The following is an interview between Adam Garrie and Syrian journalist Afraa Dagher. The questions cover a wide range of issues from western perceptions of Syria to what ordinary Syrians hope to achieve in the aftermath of the ongoing conflict.
Adam Garrie: In 2003, when America and Britain illegally invaded Iraq, there were very few opportunities for Iraqi journalists or ordinary citizens to have their voices heard by those in Europe and America. Now though social media, Syrians can speak directly to people throughout the world. Do you think this has helped people understand the nature of the fight in Syria and how President Assad is fighting terrorist extremists?
Afraa Dagher: Absolutely right, the elites of the west are used to fooling their people by misinforming them as you mentioned; about Iraq, the excuse for invading at that time were the ”weapons of mass destruction” supposedly owned by Saddam Hussein! However, the supposed ”weapons of mass destruction” had absolutely nothing to do with their invasion. In Syria, the internet and the Social media played a very important role as alternative media. We were countering channels like Al-Jazeera, from Qatar that spreads infinite lies, especially with their so-called ”eye witnesses”, who were actually in their studios, or even in Europe. Take for example the famous ‘Danni’, the British “reporter”. We were posting what truly happened, directly from the ground, through videos and pictures. The reaction of our friends and the people from all over that we were connected with via the net, was a truly important factor for our resistance.
Adam Garrie: Sources like the BBC, CNN, New York Times and Washington Post do not publish works explaining that the Syrian Arab Republic is a secular state where until the conflict, all Muslims and all Christians lived side by side as friends and neighbours? What do you think is behind their agenda and do you think people in the West still believe it?
Afraa Dagher: Unfortunately their agenda is to propagandise the war in Syria as a civil war. However Syria is a land of true multiculturalism and heritage. In Syria, you will see Christians and Muslims being united in the same family. Many of my Muslim friends got married to Christian friends. Our friends on Facebook, most of them made their journey to Syria and they saw the truth, that it has nothing to do with civil war! It s an organised war and a plot against Syria and its people!
Adam Garrie: Could you please describe your personal thoughts on President Assad and what his leadership represents for real Syrians?
Afraa Dagher: President Bashar Al-Assad was elected by the majority of Syrian voters. This man is well educated, got his high degrees in the UK, he wants Syria to be a secular and progressive country, which is a real threat to Israel! We are not allowed to be a powerful country in the Middle East and at the same time a country of resistance (against Israel).
Adam Garrie: Turkey has been sponsoring, arming and fighting beside many of the terrorists groups which seek to destroy Syria, and recently [Turkish President] Erdogan said Turkey’s goal is to overthrow the government of Syria. Do you have any optimism about the role Turkey can play in the peace talks beside Russia and Iran?
Afraa Dagher: Turkey has been playing the worst role in this proxy war against Syria. Turkey has armed and trained foreign fighters, then sent them to Syria. Money was deposited in Turkish banks by Qatar and Saudi Arabia so that they would finance jihadists. Turkey used its borders to be the first class terminal for terrorists to join this war against Syrians! Turkey aims to annex Aleppo to their territory, just like they did with the Syrian land Liwa Iskenderun after Word War 2. Thus, Turkey never played a good role. Only by defeating its backed terrorists and by regaining ground, only then Syria, protected by its great ally Russia, will be able to impose good conditions on Turkey.
Adam Garrie: As an educated, multi-lingual Syrian woman, how do you feel when countries like America support terrorists whose perverse views seek to enslave women and worse?
Afraa Dagher: It exposes their fake allegations about supporting freedom and democracy in Syria. In fact, Syria is a secular country, where everyone is completely free to have whatever faith he or she wishes, whether that’s Christian or Islamic, or whatever. And women occupy high positions in Syria, like Vice Presidents, Presidential advisers, and the leader of the new elected assembly etc. However in Saudi Arabia, you are forced to run to the Mosque at praying time! Same Wahhabi mentality! Women there are not allowed to drive a car! Moreover they can’t travel without their husband’s permission! Saudi Arabia doesn’t respect human rights, women are slaves; we can add to their well known crimes the fact that they sentence any opposition to the royal family to death!
Adam Garrie: What is your view on Hezbollah’s role in Syria? Do you feel Hezbollah should be part of future peace talks?
Afraa Dagher: Hezbollah and Syria have one ideology, to defend the unity and identity of our region against the ambitions of our enemies! Lebanon and Syria have one geography, anything which affects Syria will affect Lebanon. Both are under the threat of Israel, and its dream to expand itself. So Hezbollah was a necessary power to counter the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, as a synonymous force to the Syrian Army. Hezbollah never wanted any position in ruling Lebanon. As a Lebanese political party, their goal is just to protect Lebanon, and unite with the Syrian Arab Army, the army of the country which supports Hezbollah. So I don’t think they have goals in any conference, but Syria and Iran would represent them, and we would love to see them there, they really deserve to be.
Adam Garrie: Hillary Clinton wanted to continue Obama’s policies and even take them further. Are you at all optimistic about Donald Trump, based on his statements that President Assad is not America’s problem but terrorism is?
Afraa Dagher: Obama’s policies were the worst, he created a mass sabotage and brought to the region a total war, which also created the refugee crisis, which affects Europe as well! Clinton is a great warmonger as the Syrians call her! Most of Syrians were pro-Trump, but they do not fully trust him. It is up to his administration and those who are around him. However he at least should lift the unjust sanctions which have been imposed on Syrians.
Adam Garrie: There have been several recent terrorist attacks in Jordan. Do you think Jordan will ever be able to cooperate with Syria or will the monarchy in Amman continue its anti-Syrian policies?
Afraa Dagher: Jordan just like the Arab Gulf monarchies doesn’t serve its national Arab motherland; they are following their masters in the West and serve Israel! Jordan has mutual military operation rooms with Israel in the southern frontier of Syria. These rooms are used to send terrorists’ equipment to fight the Syrian Army, because they are trying to control Damascus across Swieda in the south of Syria
Adam Garrie: Where do you see Syria in five years?
Afraa Dagher: Syria is always in our eyes and hearts. With our blood and sacrifices, Syria will be alive and united again because of the great support of our allies, Russia and Iran. I hope to see Syria as a peaceful, secular and progressive country again. Syria was a civilisation before being a state.