Syria has appreciated India’s support in difficult times. Concluding his visit to India, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid Al-Moualem said: “Our trip to India has been very productive. We appreciate India’s support to Syria at a time of dire need.”
India won’t be sending any troops to Syria, but will provide the war-torn nation with humanitarian aid and development assistance. “We have been assured by the Indian government for help on the financial and infrastructural fronts,” Moualem said. Since India has vibrant agriculture, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors, Moualem also hinted at some food and medical aid from India.
“We don’t need troops from India, but intelligence cooperation between the two countries is needed. Syria and India are on the same page on the issue of terrorism. Terrorists have no country and no religion, they have ruined our nation. We are glad that Syria shares a historic bond with India and now we are taking our bilateral relations further,” said Moualem.
Moualem said that drought is not the only reason why agriculture in Syria has been affected. “Terrorists controlling our borders, too, have had a big impact and now we are being forced to import wheat,” said Moualem. A severe drought had started in Syria in 2006 and led to large-scale rural migration to urban centers and resulted in high unemployment. The 2011 unrest exacerbated the situation.
Appreciating Russia’s support, Moualem said, “Russian air strikes have helped recover 20% of our captured territories and weakened the hold of the Islamic State.”
India won’t be sending any troops to Syria, but will provide the war-torn nation with humanitarian aid and development assistance.
“By helping Syria, Russia is also protecting itself from any catastrophe. The success achieved by the Russians in the past three months is 10 times what the United States-led coalition could do in 18 months,” he added.
Asked about Syria’s stance at the Geneva peace talks scheduled for 25 January, Moualem told The Sunday Guardian: “At the Geneva peace talks, Syria won’t accept any outside influence.” Referring to the UN envoy in Damascus Staffan de Mistura, Moualem said, “I have told Mistura that the people of Syria have a right to decide for themselves and nobody can violate that right. We hope Geneva will be a success, but only Syrians will choose their future. Only God knows when peace will return.” The Geneva peace talks are part of an international bid to end the five-year-long conflict, which has killed an estimated 250,000 people.
“Saudi Arabia means negative influence. They will prevent the Geneva conference from being successful. They propagate irrelevant issues. In our country, Sunni, Shia, Catholics, Protestants all live together and never speak in discriminatory terms about their religion. However, certain ideas encouraged by Saudi Arabia are irrelevant,” Moualem said.
On Syria’s neighbours, Moualem said, “Turkey betrayed us. They consider themselves the godfather of Muslims across the world.” Referring to Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Moualem said, “He wants to bring back the Ottoman Empire to the region and has facilitated terrorist groups from 100 countries to destroy Syria. What he fails to see is that these terrorists will come back to them.”
Moualem said that if Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey stop their interference in Syria and help to terrorists, “70% of Syria’s problem will be resolved”.