Armed groups continue to carry out random terrorist attacks in Syria despite a ceasefire that took effect on April 12 and the presence of the UN observers in the crisis-hit country.
The ceasefire in Syria was part of a six-point peace plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan in March.
The first group of the UN observers arrived in Damascus late on April 15. The observers were approved for the mission according to UNSC Resolution 2042 passed on April 14.
On April 21, the UN Security Council met and unanimously voted on Resolution 2043 to send a mission of 300 observers to Syria.
Press TV has conducted an interview with political analyst and filmmaker, Sukant Chandan to further discuss the issue.
The video also offers the opinions of author and Middle East affairs expert Saeb Shaath.
What follows is a rough transcript of the Interview.
Press TV: Mr. Chandan, attacks are intensifying, they are even becoming more sophisticated despite the announced ceasefire. Now these protesters who have taken up arms- who are they?
Chandan: These are people who are being emboldened and most likely trained and backed by the Western white power structure or imperialism whatever you want to call it.
The fact is that even though there is no open and direct Western military intervention in Syria, imperialism is at war with Syria because this perhaps is somehow a misunderstanding of the nature of imperialism including by the anti-war movement in England- another place in the West itself.
The West as an entity it lives off a constant war against the people of Global South including the people of Syria, Palestine, Iran, etc, for over five centuries.
So currently in Syria there is a war, it is an economic war through sanctions, it is a cultural and media war and in this regard I like to congratulate the Iranian authorities for having arrested the Reuters bureau chief in Tehran for the lies that she was responsible from purporting because these are not journalists, these are war propagandists.
Press TV: Mr. Shaath, you are saying that there is a scenario at work and it is being implemented now to instigate civil war in Syria to start a military intervention.
Now, Mr. Chandan one point that we are hearing constantly said by the United Nations right now that its observers are in Syria is from [UN Secretary General] Mr. Ban Ki-moon himself and the United Nations for the Syrian government to stop fighting and at the same time the Syrian government is saying, “when I am being attacked by armed groups what option do I have? I have to defend myself.”
So what can prevent this from escalating into civil war?
Chandan: I am not sure what can prevent it but I think the Syrian state is absolutely right in trying to protect the security of its citizens.
I mean to be honest, what can stop this happening, is the countries which are supporting Syria which has enabled Syria to withstand and to kind of defy and reject an imperialist intervention which is primarily Russia and China.
And Russia and China need to basically go on the offensive really if they want to protect not only Syria but other countries of the Global South that are being targeted in a time when William Hague, the British foreign minister openly says that he is supporting the opposition by “nonlethal means.”
I mean what is nonlethal means? I mean nonlethal means can help the lethal means; they can be radio communication equipment, etc.
But frankly I am sure they are doing more than that and that’s only what he is admitting to, when Qatar is admitting to this, when Saudi Arabia is admitting to this and we will know other reactionary forces in the region are supporting the opposition.
The Syrian government and wider than that, the people of the global south have absolute right to defend themselves as much as possible.
So really Russia is the only safeguard to Syria and any other country of the Global South to be able to protect its independence, which is the most precious thing for any, any given country of the Global South.
Press TV: Mr. Saeb Shaath if I could just jump in here, if I may, you say that looking at the situation in Syria, you say that it is not a good idea for president Assad to step down now, that it’s not a good idea to have a transitional government because Syria needs to defend itself at this point.
Mr. Chandan what is your view on this? Because if the Syrian president, President Assad, opponents would say, could have solved this why hasn’t he been able to do that?
He has announced a new constitution, he has announced a presidential election, but still he has not been able to calm the situation.
What is preventing President Assad from doing that? Do you agree with his opponents who say it’s Assad himself is the problem?
Chandan: What I am not saying is there is an internal contradiction in Syria that needs to be resolved and there needs to be a healthy opposition, a democratic opposition that engages with the regime.
That is all there but this is turning into something totally different, this is turning to a project of regime change as brother Saeb is saying in Belfast, as a rolling war machine, that is going to visit Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Palestinian resistance, Iran and beyond that Russia and China.
So this is not a question of whether Assad steps down or not. This is a question whether the West can smash Syria as the last resistant Arab state to Zionism-imperialism in the region.
I mean look at Libya, what has Libya turned into? And what was Libya all about, I would argue, from the first weeks of pro-NATO rebellion it has turned into a launch pad for further regime change from imperialism
You have the audaciousness of imperialism and their allies in Syria organizing 150-ton-load of weapons of a boat that was loaded in Benghazi in Libya, then went to Tripoli in Lebanon and luckily and thankfully the Lebanese army foiled that attempt to in arming the opposition.
So this is what we are faced with, and Ghaddafi said himself in the last summer that the resistance in Libya against NATO is defending Syria and Iran as well.
So really the whole third world, the whole Global South has to stop this war machine in Syria but the point of what imperialism is trying to do in Syria is, obviously their ideal situation is regime change in Syria.
But inside of an attack on Iran, destabilizing Syria, softening it up is enough for them for their war preparations against Iran.
So this is the great danger. So where some people are perhaps thinking well, now Russia and China are supporting Syrian independence we have some breathing space.
This breathing space really has to be a moment where we up our vigilance, up our militancy and preparedness against the plans of empire in the region.
Press TV: Mr. Chandan, when you say that at the same time that there may be plans for a foreign military intervention in Syria, for instance we are hearing some officials in the United States saying that we can’t go into another war, this is going to be another military adventure that is too costly for America.
Will America get itself involved in a Libya-style solution in Syria, do you think?
Chandan: I think the key is when you said a Libya-style solution because the Western white power structure what it always prefers is that its regime change is done by collaborators among the NATOs themselves and that is exactly what happened in Libya, that is what they are trying to do in Syria and that is what they tried to do before in using the green movement in Iran to effect some kind of regime change or at least some kind of fundamental political change in Iran that is to their benefits.
And I mean Turkey has- I mean the nation of Turkey in providing safe bases along the border region with Syria for the armed opposition to prepare itself to go back into Syria to train Syrian rebels on Turkish soil it is all there.
But forget Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Qatar for example, I mean Qatar is now infamous for being a tiny little island created by the British that is doing the bidding of Zionism-imperialism throughout the region.
But the French foreign minister has said that military intervention is still on the cards and whereas we have some semblances of the breathing space right now because Russia and China said no, put their VETO in the Security Council in relation to Syria.
What we still find is that even president Obama is saying in terms of the negotiations with the Iranian government, he is saying this is the last chance for any type of peaceful settlement with the Iranians.
So the rhetoric is still very aggressive and very much warlike.
Press TV: So would you say that right now Kofi Annan’s peace initiative in Syria has failed? Would you use that term and if so where does this leave the Syrian situation?
Chandan: I would not quite say that Kofi Annan’s peace initiative has failed because of the geopolitical situation I think the peace plan was a de facto admission by the West that they could not conduct the type of regime change they wanted in the timeframe that they wanted.
So I think, I mean it is a double-edged sword, isn’t it? Because in terms of UN observers, I’m always haunted by the infamous UN observers in Iraq and we know where that led to, that absolutely devastating war against the Iraqi nation.
I do not think it is failed just as yet, but obviously there is a big chest game going within this Kofi Annan peace plan in terms of how the Syrian opposition can use it now and whose interest is it to let off these terrorist bombs in Syria?
It is obviously not the Syrian government because they have a vested interest in actually a peaceful solution ASAP to the conflict.
The interests are in imperialism and its regional allies, al-Qaeda itself as you quoted journalist Lizzie Phelan said in the introduction, al-Qaeda itself had admitted to these attacks but really we have to think, we have to question whose role is al-Qaeda playing?
It is playing in destabilizing roles in whose interest? In Zionism-imperialism. Al-Qaeda was formed in 1996; it was supposed to be Islamic international front against the “crusaders and Jews, i.e. Zionism-imperialism.”
But today since Libya clearly we are finding that al-Qaeda and those supporting al-Qaeda are completely inline and facilitating and helping, as in the case of Tripoli military commander for NATO Mr. Behladj who is actually the ground troops for NATO against our countries.
Press TV: And another question that is frequently asked about the situation in Syria is the opposition in Syria- who they are? How split or divided they are? Which groups are being backed by the West and which groups are not?
For instance we have the SNC, the Syrian National Council; it is becoming a bit notorious over allegations that it is following the lead of the United States, the West and some regional countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar and there is one part of the opposition that is totally against foreign intervention whereas the SNC is not against that- they’re actually calling for intervention.
How is the split do you think in the opposition going to affect the future of the Syrian crisis?
Chandan: I think you are right in as much as the opposition is split, there is a section of opposition that are not into armed opposition to the Syrian regime.
But nevertheless there are legitimate grievances of the Syrian people like there are legitimate grievances of the people in every country in the world.
It could be your favorite country but there are still legitimate grievances of people there.
But in a situation where you have the greater power in the opposition is allied to the interest of Zionism-imperialism and reactionary Arab states.
Even those sections of the opposition that may have sympathy for- I mean the sensible and obvious rational option for them is to step away from opposing the Syrian regime, to close ranks actually with the Syrian government, however distasteful that may be to some sections of the opposition.
But you know, it is perhaps less distasteful to close ranks with the Syrian regime than is to end up having a situation like that perhaps in Iraq or definitely perhaps that in Libya today.