April 1, 2013

Fahad al-Masri is a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army who signed the FSA’s statement over the weekend calling out the Muslim Brotherhood for ‘excessive influence’ in the National Coalition. He spoke with SAS reporter Ahmed Kwider via Skype.

Q: Syrian activists and members of opposition say behind closed doors that the Muslim Brotherhood dominates the Coalition. You openly said that. Why now?

A: This is a turning point for the Syrian revolution. We have had enough of the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to hijack the revolution in Syria. This is something that we, in the leadership of the Free Syrian Army, completely refuse.  Every free Syrian will not accept these practices that have nothing to do with democracy. We refuse the hijacking of this revolution by any political party.

This revolution was not made by the Muslim Brotherhood or any opposition group. This revolution was made by the Syrian people. It was made by Syrian mothers. It was made by Hamza al-Khatib and the children of Houla. It was made by all Syria’s martyrs. We refuse the exploitation of the blood of our children and martyrs. After 3-5 million people have been internally displaced and more than a million people have become refugees; Syria is now destroyed, yet, they still try to hijack the revolution.

Our message to the Muslim Brotherhood is that our current criticism now is a constructive one. We criticize to construct. Thus we appeal to them, as fellow citizens who have equal rights like all Syrians, to go back to their normal size. They must act like any opposition group in Syria. They must realize the FSA will not allow them mount the Syrian people’s blood. We will not allow them.

Q: American thought leaders claim that the problems within the opposition show that they will not be able to rule Syria in the future. What do you think is the solution?

A: It’s true the Syrian opposition is divided. First, Syrians haven’t practiced politics in more than four decades. Second, the Muslim Brotherhood has worked on dividing the opposition from within to hijack the Syrian revolution.

If the Muslim Brotherhood wants to show good will, they should expand the Coalition to include all groups in the Syrian opposition without any exclusion. Thus, Hito’s government will not succeed even if it was made of angels because the Syrian people were not consulted. We don’t have a personal problem with Mr. Hito, he is a Syrian man who has equal rights.

Q: What do you mean by consulting the Syrian people? Do you mean elections?

A: We cannot have elections now considering that the Syrian regime has not fallen. Thus, we should expand the National Coalition to include all opposition groups inside and abroad and engineer an integrated national project without any exclusion.

They [the Muslim Brotherhood] wants two governments, one in the north and the other in the south. That imposes a great threat on Syria. That means the Syrian crisis will last for more than 10 years. The Syrian revolutionary government must be based in Damascus, the capital, not in the liberated areas. The rebels are capable of running the liberated areas, so they don’t need Hito or anyone else. Thus, Hito’s government will not succeed.

We demand that the Coalition’s embassy in Qatar be named “the embassy of the Syrian Arab Republic” and not the Coalition’s embassy. The Coalition is not a state, but an assembly of some opposition groups. Naming the embassy like this will undermine the Syrian state and the Syrian people.

Q: We know that the ministry of defense in the transitional government will work on arming the FSA and running the liberated areas. Shouldn’t the FSA cooperate with Hito’s government at this difficult stage?

A:   This stage is difficult and the Muslim Brotherhood’s domination is making it more difficult. Our message to the Muslim Brotherhood is to come back to their senses. Syria has been destroyed. Where are they taking Syria? We need a salvation project. We need to save a diverse Syria. We want Syria for Alawites, Christians, Druze, Arabs and Kurds. All the elements of Syria must have an opinion for its future. We refuse exclusion and alienation. We must all partner for Syria’s future.

I will say something that many might disagree with: Every drop of blood shed in Syria is a loss, regardless of who loses it, whether with the regime or the revolution. The joint command of the FSA cares for this blood. Every soldier who falls is our victim, whether they fight with the FSA or the regime. The Syrian regime’s strategy is to drive compatriots to fight one another. We need a salvation project that works on toppling the regime but saving the Syrian state.

Q: What are the reactions you received on your statement from people inside Syria and from the Muslim Brotherhood?

A: The statement made by the joint command of the FSA was welcomed by all political and revolutionary forces inside Syria. I mean the real revolutionary forces, and not the committees and groups formed by the Muslim Brotherhood. We have received tens of letters supporting this statement since yesterday.

We will not allow any group to impose their agenda on the Syrian people, regardless of how much support they get from other countries.

Q: The Muslim Brotherhood has accused you of exclusion and imposing the agendas of Arab and foreign countries.

A: It seems the Muslim Brotherhood has not comprehended the message. They still have a midieval mentality. They didn’t learn from the Islamist experience in Turkey. They’ve been away from Syria for decades, yet, they have not learned from the democracies in the countries where they’ve lived.

Once the Syrian regime falls, we will settle scores with every politician who abused the financial assistance to the Syrian people. Now we have warlords. Some people are benefiting from Syrians’ starvation. We want a true revolutionary government that is closer to Hamza al-Khatib and the children of Houla.