Al-Moallem: Conspiring against Syria doomed to fail, Russian-Chinese stance will not change as coordination and cooperation continues
DAMASCUS– Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem affirmed that Syria has always dealt with reform, dialogue and stopping bloodshed with complete openness as it recognizes the scale of the conspiracy and the importance of its people’s unity in the face of this plot.
In a press conference held on Monday in Damascus, al-Moallem said that the Syrian leadership considers dialogue held in a civil and peaceful atmosphere the basis for the dignified life it wants for the Syrians, and thus it will work with complete openness to any brotherly or friendly effort which contributes to activating dialogue and supporting the reform process.
“The Russian and Chinese stances, which earned the respect and gratitude of the Syrian people, will not change as long as we continue coordination and cooperation,” he said, telling the Syrian people not to worry about turning the Syrian matter into an international issue.
Al-Moallem said that the crisis isn’t escalating but rather heading towards its end, and that Syrian efforts are focused on dealing with it rather than evading it, adding that when all the spectrums of the Syrian people took to the streets yesterday, they conveyed a message that they are united and ready for steadfastness.
He underlined the statement issued on Sunday which proposed holding an emergency Arab summit to address the current situation and its negative repercussions on Arab joint action and blatant foreign interferences which call for discussions on the highest levels.
Al-Moallem reiterated that Syria welcomes the arrival of the Arab Ministerial Committee before November 16 accompanied by any civilian and military observers and journalists it deems fit to witness what is happening firsthand and supervise the initiative in cooperation with Syrian authorities.
He said that it’s no secret that there’s a crisis in Syria which was afflicted with conspiracies from several directions, stressing that Syria is paying the price for its strong stances and Arabism, yet it will not yield and will emerge strong and its people will be open to a better life in light of comprehensive reforms.
“Syria will remain – despite what some of the brothers throw at it – the heart of Arabism and its impenetrable bastion,” al-Moallem stated, adding that conspiring against Syria is doomed to fail.
He noted that the fact that people across Syria took to the streets yesterday to reject and denounce the recent Arab League resolution affirms that this is the Syrian leadership’s stance, and that those who belong to such a resilient and aware people need never worry.
Al-Moallem went on to stress that the Arab League decision on suspending Syria’s membership and the other provisions it included constitute a very dangerous step regarding the present and future of joint Arab action and the goals and role of the organization.
He pointed out that since the Arab League began studying the Syrian issue, its General Secretariat and one Arab country asked its legal administration to prepare a study based on the organization’s charter on suspending a country’s membership, which proves that there was an already prepared plan to suspend Syria’s membership.
“The meeting of the Arab foreign ministers was held at the Four Seasons Hotel – not at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo – on November 16 without inviting the Syrian delegation… the idea of suspension was proposed and opposed by several Arab countries,” al-Moallem pointed out, saying that in the end an Arab ministerial committee was formed to discuss the issue in Damascus, pointing out that Syria possesses the legal study issued by the Arab League which proves that the decision to suspend Syria’s membership is illegal and violates the charter since it needs to be unanimous.
“We have reasons to believe that the sides which prepared this step were surprised after the committee’s meeting with President Bashar al-Assad and our meeting in Doha… they were surprised by Syria’s agreement to carry out the Arab work plan,” he explained, noting that an unprecedented media escalation took place during the Arab League Council meeting on November 2 accompanied by an escalation of criminal acts.
Al-Moallem said that Syria began implementing the Arab plan by removing armed aspects from cities and pardoning 553 detainees with the rest to be released gradually, in addition to permitting the entry of 80 journalists to Syria and informing the Arab League that Syria welcomes the visit of a committee to witness the reality firsthand, providing the League with details about security across Syria on daily bases, and the invitation issued by the Interior Minister to gunmen to hand over their weapons in exchange for pardoning them.
“In the time that we were implementing these procedures and facing huge difficulties because of the acts of the armed groups, a US statement was issued calling on armed groups who have weapons and arms as not to hand over their arms to the Syrian authorities despite the fact that the call of the Syrian Interior Ministry included all persons involved in carrying, distributing, financing or buying weapons. Another US statement was issued a few days ago calling on the Arab countries to join the political and economic boycott against Syria,” he added.
Al-Moallem added that Syria informed the Arab League General Secretariat that it condemns those statements because of the dangers of such statements on the joint Arab action, adding that “Unfortunately, the Arab League didn’t react to these statements.”
Minister al-Moallem said that the USA is not an official member in the Arab League, but most delegations with the acknowledgment of some members is considered as an unofficial member!
Al-Moallem said that Syria has reiterated its commitment to the Arab work plan many times through providing the League with details about the situation on ground and its difficulties, pointing out that Syria was surprised by the statements of the Secretary General and his deputy two days after the Arab work plan.
“The plan was decided on November 2nd. On November 4th, statements were issued saying that Syria didn’t commit itself to the plan, at the same time the French Foreign Minister said that the Arab plan has died, then there was a call to hold a meeting for the League Council and the decision was taken. The plot was predetermined and was waiting for pretexts and the decision was illegal because it was not taken unanimously as it should have been according to the study of the Legal Administration in the League,” declared al-Moallem.
Answering a question about the relations with Qatar, al-Moallem said that when he went to Doha to continue the dialogue which started earlier between the Ministerial Committee and President al-Assad in Damascus, there was a long dialogue that has continued for more than five and half hours, adding that there was a prepared paper that Syria had rejected altogether.
“After a break, we went back with a more realistic paper; we discussed some items such as the issue of foreign interference. The modifications were related to many issues, we insisted that the national dialogue should be held in Damascus, because the dialogue is not only between the authority and the opposition, there are millions of Syrians who are not part of the authority or the opposition; they must be represented in the dialogue in order to meet their demands. What we are thinking of is a comprehensive national dialogue that guarantees partnership.” He declared.
Al-Moallem said that “We welcome any person who wants to participate in the dialogue that will be held in Damascus, I hope that the persons who are abroad will realize that the interest of the homeland is the top priority.”
On the bases of the Arab decisions, al-Moallem said that suspending Syria’s membership is illegal, adding that Syria is determined on implementing the Arab plan, because it is in line with the stance of the Syrian leadership.
“Syria wants to put an end to all violence regardless of its source, the Arab initiative should have included mechanisms, but in Doha they rejected to discuss that. The least of such mechanisms is to control borders as to prevent smuggling of weapons which is in the hands of the neighboring states, and in addition to halting money transfers which come from Gulf states,” he said.
“We discussed stopping the media instigation… we said that we’re prepared to reopen al-Jazeera’s office according to the bases of objectivity, but after seeing the escalation of instigation since November 2 we were surprised because when we were in Doha, they told us that is we agreed to the work plan then they would rally intellectuals, journalists and religious figures – including Yousef al-Qaradawi – to support this agreement, but this didn’t happen.
“When al-Jazeera observes objectivity, it will be welcome in Syria to tour its cities and see that we carried out item 6 of the Arab work plan, which is removing armed aspects from cities,” al-Moallem said.
He noted that Syria always had alternative choices, affirming pride in the Syrian people which expressed its stance on Sunday and proved to be Syria’s primary choice, adding that agreeing to the Arab plan was complimentary to the Syrian effort as the leadership believes that the solution is Syrian and cannot be imported from abroad, and that Syria wanted the Arab League to play a supporting role to bolster Arab joint action, adding “but if the Arabs decided to become conspirators, that’s their business.”
On Syria’s confidence in the Russian-Chinese stance in case Arab countries didn’t agree to holding a summit and turned the issue into an international matter and referred it to the Security Council, al-Moallem said that Syria did what duty entails by relaying the matter to the Arab summit, voicing confidence in the wisdom and realistic vision of Arab leaders.
“We in Syria are coordinating with friends in Russia… before the conference I read a statement made by Minister Sergey Lavrov in which he objected to suspending Syria’s membership… I believe that the Russian and Chinese stance – which was met by the thanks and gratitude of our people – will not change as long as we continue to coordinate and hold discussions,” he explained, voicing confidence that Russia wishes to play an effective role in national dialogue.
Al-Moallem stressed that the Syrian people shouldn’t worry whether the Syrian issue becomes an international matter or not, saying that Syria isn’t Libya and that the European economies are suffering because the war on Libya cost them USD 240 billion according to NATO estimates, not to mention the destruction that was estimated at USD 400 billion.
On why Syria called for an Arab summit despite accusing the Arab League of violating its convention, al-Moallem explained that this invitation was issued out of good will towards Arab leaders because Syria believes that Arab joint action is in danger and must be saved.
On the statements of the Arab League’s Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi who said that the League can’t send Arab observers to protect civilians but international observers should be sent, al-Moallem said that al-Arabi reached this conclusion after the resolution was made, knowing that it stipulates for protecting civilians and contacting relevant Arab organizations, adding “he didn’t say at the time that the League doesn’t have resources, so I say that as days go on, the plot is uncovered.”
On the stances of some Arab countries that voted for the resolution which surprised some observers and if Syria was informed about withdrawing ambassadors, al-Moallem said that he contacted Arab ministers by phone during the past week and their stances during the calls were different from what they expressed at the Council meeting, which shows the scale of the pressure exerted on them, thanking those who opposed the resolution for adhering to the League’s charter.
“The issue of withdrawing ambassadors remained a sovereign decision, meaning that each country makes up its own mind… Algeria announced it won’t withdraw its ambassadors; the Gulf Cooperation Council countries withdrew their ambassadors two months ago except for Oman and the Emirates… Italy withdrew its ambassador and returned it and so did Japan… this is a sovereign issue in which we don’t interfere… the United States summoned its ambassador to Washington for discussion and there’s information that he will return, which is of no concern to us,” he said.
On the Arab League’s invitation for the opposition to meet at the League’s headquarters and whether Syria will permit local opposition to participate, al-Moallem said that the Syrian coordination commission is in Cairo with the authorities’ approval, adding that al-Arabi said that he will consult with the Syrian opposition and not the Syrian government, which is a disgrace for him, adding “we’re a member country and a founder of the Arab League… I say, it’s not an honor to consult with him.”
Regarding Syria’s adherence to Arab joint action and alternatives in case sanctions are carried out, al-Moallem said that the homeland is more important than anything and that alternatives are available, yet Syria cannot abandon Arab joint action.
He went on to note that the Arab League was established for the sake of Palestine, and Syria cannot abandon its role in the Palestinian cause, adding that Syria sacrificed much for this cause and lost the Golan, wondering what the Arab League did for Palestine and underlining the failures of the Arab Initiative Committee in terms of supporting Palestine’s membership in the UN.
On Syrian-Turkish relations and the effect of the Syrian-Iranian relation on the events, al-Moallem said that relations with Iran are deep-rooted and not at the expense of relations with any Arab countries, particularly gulf countries.
“As for Turkey, I repeatedly said that this depends on Turkish directives… if they wish to continue what was achieved during ten years, then we’re ready, and if they wish to stop or conspire, then we are ready,” he stated.
In reply to a question, Minister al-Moallem reiterated that Syria has withdrawn all of its army from the centers of the cities and replaced army personnel with members of law-enforcement, hoping that the citizens would understand the motives behind this seeking the interests of Syria and not resuming paid-for killings because the security forces would encounter them.
“The right to self-defense and the defense of the citizens is legitimate because the protection of the security of the citizens is the duty of the State.” He added.
“Syria is committed to the implementation of the Arab work plan because it is in the interest of our people,” added al-Moallem, asserting that the joint Arab action is the basic for contribution and help as to get out from this crisis and not for the solution which is but a Syrian solution.
In reply to a question about what some diplomatic delegation headquarters had been exposed to by angry protestors, Minister al-Moallem said that as a foreign Minister of Syria, I apologize for this, hoping that our people would not repeat this, and that as a State, we are responsible within the stipulations of Vienna Accord to protect the security of the embassies.
About the official stand regarding the news about Turkish intention to establish a buffer zone in the next phase, Minister al-Moallem underscored that Syria is a sovereign state for each span of its land and would defend its sovereignty and land, excluding such a move by the brothers in Turkey.
In reply to another question, the Foreign and Expatriates Minister asserted that Syria has been working and going on for the solution and that the crisis has reached to the beginning of the end.