Syrian rebels are committed to taking up arms once again after moving to pull out of Kofi Annan’s UN-backed truce. But anti-war activist Don Debar told RT that without a peaceful solution, the bloodshed in Syria will make Libya “look like a picnic.”
The announcement made by a Free Syrian Army spokesman Monday that they were no longer bound to observe the ceasefire follows a spate of weekend attacks which reportedly left at least 80 government troops dead.
Following the May 25 Houla massacre which left 108 dead, almost half of them children, UN-Arab league envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan appears to be in tatters.
But while the rebel spokesman called for the observer mission to be turned into a “peace-enforcing mission,” with a no-fly zone and buffer zone set up to bring the current government down, journalist and peace activist Don Debar told RT “foreign intervention” from the very start of the 15-month conflict is to blame for the continued bloodshed.
RT: With the rebels officially pulling out of the truce, do you think the UN idea of mediating peace in Syria is now dead?
Don Debar: Well, the United States is trying to kill it [the truce], but it’s absolutely essential that some sort of peace-oriented mission take place, or there will be bloodshed, horrible bloodshed, in Syria that will make Libya look like a picnic. The United States has been very clear from the outset that they want to see Assad gone. They have geopolitical reasons for that; particularly the relationship with Iran and [Russia’s] naval base in the north [in Tartus].
They really don’t seem to care about what the facts are, in the case of the recent [Houla] massacre. The outrage that people rightly feel over that can’t be blinded by a failure to do fact-finding; to find out who in fact was responsible. And so the blame is being laid at the regime’s feet in the media in the Western world from wall to wall – from CNN, Fox, etc., to even the so-called progressive media here [the US] – and there’s been no fact-finding yet.
RT: We've seen the US and its allies blame President Assad for all the violence and talking increasingly about foreign intervention. How much was that the stimulus for the rebels' decision?
DD: That’s exactly what they’re playing to. What’s unfortunate is that every side that speaks with the Syrian people finds and has to report that the Syrian people do not want intervention from outsiders – they have historically resisted it. Wherever it’s expressed in polling data – the more than 50-per-cent turnout in parliamentary elections earlier this month and the strong support for the regime in those elections to the referendum on a new constitution earlier this year – there is no doubt that the Syrian people do not want intervention. So those who claim to be acting on their behalf and using that as a pretext to intervene, there’s a contradiction in that position. That’s not being reported here at all.
RT: In some of the other countries that have taken part in Arab Spring revolutions, we saw a much quicker action. This has been the longest standoff – it’s obviously a civil war. There’s lot of talk about Washington and other countries surpassing any kind of Security Council decision. Do you think we could see a repeat of Iraq? How likely is foreign intervention?
DD: It’s a tough call to say how likely it is, but certainly all of the moves are being made by the United States to do intervention. Let’s be realistic here. The US has been intervening since this uprising ‘quote unquote’ began. The [RT] report earlier mentions the fact that these are clearly professional soldiers that are conducting these operations. These are not protesters that decided to grab some rocks or maybe a pistol because of the response of the state to their protests. This is an army that was placed there, either émigrés from Syria or just foreign nationals being supplied from the outside; from Turkey – a NATO country, from Jordan and from Lebanon. So the intervention is already a fact. Whether it becomes an overt intervention outside of the UN, which, by the way, is illegal, or takes some other form, the intervention has been underway since the armed struggle began.
RT: But the peace process has stalled. Don't you think some kind of intervention is needed to stop the violence? You’re talking about hidden intervention, while I’m talking about blatant intervention, like say in Libya.
DD: I think that the first thing that has to happen is there needs to be a quarantine of arms into Syria, particularly to non-governmental sources. No one would allow some foreign power to arm civilians ‘quote unquote’ in the streets or rebel fighters of the United States: that would be an act of war.” As long as arms – and we’re talking tanks, anti-tank, anti-aircraft weapons and heavy artillery – are being placed into the hands of people in Syria and pointed at the government, the idea of peace is laughable.
It has to start there. The introduction of arms into that country that has been ongoing now for better than a year, that has to stop and the borders should be placed under international control to make sure that it doesn’t happen. Then there’s the possibility at least of peace, because those at least who are bringing armed struggle against the government will see that they have to actually make peace and then the world can judge how that actually happens going forward.