المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR exclusive | Lama Qanout: Scene in Syria will remain gloomy for long time

Syrian politicians and opposition activists share the same opinion that the solution in Syrian should pass through announced US resolutions, otherwise, the country wouldn’t reach the safe side. The regime hasn’t been convinced with any measures and has been continuing its work in the areas under its control as if Syria is a unified secured country that doesn’t suffer severe foreign interventions and domestic conflicts.

Lama Qanout, a Syrian feminist and political opposition activist said in an interview with SOHR, that all indications in Syria mirrored a gloomy situation without a close breakthrough. Only the political solutions that were stipulated in the UN resolutions will put Syria on the road to a solution.

Question: After approving the pump of the humanitarian aid into the remaining Bab al-Hawa crossing, do you think the UNSC controls the issues of the aid access and politicizes it via the Russian veto that has been used three times?

Answer: The UNSC resolution number 2139 that was issued on February 22, 2014, confirmed the importance of the immediate facilitation of humanitarian aid access by all sides. Also, the UNSC resolution number 2165 that was issued on July 14, 2014, in its second article has stipulated offering the humanitarian agency that works under the supervision of the UN and its executive partners the permission to use the roads via the conflict and border crossing lines including Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, al-Ya’airyah and al-Ramat in addition to the crossings that have been already used for ensuring entry of the humanitarian aid to the needed persons across Syria in the shortest roads. The same text has stressed the importance o using all the border crossings which make the UN controls the issue of aid and leave the area for its politicization by the Russian veto that has been already used three times.

The Russians insist on entering the aid via the Syrian regime that prevents in an oppressive and unjustified way the approval of the relief operations and also hinders the humanitarian aid. Statistics revealed that the Syrian regime has hindered 80 percent of the UN requests for humanitarian access via the frontline last year. Currently, there is only one crossing, Bab al-Hawa, that has been approved by the UN to expand its work recently for six months until January 10, 2022, without voting. TO avoid the threat of using the Russian veto, another suitable mechanism should be found for a reach of aid to rescue the people.

Question: Who carries the responsibility for politicizing humanitarian aid?

Answer: The regime and the Russians besides some other international parties and some status quo forces, while the issue of humanitarian aid should be neutral for all the people in need.

Question: Amid Syrian public rejection for the regime and some armed opposition segments that own military arms and that have lost the people confidence, some politicians believe that forming a military council on basis of the UN resolutions has become a necessity to end the continuous conflict and the general division while others believe that that idea will establish the road for tyrant military rule that caused the revolution to take place. Which side do you agree?

Answer: There is no doubt that the political solution as mentioned in the UN resolutions may put Syria on the road for a solution, which means forming a transitional ruling authority, that will be entitled to form a military committee to administer security and rehabilitation and integration, which means by default being affiliated to the transitional ruling authority. Anyway, the proposal of establishing a military council hasn’t been adopted by any influential country in the Syrian cause.

Question: UN special envoy to Syria, not Pederson, called for running new international talks over Syria that include tangible steps like prisoner swap and a cease-fire between Assad regime and the opposition across the country as preliminary steps to push for a political solution according to him, do you see such steps will make a common ground among the warring parties and will enhance the regional and domestic stability in this difficult situation?

Answer: Since diplomatic talks have started in 2012, the opposition has been calling for, as a kind of building confidence, to release the prisoners and reveal the destiny of the forcibly disappeared civilians, either men, women or children, deeming it an unnegotiable cause that should not be subject for compromise or blackmail.

By reviewing reports of the international investigation committee and the Syrian and the international rights organizations, anyone can realize the utmost importance of the issues and its catastrophic repercussions as well as the savage torture, murder and inhuman treatment in the Syrian prisons and official and non-official detention center. It has become since long time a profitable trade, where the authority men and their aids are blackmailing the victims’ families. Yes, the ceasefire, release of prisoners and reveals the places of the forcibly disappeared are important doors for serious negotiations between the opposition and the regime under UN supervision.

Question: When the Russian-US dialogue has been delayed given the solution in Syria should pass only via the consensus between the two world powers, whom do you think is behind the delay?

Answer: The priority for the US administration in the region is the Iranian nuclear issue. The US administration has limited its objectives in Syrian in three points: first is aid access across the borders, second is to uproot ISIS and the third is to enforce a ceasefire, while Russia has been working on translating its military victory into a political one by keeping al-Assad and seeking to end the file of sanctions, and impacting the international community to boost the reconstruction issues and the return of the refugees.

There is no real parameter that predicts a real political transfer of power or forms a transitional ruling authority based on the UN resolutions. However, consensus between Russia and the US overextending the international decisions of entering the humanitarian aid could be mean a US consensus that could reach the settlement aspiring by the Russians. Certainly, such settlement doesn’t treat the root of the struggle but means possible normalization with the war crimes and the crimes against humanity.

Question: There is no real political wiling or bigger pressure practiced by the international community on the Russian, Iranian or the regime for achieving progress in the political issue, especially that the Russians are moving when there is any political vacuum in the Syrian issue. Do you agree with that opinion how could the international efforts coordinated to activate the UNSC resolutions?

Answer: As I mentioned before in your previous question, the international interest for the Syrian issue has retreated and the path deviated for the political solution based on the UN resolution that wanted to exceed the political transition and establishing transitional ruling. The results of the Syrian National Dialogue Conference in January 2018 meant forming a constitutional committee as a political process has failed. There must be a return to the timetable of the political solution, starting by dismantling tyranny in Syria, held the perpetrators and the war criminals accountable via transitional power that ends the culture of escaping punishment, as well as paving the road for citizenship, the sovereignty of law and respecting human rights.

Question: After the rocket attack on June 12 that has targeted al-Shifaa Hospital in Afrin northern Syria as well as the airstrikes of Idlib, the Israeli and terrorist attacks, Are there any concerns of rising escalations while relatively calm in Syria is still fragile?

Answer: Yes, rising escalation is possible without reaching consensus, deal or agreement among the diversified parties. Practically, there is no real-time for a ceasefire, and recently we have witnessed artillery strikes by the Syrian regime on Jabal al-Zawiyah in the southern Idlib countryside.

Question: Analysts say there are worrying indications that ISIS resurgence has been strongly increasing due to the rising recent attacks and its widening scale, how could the international players coordinate to kick ISIS out of Syria?

Answer: Military solutions could alone end ISIS because big parts of the areas that are controlled by Daesh formerly are still destroyed, and children don’t’ got to schools, while political, economic, social, developmental and legal solutions that could secure peace, stability and security haven’t existed. The status quo paves the road for strengthening the presence oy tyrants and facilitate the recruitment of people.

Question: Finally, do you think there is a solution looming for that darkness?

Answer: Unfortunately, no. The scene will remain gloomy for a long time.

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