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‘Now it is impossible to defeat Syria’

Nadezhda Kevorkova is a war correspondent who has covered the events of the Arab Spring, military and religious conflicts around the world, and the anti-globalization movement.

Published time: October 17, 2013 15:06
AFP Photo / Ricardo Garcia Vilanovoa

The situation in Syria showcases the US-Israel failure to pursue their plans on the ground, Lebanese military specialist, law professor, General Amine Hotait told RT. He believes this attempt blocks the use of force in the war-torn state – for good.

RT: What do you think about the situation in Syria? The region is in chaos, are the rebels winning?

Amine Hotait: No, the US-Israeli plan has failed – they haven’t been able to move forward for two years. And now Russia has persuaded the US not to bomb Syria. Russia is one of the three winners in Syria, its Russia’s strategic victory. The winners are – Resistance (Hezbollah – RT), Iran, and BRICS as NATO’s opponent. And of course, Resistance inside Syria. Now all of us, who were there when this historic decision not to bomb Syria was made, live in a new era. The UN Resolution 2118 is the first document of the new world. So far we only see fragments of this new world. Obama’s talk with Rouhani is also a result of the victory in Syria. For three days they were discussing paragraph 21 in the UN Resolution, where it says that if Syria doesn’t comply with the decision to destroy all chemical weapons, measures stipulated in paragraph 7 will be used against it. I laughed at the authors. Anyone can get up and say something in the UN. They can talk about it all they want, but there will never be a decision to use force against Syria. Now it is impossible to defeat Syria.

RT: Obama said that the US would bomb Syria, the media talk about the rebels uniting and winning…

AH: In the next months we will see the situation develop in three aspects: clashes between the rebels, the army fighting against the rebels, and international efforts. I don’t think the Geneva summit will take place, because the conditions are not right. You see, Resolution 2118 provides that talks must take place between those who control the situation. What do we have now? The people want a peaceful solution. Paragraph 7 (about using force) has been moved far away, so it can’t be used. Non-Syrians cannot decide on the future of Syria, so all foreigners, i.e. over 100 military groups, will have to leave Syria. The Syrian opposition is demoralized. As we see, the rebels are more concerned with the issue of women, gender roles, and money. They lost their position in Syrian society. So there can’t be any rebel a representative in Geneva, there is no one to transfer the power to.

RT: Do the rebels follow Hezbollah tactics?

AH: They have no tactics, they were successful only because there were a lot of them, and they attacked vulnerable places and used the army’s weaknesses.

If you remember, 700 soldiers defended the Minneg airport in Aleppo for almost a year, they repelled 10 attacks. When 20,000 rebels gathered around the airport, the soldiers withdrew, and the air force took over, the rebels lost 3,500 people, while the soldiers – only 12. There are cases of treason. The rebels get reports that there are no army soldiers in a certain place, and attack the town. This is what happened in Maaloula – there was no army there at all. The rebels were just killing civilians; there was no one there to resist them. Officers have relatives among the Takfiri. They might get money from the rebels, there might be threats to the family – these things happen from time to time. That’s all their success is based on.

If they had a military tactic in place, they would liberate Syria half a year ago. Their army totalled 150,000, and they could have prevailed over a 1.5 million army. 4,000 Hezbollah fighters defeated 40,000 Israeli soldiers. These methods were incorporated into the tactics of a ‘war of substitution’.

But the rebels don’t have a command, they don’t interact between the groups, don’t plan out their actions in advance.
Their losses make up 40,000 people. They are helped by 28,000 foreign hirelings from 38 countries of the world.

General Amine Hotait (RT Photo / Nadezda Kevorkova)

RT: How do rebels get weapons?

AH: At first, weapons were smuggled through the Turkish border, but 60 percent of supplies still went through Lebanon, through Tripoli. Also, rebels got hold of guns when they captured army depots. When they got control of the checkpoints on the Turkish border, it because easier to get weapons from Turkey.

The north of Lebanon saw 18 violent clashes between Alawites and Sunnis. Using the shootout as a disguise, weapons-loaded boats were sent to rebels. They got mad when they lost Al-Qusayr. With it, they lost their logistics.
Since then, there was no more war in Tripoli.

Then Saudi Arabia pressured Jordan, and it allowed the weapons to flow through its territory. But Jordan cannot play the role of Lebanon. They don’t want to get involved, they don’t want to side with anyone. Up until now a significant part of arms supply went through Turkey, so when Turkey blocked it, the rebels went postal.

If the USA issues a command to finish the guerrilla campaign, the war in Syria will be over within three months. The rebels don’t have the people’s support or the resources to last more than three months, which is why it’s not a civil war, but external aggression.

RT: How did the chemical weapons come up in all this? Does Hezbollah or Hamas have chemical weapons?

AH: Neither Hezbollah nor Hamas has ever possessed chemical weapons. It was used once against Hezbollah. Only two countries in the region used chemical weapons – Israel used white phosphorus against Lebanon in 2006, and Saddam Hussein used nerve agents twice, against Iran and the Kurds. In the south, where the gas attacks took place, it led to cancer incidence rate being four times higher than average.

The US was going to carry out the same plan as with Iraq in 2003, when it was accused of having chemical weapons and it had none. Pinning the blame for using chemical weapons on the Syrian government proved impossible.

All the information the Americans have about chemical weapons in Syria came from Israel. It would benefit Israel to have the US bomb 160 targets in Syrian territory – the targets that Israel itself would point to. The US could have started the bombing, but it knew our Resistance (Hezbollah – RT) was capable of reiterating and bombing Israel. It would have led to big losses, so it wasn’t a smart move. A ground operation was also an option, but that would have been simply insane.

So a wise decision to destroy all chemical weapons in Syria was made. Syria doesn’t need it – it can’t be used either against the rebels or against Israel.

It’s in Syria’s interests to agree to this plan, because this would prevent the US from attacking and secure Russia’s promise to assist with the modern air defense technology.

US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during their press conference on the sidelines of the APEC Summit in Nusa Dua on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on October 7, 2013 (AFP Photo / Sonny Tumbelaka)

RT: Could you comment on the use of chemical weapons near Damascus?

AH: The rebels made two mistakes. They did use chemical weapons, but not in the place the bodies were in. People wouldn’t be able to be there without protective clothing. It just looked as if the children had been drugged – there were no signs of vomit or chemical poisoning. Besides, the death toll estimates vary too much: the first estimate was 120 victims, then 360. The French claimed the death toll reached 500 people, and the Americans said it was 1,300.

Russia knows the US is telling lies and is trying to dispel them. When Mr Lavrov first accused Kerry of lying, he had nothing to counter it with. (On September 2, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it was “strange” to hear the US Secretary of State John Kerry say that “the American side had produced irrefutable evidence for Russia of the Assad regime using chemical weapons” – RT)

RT: From the military point of view, who are the Syrian rebels? What tactics do they use?

AH: I’ve been studying this tactics since 2007. I call it a proxy war – Israel uses a third party to fight Syria in order to avoid getting involved directly. I anticipated this situation.

RT: Did you anticipate the events in Syria specifically?

AH: Not only in Syria, in other countries as well. It was clear that Israel had been looking for new types of warfare. The 2006 Lebanon war showed that Israel couldn’t secure a quick victory anymore, but a long campaign is also not an option – Israel can’t maintain several fronts. In the future, Israel will refrain from open warfare against the Arab world, barring punitive measures against the Palestinians, and opt for proxy wars instead.

RT: Could you describe the main parameters of this proxy war?

AH: A proxy war is closely connected to igniting a civil war between various social groups employing religious and ethnical slogans. Such a war engulfs everything and drags everyone in; it weakens the country, torn apart by artificial and irresolvable conflict. That’s the idea – to pit the Sunni and the Shia against each other across the entire region.

RT: Why did Syria become the focus of their efforts?

AH: Syria is the retaliation for Hezbollah’s victory in 2006, an attempt to cover the bitter taste of defeat that they experienced for the first time. Having won, Hezbollah delayed their plans for three years – Israel planned for the civil war in Syria to start much earlier than that.

RT: As a result of the Syrian conflict, Lebanon has to deal with enormous pressure in the form of refugees. How many are there?

AH: There are over 1,300,000 refugees total – about 350,000-400,000 Syrians in the south; 150,000 in Beirut and Saida each; 25,000-30,000 in the Christian areas, and 350,000 in the Beqaa Valley.

RT: Are there some refugee settlements that have it better or worse than others?

AH: We can’t define with absolute certainty where it’s better for refugees. People offer them a place in their homes, but the Syrians don’t go where they’re not welcome. There are only two places that don’t welcome them – Walid Jumblatt’s Druze community and the Maronites in the north. There aren’t even five thousand refugees living in the Druze community. The Druze control the Ministry of Refugees, so they make a fortune off the funds sent in from all over the world to help refugees. Life is tough for refugees everywhere.

Nadezhda Kevorkova, RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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