Mohammad Riyad Al-Shaqfa, head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, recently said that the international community has remained idle as Bashar Al-Assad’s crimes go unchecked. He claimed this reaction is due in part to the West’s desire to destroy the Syrian community and its infrastructure to better suit Israeli interests.
“This is why the Assad regime remains in power,” Al-Shaqfa stated.
“The Syrian rebels are advancing and Al-Assad’s regime has been retreating despite its unlimited supply of Russian support. This is what has pushed Al-Assad to hire Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iraqi militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Yet, regardless of all these efforts, the regime is falling,” claimed Al-Shaqfa.
Al-Shaqfa described the upcoming Syrian elections, which are scheduled for June of this year, as “absurd and worthless” adding that “it will only increase the Syrian people’s determination to seek and implement change”. Al-Shaqfa also noted that the Syrian opposition’s unified front would undoubtedly lead to its victory.”
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: How do you describe the situation in Syria after more than three years of revolution?
A: The Syrian rebels are advancing and Al-Assad’s regime has been retreating despite its unlimited supply of Russian support. This is what has pushed Al-Assad to hire Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iraqi militias and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Yet, regardless of all these efforts, the regime is falling.
Q: What are the reasons behind the regime’s survival up to this point?
A: Russian and Iranian support. Not to mention the international community’s decision to remain idle as the Assad regime continues to commit war crimes. They seek to destroy the Syrian community and its infrastructure to better serve Israel’s interests.
Q: What are the challenges that continue to face the Syrian revolution today?
A: A lack of uniformity and consistency when it comes to financial support for the revolution and the international community’s decision to impose a weapons embargo on the Syrian opposition. There is also the challenge of Iran and Russia’s continued support of the regime, which facilitates its continuation of war crimes.
Q: What about the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and its role in the country?
A: After more than 30 years of being absence from the political scene, the Muslim Brotherhood is making a comeback in Syria. We are engaged in relief work, educational initiatives and diffusing moderate Islamic thought in liberated areas.
Q: What are the implications of the presidential elections and the impact it will have on the Syrian crisis?
A: These elections are absurd and worthless and will increase the Syrian people’s determination to seek and implement change.
Q: Has the Syrian opposition been divided? What are the reasons that lead to this and how can it be overcome?
A: There was a dispute over whether or not the opposition would be allowed to attend the Geneva conference and this conference ultimately failed due to the regime’s intransigence. The opposition has since resolved its issues and is working towards developing a unified front (coalition).
Q: What are some of the steps you hope to take on the ground in the near future?
A: As I previously mentioned we are working on forming a unified coalition that would include all of the moderate factions in the country. This will undoubtedly bring us to victory and help us stabilise the situation as we draw closer to the stage of parliamentary elections.
Q: How did the Egyptian Army’s coup against the elected president Mohamed Morsi affect the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria?
A: We had hoped that the Egyptian government would stand in solidarity with the Syrian revolution and then came the military coup, which deprived not only the Muslim Brotherhood but also the entire Syrian people from Egyptian support.
Q: In what ways do you analyse the current political crisis in Egypt and its aftermath?
A: The crisis in Egypt deprived all nations from Egyptian support in their stand against their enemies, particularly the Palestinian cause first and foremost.
Q: Do you think that the crisis in Egypt will continue for a while or do you feel that it will end soon?
A: I believe that this crisis will take some time but that it will end with a victory for the Egyptian people, God willing.
Q: Can we easily assume that there is no political solution currently in sight for this crisis?
A: The crisis will end with the return of legitimacy and when the forces behind the coup are held accountable for their actions.
Q: Many say that the current situation makes it impossible for President Mohamed Morsi to return to his seat in office… or do you believe that there is still a chance that he will make a come back?
A: President Morsi’s return is inevitable because he is Egypt’s legitimate president. I am not saying this because he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood but because he won by way of democratic elections. We are a group that accepts the election’s outcome regardless of the candidate’s political affiliation. This is the only way our countries will be stable.
Q: Many believe that there is an international organisation behind the Muslim Brotherhood Movement and that this organisation plays an important role. What do you think of this and to what extent is it true?
A: There is an international organisation for the Muslim Brotherhood. It exists and its main role is to hold meetings between the Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders in individual countries for them to exchange ideas and advice. It is the decision of each individual leader alone to decide which policies to implement within the context of each country.
Q: Sheikh Abdulfatah Moro, the president of the Islamic Nahda movement in Tunisia, said that Islamists in Tunisia are more understanding, rational and flexible than the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and that they have tried countless times to advise them but that they refuse to listen. What do you think of the Muslim Brotherhood’s experience in Egypt compared to Tunisia?
A: This confirms what I said earlier, that individual leaders are the ones who decide how to implement policies in their countries. The comparison between the Tunisian and Egyptian experiences of the Muslim Brotherhood is one that requires extensive research.
Q: Some are claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood is facing an internal, regional and international war… is this true? And are you capable of confronting this war as an organisation?
A: This is 100 per cent true. We ask God to help us in our struggle and for the people to stand on our side.
Q: What do you think the future has in store for the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, and the main branch in Egypt as well as the Arab world in general?
A: The Muslim Brotherhood is an integral part of the societies in which they are found and despite all of the negative backlash and oppression they have experienced at the hands of dictators, they were able to preserve themselves and secure their presence mainly because their moderate way of thinking was accepted by the people.
Q: Finally, what do you think of the International community’s, particularly the Untied States and the European Union’s stances on the Syrian revolution in particular and the Arab Spring’s aftermath in general?
A: I find the international community’s decision to remain idle when it comes to the Syrian crisis both surprising and astonishing. The international community has intervened in situations far less drastic than this one. I do not understand how they can watch an entire country’s infrastructure be destroyed and do nothing about it.
As for the international community’s position on the Arab Spring, I find this no less surprising. The people are demanding freedom and democracy, which is something that is sacred to the West. Yet, the West has in stead chosen to support dictatorships in our countries.
Since March 2011, the Syrian people have been calling for democracy and an end to the Assad family’s hold on power for more than 40 years. They want nothing more than to establish a democracy.
However, the Syrian regime instead chose to adopt a military strategy to respond to popular protests, which prompted bloodshed and violent battles between the regime and oppositional forces. The violence has claimed the lives of more than 150 thousand, according to organisations such as the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, a London-based organisation.———————MEMO