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South African diplomat to ST: We are concerned with the continuous occupation of the Syrian Golan

The year 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Syrian-South African relation and the freedom of South Africa which has sided with Syria in its ongoing war against terrorism [started in 2011].

Only three months after South Africa gained its freedom, diplomatic relations with Syria started.

"South Africa's support for Syria is based on a historic reason as Syrian people strongly supported the anti- apartheid movement in South Africa," Mr. Barry Philip Gilder, the new Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of  South Africa to the Syrian Arab Republic told the Syriatimes e-newspaper.

The diplomat made it clear that a lot of his country's international relations is based on the history of the African National Congress (ANC) party.

"South Africa is very concerned with the situation in Syria. It is concerned with the interventions of other states, mainly the United States and Turkey. It is concerned with the effects of war on the Syrian people and casualties and with the continuity of the occupation of the Syrian Golan by Israel," Mr. Gilder asserted.

The ambassador was in Syria when the Zionist entity [Israel] carried out a missile attack on the vicinity of Damascus where several civilians were martyred and wounded and several houses were damaged.

"We condemn the Israeli attack and the Turkish attack on Syria. We also condemn the Israeli attack on Gaza in occupied Palestine," Mr. Gilder stated, expressing his country's concern over the US and Israel's rejection of international attempts to negotiate peace.

He, in addition, reiterated that his country backs the talks of the Syrian constitutional committees in the United Nations besides Syria's right to preserve its territorial integrity and to restore control over all areas in it.

The situation in Syria over the past 8 years has not been suitable for implementing the agreements signed between Syria and South Africa in 2010 in the fields of economy, education and political cooperation due to the war that erupted in 2011.

However now and after the liberation of most areas from terrorist groups, South Africa will work on reviving the agreements signed with Syria and it will play role in the demining and reconstruction process, said the ambassador, who pointed out that the sanctions that are being imposed on Syria are the only obstacle that face trade between the two countries.

"South Africa plans to play role in the fields of agricultural trade[ i.e. cross season crops], demining activities, technology, medicine, and process of reconstruction," Mr. Gilder stressed.

About Palestine..

Two years ago, South Africa’s ruling ANC decided to downgrade its embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office over a U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

South Africa’s Foreign Affairs Minister LindiweSisulu declared then that South Africa will not replace its ambassador to Israel and that its office in Tel Aviv has no political, trade or economic development co-operation mandates.

This move was described as an unprecedented step in support of the Palestinian people at a global, political level.

"South Africa recognizes the state of Palestine and it encourages a peaceful two-state solution," the ambassador said, affirming that the same oomph to Palestine will continue as it was before.

"Diplomacy requires calmness," he added.

BRICS is an important opportunity

The republic of South Africa has occupied the position of the leader in the African continent and It has enjoyed wide international relations since the 1990s.

On 24 December 2010, South Africa officially became a member nation of BRICS, after being formally invited by China to join and was subsequently accepted by other BRIC countries. The group was renamed BRICS – with the "S" standing for South Africa – to reflect the group's expanded membership.

"South Africa is very strong on strengthening third world or the non-west world and on improving the balance on the global stage after the end of the so-called cold war and the development of the unipolar world... Since 1994 foreign policy has focused to a large extent on creating a better egalitarian international government system in terms of balancing against the powers of the west," Mr. Gilder clarified.

He believes that BRICS is an important opportunity because it brings together countries of two geographical sides. "BRICS is an important opportunity to ally with the up and coming economic and political powers, namely:  Russia and China and of course India."

The former president of South Africa Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki was strong in strengthening the African continent.

As for South Africa…

Of course the main party is the ANC. However in the past few years we saw the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and former ANC Youth League spokesman Floyd Shivambu.

The EFFs, who like to present themselves as left-wing , receive a lot of support from youth. "It is difficult to say what they stand” for.’ They just stand’ against’. For example, they stand against education fees rising which is a legitimate right," the ambassador said.

Concerning S.A. media, Mr. Gilder indicated that their media is more homebound and more focused. However, he stressed that he will work on involving his country's media in conveying the reality of events in Syria. 

Mr. Gilder was born in South Africa in 1950. He went into exile in 1976, where he was part of the ANC in exile. He composed and sang struggle songs. He underwent military and intelligence training with the ANC, and served in the ANC’s intelligence structures until his return to South Africa in 1991. After 1994 he served as deputy head of the South African Secret Service, as deputy head of the National Intelligence Agency, as director-general of the Department of Home Affairs and as South Africa’s coordinator of intelligence until his retirement in 2007. He was Director Operations at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA).

He follows the quote from Victor Jara, (Chilean communist and activist who was tortured and killed by Pinochet) “If the guitar is to be a weapon in the struggle, then the person behind it must be a genuine revolutionary.”

Interviewed by:

Reem Haddad

Basma Qaddour

Ossi: Syrian Kurds are part of the Syrian social fabric

The President of the Syrian Kurds National Initiative, Member of the People’s Assembly (Parliament) Omar Ossispeaks to Syria Times on the Syrian government – SDF joint action to face the Turkish aggressive attacks and latest development in north east Syria.

As a Member of the People’s Assembly (Parliament), how do you communicate with the people of northeast Syria?

“I am a Member of the Syrian Parliament and represent all Syrian people whatever their cities and backgrounds are. I am interested in the Kurdish issues in Syria. One week ago, I visited the city of Qamishly and villages around it. I met with different Syrian Kurdish political figures.

During my meetings with them, I stressed on the Kurds’ belonging and loyalty to the Syrian state. From the beginning of Syria’s crisis, I called for deploying the Syrian Army along the Syrian -Turkish borders and returning the Syrian governmental departments and organizations to all Syrian cities and towns in north Syria including the Kurds-majority areas.”

On the Syrian government agreement with SDF, Ossi said: “The US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the American occupation troops from Syria accelerates the Syrian government military agreement with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to face the Turkish aggressive invasion.

The Syrian government deploys the Syrian Army’s Border Guards Units in Minbij town (80kms northeast Aleppo city), Ein Arab (150kms northeast Aleppo city) , Ein Issa town (70kms north Raqqa city ), Tal Tamr ( 40kms northwest Hassaka city) and around Qamishly city  along the Syrian -Turkish borders. The military accord between the Syrian government and SDF eases the deployment of the Syrian Army in these three areas easily and raising the Syrian flag in them.

Russia encourages the Syrian government and SDF to reach a political accord as to include the statues of SDF fighters and Idara Thatia (Self-Administration) Councils.

The Arabs form more than 60% of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)’s fighters in addition to the Syrian Christians and Kurds. SDF fought Daesh and other terrorist groups and offered 12000 male and female martyrs.

On the US’s looting of Syria’s oil and wealth, Ossi said: “Since 2011, I have been calling the Kurdish leaders and brothers to coordinate with the Syrian government and not depend on the American promises and words. The Americans have no allies.

America let down the Kurds in Iraq. America and Israel handed over the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan to the Turkish intelligence service.

The Syrian Kurdish leaders were opposing me and I’ve said that America gave them promises and built military bases. Today, they discover that America doesn’t care about Syrian Kurds and wants only to loot the Syrian oil, gas and wealth. 

America wants to prevent the Syrian government from taking its oil, gas, cotton and wheat from northeast Syria. I think America has another goal not only the looting of 30million dollars a month of the Syrian oil but also foiling the Sochi Russian -Turkish deal.”

On the Syrian Constitution Committee meetings in Geneva, Ossi comments, “I have no big hope for the Syrian Constitution Committee. It is very long process and will take long time of meetings. I think the three delegations (Syrian government -Opposition – Civil Society delegations) will not reach an agreement soon. There are only 4 members out of 150 members in the Committee, two from the Opposition and two from the civil society delegations. I am calling on this Committee to recognize the Syrian Kurds’ culture rights and Kurds as part of Syrian social fabric within the Syria’s geographic and demographic unity, and expand the Local Administration Law. Turkey vetoed my name and asked the Russians not listing my name in the Syrian Constitution Committee.”

Interviewed by Obaida Hamad- Inas Abdulkareem

Photos: Obaida Hamad

Trump and Syria's oil

"Keep the oil, I've always said that. We've secured the oil", Trump told a police chief's conference on Monday-as if the oil were his to keep or secure. But Trump is fickle and his actions show no consistency. Only days after ordering American troops out of Syria to make way for the Turkish attack, he orders them back in again and Trump doesn't mince his words-He wants the oil under the pretext of protecting it from ISIS. However ISIS has been conquered according to Trump and Baghdadi at long last has been killed so who are the American troops "protecting" the oil from?

Trump is impudently stealing Syrian oil from a country with sovereignty and rights.

At a forum hosted by NBC in 2016 he says "We go in, we spend $3trillion, and we lose thousands and thousands of lives and then-what happens? We get nothing. You know it, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils". So all the talk of Trump protecting the oil is a fallacy. Nobody invited the U.S whether to Syria or Iraq. They came on their own as conquers and pillagers and as in the days of old looting everything on their way. Civilization and not the outer shell of it, but civilization in its moral and ethical concept has yet not arrived on Trump's footsteps'.

It is a war crime-stealing another country's goods-the worst kind of colonialism that a country could ever reach-but Trump is already there.

He then elaborates-he will call upon American energy companies like Exxon Mobil to work and drill there-on Syrian land that is.

Naturally Exxon Mobil and other energy companies issued no comment on this suggestion.

It is sad what Trump is doing to the American people for he is diligently working on earning them a bad reputation-he is deforming what they are most proud of-for they are proud of being viewed as leaders of the free world. There is nothing "free" in invading a country and then stealing its products and impoverishing its people.

President Trump you give freedom a bad name!

Editor-in-Chief

Reem Haddad  

Sheikha Asia al-Mashi to ST: Syrian tribes and clans to fight alongside the Syrian army against Turkish occupation forces

In the coming stage, the Syrian tribes and clans in the northeastern region are to be hand-in-hand with the Syrian army in fighting against the Turkish occupation forces because the clans and tribes believe that no one defends the homeland except it’s sons, according to Sheikha Asia al-Mashi, the Deputy Director of the Popular Committee Office of Counter- Terrorism in Syria.

Sheikha al-Mashi told the Syriatimes e-newspaper that the tribes and clans in the northeast of Syria are aware of their key role in confronting the Turkish regime’s attack on the country and they are ready to play this role.

Former US Congresswoman to ST: Washington conveys ISIS terrorists from Syria to keep its strategic force alive

Former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has said that the U.S. should never have entered Syria, yet it seeks to keep its strategic force based on al-Qaeda, ISIS and the other Muslim offshoots alive.

In a statement to the Syriatimes e-newspaper on the reason behind the convey of ISIS terrorists and their wives from Syria by the U.S. occupation forces, Mckinney asserted that the United States created al-Qaeda and ISIS and the other Muslim offshoots for its own geostrategic purposes.