Mohammad Riad Shakfa, leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, has said he would give priority to any initiative led by Turkey, a country that he described as the region’s most powerful player, in finding a way out of the “chaos” in Syria. Regarding the idea of a regionally initiated military intervention in Syria, Shakfa said such an intervention should only be led by Turkey, in an exclusive interview with Today’s Zaman on Friday.
Shakfa claimed that the Iranian and Iraqi governments are not only providing significant arms and ammunition to the President Bashar al-Assad regime but are also using their manpower and intelligence operations collectively against Syrian opposition forces. “Why should the international community hesitate in supporting opposition forces militarily, when Iran and Iraq are openly giving military assistance to regime forces?” Shakfa asked. Claiming that the Syrian people need outside protection in the face of a year-long sustained attack, Shakfa said: “Turkey could initiate an [outside] intervention. It is the most powerful country in the region. Other regional countries and Muslim countries outside of the region could also militarily intervene.” “The success of the opposition [in ousting Assad] may take a long time because Assad still has the power to resist in the face of military support from countries like Iran. ... But the regime will be toppled sooner or later because the Syrian people are so steadfast in their resolve to get rid of Assad,” Shakfa noted. Touching upon Assad’s plan to hold elections in May, Shakfa stressed: “The Syrian people have no respect for Assad-controlled elections. He is too late in implementing reforms and has no shred of legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people, so he should step down.”
Shakfa also expressed gratitude to Turkey for housing Syrian refugees fleeing from violence in the country and delivering humanitarian assistance, but he rejected speculation that the Turkish government is aiding the Muslim Brotherhood. He asserted that the Muslim Brotherhood stands with the Free Syrian Army, the organized military arm of Syrian insurgent groups, and spares no effort in assisting them either militarily or politically. “If we [the Muslim Brotherhood] come into power in Syria, we would establish a parliamentary, democratic regime in Syria, under which freedom of region and the rule of law would persist,” Shakfa elaborated..