Syria has been the scene of violence by armed groups since March 2011. The violence has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, including many security forces.
The Syrian government says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Kevin Barrett, author and Islamic studies expert, to further discuss the issue.
The video also offers the opinion of an additional guest: Lawrence J. Korb from the Center for American Progress.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Why do you think Syria has come under such a fierce campaign by the West, Washington’s Arab allies and Turkey?
Barrett: Well this is part of a destabilization campaign in the Middle East and I think there are two overall strategic reasons for this. One is that the US empire is trying to consolidate its position worldwide as it has been eclipsed by the fastest growing economies of the BRIC countries and secondly I think that the hard line like…Zionist in Israel are hoping to redraw the map of the Middle East in a way that is more favorable to them while they have the chance in their using American military power to do it.
And Zionists I think are hoping to break these countries up into smaller units that would never be able to pose any kind of strategic threat to Israel and we have seen this happen with Sudan, we have seen it happen to a certain extent with Iraq and we might see it happen in spades in Syria because Syria is perhaps the most right candidate for this kind of destabilization.
There are ethnic divisions, there are confessional divisions in Syria, they can be exploited by the masters of empire in their dividing conquer strategy and that is what they are doing and it is a tragedy that the Muslims of Syria in particular and the Christians as well are falling for this and in particular that the hard line Sunni Muslims who are sometimes called al-Qaeda, many of them are playing the game of the Zionist-American empire.
They have done this before, these are the same people who have run drugs for the CIA and harassed the Russians on paramilitary missions for the CIA and today some of these same people are back, are taking money and funding and direction from the US and Zionist empire in this war in Syria and it is a real tragedy.
I think Muslims need to unite against this kind of imperial meddling and against this kind of Zionist destabilization of the Middle East.
Press TV: Mr. Barrett the debate is going towards the fact that the opposition is trying to gain the upper hand in Syria. I mean we have referendum that was held in Syria and the reforms have been made there, why has this gone unseen in Syria?
Barrett: Well I think that the big international media, the Western media in particular is presenting only one side of the story here and I would like to take issue with one thing the other guest said which is that he is claiming that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are Muslim countries who are presumably not acting on behalf of any outside interest and of course that is complete nonsense.
Turkey is a member of NATO and it has been run by these hard line operation Gladio of NATO people forever who controlled Turkey partly through drug smuggling and criminality and yes, Turkey does have a more democratic and Islamic government now than it did in the past but the reason that it is taking NATO’s side in Syria is not because the Muslims of Turkey want that, it is because NATO is leaning on Turkey likewise Saudi Arabia is a puppet of the Zionist-American empire that props up the Western financial system by putting all of its oil money into the American dollar and in other ways helping to prop up the Western financial system.
And so these actors are not acting on behalf of the global Muslim community. They are acting on behalf of the American-Zionist empire which is ultimately controlled by eight big banking families.
So let us be very clear about that. The plan to destabilize Syria is a lot bigger than just the fact that asserts many of the Syrian people want reform and I agree with them . Syria needs reform, Syria does need a kind of a compromise between the different factions and it needs to change but the trend towards a foreign funded terrorist war on the government in Syria is a terribly destructive trend.
The only possible outcome of this as President Putin recently said is eternal civil war in Syria and this would be a horrifying prospect, anybody who cares about the outcome for the Syrian people. It might be a good prospect if you are somebody like Netanyahu who wants Syria to be taken out of the equation, wants Syria to not have any kind of military strength or unity with which it could confront the stolen Golan Heights and demand the rights of the Palestinian people.
So I think if the opposition in Syria had made the smart move and not accepted all of this military help from the outside and turned to terrorism, if instead they had bravely continued to demonstrate peacefully and they were brutally suppressed a couple of times but they should have kept with that high road as to the people of Tunisia and Egypt, and when certain groups in Syria did not and decided to join with this terrorist version on behalf of the Zionists and the Americans, this was a terrible, terrible mistake and I hope that it can still be rectified.
Press TV: Mr. Barrett, we have the West, the Arab League is in Turkey obviously seeking a regime change in Syria. Why is there this obsession with getting rid of the Bashar al-Assad government? Let me put forward the quotes to you by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, he says that ‘we fear that if the current government is toppled by non-constitutional means, the opposition and the current government might simply swap places’?
Barrett: That is a good point and then there will be a civil war in the future. It is a terrible situation and you ask why is there this dedication to destabilizing Syria and pushing for regime change in Syria? And the answer is that these outside powers that are arming the armed gangs that are fighting against the Assad government in Syria are not interested in democratic rights of the Syrian people, they are obviously not interested in democratic rights of the people of Arabian Peninsula either.
Instead what they are interested in is destabilizing Syria, it is a thorn in the side of Israel and they are also interested in getting Syria out of the way of a perspective war on Iran or at least military pressure on Iran.
So it is a strategic move, it is certainly not any genuine concern with human rights and democracy.
Press TV: Mr. Barrett, the West says it is concerned according to Mr. Korb [the other guest of the program], the West is concerned about Syria but why isn’t it concerned about Bahrain or Saudi Arabia?
Barrett: Well again it is a strategic thing. I do not really believe the other guest is completely convinced by his own rhetoric, I am sure that he has gone to school long enough to learn that international strategic relations are governed by matters other than sort of concern with democracy and human rights for the Syrian people that he professes.
In fact the regimes in the [Persian] Gulf oil states are at least as oppressive and unrepresentative of their people as the Syrian government and the West is far from trying to push for any kind of democratization in those countries particularly Bahrain which is the base of US Fifth Fleet I believe and there it is the Khalifa regime is being propped up by the West in the face of a genuine peaceful popular uprising whereas over in Syria we have what may have begun as a peaceful popular uprising quickly morphing into a terrorist war against the regime supported by outside players.
And this is pretty outrageous. I mean if here in the US we had other countries funding terrorist attacking the US government that would be universally reviled and likewise I think that if outside Paris were meddling in any other country it would likewise be reviled.
I am not really sure where these masters of empire in places like Washington DC ever got the right to decide which nations can be destabilized by terrorism, by outside players and that is okay whereas other nations would never allow that to happen and I think ultimately it is just a matter of power, it might make rights and that is what is really going on and what I am hearing from this other guest really I am sorry to say, it sounds like just rank, it is admitting the stench of rank hypocrisy just like almost everything else we are hearing from the Western capitals these days.