Vice-President al-Sharaa: No Change Without Partners

 DAMASCUS, (ST)_  The Lebanese al-Akhbar Daily published Monday a comprehensive interview with Mr. Farouk al-Sharaa, the Vice-President, in which he asserted the importance of dialogue as to solve the ongoing crisis by the Syrians themselves through a ''historical settlement'' including the basic regional countries and UN Security Council members.

al-Sharaa underscored that the perpetrators of crimes and those who support them should be condemned, asserting that they have lost every human, moral and national feeling. The vice-president asserted that the Syrians are in ''the position to defend the existence of Syria''

al-Sharaa asserted that neither Istanbul Council, or National Coalition nor the Coordination Committee or any peaceful or armed opposition with foreign affiliations can claim to be a legitimate and sole representative of the Syrian people.

al-Sharaa reiterated that the Syrians would never accept foreign armies intervention in Syria, asserting that this would never take place and would be but resisted, highlighting the position of the Syrian Army in whatever political solutions or dialogues.

Here are excerpts from the interview, published  Monday by the daily:

Farouk al-Sharaa speaks about the regime and the party and state leadership. He describes what is happening on the ground and the roles played by foreign powers against Syria and its historical role in the region.

But none of this seems to distract him, not even for one moment, from a sense of responsibility to play a role and propose a way out for Syria from the deepening crisis.

He is a friend of the Russian people, which are loyal to their historical relationship with the Syrians. He fondly describes his memories of China, the great country that developed itself surely and calmly, to become one of the strongest forces on Earth.

As for Iran, he believes it is the closest power to Syria, and not just the regime. Following its revolution, he believes that Iran was on its way become a great democratic experiment, if it wasn’t for the [Iran-Iraq] war imposed on it.

He acknowledges that it took the right position on the central Arab cause, Palestine, and supported the resistance in Lebanon, which rightfully expunged Israel from South Lebanon in the year 2000 and deterred its aggression in July 2006.

Sharaa has trusted the wisdom of Iran’s spiritual leader Ali Khamenei, even since his time as president of Iran, and lauds [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah’s resilience. He is convinced that they could have played a bigger role in reaching an early political solution to the Syrian crisis.

Sharaa follows all the events in the Arab world. He considers that Egypt witnessed a seismic shift and there is no turning back. But the political and media mobilization should continue and not ignore what continues to take place in that country.

Sharaa informed all those who contact him that he will not accept to head any transitional government and does not aspire for it. According to Sharaa, Egypt is a country that transcends history and the relationship with it should be solid and healthy. It can do a lot for Arabs. Its situation today should be closely monitored, because it will not immediately achieve the conclusive results hoped for by the Egyptians.

Sharaa informed all those who contact him that he will not accept to head any transitional government and does not aspire for it. He is only worried about Syria. He says what he needs to say in support of certain steps, in criticism of a decision or a behavior, or in objection to a certain orientation or action.

The Militarization of the Protests

Sharaa differentiates between two opposition mobilizations. He has a clear view of the situation in his country, since the first days of the crisis.

 “Does anyone have the right to shove the country into a bottleneck which cannot be escaped without breaking the glass?” Sharaa wonders bitterly whenever he sees images of the bodies of innocent citizens and the disfigurement caused by the shelling, explosions, and car bombs, which target people, infrastructure, public and private utilities, and scientific minds in the country.

“Those who commit these crimes and those who support them are guilty and have lost all sense of patriotism, morality, and humanity,” he says.

There were many mistakes made by the Arab League and the [Syrian] state both, which cannot be forgotten or stepped over.“The drop in the number of peaceful protesters led one way or another to the rise in militants,” Sharaa maintains. “While it is the duty of the state to provide its citizens with security, this is different than deciding on a military solution to the crisis. The two issues should not be mixed.”

“All of this should have required a discussion of mechanisms and an attempt at a Syrian-Syrian solution. The dialogue we adopted in July 2011 aimed at solving the crisis politically from the start, by Syrian hands,” he adds.

“But things did not go in this direction,” Sharaa explains. “The crisis was Arabized. Syria, a founding member of the League of Arab States, saw its membership suspended from the league without justification or a pretext that could convince Syrian citizens.”

The Country’s Survival, Not Ours

The Syrian vice-president acknowledges that the crisis is deep. “With every passing day, the solution gets further away, militarily and politically,” he warns. “We must be in the position of defending Syria’s existence.”

Are We In a Process of Resolution?

“[UN peace envoy] Lakhdar Brahimi keeps repeating in his statements that things are going from bad to worse. I cannot deny this but, for over a year, I have been seeing the line that links the events. The way events are heading will lead to an uncomfortable place where things will definitely go from bad to worse.,” he remarks. “But the problem is that Mister Brahimi is slow and careful, while events on the ground are accelerating and becoming more violent.”

“From my perspective, I am not completely certain where the current option will take us. I do not have a transparent answer. Officials might not even know where we have reached in the solution,” he explains.

“What is happening in Syria is complicated, elaborate, and intricate. If you try to unravel it, it might get more complex and the hidden stitches could multiply, instead of guiding you to a solution,” he elucidates.

 “But, at the same time, there are the executive, legislative, and judiciary institutions, which are directly responsible for running the country’s affairs,” he informs. “These institutions have heads, general directors, and governing boards, who work, some who claim to work, according to the directions. Sometimes they make up their minds by pointing to the picture above their desks, meaning that the directive is not up for discussion.”

No Change Without Partners

“In 1970, many state institutions were built on top of the inconsistencies and conflicts of the revolutionary command council back then, based on an agreed upon pact (for example, the NPF, the people’s assembly, and local administrations). These institutions started to deteriorate and were not renewed, despite multiple attempts to restructure them since president Bashar al-Assad assumed leadership in the year 2000,” Sharaa explains.

“These institutions then started to function based on their own inertia. This could be partially acceptable in times of stability and decades of security. But how could it happen during major crises and the resulting destruction of infrastructure and homes, the lack of electricity, the stoppage of hospitals in many cities and towns, and the escalating internal and external displacement?” he asks. “This is not to mention the detention of thousands of people who are not presented in front of the courts, as if we are still under martial law.”

“Neither the [Syrian] National Coalition, nor the Istanbul Council, nor the National Coordination Body as a multi-polar internal opposition, nor any opposition faction be it civilian or armed with their external ties, can claim to be the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian People, just as the current rule with its ideological army and its confrontation parties lead by the Baath, with its years of experience and rooted bureaucracy, cannot achieve change and progress alone without new partners who can contribute to maintaining the fabric of the homeland, the integrity of its territory, and its regional sovereignty. The loss of trust between these two sides, and therefore the impossibility of getting together for a direct dialogue, will lead to continuous destruction and dismantling, which will only benefit the Israeli occupation at this stage,” he declares confidently.

Sharaa believes that “the political, economic, and social structure of the country is changing day by day and in front of our eyes. What is happening in Syria is homologous with what happened in the early 1990s in the countries of Eastern Europe. We should also note that those countries did not enter into civil clashes or destructive wars, during the transformation in their structure of their regimes, although they faced suffocating economic crises.”

Leadership Discussions

Does the leadership have one opinion or are they just obeying the orders? Does the president listen, for example, to opinions that differ from his diagnosis?

“Of course, there are opinions and viewpoints among the political leadership. But the issue is not in a place that could lead to talk about different currents or deep divisions,” Sharaa replies.

“When I took care of the dialogue dossier, as vice president, in July 2011, I agreed to this appointment based on my convictions and everyone else’s in the national dialogue commission that this was a real step and not just a tactical move.”

“I do not deny that some of us acted as if [the dialogue] was unnecessary and whispered this to the leadership. So it distanced itself under the pretext that the internal and external opposition saw it as one of the regime’s charades. In the end, this finished off the political dialogue and opened the doors wide for the dialogue of bullets and guns. Today, Syria witnesses a sharp economic and livelihood crisis, in addition to the political and military conflict.”

Does anyone have the illusion that this people will accept foreign armies on Syrian soil? This will never happen and it will be resisted.“When we say that we refuse any external intervention, we base this on the fact that there was no consensus from the people to involve our national army in the crisis to begin with. So does anyone have the illusion that this people will accept foreign armies on Syrian soil? This will never happen and it will be resisted. The preeminence and unity of the Syrian army are indispensable in any of the proposed political solutions and discussions.”

But is the crisis only connected to political considerations?

“In any evaluation, we cannot ignore the local components linked with the economic situation and the policies implemented in the recent years at least. We also cannot ignore the actual need for a meaningful change in all of the state apparatus and its institutions. Real change is one which is based on solving the pressing issues based on requisite priorities. Maybe in the past we did not listen very carefully or take into consideration comments about the need for quick change. But we learn from our experience and that of others. Today, we understand that change is inevitable. If the regime does not take the initiative to achieve it with the others, it will happen through unilateral dictates from them.”

A Syrian Solution

How do you perceive the solution?

“Any logic based on the premise of rejecting dialogue indicates the desire for Syrians not to reach a solution on their own. Therefore, any settlement, whether starting with talks or agreements between Arab, regional, or foreign capitals, cannot exist without a solid Syrian foundation. The solution has to be Syrian, but through a historic settlement, which would include the main regional countries, and the members of UN Security Council. This settlement must include stopping all shapes of violence, and the creation of a national unity government with wide powers. This should be accompanied by the resolution of sensitive dossiers related to the lives of people and their legitimate demands.”

I do not see that what the security forces and the army units are doing will not reach a conclusive end.“The problem gets bigger and deeper when some start thinking that victory and defeat are possible. The opposition forces combined cannot decide the battle of overthrowing the regime militarily, unless they aim to pull the country into chaos and an unending circle of violence. Meanwhile, I do not see that what the security forces and the army units are doing will not reach a conclusive end, especially since we understand, without any illusions, the threat of the current campaign to destroy Syria, its history, civilization, and people. Brahimi’s contacts and visits, as well as the Geneva initiative, can be considered a suitable foundation for this settlement. I am not exaggerating when I say that reaching a historic settlement for the Syrian crisis might pave the way for an international environment of solving other important issues, through political means and not through military confrontation.”

But is the historical settlement ripe?

Sharaa hopes so, but is quick to add that “if each side involved in the settlement thinks that they can get all they expect and aspire to, then the legitimate national outlook of the Syrian people will be lost and the region’s fate will enter a dark tunnel.”



Reactivating cooperation with Syria to help children- UN official

DAMASCUS COUNTRYSIDE, (ST)-  UN Under-Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, has confirmed the need to prevent targeting schools and protecting children against violence.

During her visit today to Hussein Abdul Rahman Batiha School at Al Wafidin camp in Damascus countryside, Zerrougui expressed the United Nation’s readiness to reactivate cooperation with the Syrian Government to and provide psychiatric and behavioral services.

Earlier, this school was targeted by terrorists, which led to the martyrdom of a number of children.



Iran, Syria for Boosting Trade and Economic Relations




DAMASCUS, (ST)- Plenary talks  between the Syrian and Iranian  sides were finalized on Monday   on enhancing  bilateral, economic, and  trade  relations  and means of boosting them  in all  areas.

The Cabinet ‘s Secretary General  Teiser al-Zoubi noted the importance  of expanding prospects of economic and  health cooperation r to meet the needs of both peoples  and enhance  their  steadfastness  against hostile  conspiracies and challenges and, in particular strengthening the steadfastness of the Syrian people against the  unjust   economic blockade coupled  with a terrorist war aimed at destroying the capabilities of the Syrian people and the state structure and undermine security and stability in the region.

Advisor  to Vice President of Iran Kazimi Qoummi  renewed Iran ‘s  support for the Syrian leadership and people to  challenge this  global  conspiracy. He expressed  the Iranian government's desire to expand the horizons of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries and ensure the requirements of the steadfastness of the Syrian people.

The  two sides  also adopted  urgent measures to export some products necessary for the Syrian market, especially basic materials and products,  and laid a timetable to exchange agricultural products , including  olive oil, citrus, flour, potatoes, oil derivatives and equipments for  power plants, hospitals and develop appropriate mechanisms that help to remove all obstacles and administrative routines that stand against  the flow of goods between the two countries.

As for  boosting financial and banking relations, the two sides agreed on accelerating the process of opening of  the Syrian-Iranian Joint funding bank  , increase the volume of trade exchange , facilitate financial procedures , activate the free trade agreement and laying  the  mechanisms to regulate the exchange of goods and products between the two countries .

The two officials co- signed the  Minutes  of the meeting  of the bilateral cooperation committee  between Syria and Iran to lay the foundations necessary for further deepening and strengthening the bilateral economic relations, trade and investment.

The two sides agreed that the Iranian side to secure commodities needed by the Syrian market , especially medicines, medical supplies and a number of basic materials and  the Syrian side to export products needed by the Iranian side including  olive oil, citrus, clothing, textiles and cotton yarn .

Earlier in August, the ministry of health received a shipment of medical  equipment, tools and materials and ambulances at a cost of  USD 1.2 million.


T. Fateh




Aleppo Citizens Demonstrate for the Expulsion of Terrorists




ALEPPO, (ST) Citizens  of al-Sabeel quarters in Aleppo on Sunday staged into its streets  ,   in a massive demonstration  in support of army in its operations against the armed terrorist groups, demanding the expulsion of terrorists from the city of Aleppo and its countryside, SANA reported.

 Hundreds of  al-Sabeel residents  demonstrated in condemnation of the  criminal practices carried out by  the armed terrorists against them and their repeated  attacks on their property, electricity and water networks.

The citizens chanted slogans commemorating  the army and calling on it  to accelerate  its national mission to exterminate all hotbed areas so as to restore security and  normal life  to all  areas of the city of Aleppo and its countryside.


Syria Times






PA dwells upon the 2013 state budget bill

DAMASCUS, (ST) _The People's Assembly (PA) discussed on Sunday the Budget and Accounts Committee's report on the bill of the state budget for the 2013 fiscal year.

Addressing the MPs, the Committee's Chairman, Hussein Hassoun, said that the 2013 budget bill has been preparedwithin an exceptional conditions and challenges that negatively affected all its articles, particularly investments which are required to achieve economic and social development.

"In 2012, investment and current revenues reached up to SP520bln, while they decreased to SP450 bln in 2013. This would have negative effect on national economy and development process as whole," said Hassoun.

He added that the government should focus on achieving stability and security, ensuring more job opportunities, improving citizens' living standards, improving the infrastructure, and supporting the health and education sectors.

"The government's plan to increase public spending, which hit SP1108bln instead of SP 952bln, reflects its interest in social factor as a firm strategy to implement financial policy that aims to achieve social justice in the society," said Hassoun.

He noted that the government has allocated SP30bln for reconstructing public establishments and compositing citizens for damaged real-estates.

"The amount SP86 bln has been allocated as reserves for investment projects to be added to the budget of the public sector during the year if the allocated approbations are not sufficient for the projects," said Hassoun.

The report

According to SANA, the report underscored the necessity to allocate approbations of Defense Ministry and security forces to protect national security.

It called for issuing a new expropriation law, combatting all forms of corruption at all levels to protect the homeland, completing blueprints for organizing illegal areas, adopting urgent procedures to confront embargo, and expanding permissions of Board of Directors of companies and institutes.

Other topics related to improving the living conditions of state workers and pensioners, drawing up standards and mechanism to market stores of public industrial companies, setting up an employment fund to replace social aiddistribution, and installing swage treatment stations in all provinces to protect water sources from pollution were also mentioned in the report.

On the other hand, The PA denounced the terrorist attack on the Interior Ministry which took place on Wednesday, claiming a number of lives including the MP Abdullah Kayrouz.

The PA referred the MPs' written questions on different social and economic issues to the relevant authorities through the Cabinet.


Syrian officials brief UN representative on terrorists' crimes against children

DAMASCUS,(ST)_ UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, on Sunday held talks with Syrian officials on situation of displaced people in Syria, services being offered to them, and means of keeping children away from negative effect of the crisis.

According to SANA, Zerrougui praised the measures adopted by Education Ministry to ensure a regular run for educational process since the first day of the school year.

In a meeting with Education Minister, Zerrougui asserted the need for exerting more efforts to protect children and keep them away from the negative consequences of any crisis as they are the most affected group, noting that children are the only guarantee of societies' future.

For his part, the Minister talked about the damages caused by the armed terrorist groups to the educational sector in Syria, noting that 2362 schools in several provinces were damaged, plundered, and looted.

"In education sector, 112workers have been killed and other eight were kidnapped and mutilated by the terrorist groups," said Hazwan al-Wez.

He noted that 1956 schools have been opened as shelters for the displaced families affected by the armed terrorist acts, clarifying that the ministry has offered facilities as regards enrolling students with no official documents.

"School enrollment percentage ranged between 70 to 75%, while working hours of the teaching staffs reached 90%," said al-Wez

As for rehabilitating schools, al-Wez said: "In cooperation with international organizations, the ministry has repaired 355 schools and rehabilitated 117 ones in Damascus and its Countryside, Homs, Daraa and Hasaka," citing that other schools are still out of service due to the damage caused to their structures.

The minister also spoke of the crimes committed by the armed terrorist groups against schools, referring particularly to "al-Bteiha" School in al-"Waafideen Camp" and the booby-trapped car blast near "Mikhail Samaan" School in Qatana in Damascus Countryside.

"The Ministry is coordination with some international organizations to hold workshops on teaching, learning methods and means of providing social and psychological support," said al-Wez.

The minister submitted to Zerrougui a documentary film on terrorism against schools in Syria titled "ABC".

Social Affairs

In another meeting,,Zerrougui  discussed with Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Dr. Jassim Mohammad Zakarya, and Zerrougui efforts being exerted by the Higher Commission for Relief to alleviate  the affected citizens' suffering and deliver the humanitarian aid to all families.

Zakarya said that the displaced children temporary living in shelters were enrolled in schools near the shelters and provided with all requirements to continue their studies.

He added that the Higher Commission for Relief is offering support to all civil associations working in the relief field in order to carry out their duty in delivering aid to the affected families inside and outside the temporary shelters.

"The Ministry has recently formed a committee tooffer necessary care to children who lost their parents and women who have special problems, and to receive urgent cases through an operation room that is working around the clock,"said Zakarya.

He underscored that some international organizations have exploited the suffering of the Syrian families who were forced to flee the country due to the armed terrorist group's acts.

For her part, Zerrougui stressed the importance of paying more attention to women, children and poor families in order to protect them and ease their suffering.

Documented crimes

Later, Minister of Justice,Najm al-Ahmad, met with Zerrougui and stressed to her that the government has documented the armed terrorist groups' crimes against the Syrians and children in particular.

SANA quoted the minister as saying:" a number of documents reveal how the terrorist groups force children under 12 to take up arms and target citizens"

Talking about the case of the child Hamzeh al-Khatib,as an example, the mister clarified that the documented testimonies of his father and the coroner prove the groundlessfanfare roused by the media and the hostile parties which alleged that the Syrian Army was responsible for the killing of al-Khatib.

Al-Ahmad also talked about the case of Zainab al-Hassni,who the media claimed that she was kidnapped and killed by the army before these allegations were refuted.

"The government welcomes any effort that contributes to prevent the crimes perpetrated by the terrorist groups against the people in Syria, particularly children and women," said the minister, noting that the government will provide the UN committee with copies of what it has been documented regarding the terrorist groups' violations.

In this regard, Al-Ahmad noted the central independent judicial committee is investigating the crimes committed against the citizens to be referred to the judiciary which, in turn, is going tomake rulings to give the affected people their rights back.

The UN Representative asserted that her visit to Syria aims to inspect the reality of what is going on especially the situation of children, and to see how the UN could contribute to ease the suffering of citizens and children.

Zerrougui also focused on the necessityof adopting measures to guarantee the application of penalties against those committing crimes against children, noting that a committee has been formed in Syria to document those crimes by whatever side according to the UN rules and agreements.

Protecting civilians

Zerrougui's last meeting on Sunday was with the Chairwoman of the Syrian Commission for the Family Affairs Ensaf Hamad.

The talks dealt with the UN official means of protecting children and keeping them away from the negative repercussions of crisis.

During the meeting, Hamad briefed the UN official on the acts of the armed terrorist groups against civilians, particularly children, targeting schools, medical centers and medicine factories, affirming that the Commission is cooperating with the Ministry of Education to join all children to schools and enrolling them without any documents.

For her part, Zerrougui called for monitoring violations against civilians, particularly children, and documenting the acts of sabotage which target schools and medical centers to attach them with the reports to be presented to the team working with the UN.

"It is the necessary to stop violence, protect the civilians and work for solving the crisis from inside," said Zerrougui, hoping security and stability return to Syria.

Zerrougui arrived in Damascus on Friday on a four-day visit in response to an invitation by the Syrian government to assess the direct impact of the crisis in Syria on children.



We are Open to All Initiatives- Halqi

DAMASCUS, (ST) - Prime Minister, Dr. Wa’il al Halqi has assured the importance and the need to integrate the roles of political parties and national forces, strengthen and deepen communication and interaction with the public to face the conspiracy targeting Syria which aims to destabilize its security and stability.

During a meeting with Secretary General of the Syrian Social National Party, Issam Al Mahayri, and a number of members of the Polit-bureau and its representatives in Parliament, the Prime Minister said: "We continue with determination and optimism to resolve the battle of terrorism and to eliminate the remnants of armed terrorist groups thanks to the sacrifices and achievements of our armed troops. At the same time, we are open to all initiatives that will end the crisis through dialogue, political and peaceful means. Halqi reviewed the economic situation and some of the difficulties which the citizens are suffering from due to the economic blockade and targeting the economic, service, public and private establishments, as well as means of transport, mills, silos, bakeries,  plants and power transmission pointing out  to the great efforts being exerted by the government at various levels to secure the basic needs of citizens and provide humanitarian assistance to the affected families. “Despite the circumstances of the siege and the current situation, the government has enough storage of wheat and food supplies sufficient for the coming periods,” he stressed.

For his part, Mr. Al Mahayri noted the efforts being exerted by the government in securing the needs and basic requirements for citizens and lauded the steadfastness and sacrifice of the armed forces in the face of the conspiracy hatched against Syria, stressing the readiness of Syrian Social National Party and its contribution in shouldering national responsibility towards the risks and challenges facing Syria.

During the meeting, the two sides debated some of the issues, service demands and basic needs, whereas the Prime Minister stressed that all these issues of concern and the government is working to secure and provide these needs with all possible means.
Deputy Secretary General of the Party and State Minister for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Joseph Sweden attended the meeting.