‘The situation… provides a historic opportunity to break free from the global capitalist market’ says Syrian deputy premier Qadri Jamil

Syrian Youth in Britain demonstration outside their embassy in London on August 4th in support of President Assad and in  opposition to the US/UK-backed terror campaign in Syria
Syrian Youth in Britain demonstration outside their embassy in London on August 4th in support of President Assad and in opposition to the US/UK-backed terror campaign in Syria

SYRIAN deputy Premier Qadri Jamil, and Syrian Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haydar have spoken on Damascus TV following their meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Jamil said: ‘The Syrian government delegation’s visit to Moscow – as you can see from the makeup of this delegation – is a political visit with primarily political objectives.

‘The Syrian crisis has been on for a year and a half. The current Syrian government placed national reconciliation at the top of its agenda. Achieving national reconciliation, as we understand it, requires the commencement of a comprehensive political process securing a safe exit from the current situation in Syria.

‘About an hour ago we ended a lengthy and cordial meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The meeting was very important. We discussed in detail the prospects of a solution to the Syrian crisis. The Syrian people want the crisis to end. This crisis causes bloodshed. This crisis puts much strain today on the Syrian economy, which reflects negatively on the life of the Syrian citizens.

‘Our position as to how this crisis can be resolved has been clear from the very beginning. We must go to dialogue without preconditions. Setting preconditions for a dialogue is effectively an obstruction of the dialogue. Those who want dialogue to start should go immediately for it and put their ideas and visions about a solution and about future Syria, the new and renewed Syria, on the dialogue table.

‘I do not think the discussion of any issue at the dialogue table is forbidden. But there must be commitment to certain principles in order to launch the dialogue.

‘These principles have now become known: first, rejection of all forms of foreign intervention, and, second, rejection of all forms of violence. The dialogue table cannot be a platform for dialogue on the admissibility or inadmissibility of foreign intervention or the use of violence.

‘These two points are not conditions, but rather principles because the dialogue will be doomed to failure if no agreement is reached on these two principles. If we agree on these principles, I think all other issues become amenable to solution through a dialogue seeking to achieve accord.

‘This particular issue was the subject of expanded discussion with Mr Lavrov. As you know, a Syrian government economic delegation visited Moscow a few weeks ago. Several understandings were reached during that visit, and these require implementation, monitoring and discussion to advance them in reality.

‘We in the Syrian government seriously want, on the basis of the policy statement that the government presented to the People’s Assembly, to move towards the East. For us, this means relations with all the countries that resemble us and that have historically had situations identical to ours.

‘For us, the East means Russia, China, India, and also Venezuela – in other words, the East is a political, not only a geographic, concept.

‘We believe that the global situation today, represented by the crisis of the capitalist power, provides a historic opportunity for all these peoples to break free from the global capitalist market and change the principles of unequal exchange by which they have been governed for hundreds of years.

‘At this moment, the Syrian people and their government want to benefit from this historic opportunity because this serves both the Syrian people and the international economic relations as it will greatly alleviate the persecution from which all these peoples suffered through the unequal international exchange system that prevailed during the neocolonialism and that was directly practised during the old colonisation epoch.

‘So, for the Syrian government, heading East is a strategic and very serious slogan. We know that this is not an easy thing to do because it involves a change of a system, a system of international relations and a system of domestic development at the same time. It is a political, economic, and social change. But we insist on taking this road.

‘Hence the intensification of our meetings with all the friends, especially when Syria is suffering from unjust sanctions imposed by the EU and the United States. They claim that these illegitimate and unilateral sanctions target the regime, but they effectively and practically harm all Syrians.

‘The Western, European, American position, with regard to the sanctions, is a hypocritical position that largely harms the Syrian people and citizens who are today suffering a great deal as a result of these sanctions.

‘And because a friend in need is a friend indeed, we sense that the Russians and all the other friends – the Chinese, the Iranians, and all the others – want to help us to ease the impact of the sanctions on the Syrian citizens’

Answering questions, Jamil said national dialogue has been proposed by the Syrian regime since July 2011. But every time the Syrians were close to a political solution, ‘foreign interference’ intensified to prevent it.

‘I – not only me but the Syrian people – accuse the West of adopting a hypocritical position. While it sheds crocodile tears over the Syrian people, it obstructs every possibility for political solution.’

He said that violence in Syria is being encouraged through the influx of armed men, including Al Qaeda elements, and the provision of armed men with weapons and money.

Jamil also said the West wants the bloodshed in Syria to continue in order to end Syria’s role or even ‘cancel Syria itself as a political, geographic unit in the future.’

The Syrian deputy prime minister added that when Lavrov talks about a transitional government in Syria ‘he does not depart from the logical context of a solution to the Syrian crisis, a solution to which the Syrian government – before the formation of the latest government – announced its commitment.’

He continued that a ‘transitional government or a national unity government has one function; namely bringing the country out of its crisis, and this is what Syria wants.’

Asked about oppositionist Haytham Manna’s call for bringing to trial all those who militarised the Syrian uprising and so caused Syrian bloodshed, Haydar saluted Manna and all Syrian nationalists.

‘From my official position I address greetings to Haytham Manna’ and ‘to all those who adopt a nationalist discourse’, and he noted that Manna was strongly attacked abroad for his rejection of foreign military intervention.

Jamil stressed Minister Hydar’s ‘positive evaluation’ of the Coordination Committee’s recent initiative, and said he sees prospects for expanding the circle of the participants in the dialogue.

There are ‘strong signs’ that ‘the commencement of a comprehensive political process is now very imminent.’

On chemical weapons, the Syrian deputy prime minister said the talk about chemical weapons in Syria by the outside world ‘reminds us of the myth of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

‘The West is looking for an excuse to directly intervene in Syria. If this excuse does not work, it will try to find another one. But it does not understand a new fact established by the international reality after the Russian-Chinese veto and continued to this moment: direct military intervention in Syria is impossible because those who think of it choose a confrontation that goes beyond Syria’s border.’

He described US President Barack Obama’s threats to Syria over its chemical weapons as ‘media threats’ the president wants to employ in his election campaign.

Asked about the opposition’s call on President Bashar al-Assad to step down, Jamil said: ‘Setting the resignation as a condition before the start of the dialogue implicitly means closing the dialogue table before its opening.

‘But on the dialogue table, nothing prevents discussing any issue any of the conferees thinks of or asks to be discussed.

‘Even this issue can be discussed. But is it democratic to demand resignation before we find the mechanisms through which the Syrian people can express their views, even on this issue?’

He added: ‘I believe the entire Syrian people must be consulted on this issue. If this issue is imposed by the outside world, it will be a serious precedent in international relations.’

And calls for Al-Assad’s resignation ‘encroach upon the Syrian people’s right to self-determination.’

Jamil stressed: ‘The Syrian people are the ones to decide the fate of any person anywhere. Seizing this right is effectively an insult and trusteeship on the Syrian people.’

He reiterated that ‘there is no taboo’ on the dialogue table.

Haydar welcomed any effort by any foreign country to facilitate the dialogue in Syria but said such a country must not take sides.

And while these foreign parties can facilitate the dialogue, the Syrian people alone will determine the forms and mechanisms of change.

‘No foreign party can interfere in this,’ he concluded.