Featured below is the interview that Thierry Meyssan gave to our colleagues from the Algerian daily newspaper the La Nouvelle République. Worthy of mention is the fact that the interview was given front page billing. While Western journalists eagerly relay the war propaganda against Syria, another reading of the events is emerging in countries where the press is not required to adjust to the editorial line dictated by the Empire.
La Nouvelle République: You have been in Syria. What is your assessment? Does the reality on the ground tally with Western media reports concerning mass demonstrations, the live bullets fired into the crowd that left at least 5,000 dead, the formation of a “free Syrian army” already 1500 men strong and the beginning of a “civil war” with 1.5 million entrapped Syrians allegedly suffering from hunger?
Thierry Meyssan: According to a French saying, “when you want to get rid of your dog, you accuse it of having rabies.” In this case, when the Western powers want to invade a state, their media mouthpieces claim that it is a barbaric dictatorship, that their armies can protect civilians and that they should overthrow the regime and bring democracy. We witnessed the truth in Iraq and Libya: the colonial powers couldn’t be less interested in the fate of the populations; they go in to devastate and plunder the country. There have never been any mass protests against the Syrian regime, therefore no live bullets could have been used to quell them. In recent months, there have been around 1 500 deaths, but not in the reported circumstances. There is indeed a “Free Syrian Army”, but it is based in Turkey and Lebanon, and it is made up of a few hundred soldiers at the most, that are paraded before the cameras.
Finally, Syria is self-sufficient in food production and, despite distribution difficulties, there is no problem of scarcity. The version peddled by the Western media is pure fiction. The reality on the ground is that Western countries have unleashed a non-conventional war against Syria. They sent in Pashtun and Arab fighters, recruited by Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan and trained by French and German special forces. These fighters first attempted to establish Islamic emirates, then they started laying ambushes on Syrian military convoys. Today, they answer to an Al Qaeda emir, the Libyan Abdel Hakim Belhaj. They moved away from major operations and currently conduct commando assaults in the heart of the cities to spread terror in the hope of causing a sectarian civil war. Their latest feat is the double bombing in Damascus.
La Nouvelle République: In one of your articles, you question the accusations propagated by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, that institutions such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accredit without verification. In your opinion, what game are these UN bodies playing?
Thierry Meyssan: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) appeared on the media scene suddenly. This association has no significant track record and only one of its members is known. He is a Syrian Muslim Brotherhood official, holder of three passports, Syrian, British and Swedish. This gentleman announces daily the number of “repression victims,” without ever substantiating his claims. His assertions are unverifiable and therefore worthless. Yet, they are taken up by all those whose interests they serve.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights appointed three commissioners to investigate the events in Syria. Their mission oversteps the competence of the UN, that provides for regular inspections to which Syria submits in accordance with the relevant treaties. As in the Hariri case, the United Nations goes on the assumption that the local authorities (Lebanese or Syrian) are either incapable or dishonest and must be replaced by foreign investigators. Under such conditions, it can not reasonably expect the local authorities to cooperate. The UN has therefore worked from Switzerland and Turkey.
The appointment of the three commissioners is no guarantee of impartiality, as all three originate from States which advocate military action against Syria. Their method is equally unacceptable: under pressure from the Turkish commissioner, who is an activist committed to the fight against violence against women, the Committee considered that the testimonies of prosecution witnesses did not need to be cross-checked and verified. It would be for the accused to demonstrate their innocence when brought before a court. This inquisitorial procedure allows for anyone to be accused of just about anything, but proves nothing.
Investigators have heard from more than 200 people who claimed to have information and sometimes to have witnessed or been the victims of abuse. In accordance with the procedure, the names of the witnesses are kept secret at this stage of the investigation. But contrary to the procedure, so are the names of the victims.
The High Commissioner stated authoritatively that there are over 5 000 repression victims, but advanced only two names. Unfortunately for her, these two cases, which were widely publicized by Al Jazeera, have undergone numerous investigations. The first is a child killed in the street by unknown gunmen in a runaway car and the second is a teenager who was recruited by an armed gang to participate in an attack on a military barracks and died with a Kalashnikov in his hand. Neither bears the hallmarks of a bloody crackdown against a peaceful protest. We therefore expect the High Commissioner to publish the names of the victims so we can verify the validity of her allegations.
Many UN bodies have lost credibility. In the first place, responsibilities should not be entrusted to experts who do not have the status of international civil servants, but are national officials seconded by their governments. Anyone who is accountable to his national hierarchy should not be permitted to act on behalf of the UN.
La Nouvelle République: In Syria as in Libya, some observers argue that the rebels are in fact death squads, foreign mercenaries. What is your take on that?
Thierry Meyssan: In both cases, there are nationals involved in the armed struggle, but they are largely outnumbered by foreign fighters. In Libya, groups from specific tribes joined the foreign mercenaries for the secession of Cyrenaica. But they refused to participate in the fight for the overthrow of Gaddafi in Tripoli. Al-Qaeda troops had to be deployed, and 5 000 commandos were shipped in and incorporated into the regular Qatari army to engage in the ground battle. In the final throes of the Jamahiriya, the tribe of Misrata joined NATO and entered Tripoli after the bombing and the ground hostilities had already stopped.
The only Libyans who fought against the regime from start to finish are the members of Al Qaeda, plus a group of soldiers who had defected with General Abdel Fatah Younes. However, General Younes had previously been ordered by Colonel Gaddafi to crush the Al-Qaeda rebellion. Hence, he was ultimately killed in reprisal by al-Qaeda affiliates when they no longer had any use for him.
In Syria, the insurgents are the Muslim Brotherhood and the Takfiris. But there are mainly foreign fighters who hire local thugs and pay them handsomely to kill their fellow citizens. NATO’s dilemma is that, unlike Libya, Syria is a historic nation. There is no regional divide as between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania. The only possible division is on a confessional basis, but it’s not working for now, although a few clashes of this type were witnessed in Banyias and Homs. The official arrival of the Libyans to set up headquarters in Turkey and to bring in Syrian deserters into the operation has brought things to completion.
La Nouvelle République: The Syrian National Council was formed under the aegis of France in Paris. What should one make of this? Will France take center stage as in Libya, including her “emissary” BHL, or opt for another strategy?
Thierry Meyssan: First, everyone can see that French institutions are partly driven by illegitimate personalities, such as Bernard Henry Levy, who exercise responsibilities without rights or title. Second, certain elected officials, like President Sarkozy, do not serve the national interests but those of the US empire. Under their authority, France was already engaged in a conflict in Ivory Coast that served the interests of a few French multinationals, before engaging in Libya with the aim of extending the neo-Conservative dream of remodeling the “greater Middle East” to North Africa.
There are no disputes between France and Syria, as demonstrated by President Al-Assad’s reception in Paris, at the summit of the Mediterranean Union. At a pinch, one could consider that the old 1980’s conflict (including the assassination of the French ambassador in Beirut) was written off without really having been settled, and could be revived. But I’m not at all sure that in this case, the faults on the French side are not more important than Syria’s. In short, Paris has no reason to attack Damascus.
We all know that the real issue lies elsewhere: the domination and exploitation of the region hinges on the alliance between the United States and Israel on the one hand, with Turkey and the oil monarchies, on the other hand. This alliance is up against a line of resistance, including Hamas, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran, backed by Russia and China. Regionally, two poles were formed, one is exclusively Sunni, the other is multi-confessional (and not Shia as claimed by the neo-conservatives to spur a fitna).
France has become the “proxy” of the United States. She could at any time go to war against Syria. However, she does not have the capacity on her own, not even with Great Britain. And the summit of December 2, which was to establish a three-way alliance with Germany, was canceled for lack of a financial agreement. In the midst of the Euro crisis, Europeans can not afford to pay the price of their imperialism.
La Nouvelle République: The Arab League, in an unexpected move, decided to suspend Syria from all its institutions, even before the 15-day expiry date granted to the Syrian leadership to implement the Arab plan for resolving the crisis. What evaluation can be made of a decision that is contrary to the AL statutes, which call for a unanimous vote for this type of measure?
Thierry Meyssan: International organizations, whether the Arab League or the UN, are not controlled by the states that compose them but by those that finance them. The League has become a toy in the hands of the oil monarchies. People who do not even have a Constitution at home do not think of respecting the statutes of the organizations they have bought. Beyond this, the League’s decision to apply crippling sanctions against Syria’s economy does not correspond to a fault committed, but to the beginning of a conventional war.
La Nouvelle République: The same Libyan scenario is again unfolding. Are we going to witness similar events also in Syria, where the context is different, or could we see another situation take shape?
Thierry Meyssan: The context and the actors are different. Libya was an isolated state. Colonel Gaddafi had raised great hopes but was also a great disappointment. He was an anti-imperialist, but multiplied his secret deals with Washington and Tel Aviv. He was everyone’s ally but neglected or betrayed them all. His country had no diplomacy, nor an alliance policy, except for his investments in favor of African development. Libya was left alone against NATO.
Syria, on the contrary, is an ancient nation which has always cultivated its alliances, including its stance of resistance alongside the Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Iranians. Syria’s diplomacy is so strong that, in a matter of days, she obtained the Russian and Chinese double veto at the Security Council. Any war against Syria may be expected to spread to the entire region and even to escalate into a World War if Iran or Russia intervene directly. In addition, the Libyans are 5 million while the Syrians are 23 million.
Libya had no military experience other than the war with Chad, whereas Syria has lived in a permanent war zone for 60 years. Experts of the pro-war lobby in Washington claim that the Syrian army is poorly equipped and poorly trained. They pledge that an international intervention will be a walkover. It’s funny because in 2006 the same experts deemed that Israel should avoid a new war with Syria, since it would have been too dangerous.
La Nouvelle République: Some argue that what is happening in Syria is simply an extension of the “Arab revolution”, when Syria has been on the US agenda since the Bush era, as reported by General Wesley Clark. In your opinion, how can Bashar Al-Assad avert this conspiracy?
Thierry Meyssan: As you just recalled, the decision to attack Syria was made at a meeting at Camp David, on 15 September 2001, just after the attacks in New York and Washington. The Bush administration had planned a series of wars: Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya and Syria, Sudan and Somalia, and ultimately Iran.
In 2003, just after the fall of Baghdad, the US Congress passed the Syrian Acountability Act which instructs the President of the United States to wage a war against Syria as soon as possible. What President Bush did not have time to do is now being accomplished by his successor Barack Obama.
General Wesley Clark decided to reveal this strategy several years ago to be in a better position to oppose it. He played a very important role during the Libyan War, that he tried unsuccessfully to stop with the help of several active duty generals. Together they represent a significant faction of senior officers who refuse to see their men die in foreign adventures that do not serve the interests of the United States, but those of some ideologues close to Israel. They will therefore do everything in their power to prevent a war in Syria and they have more leverage than is generally believed to influence world politics.
President Bashar al-Assad is not like his father. He is not an autocrat. He governs with a team. His government’s strategy is two-fold: to preserve civil peace in the face of destabilization attempts and threats of religious conflicts, and to strengthen its alliances, especially with Iran, Russia and China.
La Nouvelle République: An inescapable observation in the tumultuous context of the Arab world today, whether in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria, concerns the “reconciliation” between the West and the Islamic movement, their erstwhile enemy. In your opinion, what are the ins and outs of this new Western game?
Thierry Meyssan: I don’t think the West has ever regarded the Islamists as enemies. Historically, all empires have used them to curb national resistance movements. This was the case with the Ottomans, as with the French and the British. Don’t forget that France never applied the law of separation between church and state (1905) in Algeria. Instead, it leaned on the mosques to establish its authority. The Anglo-Saxons have always done the same.
Furthermore, the United States established Islamic movements in the 80’s in the hope of provoking a clash of civilizations between Islam and the Soviet Union. This was the strategy conceived by Bernard Lewis, implemented by Zbigniew Brzezinski, and theorized by Samuel Huntington for public consumption. This gave rise to Al-Qaeda. These people have defended the interests of the US empire in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Chechnya, and more recently in Iraq, Libya and now Syria.
Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who was appointed by Ayman Al-Zawahiri as Al-Qaeda’s number three man when the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya was absorbed by Al-Qaeda, is now the military governor of Tripoli and the commander of the Free Syrian Army. He nonchalantly introduces himself as NATO’s man and demands retribution from the MI6 for having tortured him in the past.
As for the Muslim Brotherhood which Washington has brought to power in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, and would like to install in Syria, they are historically linked to MI6. They were conceived by Hassan Al-Banna for the purpose of fighting the British, but they were instead used by the British to fight Nasser. Today, they are swimming in grants from the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is hardly a sign of independence.
La Nouvelle République: If tomorrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad were to fall, what would be the impact on the Tehran-Hamas-Hezbollah axis of resistance?
Thierry Meyssan: The United States makes no secret of the fact that, if they succeed in destroying Syria – I mean “destroying Syria” because the resistance issue goes far beyond the person of President Al-Assad – they will continue the war by attacking Iran immediately. Therefore, the fall of Syria would open a period of instability that could escalate into a global conflict.
La Nouvelle République: In the context of this war with Syria, Turkey has fully aligned itself with the views of the pro-Western Syrian opposition… by banishing the Syrian regime, claiming it is killing its people, refusing to acknowledge the demonstrations in support of the Syrian President, disparaging the military dimension of the protests, and even refusing to recognize the opponents inside the country as representatives of the Syrian people and reserving that status for the Syrian National Council. In your opinion, why such a turnaround?
Thierry Meyssan: We seem to forget that Turkey is a member of NATO. The Turkish army is auxiliary to that of the United States. In the past, it even saved the United States in Korea. Turkey is home to U.S. bases and has just accepted that the Pentagon install on its territory the NATO bases that are currently stationed in Spain, as well as a new radar system designed to monitor Iran.
For centuries, Turkish leaders have accumulated political errors. Erdogan hopes to become the policeman of the region as Shah Reza Pahlavi and Saddam Hussein before him. History has shown how the United States treat those who serve them: they use them, then eliminate them.