November 30, 2015
Yazbek to Aftenposten: “ISIS has become a symbol of revolution; the Islamist movement results from the leftist movement’s failure”

Yazbek to Aftenposten: “ISIS has become a symbol of revolution; the Islamist movement results from the leftist movement’s failure”

Thea Storoy Elnan, for Aftenposten, November 23, 2015
Photo credit: Tor Stenersen

While schools and the subways are closed in Brussels and other European countries implement high terror alerts, Samar Yazbek disagrees with the way the Western media focusses on refugee flows.

– It is to ignore what is actually the root of the problem. The refugee crisis is a side effect, not the problem, she says.

Yazbek is in Oslo to promote the book The Crossing, a literary narrative from her illegal border crossings into Syria, with hidden identity…
This is one of several articles Aftenposten in the New Europe series. Interested to know how other intellectuals believe we should solve crisis in Europe? 
After the terror in Paris, the French president, François Hollande, sent bombers over Syria. It is far from a good solution to the terrorist situation, says Yazbek.

– The world bombs Syria with the pretext to bomb ISIS, but ends up killing more civilians than extremists. More bombing will not crack ISIS, violence only leads to more violence. To get the better of ISIS, Assad must be removed… Otherwise, there is no solution… she says.

In the book The Crossing, she emphasizes that the Syrians want a secular state, not a caliphate, as extremists will have it. Syria will never be the same again, says Yazbek.

– We have been killed and pushed out by foreign fighters who promotes extreme religious values that they believe will provide the framework for our lifestyle. What once was a patriotic struggle, run by and for Syrians, is turned into an occupation of our country… she says.
While foreign fighters flow into Syria, an increasing number of Syrians flee out of the country. Several scientists and intellectuals, among them political scientist Francis Fukuyama, has stated to Aftenposten that the West should primarily help the refugees in the Middle East to solve the refugee crisis. Yazbek agrees.
– Those who are left can not afford to flee… Those traveling are the middle class and educated, they represent a great loss for Syria. It’s almost as if the land was cleared for the future, she says.

There are few good statistical overviews of the refugees. According to The Economist most Syrians fleeing to Europe are from the middle class. In Sweden, it was estimated that 40 percent of the refugees had higher education.
– Assad is responsible for ISIS. The Western’s media focus on ISIS made that the world forget what Bashar al-Assad has done to the country, says Yazbek.

She criticizes the West for creating stereotypes of Syrians as extremist Islamists, and writes in the book that such a perspective allows Assad and to put all the responsibility onto rebel groups.
– The Assad regime is responsible for having created ISIS. Through its allies, Assad has created a new enemy… Assad is partly involved in producing terror. The media has forgotten this. He should have been tried by the International Criminal Court long ago, but he is now rather proposed as new presidential candidate.
– What can we do to prevent recruitment to the IS?

– This question comes too late. ISIS has already turned Syria and several other places into a bloodbath. But Europe needs to get a new policy and other measures to integrate refugees who come here. ISIS has become a symbol of revolution.. The Islamist movement is a replacement for the leftist movement’s failure, says Yazbek…