The 19th packet of sanctions against Syria approved by the EU today are either useless or counterproductive, a member of the Syrian opposition told ANSAmed on Monday. ''Telling the Europeans not to send arms to Syria is tantamount to letting Assad's allies arm the regime, just like NATO saying it won't intervene does nothing but reinforce the regime,'' Dr. Feisal Al Mohamad, who is in charge of international relations for a progressive social-democratic group within the Syrian National Council (SNC), said in an interview.
''It would be better to say nothing, leaving a possible military intervention in doubt, and to favor defections from Assad's military ranks,'' Al Mohamad said. ''The rest of the sanctions are perfectly useless, because Damascus would only be in difficulty if it lost the support of Russia and Iran.'' Rebels get most of their weapons from deserters, win them in battle, or find them in government deposits on leaks from within Assad's ranks, Al Mohamad explained. Few of the weapons actually come from foreign, jihad-minded infiltrators, he said. ''Foreign rebels in the Aleppo area only number about 170-180 people,'' he said. ''There's been a lot of talk about the Libyans while they were heading over to Syria, but very few of them actually made it.'' As far as al-Qaeda, the Assad regime is acting as puppet-master, according to Al Mohamad. ''The regime used al-Qaeda in Iraq and in Lebanon''. Now, he added, it has infiltrated al-Qaeda militias into rebel lines, with the sole purpose of carrying out attacks against civilian victims. Al Mohamad is to attend the next SNC general assembly in Doha.
On the agenda are requests for adhesions from new parties, renewing the current president's mandate, and instituting an SNC headquarters in the northern, rebel-controlled part of Syria.
Scheduled to be held later this week, the assembly was postponed to November, because the high number of newly adhering organizations would increase the representatives from 400 to 620, Mohammed said. The hope is that some of these organizations will merge, as the Islamist brigades within Syria merged into one Liberation Front, bringing the number of representatives to 440. ''This kind of unification makes our job easier,'' said Mohammed, who professes not to fear the Islamic currents. ''What I am interested in is that there be a democratic system, and that whoever wins elections should govern.''