Share:

ELEANOR HALL: US lawyer Yaser Tabbara is the executive director of the Syrian American Council and is in regular contact with the Syrian opposition.

He says that despite the failure of the UN resolution he does expect the international community to act against the Assad regime but that he fears many more Syrian lives will be lost in the meantime.

Yaser Tabbara spoke to me from Chicago.

ELEANOR HALL: Yaser Tabbara, the US administration is expressing disgust at the Russian and Chinese veto but the Russian foreign minister says that Russia is not backing president Assad but that the UN resolution was not a serious plan to stop the violence. Does he have a point?

YASER TABBARA: Well, he would have had a point if he had a viable alternative or a resolution that actually does stop the aggression of the Syrian regime which has been pointed against the civilians in Syria for the past 10 months.

However, the Russian government has not had a viable plan to stop that bloodshed on the hands of the Syrian regime and therefore really had no credibility whatsoever in talking about the current UN resolution drafts.

ELEANOR HALL: So what message does this vote in the Security Council send to president Bashar al-Assad and indeed to the opposition?

YASER TABBARA: Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts get a double message. On one hand they know that the international community is finding consensus against their killing machine. As you know 13 out of the 15 members of the Security Council voted for the resolution.

The unfortunate other side of that coin, of that decision is a message or a signal to the Assad killing regime that we will delay, we will try to delay the international community and any viable measure that can be taken against you as long as we can for you to finish your bloody job as quickly as you can.

ELEANOR HALL: There does appear to be a sickening upsurge in the violence. There are also stories though that the Syrian army is being significantly weakened by defections. What is your understanding of the situation militarily now?

YASER TABBARA: The situation in the military has been changing rapidly. There are news of very large defections. It looks like the Syrian people won’t have to do this on their own without much help, at least not so far, and that is the direction things are going.

ELEANOR HALL: Is this at a point now that you would say there is civil war in Syria?

YASER TABBARA: I have always been very careful classifying what is taking place in Syria a quote unquote “civil war”. I think it is an all-out revolution that has committed itself to being a peaceful revolution for so many months and it wasn’t until very recently that the revolutionaries were forced or some of the revolutionaries were forced to pick up arms against the Assad regime, killing machine and defect into what has been known as the Free Syria army.

ELEANOR HALL: You say that the message not to the Syrian opposition is that they have to do it on their own. Would you though support foreign military intervention in Syria?

YASER TABBARA: Again, we are very hesitant to call what we are asking for, what we have been asking for for the past few months in terms of immediate protection of the civilians there under constant bombardment of the Assad killing machine, foreign intervention. I think what we are seeking is help from the international community to help us establish what is called a safe zone, somewhere where maybe elements of the Free Syria Army and the political leadership of the SNC (Syrian National Council) could be based out of that is protected by a no-fly zone.

Once that takes place we fundamentally believe, truly believe that we will have enough organisation, enough military movements from the defecting units to basically do this on our own. That is the sort of help that we have needed from the international community but we have not received. It is not military intervention.

Listen to MP3 of this story ( minutes)

Alternate WMA version | MP3 download

ELEANOR HALL: US lawyer Yaser Tabbara is the executive director of the Syrian American Council and is in regular contact with the Syrian opposition.

He says that despite the failure of the UN resolution he does expect the international community to act against the Assad regime but that he fears many more Syrian lives will be lost in the meantime.

Yaser Tabbara spoke to me from Chicago.

ELEANOR HALL: Yaser Tabbara, the US administration is expressing disgust at the Russian and Chinese veto but the Russian foreign minister says that Russia is not backing president Assad but that the UN resolution was not a serious plan to stop the violence. Does he have a point?

YASER TABBARA: Well, he would have had a point if he had a viable alternative or a resolution that actually does stop the aggression of the Syrian regime which has been pointed against the civilians in Syria for the past 10 months.

However, the Russian government has not had a viable plan to stop that bloodshed on the hands of the Syrian regime and therefore really had no credibility whatsoever in talking about the current UN resolution drafts.

ELEANOR HALL: So what message does this vote in the Security Council send to president Bashar al-Assad and indeed to the opposition?

YASER TABBARA: Bashar al-Assad and his cohorts get a double message. On one hand they know that the international community is finding consensus against their killing machine. As you know 13 out of the 15 members of the Security Council voted for the resolution.

The unfortunate other side of that coin, of that decision is a message or a signal to the Assad killing regime that we will delay, we will try to delay the international community and any viable measure that can be taken against you as long as we can for you to finish your bloody job as quickly as you can.

ELEANOR HALL: There does appear to be a sickening upsurge in the violence. There are also stories though that the Syrian army is being significantly weakened by defections. What is your understanding of the situation militarily now?

YASER TABBARA: The situation in the military has been changing rapidly. There are news of very large defections. It looks like the Syrian people won’t have to do this on their own without much help, at least not so far, and that is the direction things are going.

ELEANOR HALL: Is this at a point now that you would say there is civil war in Syria?

YASER TABBARA: I have always been very careful classifying what is taking place in Syria a quote unquote “civil war”. I think it is an all-out revolution that has committed itself to being a peaceful revolution for so many months and it wasn’t until very recently that the revolutionaries were forced or some of the revolutionaries were forced to pick up arms against the Assad regime, killing machine and defect into what has been known as the Free Syria army.

ELEANOR HALL: You say that the message not to the Syrian opposition is that they have to do it on their own. Would you though support foreign military intervention in Syria?

YASER TABBARA: Again, we are very hesitant to call what we are asking for, what we have been asking for for the past few months in terms of immediate protection of the civilians there under constant bombardment of the Assad killing machine, foreign intervention. I think what we are seeking is help from the international community to help us establish what is called a safe zone, somewhere where maybe elements of the Free Syria Army and the political leadership of the SNC (Syrian National Council) could be based out of that is protected by a no-fly zone.

Once that takes place we fundamentally believe, truly believe that we will have enough organisation, enough military movements from the defecting units to basically do this on our own. That is the sort of help that we have needed from the international community but we have not received. It is not military intervention.

ELEANOR HALL: Do you think there is any hope now that you will get the sort of international help that you are seeking?

YASER TABBARA: I believe so. I think that there has been a number of very strong words, reactions by members of the international community. They have been at least vocally very supportive of the plight of the Syrian people.

And an example of which is this by secretary of states, Hilary Clinton when she is talking about establishing some sort of a coalition or friends of Syria sort of conference and I believe that implies a certain message that all options are on the table in terms of international community attempting to go through the right channels, first the Arab League then the Security Council, and because these two have failed, all options are on the table in terms of perhaps achieving this international help that we have been seeking through a coalition of a number of countries who are willing to help us achieve that goal.

You know I think everybody realises that the situation is very dire and everybody is afraid of things getting out of control if they do not put in the resources and the help that is needed to help us control it.

ELEANOR HALL: Yaser Tabbara thanks very much for joining us.

YASER TABBARA: Thank you for having me.

ELEANOR HALL: That is US lawyer, Yaser Tabbara, who is the executive director of the Syrian American Council.

ABC

Share:
This error message is only visible to WordPress admins

Error: No connected account.

Please go to the Instagram Feed settings page to connect an account.