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'Syria strategic to West for energy transit...and Iran'

Published time: August 23, 2012 04:51
Edited time: August 23, 2012 08:51

A picture released by the Iranian President's website shows Iran's first offshore oil platform in the Caspian Sea (AFP Photo/Iranian Presidensy)

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Syria may not be rich in oil, but its key location would likely make it a very convenient transit country for Central Asian gas and Iranian oil. Speaking to RT, journalist Kris Janssen also said if Syria’s regime was toppled, Tehran would be next.

The current situation in Syria is atypical to this peaceful country’s history, where people managed to avoid internal conflicts for centuries, stresses founder of Syrian Friendship Association and journalist Kris Janssen.

He believes the fact that the uprising started in Dara’a, near the Jordanian border, is no coincidence – indicating it was largely influenced from outside.

Janssen added that many external forces and governments are more interested in destroying Syria because it would allow them to attack Iran – the regional “powerhouse” – which the journalist believes is the main target.

RT:You established the Syrian Friendship Association; does that mean you are considered pro-Assad, as you have been portrayed in the Belgian media?

Kris Janssen: I am considered pro-Syrian, pro-Syrian people and convinced that the only way to get out of this crisis, out of this bloodshed is by following the path of reform, not the path of violence. So if I say I am pro-reform, I don’t say I am pro-Assad. But if you look to the reality it is the Syrian government who is also willing to follow this path of reform.

RT:You have written and said that the armed uprising in Syria has been supported or started from the outside, but you also acknowledged the fact that the Syrians from inside want change. What is the basis of your analysis on this?

KJ: I do believe that the violence we are seeing now has nothing to do with reform, it has to do with the strained people. Also, I am convinced – and I have a lot of testimonies from people in Syria – that a lot of the rebels, the members of Syrian Free Army, as the matter of fact are foreigners. This is not reform and Syrians are not interested in this. Syrian people are very peaceful people and they managed to live together for centuries without any problem. So the violence we are seeing now is not a Syrian product. I went to Dara’a, which was a hotbed the year before, where the trouble started. Also, Dara’a is near the Jordanian border.

It is not a coincidence that the trouble started at the border town because this underlines once again the influence from abroad. I mean, if the current situation in Syria was really a Syrian problem, trouble would have started in Hama or Homs. A lot of outside forces and governments are interested to destroy Syria. Why? Because you have to remember Syria has a very strategic position in the area, in the Middle East, in the region. I think the main target is Iran because Iran is such a powerhouse in the region. It is so strong. They know that to take out Iran, first they have to take out Syria. And I am quite convinced that if they would succeed to destroy Syria the next target would be Hezbollah in Lebanon and once these two allies are taken out, they will concentrate one hundred per cent on Iran.

RT:Who are you referring to when you say they?

KJ: In my opinion, the United States and their allies, because they have strategic interest in that region. Also, a lot of people talk about oil, but you have to know that Syria is not rich in oil. They have some oil, but it is not rich. But, of course the real oil is in Iran, is in Saudi Arabia. But Syria can be a transit country. Also, you have to know there are huge gas reserves in the former Soviet Union. I mean the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union. So they have huge gas reserves. And I think you have to see it in this context.

RT:How do you confirm the identity of the rebel fighters, as you claim they are coming from the outside, they are foreigners. How do we have proof of that?

KJ: Because they found a lot of proof of this like when people died in Homs and now in Aleppo, they find identity cards, passports of foreign people, they captured people with foreign accents. Doing it as mercenaries or doing it for the money, we also have now Al-Qaeda, which is active in Syria because they hope to establish a new base over there.

RT:Let’s just briefly look at Turkey’s role in all of this. Historically Turkey and Syria have had good relations. What is the interest? Turkey is being rather aggressive now against Syria. What lies in it for them to see unrest in Syria?

KJ: As the matter of fact we are already seeing this because at this moment the people in the Kurdish region in Syria already got a lot of sovereign government from the government of Damascus. And of course Turkey is not happy with this evolution. Why this change of mind? Why are they so anti-Syria now? I think there are different reasons. It can be true that they still have this Ottoman dream, this Ottoman aspiration to make Turkey a powerhouse again, which it once was in the region during the Ottoman era. Another factor is the Muslim Brotherhood. They are not really anti-Western because the origin of the Muslim Brotherhood, they are what we call mercantile, so they are interested in free trade with Europe, with the US, with Western worlds.

I mean, we see now in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood. We know that the Turkish government has the president who is also pro-Muslim Brotherhood and maybe they are hoping to establish the new government in Syria also pro-Muslim Brotherhood for economic reasons and also political reasons, of course, because you cannot really split this.

RT:You said that the ultimate target in this geopolitical story is Iran. And this is not the first time that this opinion has been voiced. What is your analysis on this, where Iran is concerned?

KJ: It is very clear to me and to a lot of people that the ultimate purpose is to destroy the Iranian regime because, in the opinion of the Western world, it is a hostile regime, hostile to the Western world. I don’t think this is true because I visited also many times Iran and I can assure you that the Iranian government is a very rational government. The Iranian government always said that the nuclear program is a civilian program, while in the West they say that the ultimate purpose is to get an atomic bomb or a nuclear weapon. And then they told me, “why should we need a nuclear weapon? Even if we manage to make one nuclear weapon; there is a difference between having a nuclear weapon and to be capable to deliver it.”

So there is a big technical step between these two phases. And they say that “even if we have one nuclear weapon and they think we are going to use it, the American government and their allies will bomb us to the Middle Ages.” So they have no interest in their country being destroyed. So they are much more rational than most of the people here in the West think.

RT:All of the opinions that you voiced today are contrary to the general narrative that we find in a lot of the press, a lot of the analysis here in Belgium, or in Western Europe. How your work and your opinions are received in this part of the world?

KJ: Unfortunately, most people here in Belgium and also in Europe and US are not really aware of the situation in the Middle East. What they know about it is based on clichés, like a very black and white picture with just the good guys and the bad. And a lot of people don’t even realize the geostrategic location of Iran, for them it is somewhere over there, in the Middle East. And same thing with Syria, a lot of people do not know the origin of the Ba’ath party. A lot of people say that the President Bashar al-Assad and his family are Alawi, yes of course, this can be true. But this is not a main factor in Syrian politics. The main factor is the origin of the Ba’ath party, it is a socialist party, where all religions live together and Syria is one of the few, maybe the only country, in the Middle East where you have all these denominations, Christians, but also Catholic Christians, Orthodox Christians, Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Sunni, Shia, Alawi. They are living together for hundreds of years very peacefully. But most of people here don’t realize that.

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