In an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman on Thursday, Shaqfa said they have abundant evidence to prove this partnership. He said Iran is providing political, financial and military support to President Bashar al-Assad’s government, but particularly military support, via Iraq. Shaqfa underlined that there is a large number of Iranian military experts in Syria who are committing this massacre. Regarding Iran’s stance on the Syrian issue, Shaqfa stressed that Iran is “contradicting itself.” “For approximately 14 centuries Iranians have been grieving against the oppression of Husain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad. But now they are standing next to the oppressor instead of standing next to the oppressed.”
When asked how to read Annan’s six-point peace plan, Shaqfa said if the plan is applied as mentioned, it would mean the end of the current regime. “If the regime accepts the plan, they will try to buy more time and will do their best to show that the plan is a failure.” He also added that any democratic election in Syria, which could be held under international oversight, will bring about the end of the regime. He said the plan is important and that the Muslim Brotherhood would like to see it succeed.
Touching upon the possibility of UN intervention, Shaqfa said their experience has shown them that neither the Western countries nor the United Nations took serious action on the Syrian issue and he added that approximately 12,000-13,000 people have died and 10,000 were displaced, while the international community still remains silent.
Shaqfa asserted that the current regime can be toppled in only one of two ways, either by an international intervention or when the Free Syrian Army comes to power. “If the Annan plan fails, we want the Security Council to take into consideration the security of the civilians if there is an intervention. Additionally, even if a decision is made, we do not expect the Western powers to intervene in Syria. In this case, we only believe that a union, where Turkey is also included, can intervene in order to maintain peace,” said Shaqfa. “The Syrians expect a lot from the Turks, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent statement declaring that Syria is Turkey’s internal matter is evidence of this. We can also understand this by looking at the people on the streets with Turkish flags in their hands.”
The leader of the Brotherhood also spoke about opposition groups in the region, saying that the Brotherhood wants a smooth transition and, in order to ensure that, they have brought together 85 percent of the opposition under the umbrella of the Syrian National Council (SNC). He added that they have good relations with these groups, with the exception of the Kurdish groups. According to Shaqfa, the Kurdish groups have some demands that are unacceptable. He underlined that the Muslim Brotherhood was ready to give them all the rights they want. But, he added, some Kurdish groups have very different demands; for instance, they want autonomy, which in turn will lead to the splitting up of Syria. He pointed out that this was not the vision of all the Kurds and that there is a sizeable population of Kurds represented in the SNC.
Touching upon the possibility of an agreement between the Kurdish faction and the Assad regime, Shaqfa stated that this was impossible because even the Kurds who are not represented in the SNC are extremely against the Assad regime. He underlined that the only Kurdish group supporting Assad is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). “Assad provides military training to the PKK in various camps in order to use the PKK against Turkey,” Shaqfa explained. “Theirs is a relationship of mutual interests.”
Shaqfa also claimed that the Syrian regime is an enemy to its neighbors. “The regime wanted to spur a sectarian war in Lebanon. It assassinated politicians in Jordan and now it is providing training to the PKK near Aleppo.” When asked about the danger of a civil war in Syria, Shaqfa said they do not expect one. “The current regime is trying to create a civil war and it was successful in Homs. In order to accomplish this, the regime sent some intelligence forces to kill Alawite families. It did the same to the Sunni families,” said Shaqfa.
“So why did he [Assad] do this? He did this to show to the world that there is a sectarian conflict in Syria. But the people of Homs were aware of this and they did not fall into this trap.” According to the Brotherhood leader, there is currently an agreement between the armed groups in the opposition and the Free Syrian Army, which states that they will not attack civilian targets and government buildings. “The Free Syrian Army is only engaged in self-defense and protecting civilians. Its only goal is to protect the civilians in the demonstrations. If an attack is staged against civilians, then and only then will they respond,” he said.
Shaqfa said there have been promises made that upcoming talks in Paris will be more productive and set clear demands of the current Syrian regime. “But we don’t believe that these promises will be fulfilled. We had great expectations from the İstanbul meeting, but the meeting failed to bring success,” said Shaqfa. “We would have had some success, at least, if they had officially recognized the SNC, but they didn’t and so I don’t expect much from the Paris conference.”
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