Q: How do you evaluate the results of the first and second rounds of the Geneva II negotiations, and what are the alternatives if the negotiations fail?
A: There is no doubt that the results of the negotiations were less than what was expected. We are certain the Assad regime doesn’t want to make a step towards a real democratic political solution, unless under pressure, and it became clear that there is no pressure on him. We went to Geneva to prove to the world that we have a project, despite the difficulty of the decision we made, but the regime showed no intention towards any change. Now it is the responsibility of both the Arab League and the Security Council to decide what to do. If the negotiations fail, the Security Council will have to act, unless Russia intervenes. The free world and the Arab countries should really seek a new plan. The regime is responsible for the failure of Geneva II, and the international envoy Lakhda Brahimi knows this well.
Q: Is there a third round of negotiations and when?
A: The date of the third round depends on current communications; if it will be like the previous ones, it will be disastrous and meaningless. The regime doesn’t want any change, it came to Geneva thinking of giving the opposition a few ministries and that everything willbe fine. The regime is completely deluded.
Q: What do you say about the statement of the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, when he said that you misunderstood the Declaration of Geneva I, which doesn’t mention the change of the regime?
A: Geneva II is based on the formation of a transitional governing body to replace the presidential powers. The reference is Geneva I and the results were supposed to be that Assad will step down and the transitional body will replace him, not us. There will be an agreement on mutually agreed figures, but Assad will have no role for sure.
Q: So you are betting on settling the battle on the ground. How accurate are the information about promises to provide the opposition with more advanced weapons such as antitank and antiaircraft missiles?
A: It is clear that neither the regime nor the opposition could settle the battle. We tried the political solution and went to Geneva to save the country from more destruction. Our sons are killed every day and the regime sees no problem in this. But if the negotiations failed, there will be more support for the Coalition and its military branches. Though the United States didn’t promise to provide us with quality weapons, after Geneva II we will see a new stage in which we will get political and military support.
Q: Is the opposition going to intensify its operations at the southern front in the upcoming days as the American ambassador Robert Ford said?
A: If you want to reach Damascus, you have to do it through the southern front. From Khaled Ibn al-Walid to King Faisal I, the south is the gate of Damascus, this is natural, especially that Horan was the cradle of the revolution. The southern front is to be activated soon, there were some reasons prevented the activation of that front, including the shortage of weapons.
Q: What is the purpose of your visit to Idleb at this time?
A: We are supposed to visit our people everywhere, the visit to Idleb was in this context. The timing was important; after Geneva II, our people shouldn’t feel that we let them down. I toured more than ten cities and I went to the front line and spoke to the rebels there, I told them that we will not give them up and we will be with them in the same trench. I noticed their positive attitude, they said they support the political solution if it agrees with their principles, to topple Assad and his regime was a priority for them. People want to recover their dignity, to go back to their homes and to get rid of Assad's occupation.
Q: You are accused of supporting extremism, especially the ISIS and similar factions, what do you say about this?
A: The Coalition is against extremism, and the ugly face of this extremism is represented in the ISIS. The rebels have sacrificed a lot of martyrs in the battle against the ISIS and they killed more than 800 members from this organization. After my visit to Idleb, which was liberated from ISIS, I made sure that it has been cleared completely from ISIS troops. The situation is similar in Deir El-Zor, and we are working to liberate the rest areas from these extreme organizations.
A: Was the resignation of General Salim Idriss and the assignment of Abdullah al-Bashir al-Nuaimi a response to the conditions offered by the minister of defense in the interim government Asaad Mustafa in order to go back to his position?
Q: The resignation of Mr. Idriss was not a result of disagreements and the minister of defense didn’t demand it. The institution responsible for resignations and assignments is the Supreme Military Council which has been discussing the decision for a while. The council met and decided that we are facing a new stage and another figure should lead the staff instead of Idriss. Idriss tried to do his best, but he failed. I sent a statement to the chief of staffs, in which I welcomed the assignment of al-Nuaimi and thanked Idriss for his efforts, as the status of all the brothers worked with us in the previous period are reserved.
Q: Do you think that Hezbollah wants to give Assad an important victory in the battle of Qalamon before the presidential elections?
A: Hezbollah is the one who keeps the regime alive, he is almost dead and the support of Hezbollah is a kind of injection to make him continue.
Q: Hezbollah doesn’t consider the explosions in its headquarters a result of its military involvement in the Syrian crisis, actually it sees the explosions as a kind of expansion in the operations of extremist groups in Lebanon. Is this right?
A: We don’t know if the explosions targeted Hezbollah were executed by the Syrian or Iranian intelligence, we also don’t know if the goal was to provoke sectarianism in Lebanon. Our problem with Hezbollah is that it kills the Syrians. In the past, they accused Abu Adas of assassinating prime minister Hariri, later we realized that the assassins were members from Hezbollah.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer