SOHR exclusive | Samir Satouf, opposition prominent figure: “Presidential election is absurd, while influential actors divide between friends and enemies”
As the Syrian presidential election is approaching, divisions have grown between one side opposing the whole process and another side deems the participation of some opposition political faces as good.
Meanwhile, there are prominent political factions have deemed the outcome of the election as pre-decided even before the announcement of the results for the interests of the regime’s president and his loyalists who sought to reproduce the authority chair via holding an election that has been already rejected by the western countries that consider it as illegal and will not meet the Syrian people’s revolting demands of changing the whole ruling regime.
The veteran politician who is one of the founders of the Syrian National Council, Samir Satouf told SOHR in an exclusive interview, “the opposition had an opportunity to reach a settlement, but it failed. The Syrian National Coalition has turned into part of the anti-revolution camp factors, and only practiced a bureaucratic role based on certain agendas.
Question: At a time when the opposition blocs calls for applying the UN resolution number 2254, you considered it as confusing and deviating from Geneva 1 statement and the international decision number 2118, could you explain the reasons behind such confusion?
Answer: Of course, Geneva 1 statement clearly stipulated the formation of a Transitional Ruling Authority (TRA) with full powers in accordance with the consensus draft that has been reached among the Syrian bodies. The UNSC resolution of 2013 number 67\262 was the most obvious and strongest UN decisions that poured into the interest of the Syrian people, especially articles 27,28,29 that assured the formation of a full-powers TRA, including the president’s powers. But, the UNSC resolution number 2254 has focused on the concept of good governance that carried contradictory explanations. According to the interpretation of the Russian and the regime loyalists, good governance is defined as a national unity government, which means keeping Bashar al-Assad in his post during the transitional period, and this is a mere ambiguous formula for setting the powers and frameworks.
Question: in one of your previous interviews, you said weak elements have joined the Coalition through nepotism and climbing, do not you think that the Coalition should bear a big share of responsibility for the deviation of the Syrian crisis? Why the coalition hasn’t succeeded in reaching a solution?
Answer: Since the beginning of the revolution, and during the preparations of forming a political body that could lead the revolution domestically and internationally, the international powers was observing tirelessly the situations on the ground. At that stage, all the regional powers started the stage of polarization. The regional forces, that were either in agreement or most probably controlled by the international influential and active players, have worked by an organized and well-studied approach for preventing the Syrians from sorting a real political or military leadership for the revolution. The regional powers were keen on planting agents in all the military and political formations, and have prevented the free dissident officers from practicing the military actions according to a national strategy to the degree of putting most of them in camps resembling the house arrest. We know the way these regional powers have formed the military support rooms that have worked directly with the fighting formations based on conditions with clear indications by putting them under threats of stopping support when all violating conditions like choosing the place and time of any battle and even giving them ammunition that is just enough for one fight.
Meanwhile, at the political level, the process of choosing focused on the weak members in order to control and direct them easily, or even get rid of them anytime.
The Syrian National Coalition has been formed in Doha with the end of the second and last round of the general authority of the Syrian National Council and after expanded discussion with Riyadh Seif, the Coalition’s spiritual figure or the agent assigned by the international forces, especially the United States, to form the Coalition with an aim of exceeding the high ceil of the general authority of the national council.
I figured this conclusion out during the discussions made two days before the sessions of forming the Coalition on November 8, 2012. At that time, I told the participants of the council general authority my famous saying, “the coalition that will be formed is an unpatriotic product that aimed at dragging the opposition towards an unbalanced political solution with the regime.”
On the ground, we observed the behavior of the coalition since its launch and since the appointment of Moaz al-Khateeb as the first president of the coalition as a result of a mixture between the bourgeois classes and the Damascus sheiks.
We all remember al-Khateeb clown actions and his open messages that emerged from the good intentions caution of the “criminals” Bashar al-Assad and Hassan Nasrallah.
We noticed how the retreat path and the imbalanced influence have started and how the international actors have transferred the coalition to a qualified body just to follow the orders detected by these actors. We also noticed the process of squeezing the hopeful members of the Coalition.
Frankly speaking, I believe that the coalition has turned, after a studied dragging process, into a part of the counter-revolution camp sides that only perform a bureaucratic role, and work as submissive to certain agendas and orders. All the Coalition’s participating bodies and decorative persons and agents have been striving to preserve their positions, their personal advantages, and financial interests. They also bet on some possible posts with the incoming regime as representatives for their employers.
Question: You were one of the founders of the National Council, but you repeatedly described it as an early step that was made in politically immature conditions that aborted the idea of forming and sorting a real leadership for the revolution, could you explain this, and who caused the failure of the national council’s objectives that headed the formation of the coalition?
Answer: Yes, the national council was formed during the occurrence of the peaceful protests which were savagely countered by the ruling al-Assad gangs. There has been a storming popular desire for forming a political body similar to the Libyan transitional council. But, the popular demands were exploited by the Muslim Brotherhood that initiated it moves with absolute support of Turkey with a goal of cutting the road for the real process of maturely sorting real revolution forces that have an interest in adopting the people’s demands of maintaining their freedom and dignity.
We noticed how the Brotherhood dominated the council despite the presence of decorative personalities on the surface, who deprived the council of any ability to influence.
The alliance between Damascus declaration and the Muslim Brotherhood in the council has severely harmed the road for the revolution’s objectives and the national work. Also, the high ceiling of demands that have been imposed by the general authority of the council has been used by those controlling its leaders as a tool to spread illusion in parallel with continuing the communication channels of the Teheran regime before and during the revolution.
Moreover, we all remember how the Muslim Brotherhood group stopped their opposition to the regime in 2008 and considered al-Assad gang as a resisting regime, in return for an oral promise from Iran to let them take part of al-Assad government even with minor ministries and to kill the law 49.
Former experiences have proved that the real partnership and consensus among the Syrian people components have brought positive results and civilization impact to our country, which is a fixed truth.
However, the opposite truth has proved that the political forces have played negative, harmful, and dangerous roles in the march of the national work because they were not qualified at the structure level to play that role. Those forces only sought to be part of the ruling power even their goals would be fulfilled at the expense of the religious and national value together.
Question: The regime is preparing for running the election later this month amid international opposition and rejection by the opposition factions that deem election based on the 2012 constitution is illegal. Also, work of the constitutional committee that were assigned to write the constitution have been halted several months ago due to conflicts and obstacles. What is the destiny of that committee and to what extent it will be legalized, especially with the regime’s insistence to run the elections with it constitution ignoring all the UN resolutions.?
Answer: The elections in Syria whether presidential or legislative are nothing but absurd, and caricature making to a situation that has reached the climax of complication through ongoing attempts to regain balance with the aim to cover the real defeat of al-Assad gangs since the first spark of the revolution and shedding the protesters’ blood.
It is common knowledge that al-Assad is not any more a decision-maker. He could not take the decision of running himself to the presidency; the election that lacks legitimacy as it violates the international legal laws that all stress the necessity to form a transitional ruling authority as the only body for the election of the institutional association tasked with drafting the constitution and offering it for a popular referendum, followed by presidential and parliamentary elections based on the constitution.
It is also well known that Russia and Iran are the de-facto decision-makers at all levels in Syria.
The Iranians cling to their flexible toy, al-Assad, whose symbolic presence in power provides the bridge to achieve their purposes. There is no alternative for Teheran regime in the region without feeding the regional sectarian tension and embodying the illusion of their ability to control the region.
On the other hand, Russia abandoned al-Assad regime and his gangs a long time ago, while no other power found satisfying mutual benefit to support such regime. Russia also bets on the west to present some concessions like easing the sanctions imposed on the Asian country for occupying the Crimean Peninsula and the escalation in Ukraine or to benefit from the reconstruction fund, despite taking part in the “farcical” conferences on the return of refugees.
Accordingly, Russia imposes al-Assad as a president to ensure the illusion of its legitimate presence and improve its stances in any future negotiations.
The freaked al-Assad has swallowed the bate and he will be finished if he runs for an election that is unrecognized by the majority of the international powers. Al-Assad will be also finished if the presidential election is not held.
On the other hand, the only task of the constitutional committee was to waste the time, but this cost the Syrian people too much, including destruction, death, violence, displacement, and arrests, due to the international powers’ failure to reach a formula for sharing the interests.
Prioritizing the constitution before the formation of a transitional ruling authority was a crime committed by the Coalition and the negotiation authority against the Syrian people, that hit the time arrangements stipulated in the UN resolutions to facilitate work of the Russian plans through the cultural paths in Astana and Sochi that gave our people insufficient rights.
The constitutional committee that has been proposed by Staffan de Mistura in order to delay its formation until consuming more time, and even it would convene with difficulty when formed to waste more time, and would not be able to take any decision in accordance with the procedural rules that necessitates approval of 75 percent of the members. It is impossible for such conditions to be met, and that was the core of the game.
Question: You had said before that the Syrians were moved away from the scene of influence and the people had nothing but to press the international community to prevent the excessive sacking of the Syrians when it came to determining the destiny and the future of their country. What are the pressure’s remaining means, especially after testing all possible ways until the Syrian fade up for a decade in the tit-for-tat games?
Answer: Undoubtedly, the occupying forces in Syrian are able to impose any solution it wants, but they have also realized that any solution, that will not open the door for making a real change, will lead to a truncated settlement or a temporal truce that will shed its deteriorations on the whole region. Revolutions are born to only win and to achieve success even in the first period of eruption, no matter the obstacles they meet or the retreats it encounter by the counter-revolutionary forces. Reaching the goals and victory is certain by the end because the train of change will arrive at its destination, as the essence and the fundamentals of any revolution personalized in the revolting people who are willing to make the change.
For a decade, the Syrians have presented unprecedented sacrifices at all levels to eliminate the ground of differences and to achieve their national unity and bring real leadership at the military and political levels.
Work is underway to reach that goal before holding the Syrian national forces conference, and to integrate the active players in the Syrian issue as a decisive party in the country future equation, because waiting and depending on the international community to reach a settlement meeting the people and the revolution’s demands are two unrealistic and futile solutions that have led to further sufferings and bloodshed.
Question: Are there any western desires to divide Syria to achieve long or short-ranged geopolitical interests?
Answer: Syria is divided into areas of influence that are working under the influence of occupying countries. Syria is the only case across history that is occupied by two world powers, Russia and the United States, and the most three regional powers, Iran, Turkey, and Israel. Out of that fact, we realize the geo-strategic importance of our country and the civilization contribution of the Syrian people who established and enriched the civilization path across history.
I think dividing Syrian wouldn’t make any benefits, especially at the international level, because its repercussions will be dangerous and may expand and affect the whole region, then it will be impossible to control such dangerous repercussions given the fact that the regional countries are interacted and concerned with the determination unity. Though the regional forces are ambitious to cut from the Syrian lands, the international powers are against that ambitions because some regional powers are qualified to expand their lands and restore their old emperors.
Question: If we evaluate the Syrian opposition and its role to find a political solution or reach a settlement in accordance with the international decisions during the past decade, why it failed?
Answer: the term of opposition is used in a democratic climate. In most cases, the opposition constitutes a shadow government that follows administratively and politically all the activities and studies the possibilities of change.
However, the opposition, when found, in third-world countries is the opposition of demands. But when a revolution took place, the opposition will have two options, either to keep the balance between the revolting aspect and the political behavior and in this case, it would be turned into a rebellion, or to enclose and philosophize its weakness, which means implied support for the dictatorship and the criminalization.
In Syria’s case, the opposition’s dominant behavior has topped the acting scene of the Syrian revolution and then has gradually followed the foreign agendas that implicitly support al-Assad or exceeded Damascus and served the anti-revolution forces.
An example, among many, was the decision number 24 for forming a Supreme Electoral Tribunal along with the incoming presidential election. Accordingly, the results of the Syrian Coalition’s behavior were not too worse with the opposition took the shape of conspiracy against the will of the people.
Question: Is there any regional or international misunderstanding of the situation in Syria?
Answer: No, there is not. On the contrary, they is fully aware of the truth and the core of the Syrian moves as a people revolution that called for freedom, dignity, and change the authoritarian regime that rapped the power in the country.
It was to track the fears that were evolved of our revolution amid concerns of its expansion to their neighbours which would impact the international power’s balance due to the sensitivity of the issue and the importance of the region in the influential countries’ considerations.
At the Arab, regional and international levels, all powers worked since the beginning of the uprising on aborting the revolution and deviate its path and when they failed to stop it, they worked systematically on spoiling it domestically. Those forces have put their agents at the top of the scene where all parties have been struggling to achieve their interests by engagement into conflicts where our sons are the only victims, trading in our sufferings, and destroy the country’s infrastructure. By evidence, the Syrian revolution has been abandoned completely, as the influential actors are divided into two camps: the enemies and the friends.
Question: Explain the reasons behind the rising of presidential candidates’ numbers from the internal opposition?
Answer; As I said before, al-Assad gang’s election is a caricature display and a part of the Russian-Iranian willingness for exerting pressure and compromising other foreign powers. It is normal that the maniac al-Assad chose puppets for pretending of democracy. But that moves are just an expired product that could not be marketed outside the borders of the tyranny and savage parties in Iran and Russia.
The world knows that al-Assad gang ruling in Damascus is fascist and criminal that does not have any humanitarian, ethical, religious, or national reference. Most of the countries around the world have declared previously, even before announcement on the presidential election, that it is illegal and they will not recognize it. The candidates with al-Assad are all elements that are linked with the Syrian regime security and they are asked to present just a symploic participation.
Question: Finally, what is the benefit of the regime election, and what will it bring to an inflamed economic, social and geopolitical malaises? What is the candidates’ program that will convince the Syrian oppressed people?
Answer: When interests among the influential countries differ regarding the Syrian issue, the possibility to find a consensus equation would be difficult. All are ambitious to get a large share of the Syrian and the Arab cake which delays the solution and made it enough to just administer the crisis.
Our people do not depend on internationally agreed-upon solutions any more because they will obviously be a reverse settlement that will not meet the minimum level of the revolutionaries’ demands. The necessity for the protesters to achieve the country’s unity has become a popular demand, and at that time the Syrian words and willingness in drawing their future will behave the upper hand. I have referred before to the state of maturity and consciousness of the majority of the people and the influential factors because the case of differences that have been created by the international and regional powers is no longer acceptable because it was the main reason for the state of imbalance in writing the future of our country.