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Friday, December 02, 2011

Syria opposition leader would cut ties with Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas

From Al Arabiya:
A Syria run by the country’s main opposition group would cut ties to Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, the group’s leader told the Wall Street Journal in an article published Friday.

This would remove a crucial Iranian military ally believed to play a key role in supplying Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Palestinian Hamas, potentially leading to a dramatic reordering of regional power.

The interview with Burhan Ghalioun, president of the Syrian National Council, came eight months into an increasingly violent uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with rebels seeking international support.

“There will be no special relationship with Iran,” Ghalioun, a 66-year-old university professor, told the Journal in an interview at his home in Paris.

“Breaking the exceptional relationship means breaking the strategic, military alliance,” he said, adding that “after the fall of the Syrian regime, (Hezbollah) won’t be the same.”

He also called for more robust international support for the rebels, including the possible establishment of a no-fly zone.

“Our main objective is finding mechanisms to protect civilians and stop the killing machine,” Ghalioun said.

“We say it is imperative to use forceful measures to force the regime to respect human rights.”

The rebels may well fail to topple the 40-year-old Assad regime established by Bashar’s father Hafez, but a reorientation of Syria away from Iran and towards the West would have major implications across the region.

Ghalioun said an opposition-run Syria would be committed to recovering the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured by Israel in the 1967 war, but would pursue its return through negotiations rather than armed conflict.

He also said it would work to normalize relations with neighboring Lebanon after decades of tense relations.
Meanwhile, the Syria/Turkey rift continues to wide. From Syria's SANA news:
In response to the measures announced by the Turkish Foreign Minister at his press conference regarding Syria Wednesday, the Syrian government decided to suspend the Free Trade Zone agreement between Syria and Turkey, official Spokesman of the Syrian Foreign and Expatriate Ministry stated on Thursday.

The Syrian Government studies taking other procedures that match with what has been declared by the Turkish Minster.

Turkey's Foreign Minister announced yesterday halting a loan by the Turkish Import & Export Bank to finance Syrian infrastructure projects, suspending relations between the central banks in both countries, freezing the financial assets of the Syrian government and halting deals of financial credits in Syria in addition to suspending the Higher Strategic Cooperation with Syria.