India should support a political solution for the Syrian crisis: Bouthaina Shabaan
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s advisor Bouthaina Shabaan in conversation with Suhasini Haidar
If I could just start with the UN human commission for refugees, is now saying that more than a million refugees have fled from Syria. We are looking at pictures coming of fairly difficult times, the Syrian people are just trying to take their belongings and just leave in the night to a lot of danger. Is the situation really out of control?
No, the situation is not out of control, but it is normal when there are clashes and there is fighting and people are terrified and they are afraid for their safety or their children's safety to try and go and find them a safe haven. And whether the number is a million or half a million or 200, I don’t know and I don't think anybody has the real statistics. But that's why the suffering of the Syrian people is what is inviting us to try our very best to put an end to this horrible situation today before tomorrow. That's why the Syrian government kept saying we need a political solution today; we need to start dialogue tomorrow because this is the only solution when Syrian people can come back home to safety and with their integrity.
But it is the Syrian government that’s being blamed for lot of excesses; there are human rights groups that say that it is President Assad’s government that is bombing its own people, missiles strikes in various parts of Syria. What really is the situation on the ground?
Well, I think it has become now clear to the world that the war against Syria started with a media war. Unfortunately the media is playing a very negative role about what is happening in Syria and it has been targeting Syria. Lots of fabrications and lots of things that are not true that are being said in the media. I don't think anybody can tell you what is the situation exactly in the entire Syria but I think most countries are confident now that what's happening in Syria is partly at least Al Qaeda, Jubhat Ul Nusra and mercenaries with a lot of armament and a lot of financing from countries that are outside Syria. So when they say there is no military intervention in Syria, I say it's happening because the money, the armament, the mercenaries are all there coming across the border from Turkey. And unfortunately, this war aims at destroying Syria, it doesn’t aim to change the president, it doesn’t aim to have democracy and till now 3800 schools have been destroyed, schools, 1800 factories have been dismantled, our roads have been destroyed, our pipelines have been destroyed, it is a war against the infrastructure of Syria and against the Syrian people.
Alright, you are saying the rebels are being armed from outside, in fact most of these countries – the US, the UK, France, they are making it very clear that if President Assad goes, if he steps down, then they will work towards a peaceful solution inside Syria. Why doesn't the President step-down?
Well because saying that is just like saying create a total havoc, a total chaos and then you enter paradise. That's really what it says. Why should any president in the world step down at the behest of other countries do? Is this democracy? Or the democracy is that the Syrian people should decide who their president is and what is the political system in Syria.
They also say that President Assad is over exaggerating the risks after he leaves. You spoke about the Jubhat Ul Nusra and other groups that are active over there, many in the west are saying is that even if President Assad goes, women minorities will continue to be safe, that many within the free Syrian movement are democratic secular people.
Forget about what they say and let me tell you what is happening. In Homs, my city, there were five hundred thousand Christians, now there aren’t hundred Christians in Hom, they keep saying in the media, Christians are safe, women are safe, minorities are safe, let them go to Syria and see what’s happening to them now, what’s happening to minorities and what’s happening to Christians and then they should speak.
You are in India, speaking with Indian officials as well. What is the way forward from here? We have seen many attempts of peace that have failed so far, the cease fire that fell apart, what is it that Syria expects from India?
We expect from India both as a friendly country and as a Chair of the BRICS to support a political solution for the crisis in Syria. That is to support the Geneva accord and to support the initiative President Assad gave on the January 6, 2013 which is built in the spirit of the Geneva accord which is to stop violence immediately because over a 100 persons are killed everyday; to move into a table of dialogue; to release political prisoners and to review whatever needs to be reviewed about the political situation in Syria, mainly the support Geneva accord, to support Russia and China for a political solution in Syria and for stopping this horrible war that is launched against our country and against our people.
Seven fifty to seventy thousand people may be dead, we are seeing that one million figure of refugees. The question really is – are you hopeful that there will be a solution because most people are predicting a civil war for Syria.
Well, if I am not hopeful, I can’t go on working, I have to be hopeful and we have to keep trying to stop this horrible war but you know what I feel. I feel that those countries who say that they are not arming the armed groups and they are arming the armed groups, they do not care at all about our people. I say to the entire world, Syrian women, Syrian minorities, Syrian people, Syria is a need of peace and the first thing is to stop this war, please be honest in trying to stop this war.
Finally, the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has died and of course many had talked about the Damascus, Caracas and the Tehran nexus, many also saying with his death so many of the leaders who took on the western powers seem to have died or lost power Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, all are gone. What kind of impact his death is going to have.
First of all, I offer my condolences not only to the people of Venezuela but to the entire world because Hugo Chavez is a world leader. He inspired millions of people all over the world, I think he is the second Bolivar, I don’t think he will die and I think Latin America won’t produce other leaders like Hugo Chavez to carry on with his heritage. We in Syria are very proud of our relation with Chavez and with Venezuela and we shall continue to do so.
Courtesy: CNN IBN, World View with Suhasini Haidar