Posted on Portland Indymedia. Lots of Sham Falcons videos end up on Liveleak. Some of you might find this interesting. I found out about Sham Falcons through LL.
Questions about Syria
I have an acute interest in the events ongoing in Syria. I decided to stop looking for information about the Syrian rebel groups, and to ask the Syrians themselves, directly.
One of the most media savvy elements of the Free Syrian Army is the Sham Falcons Brigade. Sham Flacons run the website shamfalcons.net and just about every day I see a new video of combat footage with their identifiable logo embedded. Having studied military history most of my life, I believe that the Sham Falcons seem to be very well organized. They have parts of their website in English, along with interviews of their commander, and a map of their command structure. For the purposes of this project, I found the "Contact Us" button on their website particularly appealing.
I decided to write them a letter with several pertinent questions. I explained that I am a former member of the US Air Force and now an advocate for world peace.
**First, a disclaimer:** it must be noted that these responses obviously do not represent every Syrian, or every member of the Sham Falcon Brigade, or every member of the Free Syrian Army. This response was from a single person and should be interpreted as one piece of data when looking at everything happening in Syria.
I received a response back in less than 24 hours. Abu Hajar, the communications manager and representative of the Sham Falcons brigade, replied, "My english is a little bad... So can I answer you in French to be more accurate or it's difficult for you?" Success! Then, two days later, I received the responses of my questions. The response was partially translated by my friend's mother, and partially translated with Google.
Below is the translated response, further down is the original French. Unfortunately, some of the questions were garbled up in my English (which is poor), and the resulting translations. I've added clarifying notes where I think it's useful. ///
I am Ayachi Abdel Rahman, known on the ground by the name d'Abu Hajar, and I acknowledge receipt of your email. Being responsible for communications and representing the Holy Brigade of Sham Falcons, I have permission to respond to your questions if I find them biased and oriented.
First, know that my responses only apply to us, that is to say one of the most active combat groups on the ground, and not to the Syrian Free Army in general whose headquarters are found in Turkey.
1) Do you want help from the international community, or from the United States, like that given to Libya? Is there a kind of aid, other than arms, that international civilians can provide?
No, we don't want intervention from the international community nor from the US like that in the case of Libya.
Their aid only brought conditions which created dependence on them and which would be perceived as interference by our population.
We are battling for Liberty with a capital L, not only to overturn this tyrannical government. We don't want Syria to be under the influence of a foreign power some day, but rather entirely in the hands of the people. And the Syrian people are a proud people who have always rejected foreign interference and will never accept it.
All that we want, is that the international community gives us the right to defend ourselves and permits our weapons to enter the country. Nothing more.
As for the civilians, they can furnish other things such as information, sending money, medical supplies, electronic equipment (cameras, internet connections, laptops, satellite telephone, GPS) and all that can be useful to the revolution.
2) Do you believe that an external military assistance could compromise the free Syrians capacity to acquire freedom or democracy?
It all depends on the type of military assistance envisioned. If it is provided without preconditions, and if it is limited to providing us with the necessary equipment to be able to counter the strength of the regime, then in less than a month we will be free.
If not, then we don't want it. I have addressed several times a call to France where I explained exactly what our expectations were. You can see it on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwlz2w_DhCc
3) Do you actually work with combatants who are not Syrian, like members of Al-Qaeda or Egyptians, Iranians, Saudis, Libyans or other Jihadists?
As far as The Brigade of Sham Falcons, all of our combatants are exclusively Syrian.
Sometimes, but very rarely, certain of our members have dual nationality or dual origin, which is the case for myself, I am French-Syrian.
But there is no one among the troops who is a foreign combatant without being equally Syrian, because we have plenty of men in place to fight. We do not need foreigners, but need arms, munitions and money.
4) Do you know of members of Al Qaeda who fight the holy war of the Free Syrian Army, or of combatants who would fight against Americans if given the chance?
The ideas and the methods of Al Qaeda are not appreciated by Syrians, even among combatants. It is not within the morality of the population.
In Syria, there is not obstruction, operations of martyrs, bomb attacks... .Except in very rare cases when the government wants us to believe that Al Qaeda has infiltrated here.
Moreover our struggle is uniquely against this tyrannical regime and not against America. All that we want is the fall of the regime and the right to liberty.
6) Have you received advice or support from outside Syria? Can you provide details on what has been assured and by whom?
As far as our group is concerned, we have not received any advice or support from any country or power.
Only several independent persons have sent us electronic material or money and allowed us to retransmit the information, but nothing else.
The majority of the financial and materiel aid and advice came from inside Syria.
7) What is your perception of the United States, of the government, and of the population?
The US is such a government that can never be loved by our people because of the American embargo against our country for many years, its unconditional support for the State of Israel and more generally due to its imperialist and colonialist politics towards the Arab world.
Our feeling was that it was only Oil that interested America. The Syrian revolution could have changed our vision if the US had really acted instead of engaging in so much hypocritical discourse.
The American government claims to have sent several tons of medications to treat our wounded and support the Syrian people. Supposing this is true, that they really support our people, they would have authorized the shipment of arms so we could protect ourselves rather than think about our wounds. But they bring pressure in order that, to the contrary, nothing has happened to the present day, we are plunged each day into a little more agony and despair.
As for the American population, we have always made the distinction between them and their government, knowing that in America there exists numerous lobbies and that it is they that often decide according to their economic interests and not for the people.
We receive many letters of support from Americans who are innocent of the passivity of their government. They are good Christians and true humanists.
8) What is your perception of the State of Israel, of the government and of the people?
Our vision of the State of Israel is known by all and will not change as long as a just peace is not created with Palestine.
But actually, we are more preoccupied with our internal situation and the fall of government than by that of our neighbors.
We have no plans for Israel. What we envision after the fall of the regime is the reconstruction of our country, based on justice, equality, and freedom of choice and of expression.
International relations preoccupy us little for the moment. We are looking above all for the stabilization in the situation of our country,
9) When Assad falls, what will the role of Sham Falcons be? What will be the role of the Free Syrian Army?
Our role and the role of the Free Syrian Army will be to maintain security so that the will of the people is made solid and that no one steals the revolution or claims it. Then we will go home.
The revolution is the property of the people and they are who will decide which reforms to create in their country to function in the economic, social, political, and strategic situations.
Our mission and that of the Free Syrian Army en general, is not to govern. It is uniquely to protect and defend the population until the fall of the regime.
10) If the soldiers of the Free Syrian Army or the Sham Falcons commit war crimes, like murdering innocent people, will responsibility be taken or justice meted out?
No one is above the law. We have raised ourselves against injustice and not in order to make someone guilty. No one has the right to immunity and all must answer for their actions.
The Sham Falcons already have a tribunal where they judge anyone who has committed crimes (thievery, murder, injustice... ) in the name of the revolution.
We are fighting criminals even before we fight the government and we judge them severely, especially if they claim to be members of a revolutionary group.
11) Do you wish to fight against Christians and Jews (like Assad?) Do you not prohibit combats based upon religion, sexuality or history? [Editor's note, this question was originally, "Would you fight along Christians and Jews to over throw Assad?" I believe it was misinterpreted.]
Our struggle is not against a religion or an ethnicity. It is against injustice. We are fighting those who support this government even if they are Sunni Muslims.
And we are alongside all those who have the same desire, whatever their avowal. The revolution belongs to everyone.
We will protect the minorities who live in our country, even if they are Jewish. It is the same with the Islamics and there is no disagreement between the Muslims on this point.
12) How many fighters are ready in the Sham Falcons, how many combatants do you estimate in the Free Syrian Army?
We have more than 6500 men divided into several battalions and a large perimeter which extends from Hama to Aleppo with its capital in Jabal Al-Zawiyah to Idlib. We are according to certain television channels such as Al Aribiyah the largest and best organized group in place.
I do not know how many combatants make up the Free Syrian Army but on the ground they are less numerous that the revolutionary groups even though we are all described by the media as being part of the [Free Syrian Army].
13) Personally, are there historical revolutionaries who are a source of inspiration for you? Where do you find your inspiration?
If the revolutionary Che Guevara could have in two years as a guerilla overthrown a dictator like Batista from the Sierra mountains, then we can do the same. However, he is not our principal source of inspiration.
In reality, our best example is the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah upon him). He raised himself against injustice in his time, accompanied by the weak and the poor and not by the rich and the powerful. And he took the people out of slavery and oppression.
And as for the Syrian Revolution, as different from that of Libya and Egypt, it didn't know at its beginning the grand defections (ambassador, minister, generals... ) but began at base by the people and had more of a chance to clean the country of corruption and not to see the same hypocrites later taking power.
14) Personally, do you believe that women will get ready to vote and will have equal rights in the free Syria of tomorrow?
Women in Islam have the same civil rights as men. If there are differences in heritage due to the fact the man is required to provide for the needs of his family while the woman's money is her own property, her place in society is the same as the man's.
She doesn't have the same military obligations but participates, works and studies with the same rights as men. This has always been the custom of the Syrian people and this will not change.
Islam does not prohibit her from presenting herself in a post of high responsibility. Only the place of the chief of state is not accessible to her and she has little chance to be elected by reason of the influence of Islam in the holy people.
15) Personally, do you believe that homosexuals will be able to vote will have equal rights in the free Syria of tomorrow?
Homosexuality is something that is not accepted in the morality of the Syrian people and such a debate will not likely be posed in the future.
It is not our role in such a revolutionary group, to open debates that only exist in the west.
If homosexuality in Europe has become a natural thing when 50 years ago it was frowned upon as pedophilia is today, even so the mores of the Syrian people have not changed.
16) Personally, in what measure do you believe religion should be incorporated in the Free Syrian government?
Islam is part of our culture, of our history, and of our civilization. The Syrian people do not fear it, but rather are proud of it and would support its claims.
And we, as well as a large part of the people, will certainly demand a moderate Islamic state. And that is part of his right to liberty, to assert that this is what he aspires to- without imposing it on society. But this is one of our demands as Muslims and our right to claim an Islamic state, like the lay calling for a secular state, or the communists who want a communist regime have the right to do so.
17) Personally, what were you doing five years ago?
I was director of a computer company in Idlib and whose head office was located in Paris. The company aimed to develop new technologies in Syria such as e-government and electronic tourism. We also developed websites and Windows applications for private corporations.
18) Personally, what do you want to be doing in five years?
Return to my family and go back to work where I left it, in a free and proud Syria.
19) Personally, have you any thoughts on the struggle in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt or Bahrain, or other locations?
We are following attentively these revolutions and draw lessons from them, even though the Syrian revolution is unique. We think that the objective of these revolutions was not 100% achieved, but the people at the same time obtained certain liberties which they hadn't dreamed of before the revolution and without a doubt a society where people can express themselves and from now forward can little by little build a just society. One cannot construct a society built on corruption.
20) Personally, have you a wish for a war against the U.S.? Do you have any thoughts for certain people in America?
If Americans stay at home and they do not try to come and impose their vision of democracy by force like they did in Iraq, then why would we fight them?
At the same time we are ready to have commercial exchanges with America in the future on condition that they consider us real partners and vassals over which they can extend their hegemony.
I hope I have answered your questions,
Abu Hajar (Abdel Rahman Ayachi)
Original article here: http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2012/07/416893.shtml
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