SOHR exclusive | Fouad Aliko: “ISIS has never been eliminated, it just changes its tactics…the attack on Ghuwayran prison is a serious security breach” • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR exclusive | Fouad Aliko: “ISIS has never been eliminated, it just changes its tactics…the attack on Ghuwayran prison is a serious security breach”

Fouad Aliko, member of Yekiti Kurdistan Party and SNC’s political committee: “Coalition is blamed for not exerting needed pressure on foreign countries to take back their terrorists…I do not rule out the possibility that regional powers back ISIS…Iranian and Syrian regimes are the ultimate beneficiaries”

Syrian Kurds has been all along dreaming of reaching a federal rule which they see as the heart of democracy that guarantees fair distribution of resources and one of the finest models of governance  for a successful administration. Kurds see the federal rule as a solution for putting an end to the ethnic and religious disagreements among diverse societies. Although Kurds have been described as separatists, they insist on reaching such form of governance.


In an exclusive SOHR interview with a member of the political committee of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) and of the Yekiti Party, Fouad Aliko sees that ISIS has never been eliminated in Syria, it was just defeated in face-to-face battles. ISIS has learned from earlier experiences and made a “good” use of changing its tactics. There is an undeniable link between the dramatic events in Diyala in Iraq and the deadly attack on Ghuwayran prison in Syria.



Q: Does the timing of ISIS attack on Ghuwayran prison in north Syria affect ISIS’ ability to regroup, despite the Coalition’s announcement nearly three years ago of its elimination in Syria?


A: ISIS was defeated only in direct confrontations, but it has never been eliminated in Syria. ISIS has learned from its defeats in battles and changed its tactics, and depends on executing  attacks in small groups, which is more akin to guerrilla tactics. In addition, some ISIS members have joined military formations in Syria and Iraq until they get a chance to unleash their attacks. The attack on Al-Hasakah prison was a clear and serious security breach, and ISIS prepared for this systematic attack very well. One of ISIS fighters who set the plan of the attack on Al-Hasakah prison was arrested  by SDF a few months ago, where he provided the security forces with a video showing all details of that plan. However, SDF did not take needed security and precautionary measures. What happened in the prison is a real disaster.



Q: In your opinion, is there a relation between the attack on Al-Hasakah prison and the latest events in the Iraqi province of Diyala, where 11 Iraqi soldiers have been killed by ISIS?


A: Absolutely, there is a link between the two events, where ISIS has taken advantage of security chaos in the contested areas between Kurdistan Region of Iraq and the federal state and carried out hit-and-run attacks in both Syria and Iraq, which clearly indicates that the “Islamic State” is still alive and kicking. I cannot rule out the possibility that regional and political local powers are supporting and funding the noticeable escalation of ISIS activities and operations. Blame for the recent expansion and escalation of ISIS attacks is pointed at the main politically beneficiaries. Here, I mean Iranian and Syrian regimes, the attack on Al-Hasakah prison brings to mind the events of Abu Ghraib prison, the handing over of Mosul and the Syrian regime’s release of extremists from its prison in the beginning of the Syrian Revolution.



Q: Do you think that the foreign powers, whose citizens fought alongside ISIS in Syria and now held in Ghuwayran prison and Al-Hawl camp, failed to achieve stability in that region by neither reaching a political settlement nor taking their fighters back?


A: Of course, the International Coalition is blamed greatly for not exerting enough pressure on these countries to take their terrorists and try them or established an international court in Syria. Also, the international Coalition did not contribute to securing or fortifying the prison. Such repercussions were expected, as long as  there is no workable solution.



Q: It seems that there will be a change in the region’s road map, in your opinion, what key issues will this change address?


A: I agree with you. The region is in the midst of an alarmingly instable situation, amid expectations of significant developments in many regional powers which are struggling with considerable disorders, like Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon and Ukraine. The situation is complex while no workable solutions loom on the horizon still. With Iran being engaged in most of the crises in these countries, the current non-consensus regarding Iran’s nuclear file may lead to further escalation and a regional war.



Q: It is common knowledge that Kurds are internally divided between the “Kurdish National Council” (ENKS) and the “Democratic Union Party” (PYD), how long will the division and disagreements last? And what proposals do you offer to contain this issue?


A: I am sorry to say that we have been divided since the beginning of the Revolution. We exerted considerable efforts to settle our disagreements and held several deals in 2012, 2013 and 2014, in which the President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq “Masoud Barzani” mediated between the two parties. However, all these deals have not been accomplished because of the PKK’s negative stance  and  interference in our affairs by sending non-Syrian cadres, Turkish and Iranian, in order to administrate the region. These cadres imposed their vision and theories by force and adopted cruel practices, intimidating and terrorizing the council’s members and everyone opposing their vision.


In 2019, we started a new dialogue under guarantee by the SDF leader and US supervision, but we have not reached any deals so far. These slow steps of the recent dialogue are attributed to the lack of a real administration of “PYD”, and I think that PKK is attempting again to hinder reaching of any agreements. Moreover, Washington, the dialogue guarantor, has failed so far to exert needed pressure to accomplish an understanding between both sides.


We hope that the experience of Al-Hasakah prison will motivate “PYD” to think again and be aware of the fact that it cannot administrate the Kurdish region alone without participation of the “Kurdish National Council”, the most reliable body that “PYD” can rely on, in the decision-making process. The most important question now is, will an agreement be reached in light of the current circumstances? I hope so.



Q: You have been all along talking about a federal centralised rule in Syria, and you know that Syrian people do not feel good about this expression; this, in turn, has spurred them to describe you -the members of the council- as “separatists” on some occasions. What do you mean by depending on a federal regime?


A: The federal regime is a form of ruling regimes, and it has been proved, in the theory and practice, that it is the finest regime for a successful administration. This regime has two advantages that are not available in any other regime. First, it is able to put an end to the ethnic and religious disagreements among diverse societies. Second, it guarantees fair distribution of power and resources. Syria suffers greatly from these two issues, especially since the successive decentralised governments impoverished several provinces in return for the prosperity of others.


In fact, each side, Syrian Kurds and Syrian Arabs, is concerned about the other’s policy.


The Kurds fear of the return of the centralised police state through a military coup which will bring to mind, in the case that it happens, unpleasant events during the earlier coups in Syria, including the statement No. 1 suspending the constitution, after seizure of the headquarters of broadcasting and ministry of defence. Accordingly, Syrians will return to square one.


While Arabs fear that the Kurdish proposal of a federal government is the first step towards division.


In order to pass these fears, a peaceful and responsible dialogue needs to start, so that a common understanding preserving the rights of all Syrians can be formulated. There are brave efforts by Arab powers which seek  unifying Syria. I think that the recent developments in the region will lead to adopting this regime, the federal regime, as a solution for crises not only in Syria, but also in the whole region.

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