October 15, 2015
Der Standaart interviews Yazbek: “What is happening in Syria is a failure of the world’s conscience”

Der Standaart interviews Yazbek: “What is happening in Syria is a failure of the world’s conscience”

An interview by Ruth Reif, for Der Standaart, published on October 2, 2015

“My soul remains in Syria»

A year after the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, Samar Yazbek was forced to flee. Her name was blacklisted. Since then she has returned several times secretly to her home to interview people.

Ms. Yazbek (…) Has the World abandoned Syria?

Samar Yazbek: What is happening in Syria is well known. All evidence of the war crimes of the Assad regime was submitted to the United Nations, even before the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) and similar groups. The powerful countries, including the USA, ignored the massacres that Assad perpetrated against his people. Later, they declared that the terrorism of ISIS constitutes a threat to the Western civilisation. They said they would fight ISIS. But this is a hypocrisy. The West did not intervene in Syria, even after Assad had used poisonous gas against against civilians (…)

“The Stolen Revolution” [German title of The Crossing] is the title of your book. Why was this theft possible?

Yazbek: The theft was carried out in many stages. First the protests against the Assad regime were peaceful. Nevertheless, the protesters were arrested, tortured and even killed, with unimaginable brutal force on behalf of the army and intelligence services.

Did the revolution have some support in the population?

Yazbek: To be able to defend themselves, the protesters started to arm themselves and the Free Syrian Army was created. But the truth is that they do not receive any assistance. The international community ignored what was happening. Instead, Jihadists streamed into the country through Turkey’s open borders. From this moment on, the revolution took a completely different direction and lost its original goal, which has gone entirely out of sight.


Does the opposition of intellectuals and civil society have any chance?

Yazbek: Under the present conditions I see no reason for optimism. As long as the Assad regime is not deterred, and Syria continually bombed, people will keep dying. Only if the powerful countries show the will to stop the bloodshed in Syria, will the Syrian protest movement have hope again. There is also the intellectuals’ endeavor. Currently, they lack confidence in the honesty of United Nations. After Kofi Annan and Lakhdar Brahimi, the new UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura also threatens  to resign.

Is it impossible to arrive at a solution which brings peace and freedom by negotiation?

Yazbek: If the powerful countries decide to stop the bloodshed, there will be a solution. If they continue to watch Syria being turned into a battlefield where war crimes are taking place, then there will not be a solution. What is happening in Syria is a failure of the world’s conscience.

How could a political solution to Syria look like?

Yazbek: Assad has to go. To end the violence, we must first eliminate the causes of violence, (…) and then its consequences such as ISIS and other extremists. And then we can think about rebuilding the Syrian society (…)

The Syrian writer Rafik Shami, who lives in exile since 1971, said exile and death can not be learned. Would you agree?

Yazbek: I’ll never get used to exile. We escaped the Syrian massacre. Now we have the task of being a bridge for those who are still inside, and to keep the memory of the dead alive. Slowly, I enter exile (…) But with my thoughts and soul, I stay in Syria.

Do you have any hope of seeing your country again?

Yazbek: Yes, this hope I have, and for it, I live.