The Syrian crisis has had an impact not only on Syria itself but also on the neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Iraq.
The crossing of extremist elements into Syria from surrounding states has also put an impact on these countries.
Syria has been the scene of deadly unrest since mid-March, 2011 and many people, including large numbers of army and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and most western countries have supported and funded the violence in Syria by providing logistics, arms, and intelligence to anti-government elements.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Omar Nashabe, editor at al-Akhbar daily, to further talk over the issue.
The video also offers the opinions of two additional guests: Bassam Abu Abdallah, from the Damascus University and political analyst Jihad Mouraccadeh.
What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
What do you think is the relationship between what is happening, what was already happening in Iraq, the various explosions and what we are seeing also now in Syria? Do you think that this has extended from Iraq into Syria?
Well there are signs that show that there is a wave of violence and terror that is more or less similar to what happened in Iraq and this is very worrying for us in Lebanon because we do not want this to spread the other way to Lebanon.
The situation in Syria perhaps it would be beneficial for the viewers to give a very brief overview that yes, there are people calling for some democratic reforms and their right and their right to call for some freedoms that were not available in Syria and they are not available to a large extent in all other Arab countries.
Now what actually happened is that these calls turned violent and turned aggressive and now we are witnessing a destruction of institutions in Syria, a destruction of the civilian infrastructure, a serious clash between different segments within the Syrian society and that is really worrying especially for us in Lebanon where we experienced the terrible war for 17 years.
So we do not want, we do not wish any country to actually experience what we did experience because this is a suffering that will have repercussions and that will make it difficult for reconstruction. We can see in Iraq today, yes, Saddam Hussein is gone but what about reconstruction in Iraq?
I mean this is really proving to be a very difficult task and it is very sad.
Do you think that it is al-Qaeda elements or former Iraqi Ba’ath elements that are to blame? Do you think that they have taken advantage of the situation in Syria?
Well if you want me to start by putting blame I would not put it on either. I would start by putting blame on the international community for failing to stop the infiltration of weapons and money and guns into Syria.
And these unfortunately are some important powerful Western countries and some Arab regimes who are non-democratic themselves but who are putting up a slogan for democracy in Syria and smuggling weapons and money into Syria and that is leading to a massive destruction and loads of deaths.
And I think it would be appropriate to start this program by actually, I think all of us would actually turn a real feeling towards the Syrians or the families of the dead people in Syria and these horrible massacres that took place, this is a matter that comes first, that should always come first.
Mr. Nashabe, do you agree with this stance that perhaps the people have their protest and they have the right to be given arms?
Well the people have the right to demonstrate peacefully and that is in all constitutions, even if as your guest claims they are being assaulted, they can resort to judicial system or if the local judicial system is not capable they can go for an international call for a judicial system.
But to use weapons against government institutions is a violation of international law and it is and by sending weapons and money into Syria, this is interference with the internal affairs of a founding member state of the United Nations and this is counter to international law.
Who is smuggling these arms?
There are some as I said at the beginning there are some Arab regimes that are not exactly known for their democratic beliefs or their holding on to freedom, I mean like Saudi Arabia known very well by thousands of reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and Qatar that does not exactly have a democracy or does not have a system of accountability or an election system.
So these countries and of course in addition to other regimes in the region are sending in also there are some combatants going into Syria, there are some terrorists going into Syria benefiting from the situation to go in and there have been some bombings that are really representative of what we have learned of what are the consequences of terrorism and the destruction of terrorism.
And I think that the international community has pledged to fight terrorism and to fight terrorism means to deprive these groups from acting the way they do and the way they are acting today in Syria.
I think this is another issue...
I just want to say that apparently our guest is not really aware of the position of the United Nations. The United Nations and Mr. Annan and Mr. Ban Ki-moon have never ever supported smuggling weapons into Syria.
That is counter to United Nations UN Charter and on the fact that the international community does not recognize Syria if they really did not recognize the regime in Syria today, Mr. Bashar Ja’afari would not be sitting in the Security Council and maybe United Nations.
The issue of chemical weapons, how this, I mean why there has been a lot of statements from the United States, from Israel especially on the fact that the Syrian government does have chemical weapons and it will use them? Of course the Syrian government has said that it will not use them, but why this focus on the issue of chemical weapons?
Well I think it is to put more pressure on the Syrian regime and I think that this reminds me of what happened in Iraq when there was the whole issue of weapons of mass destruction and so the international media unfortunately and the American media specifically, tried to jump over the WMDs by saying yes, not questioning if they exist or not just moving on and saying that they are afraid that they will be passed on to Hezbollah.
Well the Syrian regime was very sharp and did not hesitate in answering and I saw Mr. Maqdisi the other day responding in a very fierce way and saying yes, well these weapons are to be used if Syria is being aggressed from the outside and that was a big surprise for the Americans, for the Europeans and for the Israelis also and well what is the objective of such weapons if these weapons do exist? It is to defend Syria against outside invaders and I believe that is a matter that has to do with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter that gives the right for every nation to defend itself against any outside intervention.
Let me take this question to Mr. Nashabe, now it seems in Lebanon , the sectarian issue in Lebanon seems to have extended into Lebanon, into Syria I mean, not the other way around although Syria was never sectarian?
I won’t start in order, I will start with what your guest just said about Hezbollah. Hezbollah is a national liberation movement. It has liberated the South of Lebanon from Israeli presence when the Lebanese army and the other parties were incapable of doing that and it was recognized by all parties including by the late Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri himself in very numerous meetings between Mr. Hariri and Mr. Nasrallah several times.
So therefore it is not really a sectarian group. It is a party that represents a national resistance. Hezbollah and Sayyed Nasrallah said that he supports the Syrian people and the will of the Syrian people. He has never in any speeches and I challenge you if you can bring one sentence that Sayyed Nasrallah said where he incites people to use violence in Syria.
He supports the Syrian regime much less than the international law requires Lebanon to support the Syrian regime and you know yourself if you review the legal documents that there is an international convention between the Republic of Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic that has been signed by Prime Minister Hariri himself that calls for close ties and mutual defense against any external intervention with internal Syrian affairs.
So I am talking about international law and a legal document and it is required by the Lebanese government to stand firm next to the Syrian regime and to stop anyone who smuggles weapons into the Syrian territory. This is by law.
If you wish to violate the law by bringing in slogans such as these people have the right to defend themselves and other slogans that only lead to destruction inside Syria, that is a choice that one can make.
However the Syrian Army and the officials in Syria will stand firm against any groups that are outside the law. There should be dialogue. That is the UN Charter. That is the Kofi Annan plan. Dialogue requires a ceasefire by all parties.
Hence, to have a ceasefire one must stop smuggling weapons into Syria, one must stop the hostilities on both sides and one must sit on the table.
This attack by NATO and NATO supporters and traditional supporters of Israel and Qatar that has always had an office for Israeli commercial relations and other nations and this excitement, enthusiasm by Israel to overthrow the regime in Syria calls for reaction that is only natural among Muslims and Arabs to stand firm against these interventions with internal Arab affairs.
Do you agree with what he is saying that they are not a threat to Israel or that Israel would really want Assad to go?
Sayyed Nasrallah said clearly that the weapons of the resistance that threatened the security of Israel in 2006 were with the support of the Syrian people, with the support of Syria. One cannot separate the regime from its people.
This is Syria we are talking about and Syria with all its population regardless of the various opinions in Syria, all the Syrians I think deep inside support the resistance against Israel and that will not change.