Syria: There Is No Civil War Here

The country’s foreign minister tells the U.N. that the West is on the wrong side of Syria’s “war on terror.”

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.
National Journal
Marina Koren
Sept. 30, 2013, 12:46 p.m.

The ma­jor­ity of speeches by world lead­ers at this year’s United Na­tions Gen­er­al As­sembly de­bate have one thing in com­mon: They re­cog­nize the on­go­ing con­flict in Syr­ia.

With one day left in the weeklong con­fer­ence, Syr­ia took its turn at the po­di­um Monday at the U.N. headquar­ters in New York. The con­flict so many world lead­ers men­tioned, said Syr­i­an For­eign Min­is­ter Wal­id al-Moallem, isn’t a civil war — it’s a “war on ter­ror.” “There is no civil war in Syr­ia, but it is a war against ter­ror that re­cog­nizes no val­ues, nor justice, nor equal­ity, and dis­reg­ards any rights or laws,” he said. The lead­er then painted a grue­some pic­ture for the Gen­er­al As­sembly:

The scenes of murder, man­slaughter, and eat­ing hu­man hearts were shown on TV screens, but did not touch blind con­sciences. In my coun­try, Mr. Pres­id­ent, there are in­no­cent ci­vil­ians whose heads are put on the grill just be­cause they vi­ol­ate the ex­trem­ist ideo­logy and de­vi­ant views of al-Qaida. In Syr­ia, ladies and gen­tle­men, there are mur­der­ers who dis­mem­ber hu­man bod­ies in­to pieces while still alive and send their limbs to their fam­il­ies, just be­cause those cit­izens are de­fend­ing a uni­fied and sec­u­lar Syr­ia.

The “mur­der­ers” re­ferred to here are mem­bers of the Syr­i­an op­pos­i­tion, which Moallem, as well as his sup­port­ers such as Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin, say were be­hind the Aug. 21 chem­ic­al-weapons at­tack that re­portedly killed more than 1,400 ci­vil­ians. And the rebels, he said, got the sar­in gas used in the at­tack from “re­gion­al and West­ern coun­tries that are well-known to all of us.”

Moallem said the same ter­ror­ism that led to 9/11 is the root of the Syr­i­an con­flict. “How can some coun­tries, hit by the same ter­ror­ism we are suf­fer­ing now in Syr­ia, claim to fight ter­ror­ism in all parts of the world, while sup­port­ing it in my coun­try?” “Some coun­tries” in­clude the United States, France, Italy, the United King­dom and Tur­key.

Last Decem­ber, Pres­id­ent Obama re­cog­nized the op­pos­i­tion, known as the Na­tion­al Co­ali­tion of Syr­i­an Re­volu­tion­ary and Op­pos­i­tion Forces, “as the le­git­im­ate rep­res­ent­at­ive of the Syr­i­an people.” The U.S. con­cluded a month ago that the Syr­i­an gov­ern­ment, not the op­pos­i­tion, was be­hind the chem­ic­al at­tacks. A U.N. in­vest­ig­a­tion con­firmed the use of sar­in gas, but did not de­term­ine who was be­hind the at­tacks.

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