Smoke rises near Bustan al-Qasr crossing point in a government controlled area, during clashes with rebels in Aleppo, Syria December 5, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A leader of an important Israeli Arab political grouping on Saturday hailed the Assad regime's victory in Aleppo, saying it had thwarted designs by the United States, Turkey and Gulf countries against Syria.
Adel Amar, secretary-general of the Israeli Communist Party, which is the key component of the Hadash Party that accounts for four of the thirteen MKS in the Joint List, said in a statement that the "unification" of Aleppo is a turning point in thwarting extremist Islamic terrorism in Syria and "foiling the imperialistic and reactionary attack against the peoples of the region."
The statement came after a week in which there were reported executions and massacres of civilians in east Aleppo by the Russian backed Syrian armed forces and allied militias. The Russians denied these reports and said any abuses were perpetrated by rebel forces. The final assaults in east Aleppo came after heavy Russian and Syrian bombings in recent weeks that caused wide devastation and struck all the hospital facilities in east Aleppo.
Amar said that "the unification of Aleppo closes the way on the plans to divide Syria and proves the failure of the strategy of the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar and their inability to continue protecting the terror organization that destroyed Syria and terrorized its citizens. This development will bring considerable changes in the region."
Syrian Civil War: The battle for Aleppo, Syria
He added that "we have a firm position against any harming of civilians and we support a diplomatic solution centered around the eradication of terror and the establishment of a political process that brings together all the forces in Syria that believe in a united, independent, democratic and pluralistic Syria."
Amar's support for the Assad regime points up a split within the Joint List over Syria and contrasts with the views of politicians from the Islamic Movement (southern branch) who think Assad should be forced out of power. "The communist party and many secular Arabs prefer a secular regime over Islamists,"says Wadie Abu Nassar, head of the International Center for Consultations in Haifa. "They believe that Russia, although not communist, is less imperialist than the West and also, since they are secularists, they prefer the Assad regime over an Islamist one."
Abu Nassar added: "Recently those who supported the Russian intervention are finding themselves a bit embarrassed with reports of massacres or collective rape or atrocities. On the other hand, people supporting the Islamists, the so called revolution, were also embarrassed with the atrocities of Islamic State, Nusra Front and other anti-regime militias."
MK Isawi Freij (Meretz) criticized Amar's stance. "These type of statements amount to dancing on the blood of the Syrian people. A ceasefire for the good of the Syrian people would be a victory, not the 'unification' of Aleppo. Everyone is fighting there and the Syrian people pay the price. I don't look on it from Assad's side, the Nusra Front's side, or Islamic State's side. All are committing war crimes and all are guilty including those who stand behind them."
MK Dov Khenin (Joint List), who like Amar, is from the Communist Party component of Hadash, sought to distance himself from Amar's statement. "Deliberate harming of civilians is a war crime whether it is by the jihadi organizations or the Syrian regime that combats them. The horrible pictures of children and adults murdered cause sleeplessness and pierce the hearts of all who see them. My opposition to jihadists and their supporters from the Gulf states, Turkey and outside the region was not and is not identification with the Syrian regime."
Balad, also a part of the Joint List, on Saturday issued a statement that was elaborated on by MK Basel Ghattas in remarks to the Post. "We condemn the massive destruction and massive killing of civilians by the regime and fully support the demands of the Syrian people for liberty and a civil state. We condemn all international involvement which has had a highly destructive and negative impact. We condemn the Islamic Radical groups including IS and others who have kidnapped the revolution and its just demands and contributed to bringing the ugly results of the civil war. We call for immediate negotiations with all civil society components with the aim to create a way for a new regime that is democratic and respects human rights and civil liberties. Yes, Assad should go."
Joint List MK Masud Ganaim, from the Islamic Movement's southern branch, said: "All of these war crimes by the Russians, the regime and the Iranian militias have to stop and everything must be done to rescue the civilians. All the sides must enter dialogue. The Assad government has a big role in the destruction of Syria but I also blame Islamic State. I blame all the great powers and regional ones that turned Syria into a field for their own interests including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. There needs to be negotiations at the end of which there will be the democratic leadership the Syrian people chooses. After all that has happened, Assad has no place in Syria."