Yazbek to El Espanol: “For me, women are the real fighters of this war”

23 November 2015 120 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Yazbek-ElEspanolInterview conducted by Maria Torens, for El Espanol, November 12th, 2015
Photo credit: El Espanol

While hundreds of thousands of Syrians are fleeing their country to seek asylum in neighboring countries and Europe, you went the opposite direction in 2012 and 2013. It sounds crazy.

The situation was not so complicated. DAESH [acronym in Arabic the self-styled Islamic State] had not yet entered Syria. I was determined to come back and settle in our country. It was the beginning of the drift toward tragedy. Now I have also gone into exile [in France].

When were you there and saw that the conflict would lead to the Islamic State?

In 2012 the Free Syrian Army had a strong presence. Jihadists were not as strong. Unfortunately opening the border with Turkey and Iraq allowed access to numerous Islamist terrorists. And every time I passed the border into Syria, I saw the number extremist fighters in the country increasing.

You have had the courage to go back several times in a Syria at war, as few journalists have done so. What prompted you to do so?

I see no value in it, for me it is normal. In 2011 I left Syria and some northern areas began to fall into the hands of the revolutionaries and I thought that if I returned to northern Syria, I could live well there, and take part to the transition process in my country.

Before Syria became a scene of a destructive fight for international interests, we had taken to the streets in peaceful demands for democratic reforms.

Before Syria became a scene of a destructive fight for international interests, we had taken to the streets in peaceful demands for democratic reforms.

 

Do you think then, that the intervention of the international community made the situation worse?

What has made matters worse is the conflict of interests of global and regional powers in the area. For example, if Turkey had not opened its border to jihadists fighters or had there been a strong response against Assad’s government’s use of chemical weapons, instead of keeping silence. For four years, the Syrians were attacked and bombarded and the international community did nothing.

There is also the negative factor of with the intervention of regional powers in the area, supporting Islamist terrorist groups, the intervention of the Lebanese party Hezbollah, Iran, the recent Russian attack on civilians and the Free Syrian Army … Syria has become a war scenario between these powers.

With regard to the intervention of Western countries, do you think they have taken too long to intervene or do you think they should not have intervened in any case?

Politically, the Syrian civil society has had no support from Western countries. Now that Syria’s tragedy also derives from the massive influx of refugees into Europe, that has changed a little. But there is still need for support to the Syrian people.

Militarily, the Free Syrian Army has not had sufficient support. It has been greatly weakened while terrorist groups were and are receiving military and logistic support. Paradoxically, when DAESH controlled half of the State of Syria, it began to finance itself with Syrian oil wells.

How do you feel seeing all that now from the outside?

My heart is torn, but my mind is fully active. I founded the organization Women Now for Development and try to build a bridge for information about what happens in my country to reach the outside…

 

Seeing now what has resulted from what began as a peaceful revolution, would you have preferred for the Arab Spring to have never have happened in Syria?

The apparent stability in Syria during dictatorial times hid serious problems, and for an outside observer, it might seem that things were better. But in Syria there was a popular uprising and it is a historical evolution; one cannot say that things would have been better had it not happened.

 


Seeing now what has resulted from what began as a peaceful revolution, would you have preferred for the Arab Spring to have never have happened in Syria?

The apparent stability in Syria during dictatorial times hid serious problems, and for an outside observer, it might seem that things were better. But in Syria there was a popular uprising and it is a historical evolution; one cannot say that things would have been better had it not happened.

It is true that the situation is now worse than before and for me, as a woman, it is horrible. I see it as a normal evolution in the mobilization of society, but there is no doubt that the situation is terrifying.

Now, negotiating with the Assad government is being considered for a peaceful end to the civil conflict and of the Islamic State. Do you think is appropriate?

I support any effort to end the killing of civilians. But while the regime expresses its readiness to negotiate to resolve the conflict, it is bombing civilians. It is Asad’s demagogic propaganda…

You founded the organization Women Now for Development that keeps you in touch with the daily reality of Syria.

I am in contact with areas that are at war within a network of electronic communication with women who are behind the frontline . We are trying to carry out a challenge: to alleviate the situation in full war zone to create remote civil conflict activities, to provide knowledge and consultancy to women, and even political awareness. It’s very, very difficult, because we are between two monsters, one who kidnaps women (DAESH and other terrorist groups) and the regime, which bombards and attacks.

And the women well behind the frontline still feel strong after so many years of war?

… For me they are the real fighters.

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