mounting international pressure, Syria Sunday asserted that it
will not allow itself to be invaded like Libya and rubbished the
opposition as a rag-tag collection of Al Qeada elements and rank
criminals who are supported by the West in league with some
powerful Arab nations.
"In 16 days, the political system collapsed in Tunisia. In 18
days, the system collapsed in Egypt. Libya took much longer to go,
and that was because of foreign intervention," Fayssal Mekdad,
Syria's vice minister of foreign affairs, told select journalists
in the Syrian capital.
"We don't want Syria to be invaded. We will find a peaceful
solution to the situation," Mekdad, also Syria's former Permanent
Representative to the UN, said amid opposition activists' claims
of government troops pounding a Damascus suburb, a charge denied
Mekdad, a suave, seasoned diplomat known for bating for Syria in
international fora, pointed out that foreign intervention has
destroyed Libya, but asserted that "Syria will not go the Libya
He blamed the Western powers and their Arab allies like Saudi
Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for funding and arming the opposition in
Syria and underlined that they are under instructions to unleash
chaos in the Middle East country.
The armed opposition, according to Mekdad, are characterized by
divisions and are fragmentary that makes it difficult for the
Syrian government to open dialogue with them. The opposition, said
Mekdad, consists of some Al Qaeda elements that came from Syria,
Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood which are
being funded by foreign powers.
"The Al Qaeda elements and the Muslim Brotherhood are in a
minority. Most of the opposition consists of criminals, drug
addicts, smugglers and former prisoners," he said.
"Billions of dollars are being spent by Saudi Arabia and Qatar for
funding armed opposition who are killing civilians and targeting
Syrian police and armed forces," he said.
Mekdad, however, drew a distinction between armed opposition and
political opposition which will be participating in the May 7
Underlining Syria's commitment to the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi
Annan's six-point peace plan, Mekdad blamed the opposition for not
keeping part of its bargain by resorting to relentless violence.
He was speaking a day after the UN Security Council unanimously
approved a resolution in New York Saturday, which seeks to expand
the number of UN cease-fire observers in Syria from 30 to 300. The
resolution also calls for an immediate end to the violence by both
the government forces and opposition activists.
Why is Syria being targeted? Mekdad alleged that the West was
targeting Syria, a multi-religious and multi-cultural country of
24 million people, because it's the only part of the region that
they have not succeeded in controlling.
"Syria is the last state in the region that supports the Arab
cause. The moment Syria collapses, the Palestinian cause will be
finished," said Mekdad, while accusing Arab nations like Saudi
Arabia and others for compromising the Palestinian cause.
He claimed that although the UN says 11,000 people have been
killed since the Arab Spring-like protests began in Syria 13
months ago, the majority of casualties included Syrian security
forces, police and civilians.
"At least 6,000 Syrian people have been killed by armed terrorist
groups," he said.
(Manish Chand can be reached at email@example.com)