West tries to repeat Benghazi scenario in Syria

Syria has been the scene of unrest by armed gangs that are armed and supported by foreign powers and Persian Gulf monarchies such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar and obviously their Western allies.

The insurgents have been getting their arms and ammunition from their supporters for months to create havoc in the country in order to overthrow the president of the country.

Press TV has conducted an interview with the founder of the Conflicts Forum, Alastair Crooke to further discuss the Syrian insurgency and the role of foreign countries in it.

The program also provides the insights of two other guests, Osman Bakash with the Tahrir Party in the studio and also Ahmad Shlash from the Bu Saraya Tribe from Damascus.

What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview:

Press TV: Let me ask you about the US and the Arab stance. Also you have states like Saudi Arabia for instance, questioning this referendum that we know that the Saudi Arabia is not a democratic state. Now are they in place to really authenticate such a referendum while we know that they approved a single candidate inside Yemen for example?

Crooke: No, clearly not and the last speaker is right. This is a matter ultimately for the Syrian people. It is not a matter for Saudi Arabia or for Qatar or the United States or the West. This is an internal matter that must be agreed between the Syrian people.

But I think you also questioned was the referendum important? And I think that it is extremely important because it has to be put in the context of two issues.

First of all, the referendum gained its importance particularly because of the Russian and Chinese veto over the proposals at the Security Council. Until then, effectively the West and its Arab allies were encouraging all of the opposition to say that there can be no negotiations until President Assad has been deposed or asking him effectively to depose himself in order to negotiate.

The veto has allowed the beginning of political process to take place. It has allowed people; if you like it has put into shape a constitution, many of the details remain to be framed out, but now simply that we have removed that block that only by the removal of Assad can negotiations take place, I think it invites many of the opposition people to participate in the political process.

Press TV: We still have violence in many of the areas inside Syria and how can that be dealt with? It is not mere political.

Crooke: Of course, I mean there are various elements to it and of course there is a real opposition. There are oppositions of various types in Syria but there is also an armed insurrection which is both financed and externally supported from outside path and the aims of this and we must recall that the aims of this have been clearly stated by Saudi Arabia and others are not simply about changing a regime or changing a government in Syria. It is about Iran, weakening Iran by deposing the government in Syria.

And this is important to the United States but it is also very important to Saudi Arabia. The King himself said not so long ago that the next best thing to the implosion of Iran would be losing Syria, from the Saudi perspective.

So, we are dealing with a whole series of interests that are taking place in Syria. You can’t simply look at it in its own context and say, well look there is violence taking place, where is that violence coming from?

And what are the purposes? Is the violence simply by trying to get more reforms in Syria or is this violence intended actually to try and overturn a government, a regime change?

So, you would have to look at the qualities of the violence as well not simply just say that there is violence there.

[In respond to Ahmad Shlash] It seems to me, I mean I hear what you say but it seems very strange, because perhaps not you but many of these movements are precisely allying themselves with France, with Britain, with Saudi Arabia and you say that people are trying to throw often, many people will be sympathetic to removing the colonial legacy of Sykes Picot as you put, but you are actually embedding yourself precisely with the very people who are trying to keep those elements in place.

Of course Saudi Arabia, I mean when you talk about Saudi Arabia; Saudi Arabia has no real interest in democracy.

So, the weapons that are coming, the finance is coming, it is coming from places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and from French and from European people.

Press TV: Your union has recognized the Syrian National Council, despite the fact that there are divisions within the Council and even divisions within the countries that want to remove Assad, for example, we have Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to arm the opposition whereas the United States says they are al-Qaeda elements for instance and therefore we will not arm them. What is this contradiction between these sides?

Crooke: Well, I think this is such a new trend of interventionism that is taking place, which is highly dangerous. That simply if the West cannot get its policies through the UN Security Council, they put together a small quorum of like-minded states and announce that they are legitimizing this opposition or de-legitimizing this leader of government or that leader of government so that they can bypass all the international structures and simply move ahead with a militarized policy at their interest.

And I think this is extremely dangerous and I think what we see in the Syrian case, is quite clear.

Whatever they claim, there is absolutely no sense that they are able to see this as a legitimate element of the opposition, maybe the credible opposition and I am sure our guest will say, is actually in Syria.

The people who are outside the SNC –the Syrian National Council-in my belief have almost no mandate, no legitimacy within Syria at all.

It is an external group, externally supported, externally put together largely by France and by others in order to create –if you like-to follow the Benghazi model, the Benny Levy of France tried to project for Syria.

Press TV: So do you think that Russia and China would be faced with more pressure from all the Western, other Western states or is it the other way around? Does the West facing pressure?

Crooke: I think the West is facing a new challenge from Russia and China have been very clear in saying that what happened in Libya was a cheat, was a complete travesty of both the rules, not only of the United Nations but the charter of NATO itself.

And what they are saying very clearly from that is that they intend to press ahead and what is more that the constitution and the referendum provide the only opportunity for actually having a peaceful dialogue between the peoples of Syria to find a solution.

Press TV: Do you think that we might see a Serbia scenario with the fact that we see the veto’s of China and Russia?

Crooke: I think, I do not know that you are going to see another scenario. What I know from the Russians directly and they said that they will follow up and will try and bring all the elements of Syria in a Syrian-led political process to lead to a political solution and not one that is brought about through the barrel of a gun that is imported from outside of Syria.

(www.presstv.ir / 04.03.2012)

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