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“They will be forced to reconcile with this policy”

“They will be forced to reconcile with this policy”
Asim Mollazadeh: “The USA has made significant changes to its policies”

After Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s army used chemical weapon in Idlib, the American navy in the Mediterranean sea launched missiles at the Syrian regime’s "Ash-Sheyrat” airfield in Homs. As a result, runway of the airfield, aircraft parking area and fuel facilities were hit with a few casualties being reported and some jets destroyed. The US president Donald Trump addressed a letter to the US Congress and stated that he had decided to take this step to prevent the Syrian army from using chemical weapons again. Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson talked about the incident over the phone. Lavrov has stated that the US strike against the Syrian regime was a move favored by the extremists. During the phone call between Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani, the presidents called the missile attack as the violations of the international law. Moreover,  the group supporting the Syrian president Assad issued a joint statement. The statement characterized the missile attack against the Syrian airfield as the USA "crossing the redline” in Syria. At the same time, they noted that they would retaliate against any attack against Syria from now on.  As we can see, the situation around the Syrian conflict has become  tense against and the positions of the global powers is getting harsher. Asim Mollazadeh, chairman of the Democratic Reforms Party of Azerbaijan and member of the working group of Azerbaijan- USA inter-parliamentarians, answered our questions regarding the situation in Syria.  
 
- Mr. Mollazadeh, there are conflicting views regarding the US missile attack at the Syrian airfield. What do you think about this incident?  

- In reality, it’s not correct to display the red line against the murderers of children only in word but also in action. Those who use weapons of mass destruction and murder hundreds of children should receive an appropriate punishment. I would like to see the perpetrators of the Khojaly massacre who murdered children also get such a punishment.  
 
- As you know, the peace talks regarding the Syrian conflict is underway with the participation of the countries that have interests in the region. At the same time, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during his visit to Ankara that Assad’s fate can only be determined by the Syrian people. The UN representative in the UN Nicki Haley has also stated that it was not a priority for the USA to remove Bashar. Under these circumstances, why would the Syrian president use chemical weapons and further complicate the situation?  

- Removing Bashar Assad from the power is still on the agenda. As for him using chemical weapons, the dictators never behave logically. Their actions are determined by their internal policies. I don’t think that’s the first time he did something like this. This time, however, him using chemical weapons against the civilians was widely publicized. The reaction to his crime was swift and correct.  

- Russia objected to the USA launching missiles at te Syrian airfield. Iran did not support this move either. Can the increasing tension between these sides escalate to the USA-Russia military confrontation in the region? 

- It’s not ruled out. But it is also a fact that the USA accounts for 25% of the world economy. It’s impossible for Russian economy, which is even smaller than the Italian economy, to compete against the USA.  

- Turkish president Recep Tayyib Erdogan voiced his support for the USA missile attack on the Syrian airfield and added that he was hopeful that the Washington DC would go further and Russia would stop lending their support for Assad. How will this affect the Ankara-Tehran-Moscow relations?  

- This is directly related to Turkey’s NATO membership. This country naturally wants to establish normalized ties with Russia. So they are taking necessary steps in this direction. But Turkey does not betray its strategic allies either.  

- In what direction will the Surian problem develop, in your opinion? 

- I don’t think the direction is clear yet. Even those backing Bashar Assad are thinking of removing him soon.  

-What about Turkey? Will they be able to defend their interests against the backdrop of events in Syria?  

- Currently, the Turkish-Syrian border has become strong. The only problem Turkey faces is global terrorism. Thus, this country is a member of the global coalition against terrorism. These includes the terrorist group who abuse the religion of Islam for their political goals, PKK and others standing behind these groups. The main purpose of Turkey is to ensure the national security and fulfill its obligations under the global coalition against terrorism.  

- Despite planning a meeting with Putin during his Russia visit, the US Secretary of State Tillerson later removed this meeting from his schedule. What does this mean? 

- This reflects the real situation. In my opinion, the USA has made significant changes in its foreign policy. However, in the last 8 years we witnessed a policy that, despite many warnings of "red lines”, failed to uphold its promises. I think, the USA has finally began to fulfill its obligations. This is the reflection of a new policy. I think, they will have to reconcile with this new foreign policy.  

- Russian officials, analysts and even ordinary citizens welcomed the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United Stated. They were hoping that this would open a new page in Russia-America relations. Even Trump sent warm messages towards Russia in his pre-elections speeches and stressed the importance of improving bilateral ties. But now we are witnessing a completely different scenario... 

- I don’t see any contradiction in the step the USA has taken. It was possible for this country to normalize relations with Russia. But it would mean that Russia would not make any problematic moves. This is true for future as well. Russia should make fundamental changes to its foreign policy and should not go against the will of the international community. 

- The terror attacks in Sweden and Egypt against the backdrop of this incident is noteworthy. What is the reason behind increased terrorist attacks in Europe.  

- Unfortunately, the terror attacks are commonplace not only in the East but also Europe these days. Therefore, all forces should be mobilized to fight global terrorism. Terrorism is a crime against humanity. It should be combated no matter where it is being carried out. This is the only way to end terrorism. Azerbaijan is a country that has been the victim of terrorism from time to time. Which is why Azerbaijan is an active member of the anti-terrorism coalition. Our country also contributes to combating terrorism. This also stems from humanist essence of our state and people.  

- How would the USA-Russia tension affect the countries of the South Caucasus? Particularly the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict? If the relations become even tenser, will Russia and the USA be able to cooperate as co-chairs?  

- The peace talks regarding the Azerbaijan-Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts have practically stopped. The main reason behind this is the non-constructive, dishonest attitude Armenia has displayed during the negotiations and lastly, their constant provocation on the front line. I think Russia wants to monopolize the resolution of the conflict and thus defend the interests of its outpost- Armenia. If these processes develop, Russia will not be given that opportunity. 

Rufik Ismayilov 
 

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