Your country has been experiencing a conflict since 2011, that involves, both directly and indirectly, the major world powers. What is happening behind this conflict, preventing Syria from overcoming it and being reconstructed?
Ambassador Dr. Ghassan Nseir: In order to answer this question, first, it’s necessary to show the strategic and civilizing importance of Syria in the region. Due to this importance, Syria historically had an illuminist role in the region, in all aspects, including cultural, scientific, political and even in Pan-arab nationalist proposals, of which the Arabs are one nation, capable of attaining the degree of great nations in economic and scientific terms. Syria was also pioneer in the fight against Zionism, represented by the aggressive and expansionist politics position of Israel, and stood in favor of the stolen rights of the people in Palestine, by demanding their right to live in their independent country, and the return of the refugees to their original country, according to the relevant resolutions of the United Nations and the Security Council. This is the true background of the conflict in Syria, because the country has not bowed down to the American mobilizations brought by Collin Powel, former secretary of the United States, after the Iraq invasion. Therefore, all countries that orbit around the United States of America united themselves against Syria, and brought the Takfirist terrorism in their service, with the financing of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with the help of Turkey, to destabilize, weaken and even divide Syria. To end this conflict, first, it’s necessary to end the takfirist wahhabite terrorism, and this will occur with the end of the support given by the aforementioned countries, in cash and war material, to terrorism, so that Syrian citizens can decide their political subjects, without the external interference of any nation whatsoever, and without imposition of mobilizations from countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and others.
In your assessment, does the Occident treat the Syrian conflict correctly? Why? After all, who truly are the terrorists that act in the country?
Ghassan Nseir: The Occident does not treat the syrian question neither correct nor legally, but contrary to the provisions of the Charter of United Nations, in the moment it provides support and weapons to terrorism, is directly inflicted to change a government system, utilizes takfirist terrorism to reach its goals and violates the Charter of United Nations and the resolutions of the Security Council, approved and observed by Syria, in particular those which refer to the fight against terrorism. The terrorists who act in the nation came from more than eighty countries. All the criminals in the world were sent to Syria, with the support of their countries and contribution of the government of Turkey, which made easier their entry and training.
They are extremist muslims linked to Al Qaeda, who began to adopt the name of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), the group who created the Al Nustra Front and several other groups formed, with different names, and some being financed by part of Saudi Arabia, others by Qatar, and others by Turkey. And their weapons come from depots located in Ukraine and Bulgaria, besides the ones that were diverted from Libya and transported through Turquish airplanes and vessels, financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with the blessings of the United States, France and England. These same European countries imposed an unfair economic block to the Syrian people, preventing them from receiving medicines and food, and then publically whining about the humanitarian situation in Syria and the suffering of the people in the country. This is political hypocrisy at its lowest level, because whoever decides to help the Syrian people does not impose economic boycott and does not cut off their access to food and medicine.
At this moment, would you say that we are closer to a solution for the conflict with the pacification of Syria? What is required for peace to be signed?
Ghassan Nseir: The resistance of the Syrian Arab Army and the support of our allies produced victories in the territory, especially after the expulsion of the Aleppo terrorists. And all the plans that the enemy countries tried to execute against Syria, with the help of armed terrorists, were a failure thanks to the resistance of their people, their army and leaderships. In addition, terrorism supported by Western and other countries began to threaten them internally. Let us remember the attacks in Paris and Nice in France, the attacks in Germany, Belgium, and others. It was about that Syria was warning, when it said that “the terrorist will turn against you”. Syria always urged all the countries to combat terrorism, in collaboration with the Syrian Army, to end this unprecedented scourge in the human history. Now it seems that these countries have been forced to deal with the facts and have changed their policies to support terrorists, but some countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey continue to support terrorism. And, with exception of these countries, all other were convinced that the solution of the conflict in Syria cannot be by military means, but by political means, among Syrians themselves, without the imposition of external conditions. From the beginning, the Syrian government sought to amnesty diverted and deceived Syrians, so they could lay down their weapons and return to perform their daily tasks. The Syrian government adopted, as a model, the path of conciliation, a fact that led many Syrians to return to their country, preventing their cities and villages from getting into conflict with the State forces, and, this way, freed themselves from the domination of armed terrorist groups. Most of these people expelled terrorists and rebelled against their presence. But, in other areas, the terrorists took the residents as hostages and as human shields. The Syrian government supports what is agreed upon by the Syrians and invites the national opposition to sit down and discuss the situation of the new Constitution of the country, which will be subject to a popular referendum to be subsequently approved, and to define the foundations and the system of the future government of Syria.
Brazil is home to quite a big population of Syrian origin. In this context, how do you evaluate the role of the country in resolving the conflict? Do you think that Brazil should be more strongly involved in this matter? Why?
Ghassan Nseir: There are a reasonable amount of Syrian descendants in Brazil, who have immigrated here since the mid-nineteenth century. The population is estimated between 9 and 17 million people. As for the refugees, according to official estimates, the number is 2,700 people. The Syrians have made an active and very important contribution to Brazil's economic, commercial, architectural, cultural and scientific development. In almost all Brazilian cities we can find signs that indicate the Syrian presence (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Brasília, Anápolis, Goiânia, etc.). Due to this presence in Brazil, to the support that the Syrian community here has given to the Government of Syria and the rejection to takfirista terrorism, Brazil should play an active role, make a good impression in this community, especially since its families, its villages and cities are being killed, crucified, its churches and temples are being destroyed, the destruction of the historical and rare ruins and the attempt to erase the Syrian civilization dating back more than 10,000 years, as in Palmira, Aleppo, Bosra, the fortress of Hosn and others. But unfortunately, the Brazilian Government, unlike the other BRICS countries, suspended the operation of its embassy in Damascus, transferred the officials to Beirut and reduced the level of diplomatic representation to the Charge d'Affaires. This made the Brazilians living in Syria have difficulty to obtain their documents, because they were obliged to travel to Beirut and bear the financial losses, as well as other complicating factors. The position of Brazil was similar to the position of Western countries, except for defending the political solution to the conflict and without the external intervention. However, the notes published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs placed the legitimate Government and armed takfiristas terrorist gangs on the same level. Moreover, Brazil's positions in United Nations-related organizations were, for the most part, in favor of resolutions contrary to Syria, especially the resolution presented by Saudi Arabia at the Human Rights Council. Even so, due to the strong ties that bind our two countries and peoples, we count on the Brazilian Government to actively contribute and to have a greater involvement, through its work in international organizations, aiming to help the Syrian people to overcome terrorism and to rebuild their independent country without external interference, and then help them to rebuild the country, which had its entire infrastructure destroyed by takfirista terrorism. Brazilian companies and investors can, with the support of the Brazilian Government, form a delegation to go to Syria and prospect what can be done in the near future, in order to contribute to the reconstruction of the country. A parliamentary delegation from the Committee on Foreign Relations and National Defense could also be formed to go to Syria, meet with the representatives of the people and meet the political and constitutional wishes of the Syrian people. There are also other possibilities for moving contacts between the two countries, such as inviting members of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Syrian’s Assembly to visit Brazil.
The Syrian government is accused of massacring its own people, according to international news agencies. In your assessment, is there an overstatement in this vision, misperceptions of the conflict, or vested interests behind the negative image that has been built, especially from President Assad?
Ghassan Nseir: International news agencies were a key factor in the war against Syria. They were recruited, received money, especially Al Jazeera, Al Arabya, BBC and France 24, as well as the newspapers and journalists. The media had a very negative role, which does not match with the professional ethics of the National press, since it adopted the deceit, lies, falsification of facts and images, and used modern technologies to distort images of different places and people. They used all available techniques to attack Syria, the Syrian Government and its President. Has anyone ever wondered why the President did not kill his people before? Has not he been in charge since 2001? Why just now? How is it possible? Is there any country in the world that does not defend its people and its army when it is attacked by armed men, terrorists, takfirists, who do not accept a different opinion, coming from more than eighty countries? Whatever the war may be, it will result in victims; but do they really think that the Syrian army should not defend its citizens, who had their homes and property taken by the ISIS and the Al Nusra Front and who were imposed to live in a way they have never seen before, neither in ancient history nor in modern history? This self-serving media carried out a campaign to denigrate and demonize the Syrian President and the Syrian Army, using terms to describe them that are not suitable for the press and the Syrian people, who have always been on the side of Syrian President and the National Army, always being really supportive. The media has failed but continues to act in the same way. In any case, the truth cannot be hidden forever. No matter how much they lied or deceived people, the truth began to appear even to those who do not want to see it. President Assad is the captain of this ship and he will not leave it in danger. He will stand strong until the last breath, to defend him and defend whoever is on board. This is the position of the President who, without the support of the people and the army, would not have been able to face this six-year war and fight a universal and terrorist attack on Syria. Syria has won, and with it, has won all of those who do not bow to the mobilizations that threaten their sovereignty and their independent decision.
Does the possibility of rebuilding the country and its infrastructures already exist? In this sense, would you encourage Brazilian companies to look at the opportunities in Syria?
Ghassan Nseir: The Syrian Government has, for some time, been preparing plans and projects for a reconstruction. It also began to reorganize some areas in the cities of Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and others. President Assad said that the reconstruction of Syria will be done with the work of its sons and with the help of the friendly countries that stayed with us during the crisis. Based on this guidance, we invite Brazilian companies to learn about the opportunities available in Syria. If there is interest, they must hurry because companies from many countries, such as India, China, South Africa and Russia, have already begun to explore Syria's needs, by sending commissions from their economic and business sectors to Syria. Therefore, this matter should be dealt seriously and quickly. We will certainly encourage and welcome you!
What is the geo-strategic importance of Syria in the context of the Middle East at this time, and in correlation to all its main actors? Does the millions of Syrians who have had to leave the country have hope to be able to return?
Ghassan Nseir: Syria, because of its geographical location, the history of its civilization and its influence in the Middle East region, is considered a key factor for the region's politics. And because it is so close to Europe and its countries, it is affected by what happens in Syria, either negatively or positively. If we observe the effects of the terrorist war against Syria, we will see that European countries received a substantial share of the reverberations of this shock that hit Syria, causing them problems both internally and externally (as in the case of refugees, which will have political, social and security implications for a long time in European countries). Besides that, Syria's resistance, its struggle against Takfirist terrorism, and the failure of the ambitions from neocolonial countries will have a major influence on the consolidation of the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, which forbid interference in the internal affairs of other countries. This will serve as an example for other countries not to succumb and do not bow before the mobilizations of the great powers, to serve their interests at the expense of their population's capacities. If Syria is defeated by this Takfirist terrorism and by the countries that support it, many of the countries that do not approve the policies of the United States of America and its interests will be the victim to regime changes and provoking of internal conflicts that guarantee the interests of the West. Let's stop and evaluate the interference of the United States of America and the West in some countries, such as Iraq, Libya and Yemen. What happened to these countries? Are they better now than before? What is the situation of their people? Every person objectively engaged in politics should ask themselves these questions. As for the refugees, it must be said that before these events in Syria, we did not have a crisis called 'refugees'. On the other hand, Syria served as a shelter for the waves of refugees, such as the Armenians, after the Ottoman massacre, the Palestinians in 1948 and 1967, the Iraqis shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 1991 and the Lebanese, after the wars of 1982 and 2006. Syria received these waves and did not whine, opened its schools for the children of the refugees and offered all kinds of assistance, at the same level as it was offered to the Syrians. And the Palestinians are well aware of this, because they were given preference over the Syrians in public job offers. As for the Syrian refugees, we must return to the documents on the camps that were set up in Turkey and Jordan, even before the events began. There was an encouragement by Syrian enemies that aimed the emptying of residents, through terrorism and pressure to flee them for fear of murder, sticking, redemption, female enslavement, ‘jihadist’ marriages, and all other ruthless practices. Some have moved to areas controlled by the Syrian Army, and others, to outside of the country. Turkey used the refugees as an exchanging chip, to bargain with the European Union, in the purpose of blackmailing it and obtaining political gains. The percentage of Syrian refugees does not exceed 10% of the total refugee crisis. Many took advantage of the situation and claimed to be Syrians, but among the refugees, Afghans, Somalis, Sudanese, Iraqis and Libyans were found claiming to be Syrian in order to be able to emigrate. The Government of Syria opened its doors so that all those who emigrated could return, welcomed and expressed its willingness to guarantee their reinstatement. The President announced several amnesty decrees to those who emigrated illegally, those who fled military service and those who participated in armed terrorist groups, urging them to return to their country and repair their situation, so that they are able to return to their normal life. We reaffirm this, because we need qualified human resources. They are qualified, because Syria financed their studies, their growth and their training. In Syria, education is mandatory and free until the 1st Degree, and free for the 2nd Degree and the University. Therefore, all the emigrants are educated. The Syrian people who have been forced to emigrate for fear of armed terrorist groups, which have gone as far as cutting other people’s heads, will certainly return when there is security in their country, and when we can end the Takfirist armed terrorist groups, backed by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and with the blessings of Western countries and the United States of America. The Syrian citizen will not find a better country than his own, because in Syria, he found advantages that do not exist in other countries of the region, and in most countries of the world, since in Syria medical assistance is free, education is free, and has at its disposal a cost aid for the purchase of essential products, such as fuel, food and medicines. In addition, development in Syria occurred in all areas. Electricity, clean water, telephones and the internet has arrived everywhere in the country. There is no city, no matter how small it is, without schools, health centers and basic services. That is why we are sure that the majority of the Syrians who emigrated, as a result of fear for their lives, will return to Syria. They await the day when peace will be restored and terrorism will be eradicated to pack their bags. Their country awaits them with open doors, to welcome and help them. In regards to the reports of the organs responsible for development, education and health areas, prior to the year of 2011, we can see the progress made by Syria in all sectors, from the eradication of illiteracy to guaranteed medical care, the low rates of child mortality and the eradication of epidemics and pandemics.
How do you assess the role of the United Nations now, with a new General Secretary, the Portuguese Antonio Guterres, who has international experience, especially with refugees? Would you say that the UNO is one thing and their Security Council, another?
Ghassan Nseir: The United Nations and its agencies were established with a goal to ensure international peace and security, in accordance with its Charter, which should be observed and applied, without the intervention from any politicking, manipulation or interests of the major powers. But the reality is absolutely different from the principles and mission of this organization. Because some countries, especially the colonialists, dominate and control their resolutions and guidelines. The United Nations played a negative role in the Syrian crisis, not to mention an enemy role, contrary to its mission, its Charter and its principles. This applies to their positions in relation to the occupation of Libya, Iraq, Yemen, just like it was with Syria. We hope that the new General Secretary will have the independence and objectivity required for the administration of the affairs of the Organization. In addition, the Organization needs reforms in order to have a balance in the world and not be under the control of some countries. As for the new General Secretary’s experience with the issue of refugees, we should not summarize what happens in Syria to the issue of refugees. We must discuss the reasons that led to this issue, because before 2011 we did not have the problem with refugees. It was the Takfirist terrorism, personified in the ISIS, in the Al Nusra Front and in other groups, the cause of this problem. And had it not been for the support of the United States, Western countries, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, these groups would not have been able to get weapons and equipment to destroy Syria's infrastructure and to take control of oil wells, to sell oil to these countries in exchange of armament. Therefore, I believe there is political hypocrisy on the issue of refugees, because on one hand they cause the problem of emigration, and on the other they whine about them and talk about humanitarian aid. So the question is very clear to anyone who wants to see it. The Takfirist terrorism is the reason and when we know the reason, we can solve the problem, with the presence of the natural leaderships.
Who do you believe has no interest in the Syrian conflict having an end? Why? And how do you assess the performance of countries such as Russia, the United States, Iran, Israel, among others, and the European Union, regarding a solution to the Syrian conflict?
Ghassan Nseir: For the same reasons I mentioned earlier. All of them want to dominate the capacities of the people, so they act in a neocolonialist way to preserve their interests. Generally speaking, they do not want to calm the conflict because they benefit from selling arms and buying oil at very low prices without directly engaging in the conflict. Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States has sought to weaken Syria to meet Israel's political interests in the region, in order to continue occupation of Palestinian lands, promote expansion of settlements and expulsion of Palestinians. The United States of America implements Israel's plans in the region and the continuation of the conflict in Syria occurs in the context of this interest. As for the European Union, it follows the policy steps of the United States of America, which pushes the countries of the European Union to adopt positions that are contradictory to their own interests. European countries always absorb the first impact of any conflict between the United States of America and Israel in the region. They pay a heavy price for the negative effects of American policy, which disregards any observation of the principles and Charter of the United Nations. As for Russia, as a major power which has a duty to preserve international peace and security under the Charter of the United Nations, it acted consistently and prevented some countries from using the tribune of the United Nations and the Security Council to determine the destiny of other countries, at the expense of the people of the region. In addition, Russia and Iran have been seeking a solution to the conflict because they have realized that the victory of terrorism in Syria and Iraq will threaten their security. Not to mention that, according to the international law, they intervened in Syria at the request of the Syrian Government. As for the United States and its international allies, formed by more than 100 countries, they violated Syria's sovereignty and supported terrorism. Because there is no logic in the fact that the United States of America has formed a military alliance of several countries to combat terrorism, and yet terrorism continues to grow and spread out. Israel and the United States are interested in the fact that this conflict continue and that Syria is divided to weaken the country that faced the Zionist-American plans. They want to overpower Syria to meet their mobilizations and sabotage their friendly relationship with Iran.
Is it possible to think of a solution that does not imply the fall of President Bashar al-Assad? Does the Syrian government have a "road map" for the pacification of the country?
Ghassan Nseir: The President of the Republic, Dr. Bashar Al Assad, is the President elected by the people, according to the Arab Republic of Syria’s Constitution. Its legitimacy is related to the Constitution and to the Syrian people. There is no logic or law requiring him to resign, unless it’s the Syrian Constitution. As for the attempts to demonize the President and the demand for his departure by some countries, firstly, this is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations. Secondly, if we allow some countries to find themselves the right to dismiss the president of a country for not considering it appropriate or because it’s not responding to your orders or because it does not succumb to their demands, this will threaten the independence of several countries and sabotage international stability and peace. And then we will return to the methods and behaviors of the colonial era and, consequently, people will be crushed and will not have the capacity to determine their destiny and choose the system of government that is suitable to them. Therefore, this principle is unacceptable, because the people’s choice is the basis for the decision of this or that president. Since the beginning of the crisis, the Government of Syria has proposed a “road map”, represented by the agreement to establish a new constitution for the country, which should pass a popular referendum and according to this referendum’s outcome it would form a new Government, according to the plan, detailed below:
Presentation of the plan: Starting from Syria's immutable principles, headed by the sovereignty, independence and self-determination of the country and by the principles and goals of the Charter of the United Nations and International Law, which ensure the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity of countries and non-interference in their internal affairs, and the belief in the need for dialogue between the children of Syria and the Syrian leadership, to restore the security climate and the return to stability, the political solution for Syria will be as follows:
1st : The countries involved, both regional and international, undertake to cease with the provision of funding, arms and shelter for the militants, in parallel to the end of terrorist actions by the militants, in order to facilitate the return of Syrian displaced people safely to their areas of origin. Immediately afterwards, our armed forces will cease operations, reserving them the right to react if the country, the citizen or the public and private facilities are subjected to aggression.
2nd : Find a suitable mechanism to confirm the commitment of everyone with what was agreed in the 1st. Item, especially regarding to border control.
3rd : The present Government will immediately initiate intensive contacts with all sectors of Syrian society through its political parties, institutions and departments, to maintain open dialogues, with the aim of holding a national dialogue conference with the participation of all Syrian forces wishing to reach a solution for Syria, inside and out of the country.
1st : The present Government will convene a conference on global national dialogue to achieve a national pact that preserves Syria's sovereignty, the unity and integrity of its territories, rejects interference in its internal affairs and eradicates all The forms of terrorism and violence. This means a call from the government to political parties and sectors of society to define the parameters of this conference, which will be held in the second phase. As for the pact, it will serve to outline the political future of Syria, propose the constitutional and legal system, define the political and economic aspects and an agreement on new laws for the parties, elections, local administrations and others.
2nd : The National Agreement will be subject to a popular referendum.
3rd : Form a comprehensive government in which all components of Syrian society will be represented. This government will be responsible for maintaining the articles agreed in the national pact.
4th : After being proposed and approved by the popular referendum, the government will adopt the laws agreed at the national dialogue conference, in accordance with the new Constitution and new laws. But rather, let’s use the term 'if': 'If' the laws or the Constitution, on which the new government will be based, will be approved by the national dialogue conference.
1st : The new government will be formed in accordance with the existing Constitution at that time.
2nd : Hold a general conference for national reconciliation, and declare general amnesty for all prisoners made by the events, and protecting the civil rights of those who were harmed by them.
3rd : Act to repair and rebuild the country's infrastructure and indemnify citizens who have been harmed by events.
It will be granted, safeguarding the civil rights of those who have been harmed, because the country has the right to grant the amnesty, giving up its rights, but it can’t give up the rights of the people. If Syria reaches this stage, it will be necessary for the amnesty to be granted also by the people, so that we can reach a national reconciliation, where there is forgiveness among everyone.