Nearly 500,000 people were killed during the Syrian civil war, which has been raging for more than seven years. In an exclusive interview with TASS Syria’s Ambassador to China, His Excellency Dr Imad Moustapha, has disclosed the true motives of the US, Great Britain and France regarding the trilateral airstrikes on Syria, named the major instigators of the Syrian crisis and shed light on the ongoing reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.
- Can you give us an official position of the Syrian government about the aggression of the US, Great Britain and France that took place last Saturday?
- Well, of course the Syrian government condemns this aggression. It was an act of aggression. It was violation of the international law and infringement on the Syrian territorial sovereignty, but it is not strange. We, in Syria, do not make any distinction on the attacks on Syria when they are done by proxies, or when the original masters and movers do them. They are the same. We do not care who is actually carrying out the attack.
When they put explosives in a car and send it to the streets of Damascus or Aleppo, and the bombs get exploded, and people get killed. It is the same when the criminal groups use mortar shells to shell Damascus or Aleppo, it is the same when the US, France or Great Britain send their cruise missiles to bombard Syria. We do not make a distinction. All these actions are done by the same group with same mentality and ideology. I do not make any distinction between them. Nothing is new and they all have one objection, which is to undermine the Syrian state. This is our position.
- What was the impact of such moves on the situation in Syria and the region?
- It is a complex question. Of course, they can use different terms and descriptions to describe their attack on Syria. However, the truth will not change. In reality, it is still a barbaric, criminal act against sovereign country in breach of UN laws, charter and regulations.
In addition, it is a threat to international peace and security. However, it will have repercussions because when you undermine the international law, you do not know where it is going to stop. You cannot choose. You cannot say whether one day you want to undermine the international law and the next day you say to other countries in the world that they have to respect the international law. When you are doing this, France, Great Britain and the USA are giving a bad example to the whole world.
That is really the law of the jungle. Moreover, as they say it in English: "Might is right". If we are powerful, we can do whatever we want. And if we do it, it is right. Of course, it is not a new thing. The whole history of the estern powers was written on the principle of "might is right" and the law of the jungle.
- Can you give us any examples?
- Whether you want to mention the war in Libya or Iraq, or you want to go back in history and remember how France and Great Britain have sent their military forces to China and destroyed the Summer Palace in Beijing to force China to legalize opium trade. They would not legalize opium trade in Britain and France, and in the same time, they made war in China to force it to accept opium.
This is the true, moral fabric of the Western countries. Nothing has changed through history. This recent attack on Syria is just the latest example of a very long series of atrocities and crimes against humanity committed by these countries.
- US, France and Great Britain governments representatives said that they have launched this attack because of the Douma accident. Some UN countries, and Russia was among of them, said that at first investigation should take place and only after that, measures should be taken. Why do you think that airstrikes took place before the official investigation by the UN?
- It is clear that they really want to attack Syria. If they wait for results of the so-called investigation, the investigation would confirm that there was no chemical attack. Then they would be embarrassed. What would they say? Therefore, they do not even want to show that they even care for any investigation. Their objective was simply to attack Syria.
- What can you tell us about the Douma accident?
- The story about the chemical attack in Douma is a fabricated story. It is not true. It never happened.
This morning, I was reading two articles. One was written by renowned British journalist Robert Fisc, who went to Douma yesterday. And another one is from an American journalist. What do they say: "We interviewed all the people of Douma. All of them did not know that there was a chemical attack in their town".
They have never heard about the chemical attack. It was fabricated by the White Helmets. As you know, the organization of White Helmets was created by British intelligence and it was used in the world media. So everybody in the world in Argentina, Singapore, Japan, India, Australia and other countries would think, that there was a chemical attack in Douma. However, the people in Douma never knew that there was a chemical attack, because it never happened.
- What was it then?
- It was a staged act done by the White Helmets, because they receive orders to do so. You need to remember when the Syrian army moved towards Douma the Russian military made an agreement with the criminal groups in Douma.
The agreement was based on the premise that, they do not need to fight and cause death and destruction. If you give up your arms, heavy arms, you can leave for the north of Syria. And they agreed, they signed the agreement brokered by Russia, as it was trying to save lives. Moreover, there was a cease-fire. So Syrian army was not shooting at them and they were not shooting at us. For two days it was calm and the buses entered Douma. People from their side started taking the busses and leaving. It was a very normal situation. Three busses had already left because the agreement took place. The next day nearly 20 buses entered, I am not sure about the exact number, and suddenly everything stopped. Nobody was leaving in the buses.
- They received the instructions from their sponsors, who said: "What are you doing? You are leaving Douma like this? At least give us a pretext to attack the Syrian military". And suddenly in the whole world reports surfaced about this staged chemical attack. It was on TV screens on CNN, BBC and Fox News. Then on the third day they resumed leaving Douma. But they were told to do this by their masters: you need to do something before you leave. You cannot leave like this. Claim that there was a chemical attack. Therefore, they claimed that there was a chemical attack.
Now you ask me why the US, France and Great Britain had conducted the raid on Syria before the investigation even started. They did not care. In addition, they already knew that the investigation would say that there was no chemical attack. Now you know what they are saying today? They say that the Russians have cleaned the area so nobody will find any chemicals. It is hopeless.
They are experts in lying. They have been lying for ages. They know exactly how to lie. And they have no moral compunction inside. They do not care. They can lie and tell stories, attack other nations and kill people. They do not care. This is the true face of Western values and Western civilization.
- If such organization as White Helmets is just an instrument in their masters' hands, who is the true master? Who could give them such an order to stage a chemical attack?
- You must make a distinction between two levels of powers and players who are trying to create all the disturbances in Syria. In such a way you can say, that, for example, the Saudi Arabia government did this because they are sponsoring the Islamic Army. The Qatar government did this because they are sponsoring The Battalions of the Merciful God. On the other hand, you can say it was Britain because British intelligence created the White Helmets and is using them for its purposes.
However, I do not make any distinction because all of them are following one master player, which is the US. So even if the US is not directly involved in planning something, it is responsible politically and morally for all the tragedies that took place before in Syria. It is the responsibility first and foremost of the US.
- Do you think that all political groups in the US are so hostile towards Syria? Or maybe there are some groups of elites who have another position?
- The US is ruled by one single establishment. It is a military-industrial conglomerate that really controls America. And presidents in America come and go. The two parties in US exchange seats, but this establishment in reality rules the country.
- Do you think that Donald Trump is a representative of this establishment?
- In the United States of America you can have individuals like Donald Trump who are considered outsiders. Before he became the president he said that he wanted to build good relations with Russia, he wanted to end the US involvement in the conflict in Syria. He said: "Bashar al-Assad is not our enemy. The jihadi guys are our enemies". And the establishment laughed at him and said that he can say whatever he wants, because if he would become the president they will dictate the policy. And this was exactly what happened.
Moreover, to be fair to Donald Trump, it happened not only with him. It happened with every president before him. Barack Obama used to say some things before he became the president. Once he became the president, he had to do what the establishment told him.
It is not a new thing. In 1950-s the president of the US was a military general Dwight Eisenhower. He was a republican, right-wing politician and he was a general. It was a very famous incident. When he finished his presidency, he wrote a farewell letter to the nation saying to the American citizens the following: "The most dangerous thing in America is that the military-industrial conglomerate is really controlling this country. And they keep pushing us from one war to another".
When America is in war, they have to buy all these weapons and so the companies become very rich. In addition, the companies that produce weapons in US are so rich that they pay to all the politicians. So the whole political establishment in the US is controlled by this money. Eisenhower was not a journalist like you, and he was not a Syrian guy who doesn’t like US like me. He was not a poet. He was World War II general and he was a republican, right-wing American politician, but he told the truth.
The US in reality is not a democracy. It is ruled by the powerful special interest groups that control the money. And this establishment is even more entrenched now, more powerful and more deeply rooted. They completely control the political system in the US.
- How do you estimate the involvement of other participants of the political process in Syria? For example the UN, Russia and China?
- Well, we must make a distinction between the UN, Russia and China. They are not in the same category and they are not the same.
Russia is providing an incredible and astounding assistance and help to Syria. The Syrian people now are very grateful to Russia. They feel that Russia had made a historic service to the Syrian people.
We will never forget this in the future. We will never forget that Russia stood with us in our most difficult moment. So, when you talk about Russian involvement in Syria, for us it is very different. And, to be fair, Russia helped us during our most dangerous existential crisis.
- What about China?
- If you come to China, China is a friendly country. China has taken a very positive political position towards Syria and the Syrian crisis. China has condemned the trilateral aggression against Syria. China is providing humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and providing a lot of technical and financial assistance to the government of Syria. China is a very good friend and we are very grateful to China. Of course, we hope that China could take positions similar to Russia. However, we respect their position and we are happy with it.
- What do you think about the UN involvement in the Syrian crisis?
- The UN is a different story. The UN is an organization that represents the powers that are there. And most of those powers are either Western countries or countries controlled by the West. So to be honest with you, even if our friends from Russia or China do not like what we say, we do not trust the UN. We do not trust it. The UN Security Council agreed to the invasion of Iraq by the US. This was a historic crime. Therefore, what respect do we have for the UN? We do not have any respect for it.
Our friends here in China and in Russia tell us that we should not say this. Nevertheless, we do not respect the UN. It is controlled by many players, but in the end the master of puppets who pulls all the strings in the UN is the US.
- But Syrian government is not opposing of the UN investigation in Douma?
- No, of course not, but please, we only ask them to provide an unbiased objective investigation. You know what the previous UN investigation team did last time? They sent their investigators to Turkey. The White Helmets brought there tens of false witnesses people and they swore that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against them.
Of course, there are opposition people in Syria who want to accuse the Syrian government. And the last UN mechanism, which was dismantled, agreed with their testimonies. We told them that they should visit the sites, but they never visited them.
That is why a real investigation should be carried out. You cannot depend on witnesses provided by the White Helmets. They did not listen to us.
Actually when they went to Damascus they said, that we are right. They said that they could not find any proof, that Syrian government was involved in chemical attacks. However, when they went back to New York they changed their reports. Moreover, they only used the testimonies, which were provided to them by White Helmets in Turkey.
So, how can we trust such an investigation? We could trust it if it was objective, neutral and professional. It is against their interests to have a transparent, neutral and objective investigation. As far as the US is concerned.
This was proved by the fact that they just rushed the attack even before the investigation in Douma had started.
- Why do you think that the UN is not effective in the peace process and the investigation?
- It is because the majority of players within the UN have their alliances with the Western powers. Therefore, they always deviate the UN from its Charter to serve the interests of the Western powers.
- On what stage do you think is counter-terrorism operation in Syria is now? How far are we from peace process, from the reconstruction of Syria?
- These are three different subjects. Let us talk about them one by one. We cannot put them in one basket.
First, Syria is 100% committed to fight every terrorist group. We will never compromise with terrorists groups. Some of them of course are supported and funded by Saudi Arabia. Some of them are supported by Qatar. Others are funded by France, Britain, USA. And there is a large number of terrorists groups which are supported and armed by Turkey. So these are the major supporters of the terrorist groups in Syria: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, France, Great Britain and the US.
Each one of them has its own terrorist groups. Moreover, sometimes these terrorists groups fight with each other. Sometimes they fight against the Syrian government, but other times they just kill each other. It is true. If you can read Arabic and go to their Facebook pages you can read what they tell about fighting between themselves. They are fighting not only against us.
They are warlords. Their true doctrine and ideology is money. It depends on who is paying them. However, this is not important. Our commitment to fight them is absolute.
With the help of Russia we did achieve a great success particularly against ISIL or Daesh. However, we, in Syria, do not make any distinction between ISIL and other groups. What is the distinction between ISIL and the Army of Islam that has just been kicked out from Douma? They are also extremely radical, extremely strict in their interpretation of the Islamic laws. They get their money from the Saudi Arabia and they follow Wahhabi model of Islam, which is not the model accepted by the majority of the Muslim people across the world.
Therefore, we do not make any distinction. All of those groups are terrorist groups and we are committed to fight them. However, any group that is willing to lay down their arms and accept to go back and resume normal life under the normal civil law of the Syrian state and government can get a presidential pardon, a grace that will allow them to resume the normal life, provided that they lay down arms. And provided that they have not committed atrocious and bloody crimes.
Therefore, the door is open to any individual to reintegrate with the Syrian state. As you know with the help of Russia, many of these groups have already done this.
- Are they are willing to do so?
- Many of them did. Others refused and they are still fighting us. However, there is no option for us. We will keep fighting them until either they are completely and totally eradicated or they reintegrate themselves with the Syrian state and surrender their arms.
Regarding the political process, it is on one hand easy and on the other hand very difficult. Syria and our friends - Russia, China and Iran - are completely committed to a political process that will lead to a solution of the Syrian crisis. We have no objection at all. We are willing to engage in a political way with any Syrian political faction loyal or opposition. All of them are welcomed. That was the easy part of your question.
- What is about the difficult one?
- The difficult part is that the Western powers and oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who supported the armed groups who are actually conducting violence in Syria, completely and totally refuse to engage in the political process. What they really want is to replace the Syrian government with a government made by them.
Therefore, we are going back to the six players who are arming and financing these groups and who tell them what to do and what not to do. What to accept and what to reject. So how can you make a peace process with these groups? You cannot.
However, if you are an ordinary Syrian citizen who is in opposition, who has political views different from my political views for example, you are absolutely welcomed to engage in a dialogue with the government which may lead to national unity government opened to different schools of thought and different streams of the political thinking. We have no objection to it and we believe that it is the way forward.
- We have not talked about Israel. How do you estimate its role in the conflict?
- Israel played a very negative and distractive role during this crisis not only by directly attacking Syria including last week, but also by taking advantage of the fact that Syrian military is busy with fighting more than 120,000 terrorists. Many of them are from outside of Syria. They took advantage of it.
Moreover, and this is also very dangerous, control of some certain parts of Syria, border areas close to Israel was taken by the terrorist groups. And if the Syrian army approaches them to try to liberate this areas and kick them out of it the Israel supports them and bombard the Syrian army. So, they don’t only take advantage of Syrian crisis, but also give protection to these terrorists groups particularly in the southern part of Syria.
One of these groups is al-Nusra Front that is really Al-Qaida, which is listed by even the UN as a terrorist group, but Israel doesn’t care. As far as Israel is concerned, they are fighting against the Syrian government so they are good people.
- Can you tell us a few words about the role of Iran in the Syrian crisis settlement?
- Iran was also very supportive towards Syria and we are also very grateful to Iran. And we believe that both Russia and Iran have played a crucial role in helping Syria to withstand a massive attack by three major powers.
- Who are these powers?
- These major powers are the following. First, is the extremely corrupt oil-rich Arab countries. They have a huge amount of money that they have spent to fuel the Syrian crisis. You need to know that the money they spent on their terrorist groups is many times more than the budget of the Syrian government. They have very large dispensable wealth, a lot of money that they can throw it around without any accountability.
The second major power is extreme, radical ideology. We have seen it in Iraq, in Afghanistan and all over the world. This kind of ideology is a very powerful ideology. It attracts Jihadi people from across the world to Syria.
This is why at one point we have ended up in Syria fighting with people from Chechnya, Xinjiang, Europe, America, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Tunisia etc. It is amazing. And the Western media call it the Syrian Civil War. A Civil War with 70,000 Jihadi people from all over the world. Do you understand?
So, you have one group with a huge amount of money. The second group with radical extremists and fundamental interpretation of Islam.
And the third power of course is the powerful Western countries who have their diplomatic and media arms. In addition, they control the United Nations and other International forums.
All three groups together attacked my small country. To be honest with you, the help of such friendly countries as Russia and Iran was crucial for us.
By the way, all of the three groups had one objective: to attack Syria, but they had different designs for Syria. As I usually say, they are like a three people sleeping in the same bed but they have different dreams.
The Western powers want to have the Syrian government as one of their stooges, one of the countries that will have to listen to their instructions and orders. A so-called Western style democratic system.
The oil-rich Arab countries want to have Syria as a Lebanon. As a country which they have a total control of. So, if they are unhappy with the Lebanon government, they can call the prime minister and put him in a jail in Saudi Arabia because they have lots of money.
And the radical Islam wants to establish an Islamic, Wahhabi state in Syria.
So all three groups have one objective, which is attacking us, but they have different designs for Syria.
- What about reconstruction of Syria? When this process will start?
- We are not waiting for the whole crisis in Syria to end to start reconstruction. Every town and village we liberate, get back and regain control of will be immediately engaged in reconstruction. We do not wait. I will tell you something.
Do you remember the images of Aleppo a year and a half ago? All this distractions especially in the old town of Aleppo. This week one of the largest festivals to celebrate the National Day of Syria was held in Aleppo. I was watching it on the TV, in live streaming, and I was amazed. Old town of the Aleppo and the ancient castle were completely refurbished and redecorated. There were nice lights everywhere, songs, music. People in the tens of thousands were celebrating, living their normal lives. Nobody now can imagine the monstrosity and the destruction left by the terrorist groups.
They caused a lot of harm to the Syrian cities and people. And they were supported by the Western countries. They were described as freedom fighters but they were real criminals and terrorists who made life miserable for all the people not only for the government.
And the images on nowadays Aleppo were striking. It was beautiful. It was a real carnival. As I told you, women, children and man, everyone was celebrating in the castle of Aleppo.
What I am trying to tell you is this. Wherever we go, even the countryside of Damascus - Ghouta, which was liberated by our troops recently, we bring reconstruction with us. The government of Syria has already appropriated funds for reconstruction. We cannot wait for the rest of the world to come and say: "OK, now after we have destroyed Syria maybe we will help you a little bit to rebuild it".
We do not care for the Western powers. If our friends want to help us and we need their help, they are more than welcomed. However, even if they were not ready for immediate help, that's not a problem. However, we start immediately by ourselves. We are not waiting.
Therefore, my answer to you is that reconstruction of Syria has already started. However, the task is enormous and we do need the support of our friends. Nevertheless, we will never accept the support and assistance of those who helped to destroy Syria. They are not welcomed.
- Can you name any sides with whom you had consultations about the reconstruction? Who is interested in reconstruction in Syria and in investing in infrastructure building projects?
- Well, many big Chinese companies and state owned enterprises have already visited us here in the embassy and expressed their interests. Of course, they are waiting for the military operations to calm down. They expressed their interests very clearly. Other friendly countries like India, Russia, Belarus, even Brazil companies expressed very strong desire to come to Syria and work there to start major reconstruction projects.
Although I said that we are not waiting and have already started, but they prefer to come once most of the regions are stabilized, which is understandable. We have no problems with this.
- As I understand, you cannot provide us with the names of the companies?
- The reason I would not give you the names of the companies is the following. The US Treasury Department is looking under the microscope for them. They will immediately put under sanctions each company which will say that it wants to take part in the reconstruction process.
As I told you before, those people have criminal mentality. I do not make any distinction between the administration of the US and the leadership of the ISIL. They are the same guys with different appearance and clothes but the same mentality.
- Can you tell us more about the major projects of the reconstruction?
- I will tell you the categories. The major projects, which Syria needs now, are in the sector of power generation. The criminal armed groups during the past 7 years targeted particularly the power supplies and generation units. That is why Syria today has a very serious need for power generation projects. It is the first priority.
The second one is housing units. Many Syrian cities were destroyed and major reconstruction of housing units is needed. The Chinese are particularly skilled in this area and we have already discussed it with many Chinese companies who are specialized in building housing units.
And the third is major infrastructure projects such as bridges, highways, airports, seaports and etc. However, for us it is the third priority. The main priorities are the first two and specially the power generation stations.
- How does the Syrian government invite other parties to take part in the reconstruction process in Syria?
- We are inviting every party, which took a fair and an objective position on Syria during the crisis and did not support criminal groups. We invite them to come and engage with us in the reconstruction process.
We are not asking for assistance and charity. We are asking for a partnership based on the mutual benefits, a win-win partnership.
We invite companies to come and invest in Syria. We believe that they will have good returns for their investments and they will help Syria to reconstruct.
As I said, the desire and the will of the Syrian people to live is much stronger than the desires of the forces of darkness to destroy our country. During the past years the Syrian government despite all the difficulties kept on opening universities and hospitals, we kept providing free art, music, cultural and sports education to the children of Syria. Life continued as normal as possible wherever the government of Syria was in control.
However, in the same time the Western media have glamorized the life in the areas, which were controlled by the terrorist groups. They said that they are fighters for freedom and democracy. In fact, these terrorist groups imposed strict Islam and Sharia law in many areas. They just closed the schools in many of them, so the children could not go to school anymore. And this was the middle-ages model which the Western countries have supported.
Yes, they want freedom. They want freedom not to send their children to schools. They want the freedom to put their women inside the house and never allow them to go out.
This is how they are thinking about freedom. Nevertheless, the Western media have not told the true story.
- Can you tell us a few words about how is Syria engaging in the China's "One belt, one road" initiative?
- Of course, Syria historically was one of integral parts of the ancient Silk Road and when China launched its "One belt, one road" initiative we considered ourselves as a part of it. We had discussions with the Chinese government on all the aspects of the cooperation within the framework of this initiative.
We believe that the vision of China towards the rest of the Asian continent and the rest of the world, in comparison with the vision of the western powers, has a very positive dimension.
They provide you with aid and assistance without any political strings.
- What do you mean?
- For example, you can go to the World Bank and tell them that you want to build a dam on the river. I do not have enough money, can you lend me some money to build the dam? They say yes, but first we need to check your economy, financial and monetary policies. And they also say that you should amend some laws in Syria or another country. And you need to do this and you need to do that.
Afterwards they tell you that the value of your national currency is not right: you need to increase it or reduce it. They immediately start with a very long list of conditions. And they also tell you that they have a code of best practices and this is what your government should do to take the money from it. It is amazing because it is the real system of how they control the other countries and how they use their financial muscles.
China does not do this. You go to China and tell them: I want to build a dam on this river. I need a loan. And they discuss it with you based on the merits of the project. And if the project is okay they give you the money.
They never go to other areas of your country, its economy and policy. In contrast the World Bank tries to tell you what you should do. Even in the education sector, they tell you that you cannot teach this or that in your schools and so on.