Saturday 14 November 2015

S. Nasrallah Denounces Paris Attacks, Calls for Blocking Israeli, Takfiri Goals

Local Editor

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah strongly denounced on Saturday the terrorist attack that was carried out in the French capital, expressing the party's moral and humanitarian solidarity with the French "innocent people."

"We express our strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks committed by the criminals of ISIL," his eminence said in reference to the so-called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) takfiri group.

Speaking mainly on the terrorist attack that rocked Burj al-Barajneh neighborhood in the Lebanese capital southern suburbs two days ago, Sayyed Nasrallah stated that the Middle eastern people are the most who can understand the pain suffered by France.

"People of our region who are suffering the earthquake of ISIL brutality are the most aware of this painful tragedy," he added.

ISIL claimed responsibility for the criminal attack in Paris Friday night that left 160 people killed.

Moreover, Hezbollah Secretary General urged the Lebanese people to disable and to block the goals of the Zionist enemy and the takfiri groups who are behind the terrorist attacks that rocked Dahiyeh on Thursday.

During a televised speech aired on Al-Manar TV, Sayyed Nasrallah revealed basic facts regarding the terrorist dual suicide bombing in Burj al-Barajneh, stating that it was carried out by two ISIL suicide bombers, one of them could be certainly identified as a Syrian national, and the available information indicate that the second is also Syrian.

Noting that the names of the suicide bombers that were circulated in media shortly after the attack were totally incorrect, his eminence informed that a group of involved people was arrested by the Lebanese General Security and the Information Branch, "an achievement which prevented similar attacks that were being plotted for the upcoming days."

"Definitely, ISIL is responsible for this attack. The crime was carried out by ISIL networks, and the detainees themselves confirmed this fact," Sayyed Nasrallah said.

He stressed that so far none of the detainees is Palestinian, but Syrians and Lebanese, revealing that the terrorist network had benefited from several apartments in Beirut and from one apartment in Burj el-Barajneh Palestinian refugee camp, which was raided by the Lebanese security forces with the full cooperation from the camp officials.

Sayyed Nasrallah underscored the cooperation between the Lebanese security services and the security apparatus of Hezbollah, praising the Information Branch for its intensive and professional effort that led to the results that have been reached.
His eminence pointed out that "precautionary measures on ground in Lebanon are not enough to face such kind of attacks - which remain necessary - but we must also catch the sources of booby-trapping and assassination terrorist networks,and arrest the masterminds of terrorist operations."

"We must follow the same style with VBIED [Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device] networks, i.e. catching the sources of these networks, and the arrests and raids that happened in the past days come in this context," he said.
Sayyed Nasrallah also called to disable the goals sought by this terrorist takfiri enemy, and to shoulder our responsibilities in foiling them.

"In Burj al-Barajneh bombing, one of the goals was to provoke strife in Lebanon, and he who blew himself up was aiming to provoke sedition between the Lebanese and the Palestinians, specifically between the people of Burj el-Barajneh and the Palestinian refugee camp near the neighborhood, and later the Palestinian refugee camps that live among our people in the South and in the Bekaa in the east," he said.

"Leaking the name of the Syrian suicide bomber was aiming to undermine the Syrian brothers in Lebanon, and thanks to the awareness of the people and the families of the martyrs, the opportunity to sedition has been missed. The decisive positions of Palestinian brothers contributed to it as well.

Sayyed Nasrallah warned that the Lebanese people - especially the supporters of Resistance - must always keep in mind that the Israelis and the takfiris want seditious civil and sectarian war in Lebanon because it would serve the objectives of the Israeli , ISIL and takfiri enemies.

Indicating that the Lebanese people have managed to keep their country from drifting towards this abyss and sedition, his eminence stressed that "whatever our sufferings might be, we must always act in accordance with such  awareness and accuracy," urging the Palestinian brothers in the camps, especially the resistance factions, to take responsibility in this regard and prevent the terrorists from exploiting the camps.

"We say to the brothers in the [Palestinian] camps, with whom we lived together and have the same suffering and the same battle, that they have to help in preventing any house in any camp to be turned to a base for these brutes to offend our religion, our Prophet and our Palestinian cause," he said.

"Syrian brothers in Lebanon must take the same responsibility to help and prevent these terrorists from getting through them and exploiting their presence in Lebanon to carry out terrorist operations," he added.
Addressing the Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah said "Whatever your political position is, our interest and your interest require that those terrorists must be prevented from exploiting your presence to commit terrorist crimes in Lebanon. Terrorist groups already do not discriminate between the Lebanese, the Palestinian and the Syrian... They do not distinguish between Shiites, Sunnis or Christians."
Hezbollah Secretary General expressed beliefs that recruiting any Lebanese or Palestinian by the terrorist groups of any sectarian community does not mean that this entire community holds responsibility for what he did.
His eminence called on all young people, especially social networks activists, to take responsibility to prevent the infiltration of any one broadcasting sedition and fabricating problems, despite this difficult stage and despite the pain and killing, pointing out that any crime and any bombing will be counterproductive against the plans of the terrorist groups.
"This will increase our determination, persistent and insistent," he stressed.
Sayyed Nasrallah made it clear that after the terrorist attack in Burj al-Barajneh,Hezbollah is going to look for the open fronts against ISIL to affirm the party's loyalty to the blood of those martyrs who were killed in the suicide bombing, stressing that ISIL has no future, neither in peace time nor in war time, and does not even exist in the political solution.

"After this operation, we will search for fronts with ISIL, so our presence will be larger and stronger... It [ISIL] is losing the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields... Those who supported these terrorist groups will abandon them."
Domestically, Sayyed Nasrallah said that the positivity in Lebanon represented in the solidarity and togetherness must be preserved and benefited from, reiterating his call to complete a comprehensive political settlement at various levels within the existing frameworks in order to bring Lebanon out of paralysis, disruption and disability.

Hezbollah Secretary General, moreover, called on the Lebanese political officials not to wait for foreign countries to interfere because they are already busy with their internal affairs and problems.
More to follow...

Source: Al-Manar Website
14-11-2015 - 22:08 Last updated 14-11-2015 - 22:08

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Russian intervention in Syria enrages US-led coalition, ISIS & Al-Qaeda



‘Syrian Taliban’, Sinai crash & ‘Gladio B’ give Moscow food for thought

Russia’s intervention in Syria has whipped up feelings across the region and around the world. As soon as Russian aircraft began conducting airstrikes in Syria, Western media started complaining that Russia is bombing the wrong terrorists.[1]

After the Pentagon failed to find more than a few dozen “moderate rebels” for its much-publicized training program,[2] Russian bombs supposedly managed to find countless “moderate Syrian rebels” and U.S. officials suddenly remembered that the CIA has been running a much more effective training program than the Pentagon.[3]

U.S. government and media are still pretending that the CIA “began a covert operation in 2013 to arm, fund and train a moderate opposition to Assad” and that this secret program “is the only way the U.S. is taking on Assad militarily.”[4]

As Boiling Frogs Post exposed four years ago, U.S. covert operations started as early as April-May 2011 when a joint U.S.-NATO training camp was set up in Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base.[5]

Moscow’s intervention is now complicating efforts to hide the true extent of U.S. involvement in the conflict as well as Washington’s real objectives. Even the neocon comedians at The Daily Beast couldn’t help but wonder why CIA-trained “rebels” were fighting alongside Jabhat al-Nusra against Syrian government forces instead of battling the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).[6]

To make matters worse, Russia’s move has scuppered U.S. coalition plans for a no-fly zone in Syria, as the Financial Times so aptly put it.[7] Under the guise of establishing an “ISIS-free zone,” the United States and Turkey had been leading efforts to set up a no-fly zone and wanted to seize Syria’s Aleppo Governorate. Turkish media was already cheerfully proclaiming Aleppo as the 82nd province of Turkey before the Russians ruined everything.[8]

Although it is not exactly a secret that “an imminent move to ramp up coalition activity in Syria” forced Moscow’s hand,[9] the very same countries that are operating illegally in Syria[10] tried to claim the moral high ground when the Russian Air Force joined the fight at the request of the Syrian government.

The U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other coalition members called on Russia “to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians” and warned that Russian military actions “will only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”[11]
In case anybody had not gotten the message, a senior Qatari source told the Middle East Eye that the Russians “will be begging Qatar in 10 years time to negotiate a ceasefire with the ‘Syrian Taliban’” if they don’t back down.[12]

Both ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch Jabhat al-Nusra also called for jihad against Russia.[13] The terrorists apparently don’t share the U.S. government’s assessment that 85 to 90 percent of Russian airstrikes are hitting “the moderate Syrian opposition.”[14]

By now, the Islamic State has probably realized that The Daily Beast cannot be trusted.[15] Instead of giving air support to ISIS fighters, the Russian Air Force is actually targeting vital supply lines from Turkey after the U.S. had allowed “these supply lines to continue flowing.”[16]

This might explain why ISIS was so eager to claim responsibility for the downing of a Russian passenger plane that crashed in Egypt‘s Sinai peninsula. According to the Islamic State’s Aleppo “province,” the plane was attacked in retaliation for Russia’s intervention in Syria.[17]

While investigators were still trying to figure out what caused the crash, a former U.S. diplomat with an interesting background,[18] who features in Sibel Edmonds’ The Lone Gladio, took the same line as ISIS and gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a little advice:
Matthew Bryza and the Kremlin clearly have a different interpretation of “truly fighting ISIS.” The Russians have no illusions about the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS and the true nature of the so-called Islamic State.

After calling the U.S.-led coalition out for “pretending” to bomb ISIS,[19] influential Russian lawmaker Alexey Pushkov recently explained that Russia is fighting for its own security in Syria because “those behind Islamic State are the same people who were in the past destabilizing Central Asia and attempted to break Chechnya away from Russia.”[20]
Pushkov’s allusion to the Pentagon-led ‘Gladio B’ operations in Central Asia and the Caucasus region is particularly interesting in light of recent reports suggesting that al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, who participated in these operations,[21] is now taking a more prominent role in the Syrian conflict.

In a newly released audio message, Zawahiri urged his “mujahideen brothers in all places and of all groups” to join forces against Russia and the West.[22] According to unconfirmed reports, he has already sent senior al-Qaeda leader Saif al-Adel to Syria to mediate between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS.[23] Given Zawahiri’s background, it is safe to say that he is more interested in fighting Russia than the West.

As the U.S. and its allies are stepping up arms supplies to the non-existent “moderate Syrian rebels,”[24] the Russians might be wondering if there is any difference between the “Syrian Taliban” and their Afghan prototypes.

Christoph Germann- BFP Contributing Author & Analyst 

Christoph Germann is an independent analyst and researcher based in Germany, where he is currently studying political science. His work focuses on the New Great Game in Central Asia and the Caucasus region. You can visit his website here

[1] Nancy A. Youssef, “Putin Hits West’s Rebels Instead of ISIS,” The Daily Best, 30 September 2015:
[2] Tom Vanden Brook, “Pentagon’s failed Syria program cost $2 million per trainee,” USA Today, 5 November 2015:
[3] Ken Dilanian, “Officials: CIA-backed Syrian rebels under Russian blitz,” The Associated Press, 10 October 2015:
[4] Ibid., Dilanian.
[5] Sibel Edmonds, “What & When We Exposed, and the MSM- Quasi Alternative Culprits Who Fought Our Exposés,” Boiling Frogs Post, 29 August 2013:
[6] Nancy A. Youssef, Michael Weiss and Tim Mak, “U.S. Admits: We Can’t Protect Syrian Allies From Russia’s Bombs,” The Daily Beast, 1 October 2015:
[7] Sam Jones, “Moscow scuppers US coalition plans for no-fly zone in Syria,” Financial Times, 4 October:
[8] Selin Nasi, “Conquering Aleppo,” Hürriyet Daily News, 18 August 2015:
[9] Ibid., Jones.
[10] Theo Farrell, “Are the US-led air strikes in Syria legal – and what does it mean if they are not?,” The Telegraph, 23 September 2014:
[11] “Joint Declaration on Recent Military Actions of the Russian Federation on Syria,” Republic of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1 October 2015:
[12] David Hearst, “Putin’s Syrian bombing ‘will spark jihad against Moscow’: Qatar source,” Middle East Eye, 8 October 2015:
[13] Joanna Paraszczuk, “Islamic State, Al-Nusra Front Call For ‘Jihad’ Against Russia,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 14 October 2015:
[14] Arshad Mohammed and Patricia Zengerle, “85-90 percent of Russian strikes hit moderate Syria rebels: U.S.,” Reuters, 4 November 2015:
[15] Michael Weiss, “Russia’s Giving ISIS An Air Force,” The Daily Beast, 8 October 2015:
[16] Angelo M. Codevilla, “U.S. And Russian Airpower In The Desert,” War on the Rocks, 5 November 2015:
[18] Sibel Edmonds, “Obama Appoints a Not-Too-Long-Ago-Hatched Neocon Larva,” Boiling Frogs Post, 27 July 2010:
[19] Astrid Wendlandt, “Russian air strikes in Syria to last three-four months: Putin ally,” Reuters, 2 October 2015:
[20] “Lawmaker: IS sponsors once tried to break Chechnya from Russia,” TASS, 23 October 2015:
[21] Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, “Why was a Sunday Times report on US government ties to al-Qaeda chief spiked?,” Ceasefire Magazine, 17 May 2013:
[22] Vasudevan Sridharan, “Al-Qaeda: Ayman al-Zawahiri urges jihadis to unite against Russia and West,” International Business Times, 2 November 2015:
[23] J.J. Green, “Mysterious al-Qaida figure emerges in Syria,” Washington’s Top News, 5 November 2015:
[24] Adam Entous, “U.S., Allies to Boost Aid to Syria Rebels,” The Wall Street Journal, 4 November 2015:


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Lavrov to Jubeir: Is Saudi Authorized to Decide Who Rules Syria?

Local Editor

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov slammed Saudi Arabia position over the fate of the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as a ruler of the war-torn country.

Lavrov and JubeirDuring a fresh round of peace talks in Vienna aimed at finding a solution to the five-year crisis in Syria, Lavrov stressed that the Syrians are the only side who decides Assad’s fate, al-Manar reported in Vienna said.

“Is Audi authorized to decide who will represent the Syrian people?” Lavrov addressed Saudi FM, Adel al-Jubeir who is attending the talks in the Austrian capital.

“You can refer to the text of the last meeting…. Syrians are who decide the fate of their country, including Assad’s fate,” Lavrov added, according to our correspondent.

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has told reporters that the meeting is important but that he does not expect breakthroughs.

“Breakthrough is a big word. What we are definitely looking forward to keeping the momentum and progress,” he has said.

The Syrian conflict, which started in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people and left over one million injured, according to the UN.

Source: Al Manar TV
14-11-2015 - 16:01 Last updated 14-11-2015 - 16:01

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Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun: “Terrorism is a new ideological trend, has nothing to do with Islam”

The Middle East conflict – war in Syria and Iraq – has already spilled over.
No one is safe from the terrorist attacks, neither East, nor West. 
DAESH (the so called Islamic State) claims it is still strong, and its ideas are attracting new recruits to replace those killed on the field.
Islamic State says the horrors it perpetrates are done in the name Allah – spurring resentment against Muslims all across the globe.
RT’s journalist Sophie Shevardnadze speak to the Islamic scholar, and Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, to see how the jihadists have twisted the idea of Islam.
And does their agenda have anything to do with Islam at all?

Sophie Shevardnadze:Thank you very much for being with us today. This is a great honor. We are delighted to have you, because there are so many things we want to discuss. You said that there is no such thing as a religious war, there are only political interests. But ISIL fighters want to conquer the whole world, they use Islam as their banner and call this fight a religious war. Are they guided by political interests?
Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun: First of all, I want to express my gratitude to the Russian Federation, because it sided with the truth. It did not separate Syrians by their Shia or Sunni background. It decided to support the Syrian people as a whole.
Syria is a secular, democratic society where different religious groups coexist – Christians, the Druze, Sunni and Shia Muslims. Those who call their wars religious, do so in order to provoke radicalism among Muslims. This of course goes against the true Islamic culture, because a person with values will never commit the atrocities ISIL is known for. They use religion as a pretext for conflict and bloodshed. I think there are two kinds of Islamic State fighters – those who know nothing about true Islam and those who have some religious background, but they use religion to promote their own agenda and kill others.

SS: How are ISIL leaders able to make so many young people follow them? They make them participate in violent acts, in combat – how do they do it?
ABH: What ISIL is doing is not new. This organization has existed before – under different names. They convince their followers that they are guided by religious convictions, spread their ideology, spending a lot of money on that work. We must remember it.

SS: Right! But they don’t buy these young people – they come from Europe, Russia, the U.S. young people from good families for some reason go to Syria and begin to fight for ISIL. How do Islamic State leaders achieve that? It does not matter how they name themselves. How do they do this? What goes on in people’s heads?
ABH: We met with some guys who came from the UK, France. Many of them were Syrians. They come here to build some sort of Islamic caliphate. They think that they will promote Islam and spread it to the whole world.
But we know that religion should not be preached with weapons – rather with love and solidarity. ISIL uses ideology to lead young people astray. But they do it for their own political purposes. Most of the people being killed in Syria today are Muslims. The majority of ISIL victims are Muslims!

SS: But why do these young men join ISIL? Why do young, healthy people that have good lives at home, go to fight for Islamic State?
ABH: Many young people go abroad, because they want to follow a new ideological trend – radical Islam. They are lost, and leading them back on the right path will take some serious effort. They end up with the wrong people, believing they can wage war in the name of religion.
Now, after Russia began to bomb ISIL targets in Syria, many young Islamic State fighters ran off. What happened to their convictions? They fled.
If you want to create a true state, you need to build it on the basis of political values and democracy. We don’t impose any religion in Syria; we don’t say that there must be a Christian state, a Jewish state or a Muslim State. These ideas come from outside. The West is instigating such ideologies. The West is playing a big part in the process.
I think a state should be founded on strong political and cultural elite.
What we see in Syria today is similar to what happened in Yugoslavia – Croatia, Bosnia. There were major cultural elites there. But the West began to provoke different political and religious groups in order to start a civil war, which resulted in manslaughter.
So in Syria we have to build a society that will have room for all religious and ethnic groups. We see this kind of order in Russia. Religion is distorted by those who want to start new conflicts, wars…

SS: We will talk more about religion. But first I wanted to ask you about extremists. Pope Francis warned about ISIL fighters entering Europe as refugees. Do you think Europeans should look at every refugee as a suspect?
ABH: Are all refugees Syrians? Of course not! These are people from different countries turned into conflict zones. We see people from Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, Tajikistan and Libya. They are all running to Europe. And many of them have radical convictions. That’s true.
Europeans allowed this ideological trend to develop freely, they let radical Islam spiral out of control. I have seen this in France, the UK and the U.S.. There are Islamic centers financed by Saudi Arabia. These centers became magnets for new extremists, who later travel to the Middle East and start wars there. You reap what you sow. Now we are seeing the results of this policy.

SS: So today terrorism is a trend?
ABH: Terrorism is a dangerous political trend. It is also a cultural trend. And we have to study it in order to fight it.
ISIL is trying to promote its political agenda through violence, using weapons. They tell their followers that they will go to paradise, “If you murder people, you will end up in paradise.” But this goes against the Prophet’s teachings, because, of course, nobody gets to paradise using these methods. We need to preach the idea that a person gets to paradise through cultural enlightening, education and solidarity.

SS: You’ve said many times that what is happening in Syria now has nothing to do with religion. Why is it that those who fight for the opposition, for ISIL, don’t hear you? Why are they not listening to you?
ABH: Most of those who are now fighting for ISIL came from other countries. They are not Syrians. They come from China, Russia, Europe… And the organizers of this movement indoctrinated them. So the fighters are not listening to us. Many of them don’t even know anything about me.
Syria has always been a place where different religions co-existed in a civilized manner within one country. We’ve had different eras – Christian and Muslim conquests. But in the end there was always peace. For two thousand years we did not have people murdered for religious reasons in our land. Syria has never had a strict religious government system, unlike Lebanon, for example, where the president must be a Christian, and the Prime Minister – a Sunni Muslim. We could never imagine something like that in Syria. The current conflict is not about religion. Syria is an ancient country. I think what is happening in Syria today is a result of a conspiracy.

SS: But, conspiracy or not, people will always be people. There are good people and bad people everywhere. For example, I remember how Islamists in Egypt were burning Coptic churches, and Muslims created a human shield around the churches, so that Christians could worship in peace. What is the situation in Syria like in this respect? Do Syrians help Christians, the Druze?
ABH: In Egypt it was different. It was all internal. There was not much external interference there, no Blackwater personnel, for example. Egypt changed its political regime on its own, whereas in Syria the attempt to overthrow the government was orchestrated from abroad, by other countries. Syrians were provoked. But we are still there, despite the conspiracy.

SS: I am also asking about regular Syrians. Do they help Christians to survive, Christians who are also being attacked by ISIL extremists? Do they help each other in Syria?
ABH: Of course, we are afraid for our Christians. But, to be honest, we don’t divide our people into Christians and Muslims, we protect all Syrians. There are many Christian politicians in our country. Our former defense minister is one of them. We don’t make a distinction between Christians and Muslims… We live as one family and protect each other. We don’t divide people into the Druze, Sunni or Shia Muslims, and Christians. So, we are very concerned about the fact that so many Christians are now leaving the region. We will never let the situation get to the point where there are no more Christians in Syria, because this country also belongs to Christians.
Of course, Islam recognizes Jesus Christ, as we all know. We don’t reject Mother Mary, don’t reject Jesus. Whereas ISIL doesn’t think about Christians, they just follow their own agenda. And fighters from different countries help them. That’s why we are now standing alongside Russia and believe that our strong friends will help us, because together we are strong.
As for religion, today it is used to divide countries, to create so-called Islamic states, which would basically be weak states under Western control.

SS: Thank you again for being with us today. I want to talk more about ISIL. ISIL is not just fighting against everybody, right? They are also trying to create a state, with certain social institutions – education, etc. They pay salaries, give money to the poor. It may even seem that at times they are doing it better than the actual state – at least judging by the number of their followers. 
ABH: I can’t quite agree with you. We see what is really going on there. They just steal the money. They steal the money, their business is contraband. They steal oil from Syrian and Iraqi fields and smuggle it out. They sell it at a low price to whoever is willing to buy it. So they are not just terrorists – they are also thieves and murderers.
There is also money coming in from Qatar, Saudi Arabia – through so-called charities. They use the money to destroy our country, to destroy Syria. And the vicious cycle continues.
Now ISIL fighters flee when they hear that Russian jets are coming. They left many Syrian oil fields where they used to steal oil and then sell it. So it is not a state, it is a criminal group. They are not trying to create anything. Look at what they’ve done in Palmyra. What state would do something like that? A true state will not destroy or sell historic treasures. Of course, they think that they are a state. But they are thieves, murderers and criminals.

SS: Why do they destroy historic landmarks? What is their goal? They also destroy mosques. What do they get from that? Of course, they have ideological differences with people from other religious groups. But destroying landmarks and mosques – what’s the point?
ABH: You tell me! Why did they vandalize the Iraqi museum? Nobody had ever done that. ISIL began its conquest in Iraq by ransacking the Mosul Museum. What for? ISIL wants to erase the history of our region, our legacy.
The colonizers tried to do the same in South America, when they invaded the continent and tried to bring the locals to their knees, in order to tap the territories for resources. They also tried to erase the history.
It is an attempt to rewrite history. This is how they plan to weaken the countries – rob people of their history. It is basically neocolonialism, but it is done through third parties. And of course they have some interests too.
So they might use religious convictions as a pretext, but it leads to enslavement of people and nothing else. That’s what they’ve done.

SS: Let’s get back to one perennial issue. I hope nobody will get offended, but it is very important for us to get an understanding of this. You always emphasize that radical ideologies have nothing to do with real Islam. And most Muslim spiritual leaders agree with you. But could you please explain to me: with Muslim clergy almost unanimously condemning extremism, why is extremism still so explicit in Islam? 
ABH: First of all, this is reaction. All this radicalization comes as a reaction to the enormous tragedies and frustrations that we’ve had throughout our history. For example, when the government doesn’t care about its citizens, when it doesn’t care about upholding religion, it certainly leads to the emergence of people who accuse the government of defying the foundations of religion. So extremism originally comes as a reaction to poor governance.
Secular states, secular democratic nations, should undoubtedly support religion and their country’s’ cultural heritage. They shouldn’t forget that religious and cultural heritage also plays an important role. And if you start destroying it, this may indeed lead to the rise of radicals as a kind of backlash.
Religion and religious organizations must be present in society, because they are good for people. They provide not only for religious institutions or Islam as such, but for the entire public. They must be an indispensable part of the social fabric.
But those people seek to set specific parts of society against the powers that be. In fact, much of what I’m talking about is evident in Europe. Do you remember the name of Germany’s major political party? It’s the Christian Democratic Union. That is to say that Europeans follow those principles themselves, even though religion must indeed be isolated from politics, and should primarily remain a social and cultural institution. Therefore, I believe the government must reserve a role for religion to play. But we must be very careful in drawing the line between state and religion. Religion is first and foremost a path of spiritual development for people. Our children may belong to different religions, but we should not divide the country because of religion. It is the same in Russia. As far as I know, you have secular laws – the criminal code and other regulations. And they have no reference to religion, because all citizens must be treated equally. The bottom line is that we must distinguish between religious ideas and government policies. A number of states see themselves as religious states: Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
President Erdogan aspires to do the same in Turkey. But in Syria, we do not use religion for political purposes, because religion must bring people together and teach them to love each other. We don’t want to use religion to oppress people. First and foremost, we need to approach religion globally, realizing that religion is one thing, and the state is something different.

SS: Let’s talk about the current situation. Regional countries together with big powers are trying to reach a consensus on Syria’s future. They’re even talking about a dialogue between the government and the opposition. But who should President Assad talk to if most of his opponents are religious fanatics?
ABH: The war has been going on for four years. All these years we’ve been inviting them to start a dialogue. Since the first day of the tragedy we started calling the opposition to come to the negotiation table. Russia encouraged the Syrian opposition to engage in talks three years ago. They refused. Today, their representatives visit Moscow. They agreed to participate in Geneva talks. So Russia has been calling for a dialogue for about 3 years. The Syrian government also sent 3 delegations to Moscow. We hold talks regularly.
But we see that the so-called opposition is in no way a united organization. There are many groups fighting each other, fighting ISIL, fighting us. The Syrian opposition wants to recognize nothing – not talks, not Assad. When Russia launched an anti-ISIL military campaign, the initial response of the so-called moderate opposition was negative. Presently some commanders of the so-called Free Syrian Army say that they are ready to cooperate with the Russian Federation against ISIL. But we offer them to do more than that. What we want them to do is to act together against terrorists unconditionally.
We see Western countries having a hidden agenda, and international players calling for compromise finding them under pressure. But Russia keeps urging the opposition to engage in a dialogue. But Russia’s calls often remain unheeded.
Today a lot depends on the opposition sponsors. It’s them who make decisions, not the opposition itself. It has no independent opinion of its own.
They say there should be a new government in Syria. But the government they want will be essentially a neocolonial government. We changed the Constitution for them; we held elections. Basically, we have a different government today. But they reject everything. The only language they understand is the language of weapons. That’s how they talk – with weapons. They destroy churches and mosques in the name of the so-called revolution. What kind of a revolution is this? You destroy your own country. You steal the country’s resources, destroy hospitals.

SS: Still, President Assad is a controversial figure. Do you think it will be easier to achieve peace if he steps down?
ABH: It’s not for me to decide. It is not up to me; it is not up to Bashar Assad. It’s up to the Syrian people to decide.

SS: But what do you think personally? It’s important.
ABH: I think if Assad steps down, this will result in a breakup of Syria. The reason they want President Assad to go is not to restore democracy. They just want to divide Syria into a number of small countries.
We will only accept a decision made by the Syrian people. Let’s allow the Syrian people to speak. We have been hearing a lot of President Hollande, but the Syrian people aren’t allowed to express their opinion for some reason. Let’s stop listening to people from the U.S., the White House, the Élysée Palace, let’s hear what the ordinary Syrian people have to say. We have to let them talk. Just like it’s not up to Washington to decide who should be president of Russia, it’s not up to Washington to decide who should be president in Damascus. We will recognize the results of a fair independent election. It can be monitored by the UN or Russia.
But they refuse, saying, ‘No, we won’t stop fighting until Assad is gone.’ But what is the alternative? Let’s say Assad steps down. What next? What is the alternative for the Syrian people? Let the Syrian people finally say something on the matter.

SS: I remember when the Syrian conflict just began you said that if we didn’t stop the war immediately, it would drag on for another 10-15 years. What’s your prognosis now? Will this terrible conflict drag on until 2025, or is it possible to end it sooner?  
ABH: I hope it will end in 2016, that’s what I hope for, because we’ve begun making joint efforts in order to resolve this crisis. We can now see significant military success achieved on the Syrian-Lebanese border, with the army advancing towards the Syrian-Turkish border.
Syria’s problem is external, not internal. Our problem is our so-called “friends and neighbors” that extend a helping hand to these terrorists. So when we clear the Syrian-Turkish border of terrorists there will be a dramatic improvement.   The presence of the Russian air force coupled with the efforts of the Syrian army led to considerable success. Now a lot of territory along the Syrian-Turkish border has been cleared of terrorists. As for Idlib and Raqqa, we’ll continue operations there in the days to come. So I hope all the terrorists will simply scatter. I also hope your brave Russian pilots will come back home once peace is restored.

SS: I want to ask you a very personal question. When terrorists killed your son, you forgave them and asked the judge to forgive them, too. How is that possible? How did you overcome the burning desire for revenge? Are there many people like you in Syria? 
ABH: It’s not the men that blew up his car that should be punished, it’s the people who finance them, the people who come to our country from abroad to do all of this.
Of course I won’t forgive the radicals who urge people to kill, who put themselves above others, who say they’ve created some ‘Islamic state’, mutilating the very tenets of Islam. I condemn those people and I’m never going to forgive them because they are playing games with people’s lives at stake.
It’s the leaders of the Gulf countries, Turkey and the America that should stand trial, because they supplied the arms. The weapons that killed my son came from them. To me, all the people who were killed at their hands are like my son. Every Syrian that died in this war is my son.

SS: Mr. Mufti, thank you so much for the interview. I hope your voice will be heard by those who need it. I really hope that this war will end in the near future, because it has lasted for far too long. Thank you very much.

Interview on RT by Sophie Shevardnadze
Submitted by SyrianPatriots 
War Press Info Network at:
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