The assessment of the security, military, and political situation inside Syria publicly expressed by the US is completely divorced from reality, Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of Pan-African News Wire, told RT, calling it a PR campaign for US Senators.
RT: The US recognized the Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people back in 2012. Why is it giving them even more recognition right now?
Abayomi Azikiwe: It has to actually do a lot with the political and military situation on the ground in Syria. The rebels have suffered a tremendous amount of setbacks over the last year and a half. Of course, last year the US was on the verge of launching a major aerial bombardment of Syria, but due to the diplomatic efforts of Russia and other forces – including anti-war peace movements inside the US and Europe – they were forced to hold off on their eminent decision to carry out an aerial strike against Syria. This is the method to put Syria’s opposition back at the top of the agenda as far as US foreign policy is concerned, and at the same time possibly give them a boost in light of a series of setbacks in the last few months.
RT: State Department representative Marie Harf has hailed the group’s activity for building “an inclusive and moderate institution” that represents the “interests and needs of the Syrian people, rejects extremism, and works to advance a negotiated political transition in Syria.” What do you make of this?
Abayomi Azikiwe: It totally contradicts most reports we’ve received from inside Syria. The main forces that have been fighting Bashar Assad have not been these purported liberal and pseudo-democratic interests, but those of the radical Islamist extremists who have been trained and who have been sent into the country via Turkey as well as sections of Lebanon. So this assessment of the current security, military, and political situation inside Syria is totally divorced from reality and I believe it is geared towards popular support for these opposition groups within the US Congress, as well as among the public inside this country.
AFP Photo / Mohammed Al-Khatieb
RT: The move comes as the nation prepares for elections, which are seen by many as a milestone. Could such a move affect the outcome?
Abayomi Azikiwe: I don’t think it can at all. These opposition groups have demonstrated repeatedly at the ease of the US and other western European countries that they are not interested in a negotiated political settlement of the conflict in Syria. At the same time, they do not have the capacity on the ground militarily to effectively challenge the Syrian government, so therefore they are in a quagmire since they have no electoral strategy in regard to the upcoming election in Syria. This place is even further away from the actual body of politics inside Syria itself.
RT: The US announced that it is boosting only non-lethal aid but did not elaborate. The SNC’s office said that sophisticated weapons supplies would be discussed. Why would the US consider pouring even more arms into Syria right now?
Abayomi Azikiwe: Because of the desperate situation of the rebel organizations inside Syria, they have been given a tremendous amount of offensive operations by the Syrian national army and we believe that they are on the verge of complete collapse. There have been splits within the armed ranks of the rebel forces. And this of course has weakened their capacity to even put up a good front, as relates to carrying out battles against the Syrian government. Right now, even according to official sources, the US has poured nearly $300 million into these rebel groups, trying to build them up into a reputable force to challenge the Syrian government. But I think it has not been successful and I think the American people should realize [the money is] not being well spent vis-a-vis the situation in Syria and that the US State Department should put more emphasis, along with the Russian government, on reaching some kind of political settlement regarding the situation in Syria.