India’s Ambassador To Damascus Says Gulf States and Media Ignited Syrian War’s Ambassador confirmed: war in Syria has been instigated from outside–[Goog. trans.]

German Economic News

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A revealing report of the former Ambassador of India in Damascus makes clear that the representation of the West, the Syrian President Assad should be overthrown by a popular uprising, is not tenable. The war was instigated from outside, including from the Gulf States and the Al Qaeda. With it, the US worked together over the Al Nusra Wing. Assad has the risk underestimated – because he knew his people behind him.

Der syrische Präsident Baschar al-Assad hat die Gefahr unterschätzt, die ein vom Ausland angezettelter Aufstand für ihn bedeuten würde. (Foto: dpa)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has underestimated the risk, which would mean a revolt instigated from abroad for him.
(Photo: AP)

VP Haran served 2009-2012 as India’s ambassador to Syria. He has spoken with the multi-award winning Indian magazine Fountain Ink about how parts of the media have exaggerated the rebellion and sign the Al-Qaeda since the early days of the conflict a teammate was (translation: German Economic News). The assessment of the Ambassador confirmed the findings of the US journalist Seymour Hersh that Assad had to fear no militant opposition among their own people.

How was Syria when they got there in January 2009?

VP Haran: Syria was a peaceful country and there was no underlying tensions. The Syrian economy was doing well and the average growth rate was more than 5 percent. Unemployment stood at about 8 percent, but unemployed Syrians could not find work in the Gulf States. However, there was a high proportion of educated unemployed. Syria was also in a comfortable position in terms of foreign debt at 12.5 percent of GDP. Much of it was owed to Russia, but which many wrote off the debt. The real problem was the drought in the north-east, which had led to a massive resettlement in the South and the South-west.

What was life like in Damascus?

VP Haran: As a diplomat, you tend to live a retired life, but sometimes I drove into the city center, sometimes by taxi, drinking a cup of tea in the cafe and talked to the people. Those were wonderful moments and wonderful days. The public order was never a problem. My female colleagues told me that they could wear jewelry and the morning run by two clock home alone and thereby feel safe. In some districts restaurants had opened up at five clock in the morning. You never had the feeling that there would be trouble on the streets. Some say that would be the Mucha Barat owed (military intelligence), but I felt that the people felt responsible for their collective security.

When I reached Damascus, I was told that every second part of the Mucha Barat would. This is a gross overestimation. There is an intelligence department and they work internally very efficiently, but for me it has never been a direct encounter. In my four years of service, I was once persecuted in the media {} in Idlib province. A Jeep has appended to us, but it was not intimidating.

Do you foresee the Arab Spring in Syria?

VP Haran: As the situation in Tunisia and Egypt tense, President Bashar al-Assad gave a television appearance, in which he stated that the political and economic conditions in Syria have been otherwise. He said he was confident that Syria would not follow suit. That was the general assessment of the diplomatic community.

Bashar al-Assad was a popular leader and carries partly in also means that he is still in power. There is no adequate internal opposition and many of the problems in Syria come from foreign sources that are trying to get rid of an inconvenient regime. 67 percent of the entire Arab world had voted for him in a 2009 survey for most popular Arab person. Even the diplomatic community was generally agreed that he had the support of about 80 percent of Syria. Even Western diplomats said that. He had begun in 2000 reforms, but which he did not complete because of the opposition by the Baath party.

That too is not simply a struggle between Sunnis and Shiites. Have a look at the numbers. There are more than 50 percent Sunni Muslims in Syria. And there are Kurds, Druze, Maronites, Assyrians, Alawites and others making up the rest. Bashar al-Assad has the full support of these minorities and even a large part of the Sunni Muslims supported him. But up to the time when I went in 2012, Syria had changed a lot. During the first few years were like in heaven, things worsened early in the year 2011th

Can you remember the first protests?

VP Haran: From February, when Bahrain witnessed protests, there have been attempts by some NGOs protests in Damascus to organize. Two were organized over two weekends, but only 20 or 30 people participated. The number of journalists and members of the diplomatic community was far greater than that of the protesters. Then the March 18th 2011, the children wrote on the walls of the school and then was a large protest occurred. In the following week, there was another protest in Latakia and then happened with every other Friday something.

Soon it was chaotic in parts of Latakia, Homs and Hama, Aleppo remained calm but what the opposition really bothered. The opposition could the people of Aleppo not to bring against the regime to get up, so they sent busloads of people to Aleppo. These people then burned something on the streets and went back. Journalists then reported it and said Aleppo had rebelled.

A few things need to be said about it: some parts of the media have exaggerated in their negative representations of Syria. Sometimes it was reported about things that are not happening. For example, I spoke with a prominent sheikh, as my colleague phoned me totally stressed out and felt the sheikh would play a role in, scheduled for the afternoon, protests. But that did not happened. For indeed I was sitting at the moment yes with him at lunch. There was a lot of exaggeration by the media.

There is an opportunity to stand out. In Idlib belonging to the hard-core Sunni had gone to Aleppo and had people persuaded to join the opposition. People in Aleppo began to beat them and sent them away. The mass had become unruly and the police had to come and bring them under control. The Sunnis of Idlib had to be brought into a house and the police had to give them their uniforms so they could go without being lynched.

Damascus changed much in that time?

VP Haran: I can remember one incident on 14 April, when I took my daily walk to the stage, which was about two kilometers away. On the way I came to the bakery past where I always came over, but there was a long queue in front of the unusually silent bakery. On the way back, the snake was still there and I asked for. The people coincided with a bread, because they had heard that something was going to happen. The next day nothing happened, even though it was a Friday.

As the situation worsened, my walk to the stage in the second half of 2012 has been replaced by a around the park in the Mezzeh district. One day, a motorcycle at high speed and turned off at a corner, from where it brought the engine revved. A short time later, a jeep of security people came over, but it missed the branch, the motorcycle had taken. After they could not find the bike, they came to the park and asked the people if they had seen what had happened. Then we were told that the people on the motorcycle were planning attacks.

In Mezzeh, not far from the district where the diplomats live, there is a cactus field, and rebels were through a tunnel device, you come into it there had a camp set up, from the shot fire rockets at the office of the Prime Minister made it. Then the security forces invaded and destroyed the camp. This was a targeted operation and I was talking with someone who had an apartment with a clear view, and he told me that they had taken a building targeted and completely destroyed. A huge secret camp with arms and ammunition was recovered from the building.

But parts of the country remained calm.

The external opposition supporters could not digest. They sent a group of people at the Syrian-Jordanian border, where they overran two security guards. They brought all the people around there. Some of them were killed in the most gruesome way al-Qaida. The government reported that not immediately, but a member of the diplomatic community confirmed that it had been from Iraq Al-Qaida. It was obvious that al Qaeda was in Iraq since April 2011 in Syria.

Al-Qaeda was on there from the first week, and if not, then, appeared since the first week since the end of 2011 as Al-Qaeda flags. It was these groups that provided the opposition with support from outside the borders. In Raqqa the fighters came from the north and it was clear that it was Al-Qaeda.

Assad has repeatedly said that there were terrorists from the beginning. Why has no one believed him?

VP Haran: The heads of the people were not open. What should interest for Al-Qaida in Iraq have in mind, to create chaos in Syria? Much of this was driven by outsiders, namely the Gulf States. Al Jazeera has also played a role. In April, I had led a guest to the amphitheater in Bosra and then to Sweida, for which I had to take the highway to the Jordanian border. On this day an Al Jazeera correspondent was asked to leave Syria and he traveled on the same road. The correspondent reported that checkpoints every few seconds. My message called me in a panic, because of what they had seen on television. I told them that I had encountered only a checkpoint.

Why the Syrian government did not provide better arguments in favor of the presence of terrorists?

VP Haran: We asked to see the lack of analysis of the media and they said, no one believed them. They had very bad PR and media handling. On the other hand, there were riots by the government. Syria has very inadequate police forces. And when began the problems, the government was forced to stop security forces in order to address problems that would otherwise be handled by the police. Some in the army committed excesses and even the government had to make some of them under house arrest or in jail, but they did not publicize.

Bashar al-Assad was not slow to adopt reforms in, but slowly it to announce changes that have been made. For example, when they enacted the reform, which reduced the primacy of the Baath party, have been reported from this reform only after three months. Their PR was not wise. You have handled the crisis not good.


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