Sheri Oz – Fahed Al-Masri May Have Changed The Conversation A Bit
Fahed Al-Masri, an important Syrian opposition leader, released a video in which he promises that a new Syria will be a force for peace and stability in the Middle East and for Israel. He implores Israel to take sides in the Syrian civil war. Part of that video was shown on Israel’s Channel 2 News on December 5 and I will translate the entire piece below the video.
Translation of the Video
Ya’akov Eilon: One of the most well-known activists among the Syrian opposition comes out with a rare offer to the people and the government of Israel. In a 20-minute video, he suggests ways for cooperation. Ehud Yaari, our correspondant on Arab affairs: and this, of course, enrages Assad and his friends.
Ehud Yaari: Of course. They are going wild over this, and we must remember, against the background of the hard strikes the opposition are absorbing from the Russian air force, Hizballah and the Iranian militias, there are new organizations arising on the side of the opposition. One of these is the National Salvation Front, that is supposed to be formally announced in the convention next month and the animating force in that organization is Fahed Al-Masri. He is very well-known. He was the speaker of the Free Syrian Army until a certain stage, when because of disagreements he was removed from that position. Now, in the video we are about to see (we will not, of course, be showing all of it), he says to Israel: You have to openly come out against Assad, to say that Israel wants him to be deposed. You have to understand that the establishment of an Alawi state on Sunni soil is not in your interest. Your interest is a united Syria. This New Syria, he says, will give citizenship to all the Palestinian refugees within its boundaries, and she will regard the settlers on the Golan (which of course he wants to see returned to Syria), she will see the settlers on the Golan as something that he calls “peace ambassadors”. These statements are making waves in the Arab world because he is a very well known personality and he needs also to be heard here, among other reasons, because he says: “Gentlemen, Israelis”, he talks directly to us, “Look, the magnitude of what is happening today in Syria is reminiscent of the Holocaust.” Here is a portion of the video:
Fahed Al-Masri: People of Israel: The New Syria will not be an enemy state toward any state or power in the region, Arab or international. The land of Syria will, under no conditions, be a military headquarters, transfer point, training camp, offer logistic assistance, a launching pad or passageway for weapons or extremists or terror outside our borders. Syria will not provide resources to military or terrorist organizations or activities that seek to harm the security of any state among those states in our region and in the world.
Ya’akov Eilon: Thank-you very much. One of the senior activists in Syria calls on Israel to take a side against Assad.
One Other News Site Reports on El-Masri’s Video
Reporting on the video message to Israel, the multi-lingual 24-hour news channel broadcasting from Israel, i24 News, wrote that there was also a request to the Knesset. Al-Masri asked that the parties supporting Assad refrain from doing so as Assad’s fall will bring benefit to the entire Middle East and not just the Syrian people. While Al-Masri did not cite names, the only political movement in Israel backing the embattled Syrian president is the predominantly Arab Hadash party, part of the United List faction.
I believe Ehud Yaari when he says this video is making waves in the Arab world. What I find interesting is that, aside from the two brief reports on Channel 2 News and i24 News and one in Italian, there has been no talk about it here and no talk about it internationally, whether that is in English or European languages, as far as I can see.
I have no doubt that our leaders are in touch with El-Masri. I also have no doubt that no Syrian government, new or otherwise, will ever get sovereignty over the Golan. Perhaps that is why Israel cannot openly discuss this.
Would El-Masri make peace with Israel without getting the Golan away from Israel? In any case, this address to Israel is an interesting development, in line with the way Saudi Arabia now seeks to work together with Israel against ISIS.
But what struck me as most important was how El-Masri may have changed the conversation concerning the issue the 1948 Arab refugees from the former British Mandate of Palestine. By claiming he would offer them citizenship in Syria, he has become the first Arab leader to broach the topic. Will citizenship in Arab countries for Arabs who call themselves Palestinian refugees now become open for discussion?
This article was first published on Israel Diaries.