SOHR exclusive | Mohamed Zaki Howaidy, assistant secretary-general to the Democratic Arab Socialist Union: Opposition should reconsider its plans
Howaidy: Differences between coordination authority, coalition led to several delays and it’s time to resolve all problems
The situation in Syria is still mysterious as different parties till today haven’t reached a solution to end the ongoing crisis. The disputes have affected different bodies of the opposition that have suffered from division and fragmentation which hindered enforcing the international decisions, most important of which is resolution number 2254. Recently, some opposition segments have called recently for launching an independent Syrian national dialogue for settling the crisis and end the tragedy.
Howaidy, assistant secretary-general to the Democratic Arab Socialist Union and member of the Coordination Authority told SOHR that the situation in Syria couldn’t bear more delay, stressing the importance of making some changes and reviews in lines of the opposition.
Question: After the failure of different rounds of the constitutional committee, what will be the conclusion? Will the committee be able to overcome the disputes for completing the draft of the new constitution aspired by the people?
Answer: The constitutional committee held five rounds of talks since October 2019 with no tangible results for many reasons including the committee doesn’t have a time limit to end its work, the international reluctance over the committee importance, and ongoing delay by the regime that doesn’t accept any political solution or transfer of power.
“I don’t expect the coming period will see drafting the country’s constitution,” he said.
Question: Some observers said that the al-Assad government has been standstill even with war and today it feels more military confidence despite the need for funds. Damascus also seeks to lure more influential Arab voices to practice pressures for lifting sanctions. How could you explain such a situation? Could the relations with Damascus take another angle in light of the recent changes in some countries’ tendency towards reproducing the Syrian regime?
Answer: The regime and its Russian ally deemed themselves as winning at the military level and now in a way of another they wanted to achieve victory at the political one. It is an existed strategy of the Russians. Syria has been destroyed and no military or political victory will be made on the ground. The Russians have sought since the beginning to deviate the Geneva path, then Astana and Sochi. The Russians were not serious about adopting international resolution number 2254.
The Russian policy is well-known to all from the beginning, they seek the reproduction of the regime, while some Arab countries seek devaluation of the regime. But, I think neither the sanctions will be lifted, nor the regime, as the Russians plan, will be reproduced after deporting its people.
Question: Do you think the normalization train is associated with international understandings with regard to the Syrian issue or policies of the US recurrent administrations?
Answer: Yes, the train of normalization between the Arab and western countries with the regime wouldn’t actually move without special international understandings between the US and Russia. If the understandings happened, the path with the regime would actually produce some results.
Question: There is a new suggestion about forming the Syrian government with the participation of Syrian regime and opposition, after years of destruction and devastation. Do you think the opposition will accept this suggestion, and does it suit the international decisions, 2254 in particular?
Answer: Talks about national unity government including the regime and the opposition is a kind of exaggeration that was mentioned in the past without the content of the opposition, and repeating the same proposal today is useless in light of the current political equation and the regime composition. But the opposition couldn’t accept the participation in a national unity government which doesn’t match decision number 2252 that stipulated real and actual political transfer of power.
Question: Is there a problem between the opposition and some countries that seek normalization with the regime on basis of economic and geopolitical interests and understandings?
Answer: Yes, there are problems for the opposition concerning some bids of normalization with al-Assad regime as some countries have taken such road without existing political solution or application of international decision especially number 2254. In case of reaching consensus over the normalization, it means striking the aspirations and demands of the people and the revolution and turning back to aspirations of the Syrian people and opposition of achieving dignity, freedom, political settlement and transfer of power from the tyrant regime to a real and actual democratic country.
Question: Opposition factions call for respecting the Syrian decision, do you think Syria is a decision-maker while it is occupied by four countries?
Answer: Adhering to the Syrian decision and restoring the sovereignty of the country is a Syrian demand and principle even with the interventions, occupation, and control of some countries. Such legitimate and necessary demands couldn’t be relinquished.
Question: What about the latest reports about the escalation of the arrests in the regime-controlled areas?
Answer: 90 percent of the arrests are focused inside the regime-controlled areas. The Syrians over decades have been suffering arrests, deportation, compulsory displacement, and other humanitarian problems. Any Syrian has a real fear of being arrested even his movement from a place to another. There are several documented cases in the human rights files. There is no possibility to stop those violations without enforcing the international decisions along with holding the perpetrators of the crime accountable.
Question: Some UN reports say that Syria is the third fragile country in the world in 2021, what is your comment on that ad who bears the responsibility for the current crisis?
Answer: The Syrian regime should bear the responsibility of its policies from the beginning of the revolution till today. If the regime chooses the military security solution, it means there is a tendency towards accepting any political solution or proposals for ending the crisis which led the country to chaos, destructions, and unbearable living conditions.
Question: Does Syria needs an opposition with another vision and a more rational program to get the country out of the crisis spiral?
Answer: Definitely, Syria needs strong opposition with a new approach, we are in dire need of active opposition but the current situation doesn’t crystalize an alternative. The opposition forces have to reconsider their plans and review their issues and have a real action plan for reaching a political settlement and transfer of power. We are in dire need to review and reconsider our plans and visions in these difficult conditions.
Question: Based on the latest differences between the national coordination authority and the coalition, some reports spoke about an anticipated visit of a delegation from the authority to Turkey. What is the purpose of the visit and why the authority hasn’t reacted till today?
Answer: The negotiation authority is a functional entity, not a political body. Its main task is to negotiate and it formed six platforms that convened Riyadh 1,2 conferences and have made several negotiation rounds with the regime when De Mistura was the international mediator. The authority baskets were represented in the transitional governing authority, the constitution, the elections as well as combating terrorism. When the Sochi conference took place, the constitution basket came first then the transitional governing one. The opposition accepted that views as a key for solving the crisis on one condition which is the four baskets should be conducted in parallel and would constitute access for transfer of power.
Differences appeared on the organizational side between the national coordination authority and the coalition but the regional interventions have worsened the already complicated situation and the ongoing unbearable conditions. Accordingly, the coordination authority decided to visit Ankara to hold negotiations meetings with the coalition to eliminate the organizational differences and not differences in the political visions and principles. We hope the authority could resume its work because the basic demand is to move the political process, especially from the opposition side.