‘West pitting Syrian rebels against Hezbollah’
RT:You have recently been to Syria - with the West pushing for democratic change there, do you think the Syrians will actually get that after the violence they've endured for so long?
Danny Makki: I think there is much consensus among the Syrian people and in Syria that there has to be democratic change but there is a very big difference between democratic change from the grassroots level and what is being supported and funded by Western countries in Syria now. What we see now is terrorism. And people have to differentiate between a freedom fighter and a terrorist. I don’t think this is pathway to democracy, I think in fact this is a pathway to a failed state.
RT:The Free Syrian Army has apparently set an ultimatum for Hezbollah, threatening to shell its positions in Lebanon. Lebanon is itself divided over the civil war in neighboring Syria, what could the consequences be if large-scale violence spills over there?
DM: With the Syrian crisis there is a danger of it spilling across borders to Iraq, or Lebanon, or even Turkey. The biggest problem in Lebanon is that some of the Western countries are really trying to pit one of the Islamist movements against each other – the Sunni FSA against the Shia Hezbollah. It’s essentially a policy of divide and conquer, which is being instigated media-wise by the West, create divisions and fractures within Arab Syrian and Lebanese societies. And this is the issue they are working today.
By pitting the FSA Hezbollah they are create more division and tension between Syria and Lebanon. And we’ve seen with recent conflict in Tripoli in northern Lebanon that the Syrian crisis is not necessarily in Syria. Syria is the linchpin of the region and there is great tension both in Syria and Lebanon. And there is great fear and anxiety that the struggle in Syria could spill into Lebanon. Lebanon had its own civil war which was very bloody and killed hundreds of thousands. So Lebanon is very scared at the moment of the Syria crisis turning into a Lebanese crisis.
RT: On Monday, Syria said it is prepared to talk to the armed opposition groups, which it has long-dismissed as terrorists – is it a positive change on the way?
DM: In any state terrorism inside the country is a red line that cannot be crossed. We cannot accept terrorism in any country in the world – whether in Syria, America or Britain, or Russia. However there has to be a level of negotiations and dialogue internally speaking to at least have a ceasefire.
There has to be a level of openness between the Syrian government and between rebel forces maybe to instigate exchanges of prisoners, ceasefires in certain areas, to let humanitarian aid reach areas which are under rebel control. These all are issues that have to be negotiated for. And it shows that the Syrian government is not taking the path of an in-transition government. They truly do want to see diplomacy and dialogue to solve this and the fact that they are willing to negotiate with theses armed groups signifies a change of policy in terms of [that] they comprehend there can be no military solution and that any solution which comes within the Syrian crisis at this current moment in time has to be a political solution to stop the suffering of the people and to find a real exit and negotiated settlement to his ongoing crisis.