Dr. Kadri Jamil interview with Al-Alam TV Channel

Dr. Kadri Jamil interview with Al-Alam TV Channel

On August 15, 2017, Al-Alam TV channel interviewed Dr. Kadri Jamil, Head of Moscow Platform of Syrian Opposition, and the leader in Change and Liberation Front, and the Secretary of People Will Party. The interview lasted 25 minutes, during which Dr. Kadri spoke about the latest political developments regarding the efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis, and about the de-escalation zones, and the Geneva and Astana talks, and the efforts to form one delegation of the Syrian opposition in preparation for a round of direct negotiations with the delegation of the Syrian Government in Geneva.


 August 15, 2017

- Al-Aalam:
Dr. Kadri Jamil, what is your opinion about the the reconciliations which have been achieved in Syria, and de-escalation zones?
- K.J.:
The most important thing is to notice that the reconciliations – which have been done, even before implementing the “de-escalation zones”, as a partial local solutions for already present large-scaled problems. Local community have succeeded, in cooperation with official authorities, in making compromises between all the different parties. That was good, but those reconciliations could not rise to the required level – even though they paved the way, and served as premises for it. But what we seek and work for, is actually a universal national reconciliation in Syria. This universal national reconciliation can only be reached through the political solution. Therefore, these reconciliations are useful and helpful, but they cannot alone lead to a solution of the Syrian crisis, though I emphasize on the positive value of them.
On the other hand, the «de-escalation zones» mean those areas of high tension, areas of escalated tension, that have to be de-escalated. This is because of the risk that areas with such a high tension may “infect” other surrounding areas. What was the problem that faced the previous occasions of ceasefire in Syria? The problem was that there are areas in Syria willing to abide by ceasefire, but other areas unwilling to de-escalate. When some areas are not committed, this would lead to an extension of violation of ceasefire from the high-tension areas to the low-tension ones. Keeping the fire restricted to the high-tension zones, along wit making efforts to relieve tension, are targeting two goals: The first goal is to prevent the low-tension areas from any extension of tension. The second goal is to start a gradual de-escalation of high-tension zones: by isolating the terrorists – who are internationally classified so – from the other military organizations; and by activating humanitarian aids, via reconciliations in these zones. So, as you can see, we have here a model of reconciliations different from the one we have experienced before, and it is an important model, because local administrations would arise, in order to run the zones with consent of their local people, after extremist militants get out, and after reaching consensus with other militants on fighting extremists. Local administrations would start working, and communicating – in various forms – with homeland. From this viewpoint, reconciliations are expressions of a general relieve of tension throughout the country, on the road to a comprehensive solution of the crisis.

Al-Aalam: What is your assessment of Astana negotiations, and what solutions could they provide for the Syrian crisis?
The political will of the parties – I mean the two main parties involved – was weak, if not paralyzed. The pretext – for this absence of a political will – has always been that there is no commitment to ceasefire. Astana came as a complementary and helpful work supporting Geneva. It came in order to specialize in the field of ceasefire, and its arrangements in detail, because Geneva is the political platform, and it cannot be engaged in the technical military issues. It is not qualified to do so. In fact, neither Geneva nor the UN is qualified to do so. Therefore, in Astana you can see the main players that are present in Syrian: Turkey, Iran, and Russia. So Astana has a very positive role, and it is complementary to Geneva. Moreover, I can say Astana is a “bypass” for an obstructed “artery”. An obstructed artery sometimes needs a “shunt” to restore blood perfusion. Astana was that shunt, which assisted to resuscitate Geneva. Many have rightfully noted that Astana does achievements more than Geneva. This is because there is a big accumulation of non-ceasefire. Astana is solving that accumulation today, and this has practically launched Geneva, and when Geneva advances on the basis of implementing UN resolution 2254 – which is by the way the only mission of Geneva – its mission will begin to occupy its natural place, which is ahead of Astana. Today Astana drags Geneva, but tomorrow, after launching the direct negotiations, Geneva will be the main train of the solution, along with continuing the Astana process, which is not in contradiction with Geneva, but a necessary complement and helper of it.


- Al-Aalam:
What is your assessment of Geneva negotiations, and the nature of the relationship with the other trends in what is called the Syrian opposition?
- K.J.:
First, Geneva is a geographical location for implementing UN resolution 2254. The essence of Geneva is the Security Council’s resolution 2254. The United Nations took up this issue. Up to now, until the sixth round [of Geneva Talks], we do not make an actual progress. It was a kind of motion simulation. I have even told de Mistura that what he had done is not a “motion”, but a “motion simulation”, a motion pretension. Maybe the condition was not mature then, and it is not only de Mistura’s responsibility. Today conditions are maturing. Europeans are changing as you see. The Americans, the Gulf states, and Turkey, are changing too. There is a universal admission that the Syrian crisis has to be solved politically, and that there is no military solution. We, in Change and Liberation Front, declared this since the very first day of the crisis. But unfortunately, it appears that people must live their own experience, in order to comprehend the objective truth. It is not enough to say it to them, they must examine it and validate it by themselves – and this is what is happening now. So, Geneva is a very important place. I want to put it clear: there is no alternative to this solution. 2254 is an international resolution made by consensus in the Security Council. If you assumed, for a moment, that 2254 does not exist, what would be the solution? [Were 2254 not exist, the alternative would be] continuation of regional and international conflicts, and Syria would be the victim. Therefore, 2254 is the common denominator between all, and we are adhering to it because it will help stopping the humanitarian disaster, defeating terrorism, and starting the process of democratic national change in the country, which is is a rightful demand. This is the goal of Geneva.
There are negotiating parties: the government, and the opposition. I think the government is very happy with such an opposition, because this opposition is giving all the required pretexts for not beginning the process of a real negotiation: the first pretext is nonexistence of one opposition; the second pretext is the existence of extremist factions within the opposition, who came to Geneva with a preconceived idea that the power switches would be handed to them there. But Geneva-1 Communiqué (June 2012) – which is the basis of the international resolution 2254 – has a different logic, not a logic of coup d'etat or “conqueror and conquered”, it rather holds the logic of solving the problem collectively (by the two main parties), consensually and equally. And there are formulas of the solution mentioned in that Communiqué.
The regime is, therefore, rightful in what he says about his rejection to negotiate except with one delegation [of the opposition]. It is not logical to negotiate three delegations of opposition at once. This is practically hard to apply, I don’t say it is impossible, but almost impossible.
On the other hand, somebody has seeded into the heads of some (not all) of the opposition leaders, the idea that these “some” are the legitimate and the only representatives of the Syrian people, and of the Syrian opposition! So they have been misled, and could not tolerate the existence of any other opposition except themselves. Shouldn’t the Syrian opposition, as a part of the Syrian people, be pluralist, to reflect the pluralism of the forthcoming Syria?!
Ironically, those extremists in the opposition treat us (we the other oppositions) in the same way the “leading party” - which has governed the country for decades - treats other parties.
Like "The leader of society and state”, they look to themselves similarly, so they expect from us to come to them; lead a salute; become submissive to their domination; and accept to be appendage to them! Then everything would be alright for them.
But wait a moment... Who said things should go this way? Who appointed them in a leading position?! Despite all claims of “representation” of the Syrian people, whether from the opposition or the regime, the helpless Syrian people have never been asked for their opinion yet.
What are we doing now? Geneva means stopping the fight, stopping the humanitarian disaster, eradicating terrorism, and making a democratic national change.
What does democratic national change mean? It means transfer of the real power to the people. In fact, we said this to our brothers in the Riyadh's group. We said to them: For us, the transition process does not mean to transfer power to you, nor to the regime, or even to us, but rather to transfer power to the people, and finding the mechanisms that guarantee this. Let the people decide what they want. Then we can pretend and compete as we like, in front of the people whose word should be respected. Because our democratic traditions and experiences are scarce,and because of their discontinuation since 1960s, we need advice and suggestions from our brothers and fellows in the international society.
We, in People Will Party, and in Change and Liberation Front, want to find a Syrian democratic model, which is valid for pushing the development of Syria froward, economically, socially, and politically. This is not odd for Syrians. Syria had the first constitution in the Arab world (1920). Syria was the first Arabic country to give the women the right to vote (1927) – and to your knowledge, in this regard, the right of women to vote has not been permitted in France until the year 1936, and in Switzerland until 1973. We are pioneers in this regard! Syrians were pioneers in various fields, but because of certain historical causes, Syria’s development was frozen… but this is a temporary historical condition, and I think the Syrian people can unleash their potential powers, to build their country, society, and future… this will happen.
Our problem in the Syrian opposition is that some are infected with “The Leading Party Virus”, though, ironically, they are working in “opposition” to the historical leading party. The problem is that the regime had, unintentionally, created an opposition on its shape. In history, things like that happens. Unlike the previous rounds of Geneva Talks, the seventh round, achieved a tangible advance, because of a series of international and regional developments. These changes pushed them [the other oppositions] at last to talk to us. Before that, they kept cautiously avoiding us. The two hotels where we were residing, were only about 200 meters apart! Some of them did not even dare to pass along the pavement on the side of our hotel… and to cross the road, they were turning around and passing along the pavement on the other side… and if it happened that someone of them has had a good personal relation to us since a time before the crisis began, the person was carefully and secretly coming to us at night, to meet the old friends, asking us not to tell anybody about these secret visits. This had been the case until the sixth round, and in the seventh “the ice broke”. I couldn’t say we were insisting on contact with them from the first moment, but things changed and objective conditions helped us to contact, and ultimately there were Syrians sitting down with Syrians, face to face… it appeared that a lot of obstacles were just illusions! Of course the extremists among them are unsatisfied and upset. Let them be so… no problem, but there are rational persons too, and they exists everywhere, and the dialogue should be held with such people. There are pateriot Syrians, even within the Riyadh's platform. I’m not talking here about the political agendas, but about personalities, despite of their choice under certain circumstances.

What are your notes about the leadership of the Riyadh's platform?
The leadership of Moscow Platform has endorsed the results of Lausanne’s Technical Meetings of Syrian Opposition. The leadership of Cairo Platform also endorsed these results. Unfortunately, the leadership of the Riyadh's platform, (i.e. High Negotiations Committee) have not yet endorsed on them up to this moment! They have not endorsed on the outcomes of their own delegation!
They have invited us to Riyadh (scheduled to Aug, 15, 2017). I think the problem consists in the following: they want to say to us, that they knew about what happened in Lausanne, but that they has not tackled the “governance basket” yet. They would say: if you didn’t give us a word that you will explicitly agree on the step down of Bashar Al-Assad, we will not agree with you on anything.
This was filtrated to media, I think.
I asked them: If we agree on the step down condition, would you create one delegation. They said yes. But the point here is that even if one delegation of opposition is created in this case, what meaning is left then for any negotiation, if the you said to the party you want to negotiate with to step-down and depart?! This is not accepted. Someone may ask about our position from the president’s departure, we reply that we neither talk about staying nor about leaving, because it is not the time to talk bout a matter which is related only to the negotiations’ result. Our position would be determined by the objective concrete realities in the appropriate time. On the other hand, practically, this issue will not be tackled before about six months up to one year. The presidency issue is determined only by negotiations and elections. Negotiations are related to constitutional and legal aspects, concerning the forthcoming amendments, and laws. There is also a political aspect which requires reciprocal concessions from all parties. If you really want a serious discussion to be started, you have to keep the media silent completely about this point, neither to call for departure nor to call for staying. This issue will be opened for discussion only after starting negotiations. Any precondition from any party expresses the unwillingness to negotiate at all, and expresses the willing of perpetuation of the sufferings of the Syrian people; the willing of keeping pumping terrorism and terrorists into Syrian; the willing of retarding the startup of the process of democratic national change, which is necessary as both a right and obligation for the Syrian people.
Therefore, this is a point of disagreement. We say to them you are violating the UN resolution. We say, the required is neither your agenda, nor ours. Let the shared agenda for all be the resolution 2254, which provides a roadmap sufficient for all aspects of the Syrian crisis. Now is not the proper time for other partisan programs and agendas to compete with each other, but the time is in the forthcoming elections. The most important thing now is to transfer the struggle from the military field to the the field of ideas and programs.

- Al-Aalam:
What is your opinion of the Syrian National Coalition of Opposition? Do you thing it is over?
- K.J. :
You mean Istanbul-based coalition. I think it is over politically. This is because its program was not realized, but the contrary of it. Any political force is measured by its program, achievement of it means success. Failure of the program means the failure of that force.

What is important for the members of the coalition is to reassess the experience, and learn from it, and relocate themselves in the right place which serves the interests of the Syrian people. Who depend on external forces and bet on the wrong horse would suffer from the bad results of his wrong choices.
The strength of our Front [Change and Liberation Front], and of the People Will Party, comes from Syrian people. We are used to make our decisions independently, despite of all measures targeting us, like media blackout, boycott, insults and accusations. We have withstood on our position.Day after day, life proves that our position corresponds to the right solution of the Syrian crisis. So we are very happy today to see everybody turns, and take the side of our position. It is not important now who was the first ,or the last, to take this rightful position. What matters is that we are all now getting closer and closer to the solution of the Syrian crisis. Our Syrian people have a healthy memory, and they would apply the principal of reward and punishment on all political forces in the forthcoming days. I have said many times, that everyone who insists on his wrong positions, would not be safe from the punishment by the Syrian people, and people’s punishment is a very hard one. The history of the Arabic countries demonstrates that there were parties which committed big mistakes, that could not be forgivable by the people. Those parties could not stand on their feet up to now, even after 50 years or so! Therefore, there is no room for mistakes, especially in national issues related to the destiny of the people. Thank god we have not committed such mistakes, at least in the principal major issues, despite of mistakes in some tactics and daily work, which may happen of course. But in cases like external intervention, we did not make mistakes. The same thing applies to our position from the issue of the necessity of internal changes, at the same time we did not confuse things, and did not keep silence about any external intervention, at the same time we insist on the necessity of internal changes, which – as we see them – would support our country resistance against external interventions. Things have to be changed, and it is impossible to keep things as they were in 2011, because Syria needs a high immunity against the persistent risks facing it since the independence of the country and up to the present moment. One of the most important antidotes is to give the principal freedoms for the people – I reiterate and emphasize: FOR PEOPLE, not for the moneybags, nor for the security apparatuses. That is why we say: Transfer the power to the people. On this basis, we will work to reformulate the constitution, so that to have constitutional powers able to provide a real (not formal) transfer of power to the people.


- Al-Aalam:
Would we soon, witness the scene of Moscow and Cairo platforms coming to Damascus to negotiate with the government? And what is your conception about the solution in Syria?
- K. J. :
First, we are going now to form one delegation of the opposition. And it is better for the three platforms (Moscow, Cairo, Riyadh) to agree on this themselves, otherwise the international society, as a monitor of the implementation of 2254, would itself take the mission of forming the one delegation. Adel Ahmed Al Jubeir, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, alluded to this in his meeting with the High Negotiations Committee. He said to them if you couldn’t reach a consensus we would make the decision without you. So I say it is enough to more violations of the Syrian sovereignty, which is partly violated from outside, but also partly violated from within, because of our own faults. I think it is a decision of sovereignty that the Syrian opposition to form its delegation by itself, and if it fails to do so, others will do it instead. In that case we, unfortunately, would lose more of our sovereignty. We call for forming one delegation and this we will work to make collectively and consensually.
The one delegation will be formed anyway, because the Syrian people would not wait forever watching 30 opposition members in Geneva disabled to form a delegation. There are 20 million people suffering, and there is a risk threating the region.
When the direct negotiations start, I think it will not persist too long, because the things will accelerate, and the foundation of the process is 2254. after agreement, the implementation would not be in Geneva, but in Damascus of course.
Moreover, my own opinion is that the final agreements, if reached and signed in initials in Geneva, the final signatures, I suggest to be put on the final agreement in Damascus. That would be of symbolic significance.

Translated by Kassioun.org from the recorded video of the interview which was conducted in Arabic.