In the midst of disinformation campaigns on the crisis in Syria – largely based on nameless witnesses giving indeterminate figures – Ammar Bagdach, general secretary of the Syrian Communist Party, shared with Granma a reality far removed from many of the biased media versions.
What have been the Syrian CP’s principal tasks since the crisis erupted?
In the first place, the struggle to preserve Syria’s national independence, sovereignty and anti-imperialist patriotic line, and for the interests and demands of the most disfavored popular masses.
There is another very important task, above all given the situation imposed on us, the defense of national production. We always implement the great slogan held high by the historic leader of the Party, Khaled Bagdach: defense of the homeland and defense of the bread of the people.
Our Party is undertaking a very important mobilizing role with the people in order to expose the nature of the conspiracy mounted against us. The initial mass mobilizations which took place last year outside the embassies of the major powers, were organized by and had the key participation of our Party. Outside the diplomatic headquarters of France, the people made it clear that they have not forgotten the crimes committed against our country by French colonialism. We held up a placard with General de Gaulle’s phrase, “It is illusory to believe that Syria can be broken.”
What has been the impact on the country of the measures adopted by the government in the wake of the crisis?
Many measures have been adopted to guarantee the extension of democratic liberties, the most important being the one which repealed martial law. Moreover, the [political] parties law was proclaimed and very advanced press legislation. Our Party has fought for many years for the restoration of Syrian nationality to those Kurds deprived of it as the result of the exceptional census undertaken by the reactionary government in 1962. There are close to one million Kurds in Syria and the majority of them have their nationality, but it was restored to 136,000 Kurds who didn’t have it. A new Constitution was declared and some analysts consider that the most significant aspect of it is the modification of Article 8, which established that the head of state had to belong to the Ba’ath Party.
The majority of the democratic measures adopted and reforms undertaken were included in the Syrian CP program, which strongly called for their adoption.
The Human Rights Council passed a resolution containing a censure motion against Damascus for the Houla tragedy and has extended by six months the mandate of the Investigative Commission in Syria. What is your assessment of this and the role of Russia, China and the UN in this conflict?
In relation to the Houla massacre, the information in the hands of the Communist Party in the region is that it was not perpetrated by government forces, but by insurgents, and they did it three days before the issue was discussed in the Security Council in order to put pressure on the organization.
The role of Russia and China has been positive in relation to the Syrian crisis; they are defending their geostrategic interests, taking into account the tremendous pressure the United States is exerting on them, and for that reason, the interests of these two countries converge with the interests of the Syrian people in defense of their homeland and national sovereignty.
In relation to the UN role, given the positions adopted by the Secretary General, it is clear that he is responding in a disciplined manner to the instructions of the United States. In terms of the activity of its special representatives Kofi Annan and now Lakdar Brahimi, as a political party we are against this initiative because its essence has been to strip the Syrian government of the instruments its has to assume the defense of the country’s sovereignty.
Looking ahead, what does the Communist Party consider the outcome of the crisis in Syria should be?
In the first place, a firm, severe posture has to be maintained in the face of the subversive actions and sabotage of the insurgents. Those who perpetrate acts of terrorism have to be confronted with the same measures to which they resort, but from other points of view and approaches. Subversion, killings and terrorist operations have to be confronted by implementing the law.
The fundamental guarantee of Syria’s firmness lies in meeting the needs of people, this means that many economic and social laws have to be reviewed. Any attempt to reach a solution of compromise between patriotic and non-patriotic forces signifies retracting from patriotic interests, a regression. We do not support that.
WHAT MAKES A COUNTRY BEAUTIFUL IS ITS PEOPLE
Although it is Ammar Bagdach’s first visit to Cuba, he does not feel like an outsider, as “all revolutionaries and communists in the world have always closely followed news about Cuba and, since I was very young, my formation was very much influenced by the Cuban Revolution.
“Naturally, knowing something and seeing it all with one’s own eyes is different, my meetings with the country’s leaders, especially those with the Central Committee have been very useful. I had the opportunity to visit Cienfuegos, Santa Clara and also to celebrate the 52nd anniversary of the CDR’s [Committees for the Defense of the Revolution] with them. We have been to places linked to our culture in the country, like the Arab Casa in Old Havana. There are many beautiful countries, but what makes a country beautiful is its people, and these two characteristics come together in Cuba: a very beautiful country and people.”