Colonial hegemony prevents the west from believing that Arab peoples are equal to westerners and have the right to choose their own system, Bouthaina Shaaban, political and media adviser to the Syrian president, told RT.
RT: Peacekeeping forces have confirmed that Syria is in a state of civil war, what would you say to that statement?
Bouthaina Shaaban: It is irresponsible to say that Syria is in a state of civil war, especially as we’re fighting terrorism. I think some media have a war on Syria.
RT: Do you think there can be trust restored between the western media and the Syrian government or will this media war only escalate?
BS: There are hundreds of journalists who came to Syria during the crisis. It is not true that we don’t give access to foreign journalists. Foreign journalists from all over the world came to Syria. But also there are satellite channels that made themselves part of the war on Syria, inciting sectarian violence, fabricating facts about what is happening in our country.
RT: But the media war itself – can it do any damage?
BS: The media war can do a lot of damage. Because when you have some religious man inciting sectarian hatred among the Syrian people – there are many people who fall victim to this incitement. Unfortunately, media wars have proved to be very effective throughout history.
RT: Do you feel like the Syrian government could lose in this conflict because of the media war?
BS: I don’t think so. Not to this extent but definitely it is costing lives of our people.
RT: We often see, especially lately, the Syrian government pointing the finger at others for supplying guns to terrorists. Who are these “others”, could you name the countries?
BS: I don’t know but I would like to say that the Syrian government is not the issue. The issue is Syria, the unity, the safety, the sovereignty and prosperity of Syria.
RT: Your surely have your own, not official, vision of those who are helping those terrorists to kill peaceful people?
BS: Even the UN observers say there are groups in every area (of Syria), and nobody knows who these people are. We don’t know to whom they belong, and who are their leaders. This is the most important problem in Syria: you don’t know who your adversary is.
RT: The UN is critical to safeguard Syria against a military invasion. How big is the threat of foreign intervention in Syria?
BS: The UN observers have made many statements that the Syrian government cooperated very well. They did not stop, they suspended their mission. We also fear for their safety, because as the Syrian people are targeted, we’re also afraid that some observers could be targeted by armed groups and we would hate that to happen.
RT: How do you assess the chance of a foreign invasion?
BS: I don’t think that is possible, in a sense. Russia and China double-vetoed (UN resolutions on Syria) twice. Russia has a stand that it is the Syrian people that should decide the future of Syria. I don’t think a military strike (against Syria) is possible. If you look at what happened in Libya or Yemen – you can see the consequences. I think the west is quite aware of what things are in the Middle East. I hope they are people reasonable enough to act very carefully. I think there is no consideration for such a thing.
RT: You do have Russian and Chinese support in the UN Security Council, but it did not help much in the Iraq scenario. They went around a UN Security Council resolution and invaded Iraq. What other means do you have except Russia and China?
BS: I think the west has learnt from the Afghanistan and Iraq experience, and from Libya’s, too. They know that a military strike does not always come with the result they hope for. I think the world is different now and it is no longer a unipolar system. I think that Russia and China now have a say in the international arena to the relief of most people in the world. Because we have suffered from one polar system and we’re happy with the emergence of the bipolar system and the BRICS. The world is changing.
RT: The US and their partners have a perfect, 100 per cent track record when it comes to removing the heads of foreign states that they want to remove. What makes you think that Syria has a different scenario?
BS: Russia has learnt from the Libyan scenario. Russia has changed the political scene of the world by making an excellent stand in support of people who decide their future. Is it democracy when foreign countries decide to move a ruler? Is this the way democracy should work? Or should it be people to decide, I mean in every country, not only Syria. Is it democracy to say to British people “you should move (PM) Cameron”, or is it the British people who should decide? Why does this not apply to Arab countries? Is it because of colonial hegemony and because the west does not believe Arab people are equal to western people and have the right to choose their own system? This is a question I pose. Democracy means people of a country should decide their future and who rules them.
RT: Why does so much weaponry go to Syria? What happens when the conflict is over and we have all these uncontrolled arms on the streets, the way it happened in Libya?
BS: You can’t say that the conflict is over unless all those arms are withdrawn from the streets and people. These arms are part of the conflict and they were smuggled into Syria to ignite the conflict. Smuggling money and arms is a huge part of the problem in Syria.
RT: Can you do something about this at the moment?
BS: The international community should also do something about this. Kofi Annan’s peace plan’s first item is stopping armaments and stopping violence from all parties and in all forms.
RT: Some skeptics say the reason the Syrian government is not allowing a humanitarian corridor in Homs is because it fears along with humanitarian aid will come something else. Is that true?
BS: No, we’ve been cooperating with humanitarian agencies all along but have not seen any humanitarian aid arriving in Syria. We cooperated absolutely in full.
RT: So if the humanitarian corridor opens in Homs right now?
BS: No, there is no need for a humanitarian corridor. Assistance that is coming is being distributed by the Red Cross.
RT:So allegations about people being badly in need of food and medical aid are an exaggeration?
BS: Yes, extremely exaggerated.
RT: You’re on the US blacklist of Syrian officials – how does that feel?
BS: Since 2005 they sent me many invitations from the US – I did not go because I don’t like (the way) they treat people at American airports. They “froze” my assets though I don’t have a single dollar, not just in the US – anywhere in the world. They may freeze as many assets as they like