SOHR exclusive | Suleiman Al-Qarfan: “I do not rule out the possibility of reaching consensus between opposition and Syrian regime” • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

SOHR exclusive | Suleiman Al-Qarfan: “I do not rule out the possibility of reaching consensus between opposition and Syrian regime”

Al-Qarfan: “Iran is proceeding with a systematic plan to evacuate south Syria of everybody opposing Iranian presence”

Several Syrian regime opponents see that reaching a settlement in Syria depends not only on drafting an alternative constitution of that one set in 2012 and passing specific revolutionary laws, but also on reaching appropriate methods and a middle way, so that the settlement of the Syrian crisis will not be at the mercy of promises and negotiations lacking popular legitimacy, consensus among local bodies and a clear stance by international actors aware of the catastrophic situation of Syrian people.


In an exclusive SOHR interview, the president of the “free bar association,” Suleiman Al-Qarfan has said that he does not rule out the possibility of reaching consensus between the opposition and the Syrian regime, at the same time when the opposition relies on the international community to reach a political settlement. Al-Qarfan also stated that the resolve of the Syrian dilemma does not totally depend on drafting a new constitution by the current constitutional committee.



Q: There are reports on diligent efforts and dialogues to start a new round of the work of the constitutional committee, do you think that this committee is still able to achieve any progress? And what are the reasons behind its failure in the previous rounds?


A: That is right, there are preparations for a seventh round scheduled to be held on March 21. I do not think that the constitutional committee alone can reach a settlement in Syria. I see that the committee’s failure to achieve any progress so far is attributed to intransigence by the Syrian regime and its allies, Russia and Iran, towards starting serious negotiations.



Q: Do you think the conflict between Ukraine and Russian affects the situation in Syria?


Of course, the developments in Ukraine directly affect the situation in Syria. Previously, all international powers acted as if they had granted Russia the “mandate” to intervene in Syrian conflict and impose settlements based on its view and interests, where concern by influential powers, specially the USA, about the Syrian crisis has been greatly subsided. In the present, I think that this “mandate” will be halted, after Moscow has proved that it does not respect the international laws or human rights, and that the policy of its government is based on fabricating accusations and falsifying facts. This stance will affect all countries where Russia has intervened, including Syria. I think that the international community will address the Syrian crisis in a better way in the future.



Q: Alarming systematic crimes, including kidnappings and assassinations, has been escalated recently, along with the worsening security situation. In your opinion, How can this phenomenon be addressed? And do you think that this security vacuum is attributed to a poor structure of security and military services?


A: Unfortunately, a systematic plan is being proceeding with to evacuate south Syria region of everybody opposing Iranian presence and influence, so that region is experiencing a systematic security disorder and alarming prevalence of drugs. There are plants for manufacturing illicit drugs in all provinces of south Syria region; this, in turn, has helped to enlarge the circle of drug abuse, especially among the youth. There is no doubt that all assassinations in that region have been planned by intelligence services under coordination with Iranian-backed militias in order to pave the way for the Iranian aspiration to impose influence on south Syria. Accordingly, Iranian presence will pose a threat to regional powers, precisely the Arab Gulf States.


I think that the current assassinations and security vacuum cannot be stopped before expelling Iranian-backed militias from south Syria or forming an internationally-backed security body comprising ex-revolutionists from south Syria to control the security situation and disclose the real perpetrators committing and abetting these systematic assassinations.



Q: Why did you previously express your rejection of the Russian-drafted roadmap in Daraa, and why did you described the terms stipulating for the handing over of light weapons and evacuating opposition fighters from Daraa to other areas as “cruel?” And do you think that such procedures are taken to wrap around any other agreements?


A: I have previously expressed my rejection of the Russian-drafted roadmap in Daraa, as the Russians attempt, during this roadmap, to wrap around the Russian-sponsored settlement deals conducted in 2018. According to 2018’s agreement, only heavy weapons had been handed over, while it was agreed on releasing detainees, stopping arbitrary arrests and reappoint employees who had been dismissed from their posts. However, these terms remained unfulfiled. Accordingly, the “Russian-dictated” roadmap has been a “green light” for regime forces and Iranian-backed militias to impose full control on south Syria region and arrest and eliminate everyone opposing the policy of the Syrian regime; this, in turn, has allowed regime authorities and Iranian-backed militias to proceed with their violations with no one being able to stop them.



Q: How can Syrian people fight greediness, crimes and violations under judiciary run by war lords? Does judiciary has become ignored and undermined? And how can cases of corruption, like Abu Amsha case, be solved?


A: Sadly, the situation in the entire Syrian geography is disastrous, and the Syrians have nothing to do with these violations and are not able to put an end to crimes as long as judiciary in all areas across Syria is nondependent and controlled by security services and de facto authorities with repression being the cornerstone of their policy.



Q: After the noticeable deployment of Iranians in Daraa and the entire region of south Syria, How can Iranian expansion in Syria be curbed?


Syrians cannot abort the Iran’s plan or curb its expansion in Syria by their own. Such issues can be solved only by international efforts, particularly by regional powers, and establishing formations comprising individuals from south Syria with a task to counter Iran’s plan.



Q: In light of the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, what do you thing of the statement by Al-Assad who has confirmed his support to his ally, Russia which helped his regime to remain in power, and stressed that the enemy of Russia and Syria is the same, describing the Syrian Revolution as an “extremist move?”


A: Al-Assad’s statements and support to Russia in its invasion in Ukraine have been expected. Al-Assad has not been authorised to adopt another stance. Russia has intervened in the Syrian conflict and involved in repressing Syrian people under the pretext of “preserving the legitimacy of the president.” However, Russia today invades Ukraine to overthrow an elected president.


I really do not know how matters can go on a right way, but under the rule of dictator regimes, everything is allowed. I think that no one will pay significant attention to Al-Assad’s statements, especially after a series of his degrading stances. It is common knowledge that Al-Assad is a weak subordinate to Russia.


Regarding the acceptance of opposition to share a settlement with Al-Assad’s regime in Syria, I see that Syrian people have been disappointed in the “timid” efforts of the international community which seems to abandon them, and with the opposition institutions relying on the international community to mediate and reach a political settlement, I do not rule out the possibility of reaching consensus between the opposition and the Syrian regime.