The entire world is counting the minutes until September 9th when the US Congress is expected to reconvene in order to decide the fate of Syria, either banning or approving a US strike against Syrian government targets, following an alleged chemical attack that killed more than a thousand people.
Israel Today spoke to Yelena Gromova, a Russian journalist residing in Damascus, who presents another angle to the complicated Syrian saga.
US claims about an alleged chemical attack seem suspicious. At the same time, even the supporters of Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad (like Iran) acknowledge the fact. Who should people believe?
The attack did take place. But it wasn’t carried out by the party that the US and its allies are trying to accuse. On the first day of the attack, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksander Lukashevich, announced that according to the information possessed by the Russian authorities “in the early morning of August 21st a makeshift rocket was launched from the areas occupied by the militant [rebel] forces.”
Anyone who doesn’t want to speculate on the subject knows that the chemical attack was carried out by the rebels. Other claims are no more than deceitful accusations aimed at discrediting the Syrian authorities. Those countries who are now blaming Syria have always actively supported those [Islamist] militants. This makes them partners in crime and therefore they should be held responsible for the blood of all those victims, including children.
It looks as if Russia is not going to interfere in the US-Syria conflict. This is despite the fact that Russia is one of Syria’s main allies. What’s going on? Did Russia get scared understanding that it's incapable of facing the US military?
Of course, it could have acted more vigorously like the Soviet Union did at the time of the Cuban missile crisis [of 1962]. But Russia provides Syria with serious diplomatic assistance. The mere fact that no American bombs have landed on Syrian soil so far is primarily Russia’s doing. Russian diplomats might be thinking that it’s better not to provoke Washington right now [in order not to trigger an escalation of tensions], but if the war does eventually erupt, I am convinced that Russia will be able to find the necessary leverage to stop it.
Knowing the psychology of the Syrian people, what do you think the West can expect from them in the event of an attack? Is Syrian going to turn into another Afghanistan?
The majority of the Syrian people are not scared. You can hear many Syrians saying: “We’ve been living in war conditions for the past two years, what else can scare us?”
Furthermore, if before there were some people who believed in the righteous cause of the so-called opposition, the situation has now changed. No longer do people believe in the good intentions of the US government or the "opposition," which calls for foreign attacks on its own country.
Syrians don't want the same outcome for their country as what happened in Iraq, and they loathe those who support western aggression against the Syrian government.
Some experts claim that Russia and the US are attempting to split Syria into smaller states (Alawite, Christian, etc.). How realistic are these claims?
Syrians do not want the split. Even the Kurds, who generally supported the idea of separation, are now speaking against it. Of course, Western powers are interested in splitting Syria as they remain loyal to the old Roman tactics of "divide and conquer."
But the Syrians say: “We have been living together for our entire lives. We are one people”. It’s worth mentioning that during Syria’s struggle against French colonialism, France offered to divide Syria into states based on sectarian differences, creating Alawite, Druze and Sunni federations, while giving Lebanon to the Christians. Yet, the leaders of anti-colonial struggle opposed the idea and called on the people to join forces to fight for a united and free Syria.
The representative of Syria in the League of Nations – who was a Christian – rejected claims that the presence of French forces on Syrian territory would protect Christians and announced that Christians and Muslims were one people.
Syrians are brought up on these values and they will do their best to prevent a split from happening.
How many people actually support President Assad and who are these rebels?
When I first came to Syria in 2011 I saw tremendous rallies in support of Assad and his government.
In 2014, Syria is expected to hold presidential elections. If the opposition was so sure of the people's backing, it would have proposed its candidacy and would have used political methods to obtain power, especially given the fact that the new reforms allow that. But the point is that they are afraid of elections. Their only way to assume power is with the help of American military might.
The rebels neglect basic ethical principles, and call on Obama to stage a war against the Syrian people. You can imagine what they will do if they assume power. Look at Libya, where everyone fights everyone. Syrians have to do anything it takes to prevent the Libyan scenario evolving in their country.