Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A talk with Syrian Oppositionist Hassan Abdel Azim | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Hassan Abdel Azim, general coordinator of the National and Democratic Forces Committee for Change in Syria, was able to meet with Arab League [AL] Secretary General Nabil el-Araby and avoided by pure chance the protesters’ attack on the Syrian opposition delegation outside the AL premises.

In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Abdel Azim stressed that the Committee rejects the suspension of Syria’s AL membership and the imposition of a no fly zone because these tools would be seen as the main route to foreign intervention and hence the destruction of Syria like it happened in Libya, adding “we believe that the people and not the deposed regime will pay the price for the destruction.”

Following is the text of the interview:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] In your opinion, is the Arab initiative capable of resolving the Syrian crisis?

[Abdel Azim] We are wagering on the steadfastness of the Syrian people’s uprising which enters its ninth month maintaining its peacefulness despite the regime’s talk about taking up arms. This is not true. We also believe that internal steadfastness constitutes a principal factor for avoiding being dragged into taking up arms, violence, and doctrinal and sectarian conflicts. The Arab role that was embodied in the Arab initiative is what we want, that is, the withdrawal of all weapons from Syrian cities and village, allowing peaceful demonstrations, the release of detainees, and the opening of doors for Arab, regional, and international observers to confirm there is no armed opposition as the regime is claiming. We are at the same time watching the extent of the response to the Arab papers and statements issued by the Arab foreign ministers and therefore the right environment for the political process under the AL’s supervision and the action mechanisms such as the presence of civilian observers from the AL, United Nations, and Arab and regional human rights organizations to confirm the peacefulness of the revolution and the non-existence of armed gangs.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] The AL is saying that all the options are on the table. Why are you rejecting the membership suspension and imposition of a no fly zone?

[Abdel Azim] Because this means foreign intervention which we believe it is like the internal tyranny. We are committed to the Arab solution.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What if the Arab solution fails?

[Abdel Azim] We have the steadfastness of the uprising and the Arab and international pressures as well as action to dismantle the regime by the peaceful revolution.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Some believe the Arab initiative has failed and that the Arab solution means more martyrs and wounded.

[Abdel Azim] The Arab initiative has a chance and needs action mechanisms to pressure the regime, expose the facts on the ground, release the detainees, allow peaceful demonstration, and provide solutions aimed at protecting the civilians.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is the uprising inside the country capable of bringing down the regime?

[Abdel Azim] Certainly, and we have an example in the peaceful Yemeni revolution that has entered its 10th month without the people using weapons, though weapons in Yemen are available in all houses and streets.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What happened to you outside the AL premises and the demonstrators’ refusal to talk about the revolution in the dialogue with the AL?

[Abdel Azim] The National Coordination Committee delegation had asked to meet the AL secretary general who agreed. But when we arrived at the AL premises, we were surprised by the gathering of Syrian youths carrying clubs and cameras who prevented us from entering. We went to the second door and they moved and attacked us. But I was able to enter the AL premises and meet the secretary general because the youths did not know me. The delegation remained clashing with them until I came out.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What did you propose to the AL secretary general?

[Abdel Azim] I presented our vision for resolving the crisis and the need to adhere to the Arab solution. I demanded protection for the Syrian people through international observers and the opening of mechanisms for the media.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Did the Committee meet officials from Al-Assad’s regime to receive instructions as the demonstrators had accused you in front of the AL premises?

[Abdel Azim] We in the National Coordination Committee represent 15 parties and have an honourable history of struggle. We represent parties and national figures and have been struggling against tyranny inside and against corruption since the mid-1960’s to this day. At the same time, we reject foreign intervention which threatens the Syrian state and national unity but back the provision of all kinds of protection.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are you demanding from the Arab foreign ministers at their meeting?

[Abdel Azim] We demand from them to continue to work with us. We must benefit from the revolutionary state through which the region is passing before we move to internationalization. The AL too is in a revolutionary state that is better than the past. We repeat for the umpteenth time we want the Arab solution and allowing the Syrian people to express freely. They are capable of bringing down the regime.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is it better to freeze Syria’s membership as the Syrian people are demanding?

[Abdel Azim] We are committed to an essential role for the AL to pressure the regime and force it to implement the Arab initiative. The AL can declare what it wants when the regime refuses. We trust its role.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are you expecting and what is your assessment of the situations in Syria?

[Abdel Azim] We will triumph thanks to the uprising of the Syrian people and the Arab role supporting us. We will reach the comprehensive change and not reform and patching up the present regime. We will not accept any partial reforms but want comprehensive change and a democratic national system through elections that meets the Syrian people’s demands and leads to the regime’s departure. We are neither exclusionists nor totalitarians but want a democratic experience where everyone rules. We have parties whose hands are not covered in blood and corruption. We are hoping to have a pluralistic, parliamentary, and democratic state and a new system that satisfies all the aspirations of the Syrian people who are the architect and source of all authorities. [Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you see the Syrian regime’s accusations that the United States is involved in Syria’s events?

[Abdel Azim] The Syrian regime will not last under the internal, Arab, and regional pressure through Turkey and other countries. Even the corrupt’s allies in Russia, China, South Africa, and Brazil are demanding from Al-Assad to comply. As to the accusation against the United States, it is out of place and there is no evidence of it.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Will the Syrian people remain in the street for a long time? When will they get their rights?

[Abdel Azim] It is not going to be much longer and the change in Syria is coming. It can be said that we are getting close to ending the tyranny and bringing down the regime.