A: We appreciate it. But the discussion on Syria should not be reduced only to a discussion of chemical weapons. . . . That is not to take away from the importance of the agreement. On the other hand, we are also aware of how technical the chemical weapons issue is and that it needs to be verified. The important thing is that it does not spread over too long a period of time and that there are mechanisms in place to check on progress. That is why the U.N. Security Council has to weigh in with a clear-cut mechanism with respect to this specific issue.
You are talking about enforcement through Chapter 7 [of the U.N. Charter]?
Yes, of course, I mean within the framework of Chapter 7. If these developments regarding chemical weapons are carried out and then it is as if everything is over with respect to Syria, that would be wrong and would lead to a loss of credibility on the part of the international community. We should not say the work is done once the chemical weapons are taken care of.
It seems that President Bashar al-Assad is left in power by this agreement. Is that wrong?
That’s not something we can live with.
We have to remember that when these events broke out, there was a lot of hope given to the Syrian people. The rhetoric was high, but the actions did not match the rhetoric. So far more than 100,000 people have been killed, and almost half of the population is in a refugee status. If today we say this is not our job, it is people fighting in that country among themselves, then we have to question the rhetoric at the beginning.If we leave things on their own, there is a danger that what is happening in Afghanistan will happen on the shores of the Mediterranean, and no one can tolerate that.
It seems that Assad will stay in power.
There’s been a breakthrough with the chemical weapons. But if there is no solution to the war that is going on in Syria — and if no new order emerges — then I’m telling you what will happen.
People here [in the United States] are saying that the opposition is dominated by extremists. They’re blaming Qatar, they’re even blaming Turkey for allowing arms to go through Turkey to get to extremist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra. Is that fair?
There were no extremists in Syria. If things are left on their own in Syria, people will become extremists first, then radicals and then terrorists. We should have been much stronger in our reaction . . . at the very beginning, but this was not done. If things go on the way they have been going, then in six months or a year from now, we will see the emergence of very well-established, well-structured groups with quite high numbers of people involved, and it will be very difficult to disperse them. Those who allow this to happen will have a burden of responsibility in terms of what happens in Syria.