“What is taking place in Syria is genocide. There is calamity everywhere in that country. Shelling, massacres and endless violations, but calamity is also affecting us as a splintered opposition.” With this statement, and in a lamenting tone, Mohamed Maamoun Al-Homsi, a leading figure in the Syrian opposition, began his interview with Ahram Online.
Al-Homsi called for uniting all tracks of the opposition under one umbrella, namely to save Syria. He asserted that the opposition Syrian National Council, which is popular in the media, does not represent the demands of the Syrian street through what he called “the revolution’s constitution”.
It naturally “prioritises protection for civilians, imposing a no-fly zone, imposing restrictions and international and regional isolation against the regime, and working towards overthrowing the regime, even through war whereby all Arab regimes would provide assistance — even with weapons — in order to put an end to this bleak reign.”
Al-Homsi, a former Syrian MP, sought asylum in Lebanon, and as pressure mounted on him he left to Cairo, also as an exile. “Every minute that passes and Bashar’s regime is still in power is like a knife held to the throat of the homeland, slaughtering martyrs, and no one is helping,” he said. “Arab efforts are too slow, and even worse, the Syrian National Council, headed by Borhan Ghalyoun, is now saying it does not want anyone to interfere. The opposition has become a council for rhetoric not action.”
Al-Homsi believes that Assad’s regime is propped up by Iran and Hizbullah, followed by several Iraqi political players, including Prime Minister Nouri Al-Malki and Shia leader Moqtada Al-Sadr. “I consider Syria as under Iranian occupation and what is needed is for an international force to end this occupation,” he argued.
He criticised the Syrian National Council once again by describing it as a velvet glove, and that it was chosen in a selective, non-objective manner. “How can Abdel-Rahman Eissa, a leading voice in the opposition with a long history, be left out while they bring in figures who only recently joined the opposition ranks?” he pondered.
He added: “Is it reasonable that, after all these images, we talk about a fact-finding mission? Does what is taking place in Homs, Latakia, Hama, Deraa and Deir Al-Zur really need a fact-finding mission? The regime has lost its legitimacy, but unfortunately these committees claim that it is still legitimate. Then there is international support from Russia and China who are readily willing to use their veto power to benefit Assad.
As for Iran and its lies and acrobatics, it will lose this regime and with it Tehran’s influence in the region, which we view as an invasion of the Arab nation and Shia occupation of Syria and Gulf states under the label of the Persian Gulf. Also, support for a criminal regime by providing it with supplies and provisions; we are the victims of this brutality.”
Al-Homsi believes that the Syrian regime’s chances of survival are very slim. “It has destroyed the Arab initiative at the outset, and continues with its allies to challenge our revolution,” he said, adding that the Arabs must shoulder their humanitarian and historic responsibility towards the people of Syria.
In the past few days, senior military leaders joined the Free Syrian Army, which has carried out selective strikes against the regular army, the Arab Syrian Army. Al-Homsi said that deserting officers “must have realised the truth and are honest men of this revolution, but without Arab support they will be wiped out by the regime and the Iranian weapons in its possession.
We do not support chaos resulting from foreign intervention or arming the military, but in the end we want an army that is able to safeguard and defend the revolution instead of expanding the circles of battles and violence.”
Bassma Kodmani, a member of the Syrian National Council, agrees with Al-Homsi that the opposition should close ranks and suggested that no one should be excluded. Qadmani added that the upcoming opposition conference is the umbrella that everyone should gather under, to agree on the principles of the Syrian Revolution Constitution, “so that we are able to catch up with the train of the Arab Spring, instead of each political faction finding a separate role to play,” she said.