Azhar Vadi | Cii News | 27 November 2012
There’s something about a man in uniform: a statement that stands true, particularly for General Abdul Jabaar Al Okaidi, an imposing figure in a camouflaged military outfit and huge boots and an even larger smile. In a wide ranging interview with Cii News, the military commander of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, provided some insight into what the FSA is all about, and what their aims and objectives are. His uniform badges indicate that he held the position of Colonel in the army of Syrian president, Bashar Al Assad.
Cii: What is your name and current designation?
Okaidi: I am Abdul Jabaar Al Okaidi, leader of the revolutionary forces, Aleppo.
Cii: What was your previous designation before joining the revolutionary forces?
Okaidi: I was an officer in the Syrian ground forces.
Cii: Why did you switch sides?
Okaidi: Because of the criminal acts carried out by the regime against our people and because I wanted to support our brothers that stood against oppression and dictatorship and transgression. It was our duty to stand with our people against oppression.
Cii: At present how much of the country is under the control of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)?
Okaidi: The FSA controls 70% Syria and in the Aleppo province they control 80%.
Cii: What is keeping the Syrian government in power?
Okaidi: They (the Syrian government) are being supported by the Russians, the Chinese and the Iranians. We have a few foreign fighters alongside us but they are really very few.
Cii: There is a notion that the revolution has been started by American instigation or Zionist instigation. Did they start this revolution or did this revolution start from the people on their own?
Okaidi: This revolution is the revolution of the people. It started from the Masaajid (Mosques). It started to oppose oppression. On the contrary, Israel supports the (Assad) regime. Israel has not given up on the regime and that is why there is a delay in its fall.
Cii: Is the FSA getting any help from outside countries?
Cii: So then how are you managing to fight against a well-armed group that is getting help from the countries you mentioned? How are you defending yourself against this government?
Okaidi: Firstly we are defending a just cause. Something that we believe in. Allah is with us. We are sure that Allah will grant us victory. Our fighters are brave. On the contrary the regime’s morale is low. Soldiers are running away and defecting. They do not fight for a cause. This is the one side. On the other side we fight with weapons taken as booty. We get a lot when we attack army bases. We buy ammunition from the regime officers. There are those who sell their guns. They have no cause. We also buy guns from the black market.
Cii: Are you concerned about the revolution being hijacked by America or people coming with their own agendas?
Okaidi: No. There is no need to fear. I am very sure the people who oppose Assad will stand firm against any attempts to steal the revolution. We are here and represent the will of the nation and will protect the revolution from any outsider who wants to hijack this revolution.
Cii: How close are you to victory?
Okaidi: Very close, God willing?
Cii: What are some of the requirements that you have?
Okaidi: The regime is collapsing everywhere. About 80% of Aleppo is free. We are surrounding the biggest base in Aleppo and the air force intelligence base. The Aleppo 46 regiment is also surrounded as well as the camp of Wadi Ad Deif. A lot of soldiers are waiting to defect. This regime is almost collapsing. Using the air force a lot is a sign that the regime is losing. And this is a sign that they are losing on the ground.
Cii: What is your vision of a future Syria? What type of state do you want to put in place?
Okaidi: God willing, after the fall of the regime, we will work towards a civic, democratic, Islamic state. It will represent all the constituents of the country. All will have the rights to freedom and culture. There will be no distinction. Everyone will have equal opportunities.
Cii: Is there any message you would like to send to the people and leadership of South Africa?
Okaidi: I wish for all people to see the level of destruction and blood running in the streets of Syria. And see the criminal acts of this dictatorship. And do not deal with him (Assad) but rather help and support the revolution. I ask the people of South Africa to go out in massive protests against the killing in Syria carried out by Bashar Al Assad and his gangs. He is supported by all western countries. All who claim to love peace and human rights and reject oppression, still support Bashar Al Assad.