Q&A: Free Syrian Army deputy leader

Colonel Malik al-Kurdi says opposition fighters only need another two months to take the Assad regime down.

Malik al-Kurdi, deputy commander of the Free Syrian Army, has told Al Jazeera the government of Bashar al-Assad “cannot destroy the will of the people”, and that opposition fighters only need another two months to take the regime down.

Al Jazeera’s Anita McNaught spoke to him in Turkey about the escalating violence in his country.

Al Jazeera:  The word is, you have got or are expecting the delivery of anti-aircraft missiles – Stingers, SAMS, that sort of thing. Have you got them? Will you use them?

Malik Al-Kurdi: The Free Syrian Army [FSA] only has machine guns and anti-aircraft guns. It doesn’t have any other kind of anti-aircraft weapon.

We’re using these anti-aircraft guns to force their planes to fly higher so they can’t hit their targets so accurately. If we had those missiles, we’d use them straight away.

We don’t have Stingers. But if we could shoot down their planes, the regime would have to stop using them.

What about the violent acts committed by other fighters associated with the FSA?

We are trying to make it clear to them how the public feels about this, and the negative perceptions this violent behaviour causes.

We are trying to educate the people and the fighters and explain the responsibilities they will face in the future – that there will be international courts waiting for them, like there were in Kosovo.

We are trying to support the fighting brigades so that we ourselves are better able to follow and supervise their conduct.

You have got a problem with rogue jihadists – for want of a better word – foreign fighters with an extremist ideology coming into Syria and behaving extremely badly, damaging the reputation of the uprising. What are you doing about them?

At this point for the FSA, it is so difficult to face or to confront these groups. Our only hope is to educate them. Only this can control their activities and convince their supporters to walk away. This is the best we can do.

Why don’t you just ask the foreign fighters to leave?

Because we don’t have enough weapons and money to support our own brigades and defected soldiers, they’re being pushed to find other backers.

And there are many outsiders who impose their agenda by bringing jihadist fighters in, so it’s difficult for the Free Army to control them.

The revolution is taking so long, and the massacres and killings of the Syrian people are weakening the authority of the Free Syrian Army.

We are trying to prevent these groups reaching Syria or fighting here, but because of the situation now, many have already arrived. We are trying to be diplomatic to prevent fighting breaking out between these jihadists and the Free Army.

Where are the weapons, the money and communication equipment that are supposed to have arrived through Turkey from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the US?

Until now we haven’t received any support from America, nor from any other government.

Politicians everywhere promised to give more help, but that only bought time for the regime to keep on killing. Actually, till now the support we have received has come from private individuals, Syrian expats and people from Arab countries.

We haven’t received any official support from any government. We also heard there were millions of dollars, huge amounts of money.

But the supply has been weak: $10,000 from one donor, $5,000 from another. It’s so inadequate. We still hope the international community will honour its promises.

How long do you believe – please do not give me the PR version – this fighting in Syria is going to go on?

The crisis in Syria is turning into a civil war. If the international community does not intervene to find a solution, the situation in Syria will become so difficult.

The problem is not the collapse of the regime. We probably need another two months to take the regime down. The problem is what comes afterwards.

The regime’s supporters are trying to establish a separate state on the Syrian coast.  Some Kurdish groups – especially the PKK – are trying to set up a separate state in the north east.

The third problem is the fighters of the FSA … are difficult to control. So we need the world’s help right now – and after the regime has fallen.


Source: Al Jazeera