Majid Rafizadeh interviewed on Syria

PolicyMic: Sarah Browne (SB): What does the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt mean to Syria and why is Asaad in celebration?

Majid Rafizadeh (MR): From Assad’s perspective, he is fighting radical Islamic and fundamentalist groups associated with the Muslim brotherhood and Al-Qaeda. Assad’s regime claims that it struggles to defeat these Islamist groups which want to take over the country and the region. In addition, Assad and his people repeatedly point out that political Islam and the Islamists can not govern a country efficiently. As a result, the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood was viewed as strong evidence and proof for Assad’s claims. In other words, from Assad’s perspective, the fall of Morsi and his party buttressed his long-held opinion that political Islam is a failure.

Furthermore, we should not forget that Assad’s regime has been at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood since 1970, when Hafez Al-Assad, father of Bashar Al-Assad, came to power. The 1982 massacre in Hama which was committed by the Assad regime obliterated the Muslim Brotherhood operation in Syria. However, they came back since the uprising erupted. Secondly, the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt has been siding with Gulf states (including Saudi Arabia and Qatar) to support the rebels. Morsi harshly criticized the Alawite sect of Assad. The Muslim Brotherhood backs the rebels and anti-Assad groups. Therefore, the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi was also viewed as another victory for Assad’s regime.

SB: Does it seem likely that Syrian terror groups could obtain chemical weapons and if so, how will that affect the rest of the world?

MR: At this point, it is difficult to argue that the rebels or other Islamist groups who are fighting Assad will have access to chemical weapon anytime soon. The regime has been moving around the chemical weapons and they have been obscuring their places. In addition, the rebels and Islamists groups do not possess the technological capabilities of creating chemical weapons at this point. However, if chemical weapons fall in the hands of anti-Assad groups, including the rebels, Free Syrian Army, and Al Qaeda-linked groups such as Jubhat Alnusra, we might see immediate international intervention to neutralize the chemical weapons, or the region will face a larger conflagration.

SB: What will become of Syrian refugees?

MR: The refugees situation is tragic and the scope and the servity of the crisis is unprecedented since the Rwandan genocide. Even António Guterres, the head of the United Nations refugee agency, who expressed growing alarm, told the Security Council that the pace at which the Syrians’ are fleeing their country is the worst since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The United Nations has estimated that there are approximaetly 2.5 million Syrian refugees registered and there could be as many as three million refugees by the end of the year. In addition, around one fourth of the population has been internally dispalced. More than five million of Syria’s 23 million citizens have been forced from their homes. Aid groups estimate that there are 1.6 million school-age children among the refugees from Syria’s civil war. Sixty percent of the camp’s population is under 17, and they are in need of basic education and food. One in three Syrians are in “desperate” need for basic needs such water, food, blanket and shetlter. I think as the war continues, the situtaion of the Syrian refugees will deteriorate and the United Nations will find it harder and harder to address the basic needs of millions of refugees. This can have tremendous negative consequences on the physical and psychological health of not only millions of children but the global health, as well as on the the education, of millions of children and security of the region. [Continue reading…]

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