WASHINGTON - Syria would not relinquish its control over Lebanon, Farid N. Ghadry, the president of the Reform Party of Syria, said in an exclusive interview with Ynet’s Yitzhak Benhorin in Washington this week.
The Reform Party of Syria is a U.S. based opposition party of pro-democracy Syrians.
When asked whether the Syrians are serious about leaving Lebanon, Ghadry said they would not give up control of their neighboring country.
“It’s their last wall of defense, they are planning to create chaos and civil war,” he said.
Syrian born Ghadry, who maintains close ties with the opposition in his homeland and dreams of going home, said if he would be democratically elected, he would be proud to become Syria’s next president.
"My personal ambition is to bring democracy, let the people choose. If I am called upon I will serve. But if I am not called upon and the Syrian people find a better person for their purpose, I will accept the outcome," he said.
"What I will not accept is another dictatorship. If there is no democracy in Syria, I will fight for it the rest of my life."
Palestinian youngsters on their way to Lebanon
Ghadry told Ynet’s correspondent that Damascus has been secretly dispatching dozens of Palestinian youths to Lebanon during the past two weeks, alongside the apparent withdrawal of Syrian forces from the country.
“The youths underwent training by Syrian security services, designed to incite and disrupt Lebanese opposition,” he said.
“Our sources in Syria revealed that two weeks ago some 70-80 Palestinian youngsters aged 18-20 left the Neirab refugee camp, the largest refugee camp in Syria, on their way to Lebanon. “
Ghadry said the youngsters were taken to a training camp and told their Palestinian brothers in Lebanon were about to be massacred and needed their help. He added he expects hundreds of additional Palestinians to be dispatched to Lebanon after undergoing Syrian training.
Covert messengers smuggled into tribes
He said he and his people maintain close ties with Syrian tribe leaders in the northern part of the country in a bid to recruit them when the time comes. These tribesmen would serve to exert double pressure on the Syrian regime – “from the inside and the outside.”
“There are 14 important tribes in Syria. We have reached an agreement with one of them, a tribe from Halabiya in the north eastern part of Syria, close to the Iraqi border," Ghadry said.
“We are also negotiating with two tribes in the same region. We have envoys that go back and forth to talk to them, secret envoys, doctors and intellectuals etc., some of them are Syrians living abroad. They go up to the tribes and deliver the messages. It’s a pigeon system."
It’s difficult to verify the information provided by Ghadry; however, the forums he has addressed recently are indeed impressive. They include Harvard University, the European parliament, the French parliament, the Belgian senate and the American congress.
'We give them hope'
On March 9th Ghadry appeared at a hearing in the American senate regarding the Russian-Syrian connection. He surprised his audience when he told them “the message I am about to deliver was received from democracy seeking Syrians - please inform the committee that Syrians are desperately waiting for your assistance.”
A report of his appearance at the senate was quickly posted on the party’s internet site and distributed by the underground.
“We got a lot of response to that (senate) in Syria. Syrians are looking at what we are doing and are hopeful because they see the opposition in Syria has no capacity of doing anything, so we are encouraging the people inside Syria," he said.
"Syria has some 50,000 internet users, it’s not much, but they distribute the information about us and encourage the opposition in Syria who see they are not alone and that there’s someone out there working for their freedom and democracy. It gives them hope - and us, popularity. "
Gives Assad three years tops
Ghadry said the party receives thousands of email messages from Syrians who enter the site.
“They say 'thank you for doing this, welcome, we know you are trying to bring democracy;' they don’t offer their names, and I don’t blame them," he said.
When asked whether he speaks to Syrians over the phone and whether they do not fear the Syrian authorities, Ghadry said he is in touch daily with various sources in Syria, including merchants, intellectuals, and human rights activists.
“These people have already been in prison several times, so what are a few more days in prison? They don’t care anymore. We are in touch with Syrian dissidents in Syria, however,we haven’t asked them to join us; they are human rights activists …but we are cooperating with them," he said.
Gadry said it wouldn’t take more than three years until Assad’s regime is toppled.
“I thought it would take five years to topple the Assad regime, I don’t want to predict but, I don’t think it will take more than three years, many more months but less than three years, “ he said.
He can’t survive with so many mistakes …refusing to get out of Lebanon, oppressing the people of Syria, perpetrating terrorist activities like the one in Tel Aviv. The U.S. administration decided that democracy is important, you will see these people uprising, this is not a popular regime.
Will Syria leave Lebanon?
I don’t think so, I think thier last wall of defense is in Lebanon. They know that if they pull out their people, they will have an immediate economic crisis, all their laborers who would have to leave and go back home, and all the money generated in Lebanon will stop coming. Their own people will rise up, they will be stuck in the Bekka valley, so they will retain control of Lebanon.
Do you see the U.S. deploying its military in Syria?
I can see this administration (U.S.) sending special forces to take out the Sadamist Iraqi parties operating in Syria.
We have to be ready with a plan, if they (government) fall, we don’t want another American government (like in Iraq) .We don’t want an American government we want guidance by Europe and the U.S to a certain extent.
Let the Syrians take care of their own government and you will see order come out of it. If the government falls, and you give the people the power no government will rise against it, because people will not accept another dictatorship, we expect an interim government not a military government. We expect elections, a new constitution, but again not U.S. supervised.
What about the possibility of the Syrian government’s downfall?
Many people have started to believe in the possibility of a regime change; we see a lot of Syrians talking about it openly now.
The agenda is a regime change in Syria; now we have a larger audience listening to us because of the media, because of our resilience, and because of our perseverance.
This is the time for all Syrians to come together to show we want democracy and peace, no more dictatorship.
No Syrian wants another dictatorship, they all want to be free.