Ziad Watfa: Syrian file no longer Syrian event, it became regional, global event

Interview with ANHA


A member of the Political Bureau of the National Coordination Body Ziad Watfa said that the Syrian file is no longer a Syrian event, but has become a regional and global event, therefore the conflicting forces in Syria will not end the conflict or the war against ISIS and will not achieve a political solution only after they agreed to share the Syrian land, stressing that the objectives and interests of Russia, Iran and Turkey match in Idlib.

Hawar news agency held a dialogue with a member of the Political Bureau of the National Coordination Body Ziad Watfa on the repercussions of Tehran meeting and its results on the Syrian situation in general and Idlib in particular.

The following is the text of the interview:

After Tehran summit meeting between Russia, Iran and Turkey, in your opinion, what will happen in Syria, especially in Idlib?

Tehran summit is not an end or a turning point in the Syrian event. It can be said that the outcome of the events in Idlib and the events in Idlib could be a turning point, the general course of events in Syria before Tehran summit and after the summit, the success of a revolution of dignity and liberation to the Syrian people has become unthinkable, and after the victory of the regime over the armed forces also became out of the question can be said that the course of the year is the path of political solution, but this solution is subject to the vision of the conflicting forces. The Syrian file is no longer a Syrian event, it has become a regional and global event, therefore, the conflicting forces in Syria will not end their conflict or the war against ISIS on a political solution and will be attended by the parties to the negotiations, the regime and the opposition only after the Syrian land is shared among them.

We can say that Tehran summit has shown that there are differences that are difficult to reach a close consensus on, as the consensus between the three countries is mostly temporary, meaning that the three countries are living in a critical stage, the criticality lies on the possibility that the differences erupt, prolong and give a new chance for the continuation of the war and the Syrian disaster, where they have no interest in the continuation of the war in Syria and therefore most likely will work to rotate corners and to find a solution to satisfy the three countries.

What are the objectives of the three countries in Idlib?

We can say that the three countries have similar objectives in Syria, where Russia wants to reach a solution that guarantees its military and economic presence and political influence for a long time in Syria. This is a solution that does not require the rehabilitation of the regime, the current system, with a new constitution but ensuring the continuity of Russian interests, I do not see that Russia's vision of a political solution corresponds to the regime's vision of trying to rehabilitate itself.

Iran's vision and interest is presented in the victory of the regime and its continued rule because it believes that any change in the regime's nature in Syria may meet its interests and its presence in Syria.

As for Turkey, the first objective of its intervention is to maintain its presence in Sur, to ensure that a Kurdish entity is prevented in north-eastern Syria and to prevent the Kurdish component of Syria from obtaining its national rights in harmony with the citizenship state in which everyone enjoys the same rights and duties, in Syria could serve as a model to push the Kurdish people in Turkey to demand it, Turkey is trying to prevent it, it is not in its interest, if the three guarantors states have an interest in a political solution, this solution is not compatible with its views, this explains the dispute that arose in Tehran, because the dispute between Russia and Iran on one hand and Turkey on the other, started from Sochi or Istana 10, which was held in Sochi, during which Turkey was granted a one-month deadline, and now granted a new deadline, I think that the differences now are more difficult than to be resolved quickly.

In your opinion, if the three countries do not agree, how will Idlib affect their relations?

The solution in Idlib lies in more than one point, the first point is that the decline of the Turkish presence in Idlib mostly means its decline in Afrin and the northwest, and Turkish losing Idlib’s battle may mean more likely its exit from Syria and a significant reduction in its role in the area. Turkey's internal crisis is exacerbated and the AKP loses its presence in power, so it is not easy for Turkey to be flexible on Idlib, the second point is not the dispute between Russia and Turkey over the fate of Idlib. America, the Gulf and its allies, I think it lies in America and Europe's interest that Turkey's power in Idlib not be weakened as a piece of paper that supports their vision of a political solution and the reduction of Russian exclusivity by solution in Syria.

The third point, which makes it difficult to reach a solution in Idlib, is that the conflict in Idlib now, in the sense that a resolution will bring a lot closer to the political solution in Syria.

This conflict will most likely draws the general features of the new world that the international powers are trying to draw their new lines of influence after the fall of the world order. I think that the end of the fighting in Syria means that these borders are borders of clashing and the limits of influence which have reached advanced stages to devote a world order with two poles.

For these reasons, I believe that a quick solution in Idlib may be a very weak process now, and the most likely form that can reflect the current balance of power is to allow the Russians and the regime to regain control over the areas of the presence of al-Nusra Front.

Turkey is also ready to destroy al-Nusra in Idlib after it has classified it as a terrorist, but it will not allow the Syrian regime army to invade the areas of the so-called moderate armed opposition of Turkey. I do not think that Russia is ready now for the loss of Turkey for fear of re-joining America and the West.  So it is likely we witness the continuation of battles in the areas of existence of al-Nusra, and form of consensus on the Turkish presence in Idlib, Turkey may accept the participation of the Russians in this presence from now until a political solution is reached.

What is a Turkish plan for Idlib's future and why it wants to stay there?

I do not think there is a clear plan Turkey is working to implement in Idlib and the North Syria. Turkey's position has changed with the changing balance of power and events on the ground.

At the beginning of the events, Turkey’s position was to advise the regime to follow up the movement and not to be hostile to it, then it turns to a hostile situation and supporter to the military factions and called for the departure of al- Assad regime.

On the political front, Turkey's political support of the Muslim Brotherhood was in line with the American view that Muslim Brotherhood could be a substitute for dictatorships in the region.

This is better for America than democratic systems that achieve the sovereignty of their countries, that is, any national democratic system to achieve independence of the decision is not for Turkey or the West or the Gulf interest in achieving, after America has declined support the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey has maintained their support and there is a divergence between the Turkish, Saudi and Gulf attitude in general.

After the entry of the Russians on 30 September 2015 and the prevention of the fall of the regime by the terrorist factions, Turkey continued to support the armed factions and turned its political discourse into a speech against the Kurdish people and its movement for national liberation in Syria, overlooking the project of overthrowing Assad.    

Previously Turkey's plan was to prevent a political solution in Geneva, and then joined Astana. Indeed the fact that the path of Astana provided facilitations to the interest of Turkey, and it is known how the Russians handed Afrin over to Turkey and how easy Astana continued and growing influence in Idlib. Now Turkey is standing on the brink of failure of Astana, which is threatening the gains it has made in Afrin and Idlib. At the moment, if it waives in Idlib, its project in destroying the Kurdish issue in Afrin has begun to decline.

In the event of the battle of Idlib, what is the fate of the people and where should they go?

The Syrian arena indicates that the conflicting forces have never taken into consideration the Syrian people except in the end, because their interests outweigh human lives. I believe that neighboring countries are only Turkey. I cannot say that Turkey is preparing to receive more war fugitives, but the internal Syrian and the Syrian areas which are free from the control of terrorist factions is the most appropriate place to receive these citizens regardless of readiness of the people of these areas to receive large numbers of the displaced.