talk to rational members of the Alawite community, you won’t find anyone among them considering the idea of dividing Syria.
  • Even the aspiration to establish an Alawite state on the coast has no prospect for Bashar…?
  • Yes, it has no prospect. The transfer of most high-tech weapons and their storage in the coastal mountains, and the transfer of some of the strategic military equipment that he won’t use to kill people, indicates his intentions to create a state there. But if he attempts that, believe me, the Syrians will fight him tooth and nail until they uproot this criminal from their land.
  • If you were asked to send a message to the Alawite community, especially those who support Bashar al-Assad, what would you say to them?
  • I would say to them: There is no future for you at all under this regime, and Bashar al-Assad can only fall, and those who contributed to killing and committing crimes must be held accountable.
  • One of the opponents of the Syrian regime threatened to exterminate the Alawites if they continue to support Bashar al-Assad. How did you receive this?
  • This talk is unacceptable. The Alawites are part of the Syrian people, and those who err must be held accountable, but there is no state that punishes a part of its people based on their sectarian or national affiliation. The Syrian people are composed of various sects and nationalities, and therefore everyone has the right to live in a free democratic environment, and everyone has the right to contribute to building the state and authority.
  • You linked your call for major Western powers to intervene in Syria with protecting their interests. Isn’t this a treasonous discourse and a kind of bargaining with the West?
  • No, it’s a patriotic discourse aimed at saving Syria and the Syrian people. I assure you that ninety percent of Syrians are calling for foreign intervention.
  • But you linked military intervention to Western interests?
  • Yes, the issue is not about human rights, but about interests, as international conflicts and conflicts between nations are conflicts of interests. If the situation in Syria turns into a civil war and sectarian strife, it’s certain that the Syrians will turn to violence. Moreover, all extremists in the Arab and Islamic world will come to Syria to fight against the new state. So, when Syria becomes a hub for extremism, it won’t only affect Syria but will spread to other Arab countries one after another, because all Arab countries, from the far west to the far east, are made up of either ethnic groups or sects. Therefore, when sectarian strife erupts in one country and tears it apart, it will ignite sparks in other countries. Iran supports Bashar al-Assad because he considers himself part of the Shia sect, given that the Alawites are a sect of Shia. The conflict between Sunnis and Shias in Syria will spread to Lebanon and all Arab countries with Sunnis and Shias, turning from a sectarian conflict into a nationalist conflict. Thus, the turmoil that tears apart one united people cannot remain confined to its surroundings.
  • Is this why you bargained with the West: intervention to overthrow the Syrian regime in exchange for protecting your interests? Specifically, what interests are you talking about? I told the West: intervene to protect the Syrian people and safeguard your interests.
  • What interests does the West have in Syria?
  • The West has major strategic interests.
  • In Syria?
  • In the entire region. President Truman of the United States sent a message to Congress in 1950 about the United States’ global strategy, in which he spoke about the entire world. When he reached the Middle East, he said: “This region is the most important and most dangerous to the security and interests of the free world, due to its strategic location between the three continents and due to the presence of 50 percent of the world’s oil in these countries. If the West’s interests in the region are of this magnitude and danger, can it be said that they have receded? On the contrary, with the advancement of science and industry, the West’s interests in the region, which has become one of its major economic markets, have evolved.”
  • Do you measure your call for military intervention in Syria based on what happened in Iraq, as a clear model of Western intervention to protect its interests?
  • No, firstly the situation in Iraq is different. We are not calling for a military intervention where a foreign army comes to Syria. We are only calling for an aerial intervention, and the Syrian people will settle matters on the ground.
  • You don’t accept anything other than the overthrow of the Syrian regime and reject all middle-ground solutions for resolving the crisis in Syria, such as those proposed by the Arab Initiative. Don’t you see that if the regime is successfully removed, it will leave devastating effects in Syria and the region?
  • The continued existence of Bashar al-Assad’s regime is what will leave devastating effects in Syria and the region. Who can tolerate a murderous, criminal, dictatorial regime? If Bashar al-Assad succeeds in Syria, he will extend his hand to Jordan and the Gulf countries.
  • With Iran’s assistance?
  • With Iran’s assistance, of course. Then the Iranian-Russian alliance with Bashar al-Assad will create a new reality in the Middle East.
  • Like the Cold War that the world witnessed during the conflict between the Western and Eastern blocs, led by the United States and the Soviet Union?
  • More than a Cold War, the Middle East region will become a major conflict zone between this alliance, the Eastern alliance considering Russia’s presence, and the West and a part of the Arab world.
  • Can’t we talk about a solution, with no victor and no vanquished, in Syria?
  • In conflicts like these, which have claimed the lives of over 80,000 martyrs, destroyed the country, and displaced more than two million Syrians from their homes, there is no solution with no victor and no vanquished. There is only one solution: the fall of the tyrannical dictator murderer and the emergence of a popular democratic system led by the people.
  • Through its initiatives based on the solution with no victor and no vanquished, isn’t the Arab League just blowing in the wind?
  • In the Arab League, there are differences between Arab countries. Some countries support and endorse Bashar al-Assad, while others reject him.
  • Is the majority against him?
  • Yes, but we must not forget that the role of countries that support him is significant within the League. No one can deny that Iraq is an important country and Algeria is an important country. There are other countries as well. Therefore, the Arab League is not qualified to make decisions regarding Syria’s future.
  • What about Turkey’s excessive enthusiasm for the departure of the Syrian regime?
  • Turkey is a country with a border of about 1,000 kilometers with Syria, stretching from the far east to the far west. There is a shared history dating back to the Ottoman era and mutual economic relations. Therefore, the success of the Iranian-Russian alliance with Bashar al-Assad poses a threat to Turkey.
  • On what level?
  • On a security level, because with the escalation of sectarian animosity between Shia and Sunni in the Arab world, there will be a security risk and a strategic risk in having the Iranian-Russian-Syrian alliance on Turkey’s borders. There are disputes between Turkey and parties of this alliance. Also, Russia is a major neighboring country to Turkey and historically Russia has pressured Turkey since the Ottoman era. Turkey has an interest in Syria being a democratic state with no problems.
  • To remove the Syrian carpet from under Russia’s feet?
  • Yes, on one hand, and on the other hand, to ensure its own security. Because any country, no matter how big or small, when it’s on the border of a turbulent state, this matter concerns it.