'UK, France, Germany approached Assad against their jihadi citizens'
In an interview to HT, Syrian ambassador to India Riad Kamel Abbas claims the UK, France and Germany asked the Syrian government to 'take care' of its citizens who have been radicalised and fighting in Syria. If his claims are true, the David Cameron government has asked a foreign government to execute its citizens.world Updated: Oct 22, 2014 07:16 IST
It's been more than three years since the civil war broke out in Syria. Opposition groups of more than 100,000 rebels with over 83 nationalities have been fighting the Bashar al-Assad government.
In an interview to Viju Cherian, Syrian ambassador to India Riad Kamel Abbas claims that Britain, France and Germany asked the Syrian government to 'take care' of its citizens who have been radicalised and fighting in Syria. If Abbas' claims are true, the David Cameron government, along with François Hollande's and Angela Merkel's, has asked a foreign government to execute its citizens.
Abbas also claims that US interest in controlling the supply of oil in West Asia has led to the civil war, that the US encourages Boko Haram to keep a tab on Russia, and that it was the Qatar emir and Saudi Arabia's Bandar bin Sultan who were behind the two chemical attacks in Syria in 2013.
Over the past few years, Syria has been in the news for a civil war and resistance forces have been attacking the Bashar al-Assad government. According to the government, what's happening in Syria?
The protests in Syria have got so many aspects - cultural, political, social and, mainly, economical. The primary problem started after the discovery of huge gas reserves in Syria in 2010, both offshore and on land. Another reason was the United States' plan to have a gas pipeline from Qatar through Syria to the Mediterranean to economically fight Russia by exporting gas and oil to European countries. The US also wants a similar pipeline from Iran through Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean. Syria is against the US project and the US and its allies have created unrest in Syria to topple the current regime. They want to install a government in Damascus that favours their plans in the region. The US wants to control the oil market.
Was there social tension between different religious or sectarian groups within Syria before 2010?
Syria is the only Arab secular country in the region. The US and their regional allies are trying to create a sectarian divides in Syria. But they will not be able to do so because the people of Syria are against Wahhabism. Sunnis are a majority in Syria but they, along with other sects and religious groups, are supporting the government.
If the people of Syria are with the Assad government as you say, then who are the people who are fighting the civil war?
Most of them are foreign nationals. Many of the Syrians who are part of the resistance are people wanted in Syria for breaking the law. We are fighting more than 100,000 mercenaries from across 83 nations. These people have support from the US, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
How is the Assad government addressing this problem?
How can we talk democracy to the Europeans, Pakistanis and West Asians who have come to fight in our country? We are talking to them by using force.
What is Qatar's interest in toppling the Assad government?
Qatar does not have an independent policy - they listen to what the US says. As far as Syria-Qatar ties go, years ago there were cordial ties. But ties broke when President Assad refused to join hands with Qatar to support US' attack on Libya. The Qatar emir personally called on President Assad in Damascus to request his support, but Assad refused.
…and Syria's ties with Turkey?
The Turkish Prime Minister called on our President in 2010 and told him that following the developments in Tunisia and Libya, he would advise Assad to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to join the Syrian government. Our President refused the idea stating that there was no place for a religious party in Syria.
When Qatar's and Turkey's requests were turned down, they started creating problems.
You had said that al Qaeda is a US creation. Could you explain?
Armed opposition appeared in Syria after the US took a stand against Damascus. Where the US moves al-Qaeda follows. The US moved to Iraq, al Qaeda followed, and now the US is focusing on Syria and suddenly we have the organisation in Syria.
Similarly, Boko Haram in Nigeria is funded by the US. Russian oil giant Gazprom signed a deal with Nigeria for extracting and transporting oil. Right after this deal was struck, Haram gained strength and has created unrest in the country. This cannot be a coincidence.
You had also mentioned that ISIS is a US creation.
ISIS is a branch of al Qaeda which was created by the US. Al Qaeda is under different names in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. It's like the Muslim Brotherhood which goes in one name in Turkey, another in Tunisia and yet another in Egypt.
You had mentioned that European countries had approached the Assad government to 'take care' of Europeans who have been radicalised.
Intelligence chiefs of some European countries like France, Germany, Denmark and Britain had approached the Syrian government with a deal that if the Syrian government would 'take care' of radicalised Europeans fighting in Syria, Europe would not press charges of human rights violation against Syria. But our government said no to the offer. Out government said that if anyone was ready to surrender, he would be given amnesty and sent back to his country. Some of them who had surrendered were sent them back the way they came into Syria - through Turkey.
Has Syria's chemical weapons programme and the two attacks on civilians that took place in 2013 created a fear among its neighbours?
There have been two chemical attacks on Syrian civilians - one in Aleppo (March 2013 Khan al-Assal chemical attack) and the other in Damascus (August 2013 Ghouta chemical attack). The Aleppo attack was carried out by Qatar and Turkey. US President Barack Obama had said that Syria was not supposed to cross the 'red line' of using chemical weapons on its people. So the Qatar emir sent two of his intelligence officers to Yugoslavia to procure Sarin gas - as both Syria and Yugoslavia got their chemical weapon know-how from the erstwhile Soviet Union. Damascus had informed Moscow about Doha's plan. The Qatari agents handed over the gas to Turkish intelligence who trained al Nusra rebels how to use it. The rebels carried out the attacks in Aleppo.
The Damascus attack happened the day UN inspectors were supposed to visit the Aleppo attack site. It was later found that the second attack was carried out by Saudi Arabia. Bandar bin Sultan, who was the then director general of Saudi Intelligence Agency, had given this to jihadi fighters in Syria to use it on senior officials and accuse the Syrian government for the attack.
First Published: Oct 21, 2014 17:15 IST