Ghalioun: ‘I will cut Damascus’s relationship to Iran & end arms supplies to Hezbollah & Hamas!’
“A Syrian government run by the country’s main opposition group would cut Damascus’s military relationship to Iran and end arms supplies to Middle East militant groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, the group’s leader said, raising the prospect of a dramatic realignment of powers at region’s core.
Burhan Ghalioun, the president of the Syrian National Council, said such moves would be part of a broader Syrian reorientation back into an alliance with the region’s major Arab powers…Ghalioun, said from his home in south Paris. “We say it is imperative to use forceful measures to force the regime to respect human rights.”…This year’s political uprisings in the Middle East increasingly have devolved into a power struggle pitting the U.S. and its Arab allies, such as Saudi Arabia, against Iran and its allies. Syria is viewed as the central prize, due to its strategic position and role in the Arab-Israeli struggle.Syria would also appear ripe for realignment. President Bashar al-Assad’s government is Iran’s closest military and strategic ally in the region. Damascus and Tehran coordinate closely in funneling arms and funds to the Hezbollah movement that controls Lebanon and the militant group Hamas, which is fighting Israeli forces.Mr. Assad and many of his top officials are Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The regime’s alliance with Iran, which is Shiite-dominated and Persian, is seen as unnatural by Syria’s Sunni Arab majority; Mr. Ghalioun called it “abnormal.” …But several Damascus-based political dissidents, and newer movements for political change, say the council was formed largely outside Syria and doesn’t adequately represent the spectrum of Syrian society. Factions within the SNC have differed over issues of regional autonomy, the question of foreign intervention in Syria’s crisis and the role of religion and Arab nationalism in any new state. The organization has also been hobbled by the lack of operating territory inside Syria and the cohesion of Mr. Assad’s military and government.U.S. and European officials have voiced particular concern about the SNC’s lack of representation for women and religious minorities…A self-declared secular Sunni, he has called for religion and state to be separate.
In the interview, Mr. Ghalioun stressed that Syria will remain committed to reclaiming the Golan Heights territory from Israel, which Damascus lost during the 1967 Six Day War. But he said Syria would focus its interests through negotiations rather than armed conflict or the support of proxies… … …“There isn’t even 1% chance that Assad will survive,” the SNC president said…”