Reshuffle of Syria opposition will not fix US failures: Analyst
Interview with James Jatras, former US Senate foreign policy advisor, Washington
I do not think that this so-called broadening or shaking up these groups in a bag and dumping them out in a somewhat different formation will change this failure from what it has been up till now.”
The United States will not succeed in rectifying its failures in Syria by simply broadening and reshuffling the opposition groups in the Arab country, a former US Senate foreign policy advisor tells Press TV
The main Syrian opposition bloc, known as the Syrian National Council (SNC), has yielded to US pressure and agreed to revamp its structure to accommodate 13 new groups. Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the SNC unrepresentative of opposition forces, saying that the group can no longer be viewed as a viable leader of the opposition.
Press TV has interviewed James Jatras, former US Senate foreign policy advisor from Washington to discuss the issue. What follows is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Two hundred new members, 20 old members have been kept, 293 of the previous secretariat members have been removed. Why are not they representative anymore in the US opinion?
Jatras: Because I think they are rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic here, that the policy has reached impasse, that it is clear that the groups we are supporting are essentially terrorist groups.
We see from the bombings that have occurred just today inside Syria in Hama and in Damascus that these are not militarily capable of bringing down the Assad government and they need to try to do something else and blame disunity and infighting for the failure of the Obama administration’s policy here.
But I do not think that this so-called broadening or shaking up these groups in a bag and dumping them out in a somewhat different formation will change this failure from what it has been up till now.
Press TV: Right, but considering that the SNC [so-called Syrian National Council] was supposed to be the body that ensures Syria’s transition to democracy in the West’s opinion, where does this leave the legitimacy of the SNC when the US can come and rearrange the members as it wills, if its political demands are not being met?
Jatras: Well, I think that they key word you just used, is ’supposed’, it was supposed to be that.
Why it was supposed to be that? Because the United States and Saudi Arabia and Turkey and Qatar say it is.
Does that mean really is? Does that mean it really has the support inside Syria? Does that mean that it really has any kind of a viable political program or even unity among its various factions?
No, it does not and Mrs. Clinton can wave her magic wand and say things of what she wants them to be, all she wants, but it will not make them so.
This policy has reached impasse, I hope that tomorrow we will elect a new president, Mr. Romney, and that by the time he takes office in January we will be prepared to leave this failed policy behind and think of something new.
Press TV: But considering that the previous form of the SNC was so dysfunctional, would this new form with the new members be any different?
Jatras: No I do not see any reason to believe that and if you look at the broader context of Syria that I think we are only going to go into an even worse morass of violence and chaos here.
I mentioned the bombings that occurred today, we now have fighting among the Palestinian groups [inside Syria], we now have fighting between rebel factions at the border crossing into Turkey.
There is every evidence that the support for these factions is becoming completely untenable now and these cosmetic changes are not going to change that.
Press TV: What do you make of the fact that there has been a lot of criticisms of the SNC with regards to unity and getting their acts together? But it is also the question of them not being on the ground in Syria, not being in touch with ordinary Syrians and what they want.
Does this also bring about, sort of, an illegitimacy of this group in the eyes of the ordinary Syrians, whom they are supposed to be representing?
Jatras: Absolutely. Look, let us be honest, of course there are many, many Syrians, a broad swathe of the Syrian population does not like the Assad government, there is also a broad swathe of the population that does like the Assad government or at least will support it when threatened by these rebels.
This is why there is a civil war but that does not mean that these various groups that may attach a fancy name to themselves have any broad support. We have seen the failure, for example, of trying to parachute in émigrés into Iraq after the United States occupied that country that did not work so well and let us not forget the role of foreign fighters that have been introduced into Syria, that are a very substantial element in the anti-Assad forces.
As I say this thing is becoming even more chaotic and more confused; as time goes on we have to hit the reset button here.