NCF daily Report on Syrian Issue – The Government – Report dated 19 August 2012 (morning)
Our intention in this report is to convey the attitude of the Syrian establishment. The following report does not reflect the opinions of the Next Century Foundation:
The following report is in two sections:
1. What the Government is saying on Kofi Annan’s successor
2. A statement given by Syria’s Deputy Premier
3. Gossip with regard to ex-Premier Hijab’s defection
4. What the government is doing
What the Government is saying:
The Syrian Government agreed to the candidate Lakhdar Brahimi becoming a successor to Kofi Annan, who has resigned as the UN and Arab League mediator in Syria. "I was asked if it was true that the Syrians had consented to his candidacy and I said yes," said Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi. "No decision has been made yet, by him or by the Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.” However, the international community now regards it as a certainty that the 78 year old Algerian will take on the mantle, and pay lip service to a role he himself is reluctant to take, basing himself in Geneva. The West regards him as a safe pair of hands.
RUSSIAN UPDATE: In a related development, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin has invited UN ambassadors from key nations and international organizations who agreed on guidelines for a Syrian-led political transition in Geneva in June to a meeting at UN headquarters today to press for action. Churkin told reporters he wants the Geneva action group along with Iran and Saudi Arabia, who are not members, to make "a joint or parallel appeal to all the parties of the Syrian conflict that they end violence as soon as possible by a certain point in time". Churkin said the appeal should also urge the government and opposition to appoint representatives to work on a political solution and transitional governing body.
The Deputy Premier’s statement:
The following is a statement this week by Mr Kadri Jamil, a former communist now Deputy Premier of Syria. The statement was given on Beirut based Al Mayadeen TV:
“Violence in Syria will continue into the future until everyone realises that there is no solution except negotiations without pre-conditions. Every outcome must be discussed at the negotiations including Party system, Constitution, Presidential years and position and how the elections will take place.
“I am not worried about the Muslim Brotherhood as the Syrian people differ in Culture and History, they must have a place in society.
“Only sitting and negotiating will produce results, use of weapons and fighting will not lead to a result for either side the only thing that will happen is the continued suffering of the Syrian people.
“There are extremists in on both sides in the party and yes there is foreign interference in Syria but the internal bond of Syrians must be stronger.
“Because of the years of neglect of a big part of Syrian society the Syrian poor people many would fight for a little pay as they are so poor. Russia can help with the economy but all the manufacturing in Syria doesn’t compare to one Russian state.
“I will also visit China. The Far East is very important to Syria they have a better economy and that can create jobs. Syria is a very rich country however corruption removes 30% of GDP. There needs to be a new start in Syria but the violence has to stop first and that includes the foreign intervention. A British journalist freed by the Syrian army wrote ‘most fighters we meet are from South London and other countries’ there aren’t Syrians with them.
“It doesn’t matter who does something as long as it gets done. Like we say in Syria, ‘It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches the mice’. We joined the Assad government to work within after all; wars can only end with compromise and negotiation. When everyone else realises that fighting cannot bring prosperity and democracy.
“The Syrian problem has an international connection. The old system of Cold War between two states has continued over the Syrian issue - it is the US and Russia who are trying to dominate the politics but there is no Cold War anymore so they should not interfere.”
On Hijab’s defection
Gossip and rumour is circulating on the defection of ex-Syrian Premier Riad Hijab. Those in the Syrian establishment spoke highly of his commitment to the work ethic and his good work in Lattakia and at the Ministry of Agriculture. Assad was impressed, they say.
However, when the battle for Damascus started last month, they say that a sniper from the roof shot him. He had a lucky escape; he was trapped in an area where there were armed people everywhere.
At that point in time things looked bad in Damascus, and, some Syrians say, he thought the government would fall. Hariri of Lebanon was an issue of concern to many in government. “He thought, I better change boat”, one Syrian told us.
“Of course the royal palace of Qatar sent a letter for him, offering the ex-prime minster an opportunity, the inducement to defect in safety” says our Syrian source. “He is a nationalist but has no stamina, the shooting attempt frightened him.”
What the government is doing
Aleppo: Tal Rifaat, in the north of Aleppo province, a small historic village (population 20,000 in the 2004 census) used as a base by some of the most diehard FSA rebel fighters, has been shelled by government forces, presumably prior to an attack in an attempt to rest the area from FSA control. Al-Bab, also in Aleppo province, has been shelled by a Mig plane. Syrian forces have also cornered a group of retreating FSA near the airport (about 9 miles southeast of the city centre). Rebel footholds in Aleppo have been the target of weeks of Syrian shelling and air attacks as part of wider offensives by President Bashar Assad. Rebels have been driven from most areas, taking heavy casualties. Rebels in Salaheddine have been trapped and virtually wiped out as government tanks moved in.
“Those who think that the Syrian Arab army will be defeated are dreaming,” said Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Moallem in a state TV interview late Thursday.
President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday nominated an array of new ministers from Aleppo in an attempt to placate the city after its recent tribulations. Dr. Adnan Abdo al-Sukhni as Minister of Industry, Najm Hamad al-Ahmad as Minister of Justice and Sa'ad Abdel-Salam al-Nayef as Minister of Health.
Minister Sukhni was born in Aleppo in 1961. He holds PhD in electrical engineering from a University in the Czech Republic. He was elected as a member in the People's Assembly in the seventh, eighth and ninth legislative terms, and he has been the Governor of Raqqa province since 2010. He is married with seven children.
Minister of Justice Najm Hamad al-Ahmad was born in Aleppo in 1969. He got a degree in law in 1991 and three diplomas in general law, administrative law and administrative sciences from the University of Damascus and the University of Ain Shams in Egypt. He holds a PhD in law from the University of Ain Shams. He chaired the judicial reform committee which was formed on May 17th, 2011 with the aim of drafting an integrated strategy to reform jurisdiction. He also chaired the committee which was formed on May 5th, 2011 aimed at drafting a resolution on general elections.
Minister of Health Sa'ad Abdel-Salam al-Nayef was born in Aleppo in 1959. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of Aleppo University in 1982. He got the colloquium certificate in 1986 as a specialist doctor. He is married with three children. President al-Assad appointed Mohammad Waheed Aqqad as Governor of Aleppo.
IN OLDER NEWS:
On 15 August 2012 Syrian air force missiles struck a hospital in a rebel-held area of Aleppo wounding one person, a doctor.
On the same day, Syrian war plane bombarded the northern border town of Azaz. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens were killed.
U.N. human rights investigators led by Paulo Pinheiro said on 15 August 2012, that Syrian government forces and allied shabbiha militia committed war crimes. However Karen AbuZayd, an American expert serving as senior investigator alongside Pinheiro, told Reuters: "We have identified both parties as guilty of war crimes”.
Meanwhile, reports that most credible observers regard as propaganda said that President Bashar al-Assad's brother Maher lost a leg in a bomb attack on the Syrian leader's security cabinet a month ago. Maher is rarely seen in public and has not been seen in public since the bombing, leading to speculation.