Esma Güney/ World Bulletin
Mohammad Bassam Imadi –the previous Syrian ambassador to Sweden- who is now well-known to be an important figure of the Syrian Revolution, has made his stop in Istanbul a few months ago. As a former senior diplomat of Syria he has a lot to say about the suffering region accross the border, which we have just become aware of the severeness of its issues, and the present regime. Thus he let me have an informative talk with him with all his kindness and concerns about Syria and also the Syrian Revolution.
Esma Güney: First of all, of course,there is a revolutionary movement going on in Syria. But, as the demonstrations are given an extended place in the media,there seems to be a confusion about the concepts of the current unrest. There is a division in the World Press; some of them are only treating the opponents as if they are only gangs and some have been advocating them. So, speaking of this conceptual confusion, could you please clearify what really is going on in Syria?
Mohammad Bassam Imadi: Yes, I will say what you said about the gangs. The only people talking about what is happening as gangs is the regime itself.Because in Syria we don’t have gangs,in Syria there was so much security,it was so tight that nobody could bring any even knife from outside. So what about weapons,who could bring weapons from outside? And, therefore, with the revolution began,the regime started saying that first of all they are Palestinians and then they said it is Al-Qaide and then they said it is terorrists and then Salafis…! The regime started calling them many names, at the end, when the regime could not find any evidence, they said its gangs ,all gangs. So “armed gangs” is a very wide and common name for everybody. In fact, for ten months nobody even shot one shot against the government.Everybody was peaceful and they wanted to demonstrate.They were attacked by the forces but they did not retaliate. People were dying ,the security forces were invading homes,killing people and doing so many things, but the revolutionarists did nothing but waiting for the world to help them, to intervene and to stop the killing by the regime. When the whole world was silent,did not do anything,they started carriyng arms to defend themselves. And the army started to defect and started to protect civilians. That’s why you see now, some Syrians are holding arms to defend themselves.But the revolution itself is still very peaceful. People are going out to the streets, demonstrating. Just few days ago in Damascus itself, about fifty thousand people were demonstrating peacefully in the streets. Nobody had arms. Saying that these are armed gangs or terorrists or Al-Qaide,it’s only a lie,a big lie. It is only to give the regime the excuse to kill people.
We see a vast number of people protesting the regime. What about the situation of the refugees and the minorities in Syria. What is their approach to the Assad regime?
About the refugees,now, some of them are fleeing,going out of Syria because the regime is killing them and they have to do so. When it comes to minorities, in Syria all minorities and the majority are living together very well so far.And this regime has started trying to divide the people into minorities and the majorities because, as you know,there is a ruling that says “divide and rule”.That makes it easier for any dictator or the occupation to rule.By dividing people and making them fight with each other. But this policy have not succeded.Now the regime tried to create a war,a sectarian war, in Homs and other places. But it didn’t work; there were few incidents in which the regime killed people from here and people from here and made it look like as if they were fighting each other. But people were aware of this and they didn’t fight each other.
So you don’t think that if the regime falls these differences within the society will complicate the establishment of a new government?
No,no. On the contrary, The main reason why the people are revolting is because they are fed up with injustice, with a bad governance of this government. When the new government comes ,it will definetly be the rule of equality,of justice,of freedom.And people have not revolted to be dictators;they cannot become dictators becuse this is a revolution of the people and at the end of it people are going to be responsible for governance.In addition to this,we understand and we know,this regime does not consists only of Alawatis.It consists of all kinds of people;Alawatis,Sunnis,Shias… everybody.They are people of all the sects but they are helping this regime because they are benefiting from the regime.That’s why people think all this is an Alawati regime after the regime goes Alawati’s will be killed.No! That’s not true.Because many Alawaties have issued statements now in Syria and saying that they distant themselves from the regime and they beleive that it is talking in their name but it does not represent them.And they are against the regime and many of them have joined the demonstrations as well.
Accordingly, if we define what the opponents want to do openly again, it would be…?
They want to change the regime.This regime has been a dictatorship for forty years.Those people who are revolting now want to bring a democratic government .A government that is elected by the people.And ,you see, this regime has been ruling for forty years and has been stealing the people,stealing the money,stealing the economy…everything.And occupying every position that is important and changing the whole country into a shop for them, while getting the benefits out of it.They are careless about the people.People are poor.There is no development in the country and that’s why people are revolting.
The loss of the civilians is getting more and more every day.How do you think it will last.You have mentioned about an international intervention,so you do approve of it?
Of course.Because we know that this regime will not fall unless there is very strong force to kick it out.Because they are using all the military and the people have no military.So the only way is perhaps by other countries helping the Syrians to get rid of this regime. And this will be only by a military force. It does not have to be an invasion,it could be a buffer zone,it could be anything that will help make this regime fall.
Speaking of the international interference, if you evaluate the current attitudes of the UN and Turkey on this issue, what would you say about the things that are done or said in order to support the revolution?
Until now,it is too slow and too little. We wanted to see more.We want more work by the International community to bring about real force against this regime. Maybe, as I said, by creating buffer zone, maybe by attacking some places by missiles or something; It is up to them to see what is the best for them.
There have been talks about a probable allience between the Assad regime and Israel and also PKK. Do you think Assad’s move is/will be using the minorities like Kurds to undermine theTurkish support for the Syrian Revolutionarists?
That’s what the regime has been doing. Before this revolution, the PKK and the PYD were not allowed to come into Syria. Of course PYD is the PKK, but it’s the Syrian version. So before the revolution, PYD was bad for Syria. After the revolution, people from PYD started coming into Syria and they were given free access and now they are fighting other Kurds and preventing them from revolting. So it is very obvious that the regime is using PYD. And now ,if you remember, in the last time that the Turkish forces attacked the Kurdish rebels in the mountains we saw in Syria many funerals from people who were killed with them.It means many Syrian Kurds were fighting with PKK in Turkey.See, that was evident. So, without the help of the regime, those people will not be able to go and fight there.It is very obvious that the regime is using the PYD and the PKK to disturb Turkey. As for Israel, at the beginning of the revolution, the cousin of the President, Rami Makhlouf,who is well-known to be the main person who is robbing the country from the money, said -openly- “The security of Israel is very much connected with our presence in Syria “… with his presence,with the President’s presence which means that there is a kind of understanding between the regime and Israel. And that’s why the regime is not falling,because Israel doesn’t want it to fall so far and supporting it. Also, we know that the Jewish Lobby in America is very strong and that’s why the Americans are not doing so far anything.
Thank you very much for this enlightining conversation … I would like to ask you for your last messages to the Turkish citizens who do concern about the Syrian people.
Well,today for example, there was a conferance for assistance for the revolution in Syria. So there are many humanitarian NGO’s - women,men and everybody- to help by humanitarian and medical facilities and so on…We have so many refugees on the borders and also many people inside Syria who need help. So what we want from Turkish people is perhaps to do something in this respect,to provide help. And also supporting more by condemning the regime, talking the public about it and extending support for Syrian Revolution. That’s what Turkish people can do.
The continuing part of the interview with Dr. Ismail Kara
Ismail Kara is arguably the foremost academic expert on Turkish Islamism. Although he is a prolific writer and a public intellectual, his work is little known among non-Turkish speaking audiences.The following interview with Kara aims to close this gap. Micah Hughes, a doctoral candidate at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill translated the original text of the interview from Turkish into English under supervision of Cemil Aydin (UNC Chapel Hill). Interview questions were prepared by Cemil Aydin, Huseyin Yilmaz (GMU), Ahmet Selim Tekelioglu (GMU), Peter Mandaville (GMU) and Ahmet Koroglu (Istanbul University). Ahmet Koroglu provided visual material from Istanbul as well as spearheading the project. Kara's detailed bio information and a list of his publications are presented at the end of the interview text.
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