Despite their different political views towards Al-Assad’s regime, major parties in Syria are fighting Islamist extremism. However, the Nasserist current views the situation as a foreign conspiracy led by Qatar and the United States, and is supporting Al-Assad’s regime in countering those rebel forces.
Daily News Egypt spoke to Alaa Abou Zeid, leader in the Egyptian Nasser party, known of his support of the Syrian regime, to review the Nasserist parties’ role towards main conflict zones in the Arab region including Syria.
What is the main role of the Nasserist current in Egypt?
The Nasserist current is a broad movement in Egypt and the Arab countries as a whole. Unfortunately, conflicts between some elite Nasserist politicians and some corrupt politicians holding the same Nasser views in Egypt, or any other country, is the reason why the movement was divided.
It is the largest current present on the ground among the citizens. According to its values – social justice, equity, and equal opportunities – they’re all values of the Nasser current since 1952. So generally speaking, there is a huge inclination from the public towards the Nasser project, as well as intellectuals. This appeared during the 25 January and 30 June uprisings, where many young people were holding the picture of Nasser, even though most of them did not live during his rule. Unfortunately, the current Nasser leaders, who [hail] from four to five political parties, are not on the same level of Gamal Abdel-Nasser himself.
What are the main goals of the Nasserist annual conference?
It aims mainly at uniting Arab forces, amid this division in Nasser parties, it is considered a shelter, or an umbrella for all of Nasser-affiliated politicians to gather and share a common ground. Nevertheless, it’s the 10th round and still there is not enough attention for it across Arab countries. Also, it’s worth mentioning that it’s being held using a very low budget and the headquarters is even shared with other people.
What were the most important and applicable outcomes from its 10th round?
There was a political statement tackling the various problems in the Arab region, whether in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan or Egypt. We hope by the next round the conference will gain more attention and extend to the entire 22 Arab countries instead of only 18, and also the street would contribute in it and solve the Arab world problems. Additionally, we plan to visit Egyptian governorates periodically and expand our activities there.
How does the Nasser current influence the conflict zones in the Arab region?
We support the resistance in all Arab countries whether in Lebanon or in Gaza, because Nasser was the leader of Arab resistance. I don’t need to explain that.
We support any resisting entity in Palestine against the occupation, despite the disadvantages of Hamas in Gaza. If there are non-Zionist Jews supporting Palestinian rights, we support them.
How supportive? Do you send humanitarian relief?
Some people did that individually, but the resources of the current are very few and the richest of the Nasserists are unfortunately corrupt.
What about Syria?
Our stance in Syria is clear from the very beginning, the Nasserists in Syria are divided and the Nasserists in Egypt fell out over Syria, and this is due to the misunderstanding of the Nasser project goals from the very beginning. I know some politician friends of mine, who I prefer not to mention by name, with all my due respect to them, who used to oppose Al-Assad in the very beginning. But soon after the Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy was unveiled after the 30 June uprising, they began to reconsider their views towards the situation in Syria.
Personally, I was self-consistent from the first moment in the Syrian conflict, as a Nasser supporter. I was asked about my opinion in the Syrian conflict during a meeting with a group of politicians in Beirut in March 2012. I responded saying: “I am self consistent; when I see Hillary Clinton, Mohammed bin Jaber Al-Thani, the Zionist entity, Turkey and Qatar on a side (against Al-Assad), automatically I am on the other side. Those powers’ objective is to tear Syria apart. If I did not realise that, I do not deserve to belong to the Nasser current.
Could you tell us more about your meeting with Bashar Al-Assad?
It was on Saturday 12 October 2013 before the Islamic Al-Adha feast by two days. The meeting lasted for four hours and a half. He is a respectful person, well-behaved, simple, spontaneous, and self confident, on the personal level.
We were a delegation of 35-37 persons. He could have done like what other presidents usually do, but he sat down with all of us and listened to all of our questions without any limitations, which is rare to happen.
All the attendees were talking about the Syrian people’s resistance, but I proposed two suggestions.
At the time of the visit, the international agency for fighting nuclear weapons won a Nobel Prize for destroying chemical weapons in Syria. So I said: “Who doesn’t take a diplomatic role along with Iran to issue a decision from the Security Council to destroy chemical weapons of the Zionist entity?” I know it would be useless but it will somehow reduce the international political pressure on Syria.
Second, I asked why Syria and Iran don’t take further efforts in the United Nations to call on foreign powers to stop supporting the conspiracy in Syria. There are many foreign nationalities, including Egyptians, fighting in the country. Syria is facing mercenaries from Al-Nusra front, the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, and many others. Russia and China are supporting Al-Assad only in the Security Council but not on the ground.
Are there any Egyptians from the Nasser current supporting Syria on the ground?
The few times I went to Syria I went at my own expense and stayed at my friends’ houses. I swear Al-Assad did not buy me coffee.
The Nasser current is concerned about Egypt’s future and Syria’s as well. If the Syrian state or the Syrian people are on a side and the public is on another side I am with the Syrian people. The regimes, no matter how oppressive they are, will never last forever, but the people will, so I support the Syrian people as a priority.
But this is not the case; we have the Syrian people on a side and the foreign powers on a different side. Abdel-Nasser once said: “Freedom of the nation comes before freedom of the citizen.” I would add to this quote: “Freedom of the citizen is invalid in an occupied nation.”