Note: the journalist quoted in this article was interviewed before the downing of the Turkish jet in Syrian coastal waters — an event that adds another layer of intrigue to what is described below.
Many thanks to Hermes for the translation:
Eyewitness account: Media lies about Syria unveiled in an interview
by Natalia Mihailova
The independent journalist Anhar Kochnewa has been living and working for more than ten years in Syria. According to her descriptions, the situation in Syria is by no means that which the mainstream media depicts in their reports. Kochnewa was born in Russia, and speaks Arabic fluently. Her friends and neighbors are completely normal Syrians. She travels the same streets and districts of Damascus and also goes shopping there like any other of the locals in the Syrian capital. We talked with her not long ago, and also asked her about the reasons for the unrests which have been raging for so long in Syria.
The so-called Demonstrations
Were there any deep reasons for the crisis in Syria?
Anhar Kochnewa: One year ago there were no signs of crisis. Even in March 2011 there was nothing extraordinary. The events began as criminal activity. I always get very angry when journalists claim that during the past months there have been mass protests and demonstrations in Syria. This is simply not true. I’ve been residing continuously in Syria for the past seven months, and I’ve experienced just three so-called “demonstrations”. And I say “so-called” because they were staged by very few people, and they were clearly there to stage a demonstration for the journalists. These protests were then filmed for 5-10 minutes, and after that those people dispersed at once. In some cities criminals took control for a while and forced people to join the demonstrations.
I’ve been living in Syria since the end of the nineties. To tell the truth, at that time I did not like the country. I’ve been living for a long while in this country, and I must say, that something has changed. The living conditions and the people have changed. many have opened their own businesses and made a relatively good living for themselves.
From this point of view, people would perhaps have supported the protests ten years ago, but now not. Nowadays people want stability. There’s unnecessary chaos and revolts. People were used to living in a peaceful country. Syria was one of the safest countries in the region. If one left a wallet with money somewhere and returned there two days after, he would have found it exactly in the same place. Nowadays this is no longer the case. People are worried. They have lost something they were proud of.
Who hides behind the bomb attacks, the shootings and the destruction of buildings?
Some weeks ago I was in Homs, the alleged “stronghold of the rebels”, in the already famous Baba Amr district. The majority of inhabitants have left their houses and flats. My friends lived 800 metres away from Baba Amr. They told me that it was not the army but criminals who shoot at their houses. The Syrian army does not kill people. It only reacts when the situation escalates.
In the last weeks it was mostly Syrian soldiers who fell victim (to the clashes). The so-called rebels fight in the streets, show videos and burn tires. If one sees “black smoke” on a video made with a cellphone, this smoke is not the product of artillery activity, but of burning tires.
One month ago I was in Zabadani, in southwestern Syria. Criminal gangs had the whole city in fear. The MSM frequently reports about the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. It is indeed a humanitarian catastrophe, when a whole city is in the hands of criminals.
My colleagues and I were caught by criminals. They showed us a rusty Panzer and explained that it was what had shot at the town. But both destroyed houses were in the middle of the town. I just don’t understand how the Panzer managed to shoot, from the air or from the next corner. After that, they gathered some people and organized for us a small demonstration as an extra show. I observed the faces of that people and I saw fear and hate on their faces. They feared the criminals and hated them.
You always talk about “criminals”. What is it about, insurgents or the opposition?
There are many mercenaries among the criminals. They come from Czech Republic, Romania, France, Libya and Afghanistan. A grotesque story about afghan soldiers is being told amongst the people. A couple of Afghans were caught, and they were asked why they came here. They answered that “We were told that we would be transported to Israel in order to shoot to Israeli buses in the night. We fight for the liberation of Palestine.” This sounds funny, but it’s true. They were clearly surprised, when they were told that they were in Syria. “We are in Syria? We thought we were in Israel!”
Syrian criminals organize themselves in armed gangs. These criminals should be behind bars. These kinds of people are found in every country. When they gain power over a town, the first thing they do is to burn the reports and archives of the law-enforcement offices.
But as already said, one finds such people in every society… they enjoy having power in their hands. They don’t want to work, but to have lots of money. One can impose terror on a town with relatively few men. Two snipers are enough to bring daily life to a standstill in the streets.
On May 7 there were parliamentary elections. Did the opposition take part?
Yes, it was a very lively election campaign. They put the election posters of the different candidates on the house walls of every big streets in Damascus. According to official statistics, a total of 7,200 candidates were competing for 250 seats. Why are you so sure that the elections were undemocratic? Who claims this? The leaders of the Syrian opposition? They have been living in Europe for years. What do they know now about the real Syria? What do they know about our needs and aspirations? Let Syrians decide for themselves about their future.
The most important Syrian opposition parties have taken part in the parliamentary elections. But at this point I want to give a piece of information which will clarify the situation. Three days ago the son of the national party chairman was killed. The party received threats to make it withdraw from the election process. But the party resisted these threats, and as a consequence, the son of the chairman was killed. Who was responsible for that? The government, or those who want to stop positive changes in Syria? Criminals need no reforms. They seek destabilization and chaos in the country.
Which parties are confronted in the conflict in Syria?
Syria stands in the way of the changes in the political equilibrium to which the USA aspires — this is the tragedy of it. If one reads the book Where To Invade Next, by Stephen Elliot, one begins gain a much better understanding of the Arab spring.
Thanks to the global media, we all live in the alternative media reality. The entire world is watching a movie about something which does not in fact exist; it’s a fictional story made to appear as real events. This is a manipulation of public opinion.
What is the attitude towards the Annan plan in Syria?
Some are of the opinion that this is an attempt to give criminals time to regroup. Everybody we have met here in Homs told us that in a week the Syrian army would have solved the problems with the criminals. There is the second version, that the USA wants to get out of this situation without losing face.
Through the verdict of the UN, the USA should recognize the fact that the government of Syria was right and stop further escalations of the situation. I personally prefer this version. I think it’s right because one cannot close one’s eyes in the face of the truth. People can be tricked once and even twice, but it is simply impossible to trick them for a long period of time. I am sure that 300 UN observers will see the truth. Forcing them to lie would be difficult.
Finally, do you support the Government of Syria?
Me? I don’t know anybody from the government. I support the people of Syria, and no one else.