Press TV talks with Reza Kazem, spokesperson for Islamic Human Rights in London who gives a balanced look at the chaotic situation occurring in Syria from a human rights perspective.
Following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Why do you think Saudi Arabia and Qatar have taken the lead in acting against Syria?
Reza Kazem: Saudi Arabia has for many years created an infrastructure of promoting sectarianism. It is something that is at play quite seriously with the issue that is happening in Damascus. What we mustn’t fail to recognize is that there are legitimate demands of the Syrian people that have to be met as any human rights activist would expect to be met.
The Syrian government, instead of trying to meet those demands has resorted to a brutal crackdown on its people, which cannot in any way be defended.
Having said that, we need to recognize that what Saudi Arabia has been engaged in for a period of time because of what its master in America wants it to do, which is create sectarianism, promote sectarianism and make sure that the issue of Syria becomes so complicated that people are going to try and engage in a dialogue, which is going to be smelling of sectarianism.
And I’m afraid that many people have fallen victim to that narrative that has been coming out and not recognizing the complexity of what America, Israel and the UK wants to do within Syria.
One of the things I want to refer to is the support that the Syrian government has given to resistance movements in Lebanon and in Palestine.
We know for a long time that Syria has also engaged and cooperated with the Americans in the war on terror where captives like Mohsen Big were threatened while being held at Bagram air base in Afghanistan – one of the places they were threatened to be sent to for torture was Syria; and Syria has cooperated with America in terms of that. So, Syria is no saint in what is actually happening there.
Press TV: You say the Syrian government has cooperated with the Americans in their war on terror. So what has happened since that time to change things around as far as relations with Washington and Damascus?
Reza Kazem: There are different elements in the Syrian regime; it is also clear there is support the Syrian government has given to Hezbollah and Hamas and that’s the area that’s being targeted by the Americans and the British. That’s the area that they want to tarnish with the idea of sectarianism…
So, while Syria has conducted things that anyone in no way shape of form can defend; one can also not forget the support that has been given by the Syrian government in terms of support for Hezbollah and Hamas. And I think it’s that policy that Syria has always followed that the elites in the Syrian system want to get the best advantage they possibly can like a lot of the dictatorships in that region that are coming down. They think about themselves on a personal level and not for their people.
Press TV: How big of a role do you think the international community is actually playing in what is going on in Syria?
Reza Kazem: A lot of the machinations carried out are what the Americans and the Israelis want to happen. And the infrastructure of Saudi Arabia as I said earlier of promoting sectarianism and making sure that anything that is being put out there is going to lead to a scenario and a situation – and we’ve seen in the past false information put out by people from within Syria who are supposed to be part of the protesters expecting to be legitimately demanding certain rights, which must be met – but at the same time, things like incubators – the incubator story that was put out from Syria and Western media really promoted that.
And this reminds you in the 1990s when Kuwait was also talking about these incubators and encouraging this direction that military intervention from the West is going to be a foregone conclusion as a result of this.
And that’s what they’re heading towards. And it’s something that really needs to be very carefully analyzed because one must remember that the reason that they’re going for Syria is not because of the brutality; not because of the crackdown, which is unacceptable to say the least, but because of its support for Hezbollah and Hamas.
We must also remember that in 2006 when the conflict took place between Israel and Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia was at the forefront of not only not wanting it to happen and condemning what Hezbollah was doing (defending Lebanon), it also wanted the people to stop praying for Hezbollah.
We also know from Wikileaks that Saudi Arabia also put out a plan to collect a mercenary army that would combat Hezbollah. They have failed in a number of those areas of the plots that they created in Lebanon and now they want to target one of the few good things that have been done by the Syrian government, which has been to support Hezbollah and Palestinian resistance, etc. They want to target that source that is coming from Syria.
Having said that, what we cannot fail to also recognize is the brutality with which the Syrian government has responded to the legitimate demands of the protesters. And that is something that cannot be condoned in any way.
We must also remember that while this government has been in power for decades it has had an opportunity to do something about what the people want – Why haven’t they done it in all this time?
But again we must be careful about the direction and what we expect people to go in – are we going to have some kind of negotiation were people (in the Syrian government) are going to sit down and quickly meet the demands of the people are actually wanting so that this unrest is something that is going to be dealt with effectively and the legitimate demands of the people are going to be met?
And for the people who have carried out this crackdown; there needs to be accountability of that while there needs to be an accountability of the sectarian elements that have tried to taint Hezbollah with this regime.
And this is what’s coming out and must be very carefully challenged by people that what they want to do is create a false link. Because Syria supported Hezbollah…, Hezbollah is somehow supporting Syria in this crackdown.