adding that Western threats to launch direct action would only bolster his resolve as the UK and US seek support for military intervention following allegations that the Assad regime killed hundreds in recent poison gas attacks. Though the government denies the claims and blames the attacks on rebels, UN chemical weapons experts are in Syria investigating the attacks and are due to finish their work today Friday and give their preliminary findings to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this weekend. The UK pushed for a UN Security Council resolution facilitating the use of force on Wednesday, but no agreement was reached. Russia and China have blocked previous resolutions on Syria. Daily Trust yesterday snatched a chat with Syria’s Charge d’Affairs & Head of Mission in Nigeria Dr. Shafik Daiyob for a close-up on the unfolding scenario. Excerpt:
Syria risks a coordinated military intervention from western powers in a few days from now over allegations of use of chemical weapons against civilians, as the representative of the Syrian people and government here in Nigeria, how do the people feel about this, whose protection do they really want?
The Syrian people do not trust anything that comes from the west and its allies concerning the current conflict in the country. The people support and applaud Bashar Al-Assad as president, and are behind him. If not for the trust the people have in Assad as president, Syria couldn’t have resisted the uprising for these two and a half years, and confronting even international plots. Let me give you this vital information-based on officially credited information from the Syrian government to the United Nations, there are terrorist elements from 80 countries operating in Syria.
Some of those terrorists don’t even know why they are fighting, they don’t know anything about what is going on, but just fighting, but they do get financial support and weapons from some American allies in the region.
Now, the Syrian people fully believe that the United States and its allies never want anything good for Syria. The Syrian government accepted the UN weapons inspection team to investigate allegations of use of chemical weapons, and gave all means of support to the mission, now they are working in Syria.
The US has already passed judgement even before the UN team concludes its investigation and present the result. They say the government used chemical weapon, if the US government has enough concern for the Syrian people, it should have waited for the outcome of the investigation.
And if chemical weapon was used, who used it? All these did not happen. The UN Secretary General requested that they wait for the outcome of the investigation and the UN envoy in Syria himself advised that they wait for the outcome.
The Syrian people have for two good years been suffering under sanctions imposed against the country by the US covering medicine, food, information technology and finance, these are directly affecting the people. Based on this, the Syrian people will not accept any aggression against their government.
Is Bashar Assad still really in full control in the country?
The Syrian government is still very much in control in the whole of Syria. In some small areas however, the terrorists are in huge numbers. These areas strategically cannot be that very important. That’s why Syrian government forces do not really mind about such places by going there. The Syrian armed forces have the capability to take anywhere in the country. Basher Assad believes in the nation and is doing his work without any hindrance.
Is the Syrian government in any way scared by the looming of military action?
There is no scare but concern.
If there is no fear, can Syria withstand a western military attack?
Any time there is western aggression against Syria, it is ready to defend itself. The Syrian government has the capability to defend the country.
But the west is not talking about taking Syrian territory, or regime change, but defending the people from government repression, in any case, this is the kind of confidence raised by people like Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi before western attacks, yet they fell. Does Syria possess anything different?
Yes, there is difference.
What is the difference?
The difference is that Syria does not say it will defeat America, we know the limit of our power and capability, and the Syrian government knows the scope of western power. It is the natural right of Syria to defend itself against any aggression from anywhere based on international law. Secondly, Syria has very important allies around the world and in the region. Those friends reject the aggression on Syria and are working with Syria to reach any possible peaceful solution to the crisis.
In that case, in the event of a western attack, are we likely to see a conflagrated regional conflict?
No doubt about this. War can start with the wish of an aggressor, but how it ends, no one can say.
Some people think the Syrian conflict is not just about Assad, or removing him from power, but a wider Sunni—Shiite conflict, how about that?
This is completely untrue. The conflict is not about Shiites or Sunnis. Syria is one of the few countries that have most of the religions around the planet, any religion you know Syria is one of the few countries that have all religions-Christianity spread and reached Romans through Syria. Apostle Paul passed through Syria.
If the conflict is not about beliefs and religious differences, how come the Syrian government is getting support from Hezbollah and other foreign organisations believed to be linked to certain groups?
Those supports don’t just come from Hezbollah but from friends and allies of Syria. This is because the case in Syria is about a just cause, and what is happening is interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Syria is fighting international terrorism. One so called Japhat el nusrah group which is a terrorist branch of Al Qaeda is fighting in Syria, it is carrying out terrorist acts and fighting people. I want the Nigerian people and government to know that Japhat el nusrah is on the list of international terrorist groups released by the United Nations. For all these reasons, all friends of Syria are in support of Syria.
If Russia and China suddenly withdraw their support and backing, how far can the Syrian government cope?
This will not change anything. Are Russians and Chinese Shiites? Of course they are not. There are sections of the media with the help of America that are trying to create the impression that the crisis in Syria is religious, and this is not true. Syria is fighting and withstanding terrorism and is fighting to defend its sovereignty and the interest of its people.
What does the Syrian government want from the Nigerian people and government?
Thanks for this question, but before I answer it, let me raise this point. Just before I got to Abuja, following what is happening here in Nigeria, I realised some similarity between what is happening in Nigeria and Syria. Terrorism has hit some states in northern Nigeria. Terrorism has no religion, has no country. Syria is willing and ready to cooperate with Nigeria and the whole world to confront terrorism and wishes the Nigerian people and government progress and stability.