The German Middle East expert Jürgen Todenhöfer admonishes the West for a restraint in Syria. A military intervention would just strengthen the extremists and al-Qaeda. After the Israeli missile attack on the Syrian capital Damascus, the war in Syria could escalate into a real conflagration.
While Israel is preparing for fights, the pressure on U.S. President Barack Obama to intervene militarily in Syria grows.
But also the Syrian opposition becomes more and more radical, extremist forces are playing an increasing role, warns the German Middle East expert Jürgen Todenhöfer, who has visited Syria six times since the conflict has started and also had several talks with the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Jürgen Todenhöfer gave a new interview to the German news DerWesten.de. In this interview, the expert on affairs in the Middle East has clearly warned about any intervention in Syria and said that such an military intervention would only strengthen the radical al Qaeda and al Nusra forces within Syria.
The following is the 1:1 translation of this recent interview with the known German Middle East expert and author Jürgen Todenhöfer.
Question: The rebels and the government blame each other for the use of poison gas in the Syrian civil war. Is now threatening an escalation of the conflict?
Jürgen Todenhöfer: President Assad has invited representatives of the UN – especially to investigate the incidents in Aleppo. He has also sent chemical samples to Russia to let them analyze these samples. This shows that he is trying to clarify the circumstances. It does not suggest that he himself has used poison gas (commanded to use poison gas).
Question: You believe it were the rebels?
Jürgen Todenhöfer: There is so far no evidence. Two weeks ago, I was in Damascus and spoke with Assad. He told me analogously: How stupid do they think we are that we would risk further interventions. Even the people on the street do not believe that Syria could be so foolish to really use chemical weapons.
Question: Who is behind the accusations?
Jürgen Todenhöfer: This seems to be a similar staging as it happened with Iraq, in order to pull President Obama over the so-called red line. Actually a bad game in order to be able to construct a pretext for an intervention.
Question: How should the West now behave? Would it not be time for a military intervention to stop the bloodshed?
Jürgen Todenhöfer: Whom should the West attack? Assad’s soldiers? Whom would that help, apart from Al Qaeda? At the beginning it was still an uprising by democratically-minded people in Syria. But that is long gone. There is no more a democratic uprising in Syria. Qatar and Saudi Arabia support extremist fighters, particularly Al Nusra, the Syrian Al-Qaeda branch, with money and weapons. In the hope that they spread their radical Islamist ideologies.
Question: What we are experiencing now is a mixture of a bloody religious war and a proxy war against Iran. This is a war, openly led from the outside. Weapons come en masse into the country.
What would happen if Assad would be overthrown or killed?
Jürgen Todenhöfer: This can happen every day. But if Assad would be attacked by the U.S., then there would a worldwide cheer by Al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have dramatically boosted Al Qaeda. I have seen Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. This organization became a Giant only now in Syria. It would be irresponsible by the West, to continue to strengthen Al Qaeda. If Assad is being removed, the chaos would be much greater.
Question: How could the war be ended without military intervention?
Jürgen Todenhöfer: Is the West only able to react with bombs and sanctions? Why don’t they try it with negotiations? You’d have to stop the arms deliveries by Qatar and Saudi Arabia immediately and to begin peace negotiations, to develop a new democratic constitution and then to perform a free, internationally observed election. And besides this, you have to make it clear for Israel, that it has no right to fire rockets at Syria.
Question: What is the role of Germany in this conflict?
Jürgen Todenhöfer: Germany plays a pleasantly restrained role and warns of the dangerous consequences of the weapons deliveries for the entire region The modest role of Germany is good for the Syrian people, for the opposition as well as for government supporters. And for Germany.