April 27, 2017
Syrian Charged’DAffairs to Japan Protests US Strikes
In response to the US attack on a military base in Syria on April 7th, Wafari Halabi Syrian Charged’DAffairs to Japan held a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on April 11st. Contrary to the US account, Halabi denied the allegation of chemical weapon use by Syria to civilians in Idlib. She went on to say that, “Syria has never used and will never use chemical weapons to anyone in anywhere.” According to her, the chemical weapon was used by terrorist groups who acquired it through the assistance of their supporters in Europe. The weapon was transported from Turkey to Idlib. Halabi protested against the attack made by the US, claiming that it was illegal in the light of international law as it lacked authorization by the UN Security Council’s resolution and that the attack was an act of aggression. In addition, she stated that for someone to claim that Syria used a chemical weapon, an investigation would be required by the UN and Organizations for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
She requested that the Japanese government not take the side of a country that breached international law. When asked if she talked about the incident with Japanese government, she said she has not yet as “Syria does not have a direct method to communicate with the Japanese government on political issues.” At the moment, Japan communicates to Syria through the United Nations, only regarding humanitarian issues.
Below is the transcript of the press conference.
Moderator (Khaldon Azhari with Pan Orient News): Good afternoon. Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. My name is Khaldon Azhari. I’m the President of this club. I would like to host Warif Halabi. She is Charged’DAffairs of the embassy of Syrian Republic in Tokyo and she will tell us the position of Syrian government on the recent attack by the United States on what is allegedly considered to be a chemical weapon attack by Syria. The attack was on the military base. Today, the event will be conducted in English only. It’s the official language of this press club and we will have about 20 minutes or so and the presentation that will be followed by questions and answers. Without further adieu, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our guest, Ms. Warif Halabi. Thank you.
Warif Halabi: Good afternoon, everybody. And really I’m very happy to see all of you. And thank you for coming and thanks a lot for the FCCJ for hosting me. Thank you, Mr. Khaldon. It is really important time and very critical time. I guess it’s very important to speak about what we are facing especially from the concern of the government and the concern of the country. So I did this review note that we already distributed to all embassies relating to our government’s official position with regards to what happened lately. So in fact, the United States committed on 7th of April a planned aggression against Syria. It was you know this is an illegal action. It is aggression, because it is against the UN Charter. It is against the role of the US. While they are a member of the Security Council, but we know that the members of the Security Council should maintain peace and security of the whole world, so such an action in order to be legal, as you know, should be based on two important conditions. First, it should be the Security Council acknowledge that such act really threatens the peace and the security of the whole world. And the second condition also the Security Council should determine the mechanism. Based on the UN Charter Articles from 39 to 50, nothing happened like this. Only the United States decided and they did such an aggressive act without any coordination or legal decision from the Security Council. And this is why we are telling this is aggression from the US against the sovereign state. Syria is a member of the Security Council. Sorry. The United Nations. Syria is a sovereign state and such action without any legal permission is actually aggression. We also want to say that such aggression, it came under the pretext of using chemical weapons. If the Syrian government really used the chemical weapon, does the United States have any concrete evidence about such information? From where they bring this information. Did they have an investigation? Whether it is based on the agreement it is from the OPCW. It is as you know, after Syria became a member at OPCW and after we get rid of all of our chemical weapons in 2014. There is an agreement also Syrian Republic signed an agreement in 2015 in order to allow the UN OPCW to joint investigation mechanism to go inside Syria and investigate any action or any chemical weapons used. What happened? We have not seen any request and only US decide that that Syrian government used chemical weapon and ….have all any other area. So this is why we are saying again it is illegal. For the United States to say that their aggression based on their military strike is based on the use of chemical weapon by Syrian government. We did relating …to chemical weapon. We did send several times to this committee, joint committee telling that we have information about terrorist groups have chemical weapon. They did use it several times in many areas inside Syria. We have never received any investigation of group in order to find out if there is chemical inside Syria used by this terrorist groups or not. After we signed and even before we signed this agreement. So who really feels sorry about what is going on. Is it the United States and some other Euro countries or the Syrian government and Syrian people? We are the victims. We should really have the full right to get rid of our terrorists inside Syria who are killing our people. It is not the right of the US or European nations to do any military aggression action inside the Syria in order to protect Syrian people. To speak about the reason behind such action we should think about it. Why did the United States do such an aggression? Why the United States do, propose accusation against Syrian government? There is no reason only to say really that they want to weaken our Syrian army. Our Syrian army who is fighting the terrorist groups. Our Syrian army who is trying to protect the Syrian people. They are following these terrorists. Everyone knows. Most of these terrorist are coming from outside. Most of these terrorists are coming from around or more than 100 countries. So we should work with the Syrian government. We should work with the Syrian army. It is not only to find any accusation to support any accusation or to find any reason in order to head the territory of Syrian of Syria to find any possible way to weaken the Syrian army. This is our understanding of what is going on inside Syria. To speak about the coalition the work of US coalition, what did they do? We have seen only the terrorist organizations are spreading especially ISIS spreading and controlling more and more areas. We kept calling the international community to support the Syrian efforts. We have not seen any improvement till we have the support came from Russian, Iranian countries and some other countries supporting friendly countries. This is what we should do. If we really want to get rid of the terrorist groups inside Syria and from the whole world, we should work with the Syrian government. This is international law. It’s not only the case for the Syrian state. It is the international law. This is the Security Council information and resolution. Let it Syrian case for relating counter terrorism. We should work with the Syrian government. We should try to find the most possible way to get rid of the terrorist organization inside Syria. Even the Security Council resolution is talking about finding a peaceful solution for our case. It is articulated that we should find a political solution between Syrian and Syrian negotiation through Syrian and Syrian negotiation what we have seen? It is always try to interfere. Always try to put pressure on these certain groups who are supporting them in order to find the trouble and not to bring any fruitful result to the discussion whether it is in Geneva or it is in Estonia. Even though we do support the peace talk between Syrian and Syrian and we will continue as we are deciding to continue against our fight against terrorist organization. We will also continue our effort to find a political solution. So this is actually our response to the aggression by the United States or the illegal base for their aggression against Syria. We are determined to continue our fight against terrorists to free all areas inside Syria from these terrorists and to bring peace stability to our people in all areas. We never use chemical weapons against any person even against terrorist groups. This is our government’s statement and this is our position. This is why we became a member of Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
But at the same time we are insisting on bringing stability to our area and country based on our responsibility as a government to protect our people and based our international responsibility to counter terrorism not only in Syria, but also everywhere. Thank you very much and I will listen to your questions and I will respond also to all of your concerns. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you for your insight. I will open up the floor to your questions and answers. If you have any questions please raise your hand and proceed to the mic in the front.
-There are no questions from the correspondents.-
Moderator : First question. All right. Ok, while you are thinking maybe I can place a question. So basically you are saying that this attack on the military base in Syria is illegal. It’s an aggression by the United States. What is the damage to that military base and as a result of the American cruise missiles? Do you have any account of the damage to this American base in central Syria? And do you have the latest numbers? Thank you.
Halabi: Thank you Mr. Khaldon. We should not only think about the number of people. I would say definitely according to the information it is like six civilians killed by these aggression and many military people but idea is the big damage came from this aggression. It is in the center of our region. And the location is very important, because this military air base is against the terrorists and if you follow the news especially lately the terrorists are moving in the area around the rural area around Hama which is very close to this military base. And our military army achieved a lot of progress. And this is the reason why they want to weaken this important point. So because of a lot of achievement, from our military army against the terrorist especially last month. Let’s say especially in areas around Homs and Hama we have seen such aggression. We always face this problem when our military forces achievement. So much progress and propaganda always comes from Euro countries and from the United States try to support these terrorists in order you know to stop the progress achieved by the government. Thank you.
Hello. I’m Ken Moritsugu from Associated Press. Thank you for coming today. I want to ask you about how you feel about Japan’s position. As you know Japan is the ally of the United States. And Prime Minister has spoken with the President of the United States about this and made some comments. Do you feel that you are getting support from Japan or how do you feel about Japan’s position since we are in Tokyo.
Wahabi: Yeah. Thank you for this important question. You know Japan is. We do respect the support we gain from Japan relating humanitarian assistance through the United Nations. But the issue is we do expect from Japan more. You know Japan is really a very important country. It is important because Japan respects international law. Japan has a very great history. Always respecting international law respecting the sovereignty of other states try to solve all problems in a very peaceful manner. In addition Japan, has very important morals. So try to always find most possible way to stabilize developing countries especially. And this is our history with Japan. But to be honest to do more effective role you should separate these morals outside of Japan at the international level. You should work according to this principles. I mean again if Japan respects the international law it should not support any country that breaches the international law. If Japan respects the sovereignty of other states Japan should not understand any action breach the sovereignty of other state. I really appreciate if Japan’s role, but we expect from Japan more than what we have witnessed during especially our crisis since the beginning until now. Looking for world to have this morals, this values Japan morals and Japan values be more effective at international arena. Thank you.
An American Male Correspondent: ( He did not say his name or affiliation.) We are trying to understand exactly what happened. There is apparently great details. The Russians notified one hour before it happened. The satellites followed the planes coming back and force. A drone came over and inspected it five hours later. It was the bombing, so in the face of such great and very, uh, you know these days when satellites and drones and everything the exact times left and what time they arrived you know coordinated what happened on the ground, and plus the people from the site taken to Turkey and have been tested, so in the face of pretty large evidence what exactly happened from your perspective? In other words, if it is not a bombing, how did all of these people get gassed? What precisely happened? What time? How? I think the biggest part of the problem was that we never heard that from Syrian side, so the Syrian side never give you any kind of explanation other than warehouse that it was bombed and gas leaked out. It’s kind of laughable, so from your perspective in order for the world to understand what happened what time? How did this all people get gassed and it just seems far fetched that a warehouse blew up and gas blew over and killed all these people? Second, apparently your site was bombed. Five hours later, a drone came over and looked and bombed to conceal the evidence. I mean it’s pretty overwhelming, so in the face of that what happened?
Halabi: Thank you very much. To be honest this is also Syrian’s concern. We were very surprised because what we have seen is only two days example because this attack happened. We have seen that the Secretary State of the United States and the ambassador of the United States saying that they want to work to operate with Russian in order to find a political solution for Syria and also it is not priority that the US priority to get rid of the President Assad and only to consider their priority is to fight with ISIS and all of a sudden we heard only US sorry Euro and the terrorist organization saying that Syrian government used sarin or chemical weapon that the area and immediately the US took and they decide based on this allegation that the chemical weapon was used by the Syrian government. What we have said where is the investigation? What should we expect in such a case? If really something happened in any country, OK, let the Security Council work and let them do their job. So let’s decide what happened. And how shall we proceed? Did they ask any committee to go and investigate what happened and who did this crime? Who? Nothing.This is the idea of what we are saying this was done deliberately. A eliberate act against Syria. First using chemical and …… to accuse the Syrian government and to give the ground for the United States to do their aggression against Syria based on this allegation. So this is exactly what we want. We want to understand we want to show the evidence. The document I distributed for the Security Council order to hold a meeting, an emergency meeting to consider the situation to condemn the aggression to find out what can we do. In all cases it is not clear for anyone even for the Syrian government. Definitely we understand the reasons behind whether it is accusing the government of using chemical weapon or reason behind of doing such aggression by the United States against the Syria. Sorry.
The Male Correspondent: I’m sorry, but you are not answering my question. What happened?
Walabi: This is the idea…
The Male Correspondent: In other words if it wasn’t bombing and if it wasn’t a drone, then the Syrian government never explained what happened from your perspective. In other words was it a warehouse blew up and the gas drifted off and nothing happened? Please explain from your perspective specifically what happened.
Walabi: The idea is that they did this from our air base, military air base, but at the same time they did say they did accuse and this is why the United States also did bomb our military base so the idea who can decide. It is from their …from our perspective
The Male Correspondent: What happened?
Walabi: We sent many letters saying that chemical came from Turkey to Idlib.
Idlib is very close to Turkey border. And nobody cared about our letters or our information. So the chemical was already inside the from Turkey to Idlib. Who facilitated all of this? The access of this terrorist groups inside Syria who facilitate all of this forthcoming from outside to inside Syria all of this came from especially from North side from to Turkey
It is by the hand of those groups who are in that area. So it is not the Syrian government who threw the chemical against our people inside the Idlib. This is why we are saying we should know and we should understand the situation, but not based on any point of view. We should know exactly the situation and what happened based on the concrete investigation, honest investigation, unbiased investigation, and this has not happened.
The Male Correspondent: Was it explosion? What happened?
Walabi: This is why I’m telling you. You should ask only the US, only the Euro, only the terrorist organization know what happened inside the Idlib area and who did this action.
The Male Correspondent: So the Syria …
Walabi: It is only…all of the sudden, the allegation came from their side accusing the Syrian government. But we know ourselves we have not used it or we never used it, and we will never used it.
The Male Correspondent: So you don’t know what happened? What happened?
Walabi: This is why we are telling. What happened is a deliberate act from terrorist, Euro to give the chance for the US. We know. This is…is it the first time? The United States is always trying to find any reason to do something to achieve their agenda. So you should ask the whole crisis inside Syria. If there any legal or if there any understanding why it is just going on such a critical time for Syrian people…
The Male Correspondent: This is the last question.
The Male Correspondent: If it is not Syrian government no one…
Walabi: This is what we are saying. It is the deliberate act of terrorist groups and their supporters of Euro countries against Syrian government.
The Male Correspondent: Was it explosion? How did the gas get to the people?
Walabi: I am telling you so. You should ask what they did in order to accuse the Syrian government. Come on. This is what I’m telling you. This is what I’m telling you. I’m telling you it is only to accuse use it only to accuse the Syrian government. Who is in that area? Come on. Who was in that area? How did it happen all of the sudden?
Why did they do immediately all of these propaganda and then military aggression by the United States. Is there are any legal base for the United States even if it has happened. There are not any legal base for the United States to do such aggression without permission of the Security Council. Definitely. Definitely. It is in the hand of the terrorist groups inside the Idlib and with the support of their certain power outside…
Moderator: She is saying basically that the terrorist inside the Idlib city, North of Syria close to the Turkish borders. They brought some chemical weapons from Turkey and this was facilitated by according to her by some other countries and they blew it up…
Male Correspondent: …they blew it up?
Moderator: …and then they gave the pretext for the United States to attack on Syria based on this explosion. Syria bombed this area by chemical weapons. That’s what she said. Because there was no investigation just countries exited it. Thanks. Next question.
-There are no questions from the correspondents.-
Moderator: OK. If I ask … do you have any question? OK. Did you have any contact with Japanese government after this incident?
-There are no questions from the correspondents.-
Walabi: Unfortunately, I don’t have contact. My problem here in Japan is there is no direct like…the government of Japan does not want to have direct contact with the Syrian government. And OK with only relating humanitarian but through the United Nations and really this is not the appropriate way and it is not Japan who should follow or do this. Based on you know the history of Japan and based on the feature and morals and values of Japan and this is why I always try to have contact in order to clarify the situation, but it is only humanitarian issues, and not for political issues. So…
Moderator: Thank you.
Moderator: Yes. Next question. We have until four o’clock, so I don’t keep asking myself. Yes. Go ahead. Please.
Yomiuri Newspaper: I am a staff writer of Yomiuri Newspaper, Japanese media. And I want to ask one question in association with North Korea. Some people are thinking that the military action was a strong message to also to North Korea that the United States will not hesitate if the country makes further provocation. As a Syrian, what do you think about such indication?
Walabi: According to our history with the United States, so they are very keen to achieve their agenda in our region. So if they want to really do any aggression or any military action against any other state, they will not start in Syria. We have a lot of evidence telling us that the US not only the previous US administration it is also the current US administration it is a complete evidence that the US administration will never change. The US administration especially in the Middle East. They want to change the whole Middle East to have their previous you know policy relating creating the new Middle East. Now they feel that it is the time that they did managed to weaken all governments in the area. It is not only the Syria. We have witnessed this in Iraq 2003. We have witnessed their also aggression in Libya. We have witnessed so many countries in the Middle East are facing a lot of difficulties. Now after Syrian crisis as they did manage to weaken Syria through this six years of international war. So they do believe that it is the time to achieve their agenda. They want to redraw the border of the Middle East to achieve the big Middle East. What they want to do in our area. So this is I guess if they want to do any military action against North Korea they will do it definitely, but Syria’s issues are different from North Korean issues. Thank you.
Moderator: Yes. All right. What do you mean by Syria is different from North Korea?
Walabi: I mean for the United States might for Japan if they have position like to understand the US procedures to understand why the US prohibited the use of chemical weapons understand the message might be for North Korea or they want to also the support of the United States against North Korea in case any action or military or chemical weapons are used against Japan, but relating the direct relations between Syria and the United States it is not so close to North Korea, because the US was involved in our case since the beginning. To be honest it is also it is occupation of our land, so since we always face critical relations with the United States especially with Syria. You know Syria is always against the Israeli occupation. Always against them intervention into internal issues or foreign intervention into internal issues. Syria has been always against the international domination. It is not our new policy. Also the policy of our late president. The main reason of the US administration policy. So this is not a new from the US only to prepare for North Korea or any other country. No. But, the US finds that it is the most appropriate time to achieve their agenda especially after the terrorist group inside Syria lost a lot of their power. Especially after the US noticed what great effort and reconciliation at local level. We achieved a lot of progress lately relating to reconciliation efforts. Many of our people who were involved in military actions and terrorist actions. They did accept giving up their weapons and to settle with their situations. So this really is a very big achievement between Syrian government. This is why you tell now it is really the time to do something to support the terrorist group after the government weaken them a lot. Thank you.
The Male Correspondent: I’m sorry for asking the same question, but this is a really good opportunity for Syria…
The Male Correspondent: …to explain to the world, because the Syrian side has not been heard. Ok, it’s…
Halabi: How come? Sorry. No. No….
The Male Correspondent: I’m asking a question, so please wait. It’s very simple. From the Syrian perspective what happened either two things: for example a warehouse exploded or a bomb exploded or has the Syrian government not investigated? No. In order words please help us understand. We want to understand your perspective. What happened? So if the prevailing view is wrong what is your view? For example, did the warehouse explode or did some terrorists bring a bomb? Gas? Please explain to us. What from your perspective happened? Or if you don’t know it sounds like the Syrian government has not investigated then I think we really have a problem. We want to understand from your perspective. This is a good opportunity, but it still isn’t clear. What happened?
Halabi: I guess you don’t want to understand the Syrian government really, because what was going on as I told you it was intended to put Syrian government in a terrible situation. And this is exactly what we were asking. Do we need to know what was going on? Do we need to know the reason behind this? So it is for us very clear. It is for us very clear.
The Male Correspondent: What happened?
Halabi: This is from terrorist groups. They did use the chemical weapons in order to let the United States to commit such an aggressive act. It’s very clear. I am sorry. Really. But if you don’t want to understand the situation or to listen to the Syrian government to find out. Do you think if you don’t understand such a situation and we did that this is really we should know exactly what happened and who used this chemical weapon. And what is the reason behind the changing all US policy all of the sudden. Only few like before doing such an aggression against Syria. So this is why. Instead of asking such situation, instead of asking what happened or where is the responsibility of Syrian government, I would say you should raise your voice and say to know exactly what happened. In this case as I told you according to the agreement signed in 2015 we should have investigation. We should have investigation and investigation in order to know what happened and that place what is the reason behind that. Thank you. This is very clear for us. And I will not speak any more about this, because this is an accusation in order to put the government in a difficult position and to give the a chance for the US to do the aggression. So the Syrians and Syrian government never use and will never use it against any people or any Syrian people in any area under any circumstances. So you should ask who used it. You should ask these terrorists. You should ask supporters of these terrorists. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. Next question please. Yes.
TBS (TV Channel 6): Hi. Thank you, ambassador. I’m from TBS. My question is how do you picture the sustainable future for Syria all of the Syria after the first military intervention of the United States. It seems that the attack made the situation more even more difficult and complicated. So how do you picture the sustainable future? Please explain concretely.
Halabi: You know. If it is an internal issue between Syrian and Syrian, it is easier for the Syrian government to solve the problem. I mean, you can find the solution. Through the dialogue you can find a solution, but when it is international terrorism when it is supported by so many international and regional powers, important powers, it is really very difficult to find a solution, so our government is doing their utmost efforts. First to protect our people so the fighting terrorist groups inside Syria. Second to have to participate in all international efforts to find political solution to do reconciliation effort to Syrian and the government inside Syria. But at the same time is it enough when we are fulfill our responsibility based on our constitution our responsibilities based on national obligations. In both cases we need other countries involved in our case. Also commit to their responsibilities. I mean all counter-terrorist resolutions, resolution to Syrian case call international community to drive the resources of the terrorist groups. I mean to stop for example the border, to stop funding this terrorist to stop extremists, people to come inside the Syria. We have a huge border between Syria and Turkey. Can we control from our side only?Definitely it is very complicated. Especially in our case. Most of our areas on the north, it is very difficult areas, because it has borders with Turkey. Our problem came from Turkey. This is why if the Turkey government doesn’t commit to their responsibilities relating to counter terrorism especially the resolution 2254 and 2253. 2253 is related to counter terrorism and dry its resources. And 2254 relating to create a good ground for peace talk for resolution, political solution between Syrian and Syrian without international intervention. This is what we are facing, so by ourselves it is very difficult. We need also the cooperation of international community saying that we are fighting terrorists without cooperating …of the any country it is very difficult to find a solution. So in all of this case we are insisting fighting terrorist groups inside Syria. We are insisting freeing all of our territory from these terrorist groups. It is not up only to government to find a solution for the crisis, but we are insisting on finding the political solution for the interest of our people. Definitely at the end our people will decide. In all cases the political solutions as it is in the Security Council resolution should be through the dialogue between Syrian and the future should be decided also with Syrian. But again the Security Council resolution 2254, it is also said the dialogue should between Syrian themselves and terrorist groups are outside of such discussion or dialogue. Terrorists should not decide the future of Syria. Only the Syrian people. This is why we are working hard on reconciliation efforts also inside Syria to bring Syrian all together as they were. Syria, the age of Syria more than 7 to 8000 we never face such a critical problem. We always lived together. We have many sects inside Syria. We have many religions inside Syria. When it happened the Sykes-Picot agreement and after France also came to Syria to try to divide Syria based on sectarian, we did refuse. And during that time we had revolution, a real revolution against achieving the agenda of to divide Syria based on ethnicity. Now the US and some Euro power like definitely the UK and France mainly want to achieve again this agenda. For whom? Who is benefitting from this situation? Definitely the US, because I mean definitely Israel. The US is supporting Israel. This is why the US is involving in our crisis. So I really didn’t speak about our crisis from the beginning because it takes hours not only half an hour, but this is the background. You should really think about the situation it is not only you know threatening Syrian people. We have seen the ISIS and other terrorist groups are spreading outside Syria. They became the threat of whole international community. If they really achieved to weaken the Syrian government who will control Syria? Do you think the US will bring a good leader working with the interest of Syrian people? Definitely not. We have seen Iraq. We have seen Libya. We have seen so many other examples. So the main idea in our region is to weaken all government especially Syria. Especially you know Syria. We are working with Iran and Hezbollah and Lebanon against the Israeli occupation against interfering other states and other issues. We are suffering from all of these difficulties. This is our principles to relate to international policy, Syrian international policy. We are against all for occupation. We are with the people of self-determination to decide their future. And also to have the right to stay in their home and to have the right to especially for Palestinian people. Our land is occupied by Israel. Thank you.
The rest will be finished soon