"The Murderous Assad Regime Must Be Stopped"

The Syrian opposition has accused government troops of killing 1,300 people in a poison gas attack. In an interview with Falah Elias, Sadiqu Al-Mousllie – a member of the opposition Syrian National Council – calls for military action against the Syrian dictator

By Falah Elias

The Syrian opposition is accusing the Assad regime of using chemical weapons near Damascus. Why would the Syrian regime do such a thing, especially when UN chemical weapons experts are in the country?

Al-Mousllie: The Syrian regime has been working for months to bring the eastern suburbs of Damascus under its control. For months now, the regime has held no authority there, because these areas are under revolutionary control.

Now on the one hand, the regime is showing that it is co-operating with the UN. But on the other, it is perpetuating its efforts to discredit the rebels. This means that the regime and its backers are sending out two signals. The first is directed at the Syrian people: no one from the international community really wants to help. The goal is to demoralise the natural environment of the Free Syrian Army.

The second message is directed at the UN: ordering such an attack is impossible when the UN inspection team is in Syria! The regime clearly hopes that from the point of view of the international community, this would be another reason to suspect the opposition. And indeed, the international community is using this as an excuse to justify its inaction.

"Ich bin der Meinung, dass die politische Opposition sich nicht von regionalen oder internationalen Akteuren und deren Reaktionen abhängig machen sollte", sagt Sadiqu Al-Mousllie.

What do you expect the international community to do now?

Al-Mousllie: Unfortunately, the past has shown that not much can be expected of the international community. But nevertheless, it is our right, as a member of this community, to call on it for protection and support.

The murderous Assad regime must be stopped using all means at our disposal. We demand concrete action against the regime in order to put a stop to its game. We demand more pressure on its supporters such as Russia, Iraq, Iran and its off-shoot militia in Lebanon. We expect concrete and effective aid programmes for all affected areas in Syria. After all, this is about more than a million people who are either missing, dead or detained. More than 10 million refugees are living both inside and outside Syria. That's a huge number of desperate people with nothing or next to nothing!

US President Barack Obama drew a red line with respect to the use of chemical weapons. This line appears to have been crossed. Will the US now take military action against the Assad regime?

Al-Mousllie: We must realise that countries act in accordance with common interests. If a nation doesn't share another nation's common interests, it is more likely to be viewed as a kind of pawn.

Russia and the US share common interests, which are the subject of their negotiations. Unfortunately, the Syrians are nothing more than an item on their negotiation agenda. As for Europe, it appears to be just following the crowd.

What action will you take within the Syrian opposition?

Al-Mousllie: The Syrian opposition acts politically on an official level. It is doing what it can to procure material aid. But it is dependent on support from the friends of the Syrian people, and unfortunately we are confronted with great passiveness on the part of those allies. We must rely on our own people. The Syrians are the true driving force behind this revolution.

"Wir fordern konkrete Aktionen gegen das Regime, um ihm das Handwerk zu legen. Wir fordern mehr Druck auf seine Unterstützer wie Russland, den Irak, Iran und seine Ablegermilizen im Libanon", sagt der syrische Oppositionelle Sadiqu Al-Mousllie.

There has been talk recently of the establishment of a new national opposition army. How realistic is this? And what is the opposition hoping to achieve?

Al-Mousllie: One part of the opposition is talking about a structured army with a central command. This would ensure that all fighting units are organised and ready to fill the vacuum following the toppling of Assad.

But under no circumstances should such an undertaking cause additional rifts between Syrians. The aim must always be to topple the regime.

If international players don't change their stance, how can the opposition achieve its goals?

Al-Mousllie: In my view, the political opposition should not make itself dependent on regional or international actors and their responses. We are a part of the largest revolution of all time.

We should focus on the hard facts – what's happening on the ground, the work that's being done. This alone will enable Syrians to defeat this brutal regime. There are, however, donor nations that periodically provide unconditional support. This is how we will eventually bring about the demise of Bashar al-Assad and his ruthless regime.

The true motor of this revolution is the Syrian people. Right from the outset, nothing would have been possible without its commitment. This great revolution is the work of this great people. And the people will also bring it to an end with a victory.

Interview conducted by Falah Elias

© Qantara.de 2013

Translated from the German by Nina Coon

Editor: Aingeal Flanagan/Qantara.de