Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

HNC Chairman: A Promising Military Alliance to Support Rebels, Iran Retaliates with Unprecedented Forces | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Riad Hijab attends a news conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

London- Chairman to Syria’s High Negotiations Committee Riad Hijab on Friday said signs of a capable military regional initiative that would alleviate the suffering of Syrians are very promising. 

The top Syrian coordinator said that after diplomacy failing, a decisive regional military commandership is a the closest to a shining glimmer of hope in the darkness which has befallen Syria.

Hijab also cited an alarming mass inflow of Iranian troops and proxy militias taking place—added to the unprecedented arms trafficking activity registered. 

Amid an absent international agreement on proposals made to calm the situation in Syria, militias backing the regime head, Bashar al-Assad, and rebels have deployed and repositioned active units.  

In a phone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Hijab called ‘Tahrir al-Sham’ and ‘Fatah al-Sham’ “thinly-veiled masks” for al-Qaeda offshoot, Al-Nusra Front. 

“There is no land they set camp in that doesn’t end up being destroyed, and have havoc wreaked upon its people,” Hijab said when describing the horrors of extremist groups – namely Tahrir al-Sham and Fatah al-Sham- in Syria.

Hijab also urged that all foreign combatants fighting in Syria to leave the country instantly.

Addressing radicalized Syrian youth, Hijab pressed that they “answer to the voice of reason” and “abandon the illusions drawn up by extremism and fabricated rogue fatwas.”

Fatwas –a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority—have long been exploited by ultra-hardline groups to rally up recruitment among youths. Under self-proclaimed religious authorities, groups like ISIS have employed a malicious strategy based on issuing self-tailored fatwas to advance their agenda.  

Summing up recent meetings he held with each of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Hijab said that it is early to judge whether European support for political transition in Syria will continue.

“Europe has just emerged from a series of elections in which the alt-right challenged the decade-old traditional way of doing things.”

“Struggles to uphold political and economic stability, Europe is also tasked with controlling damage done by Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union,” Hijab explained.

Referring to growing migration and refugee crises worldwide, the ever-growing threat of terror groups, and other challenges, Hijab said that it is vital more than ever that Europe plays a “leading” role in settling the Syrian file. 

Reviewing the historic visit of US President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia in May, Hijab said that it was a game-changer for rebels looking for support against a brutal dictatorship that is backed by foreign militaries. 

The summits held during Trump’s visit have helped strengthen an assuring military alliance that will step in to free Syrians from the suffering they experience, after years of diplomacy proving futile with Assad’s regime, said Hijab. 

“Riyadh has long served as the moderator of military and security in the Middle East, where it has been dealing with crises and extinguishing fires sparked by Iran in the region,” added Hijab.

“There is no doubt that the new alliance will play a major role in restoring balance and making safe zones a tangible reality.”

Hijab emphasized that Trump’s visit was only the first step in a journey of hard work accomplished by a promising team with a far-sighted strategic vision.

As for Iran-backed transgressions in Syria, Hijab highlighted that the recent entry of the Iraq-based Popular Mobilization Forces to Syrian territory comes as part of a comprehensive logistics strategy implemented by Iran in southern Syria to secure the Syrian-Iraqi border.

“This is undoubtedly part of an Iranian strategy aimed at undermining international consensus to establish safe areas in the country.” 

Hijab said that the PMF verify as an occupying force, “so do all Tehran-aligned sectarian militias and mercenary groups backing the regime in its crimes against defenseless Syrian people.” 

“We call for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and their replacement with UN peacekeepers,” added the former prime minister. 

Increasingly, Iran’s shadow war in Syria serves to threaten regional overall stability and eventually threatens international security. Since its inception, Tehran’s Islamic theocracy had hoped through its proxies to locally shoring up its expansionist agenda. 

Furthermore, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has declared that it was imperative that Iran confronted its enemies in Syria away from its own borders.

Examples of Iran supported militias abroad are PMF units in Iraq and the Lebanon-based “Hezbollah.”

The unrest in Syria grew out of discontent with the Assad regime and escalated to an armed conflict after protests calling for his removal were violently suppressed.