(This conversation occurred on April 30, 2013 but I have dated this 4-22-13 on this blog so it will show up in the right story order.)
Click to Listen: Dr. Kayali
4/30/13 Part 4: Questions and Answers
Q: I wanted to ask your opinion as to whether or not you believe the reports of chemical weapons are true.
A: I do believe that is true. I do believe it was used on, like, small scale. But I really do believe it was used more than once. The reason for that…I did see some videos or tapes, and so on, from areas that I know. And what I saw did point toward use of chemical weapons. Now, I’m not the expert, I did not go and investigate, but the videos I saw, and being a physician, I really believe that it was used.
Q: Where did you see these videos? Are they on…are they being shared on Facebook?
A: Mostly on Facebook. It is videotapes that you can also get from YouTube.
Q: Okay, so these are Syrian people who … posted these on YouTube and Facebook.
A: Right. There are, like, Facebook pages that, they usually don’t take sides. They just bring the news so that people respond to it negatively or positively, you know, so they are kind of trying to be reporters. And they just say, “So-and-so said this and here are the videos” so it wasn’t from, like, this side or that side.
Some of the websites that are created with the government said that the opposition are the ones that used the chemical weapons that the guards hauled off from Turkey which doesn’t make sense at all. Turkey, there is no way for Turkey to get through…chemical weapons to the armed rebels. So even they themselves think that, yeah, there was some chemicals used, chemical weapons used, but it was the other side that used it. So, I mean, both sides are saying there has been some chemical weapons used and we don’t both have no chemical weapons so that’s left one party to be using it.
Q: And these videos that people take, do they just capture them with their cellphones usually?
A: Mostly yes. It’s like one of the videos was in a military hospital that belongs to the rebels. And there was multiple people on beds with a lot of foam and mucus and so on coming out of their noses and mouths, and the video did show them having difficulty breathing. And, you know, as I said I’m not the one who can analyze videos but to me, it looked real.
Q: Do you think it’s likely that the government would actually go this far, that they would actually take this next step?
A: I have no doubt. I think what is holding them back is the international community otherwise they would have used it on a much larger scale.
Q: What do you think other nations and the United States could or should do to help the rebels?
A: I think they can have like, safe areas, where no-fly-zone type, so there will be no airplanes that will be allowed to fly over that area and the Patriot missiles will block any Scud missiles that might be carrying….It’s mind boggling that we are just worried about chemical. What about other weapons against civilians? Is that okay? So I really think there should be areas where it will be safe for the refugees. I’m not saying the rebels with arms. I’m not saying go fight for us. No – we don’t want that. We…most civilians are against the fight. But there should be areas where it’s safe for people who, forced to leave the fighting, our hot areas, to be able to move from these areas and make sure that they are safe because most of the killing is happening to civilians, not fighters. So I would really encourage all the international community not to lay a foot inside Syria, not to arm anyone, just, you know, stop the arming of the government by Russia and Iran and have a no-fly-zone in north and south Syria.
Q: Okay so you would like to see the United Nations step in and set up, to set up perimeters with peacekeeping forces so that the civilians could be safe.
A: Exactly. It’s like what they did with Iraq, no-fly-zone, north and south of Iraq in the past before the invasion of Iraq.
Q: Once they set up these zones, do you think the rebels will continue to fight it out, or do you think negotiations are possible?
A: I don’t think negotiations will…people are still trying to negotiate. The opposition, you know, there are all of the extremes. There are people who want to fight to the last drop, but most of the free army and the political opposition, they all are willing to….I mean he’s not going to stay. There is 100 thousand victims of this war and the vast majority were killed by the government so this government has no legitimacy. But we can discuss safe exit, we can discuss protection of, you know, the minorities, we can discuss all that, can be discussed, and no one will have any problem with it.
Q: Is there leadership for the opposition? Have they established any sort of governing body or anything? Are there any names I should know of who’s their…?
A: They did…the Syrian Council I think it’s called and it does not represent 100 percent but I would say it represents at least 60 percent. Remember, dictators do not let any prominent figures in the community. They get rid of them. And that’s why the Arab Spring had a very hard time starting because there was no one to lead. And all that’s happened has happened with no leader which is really hard to imagine. So we will still have to work that out but all the people have good intentions. They formed the Syrian Council. They are trying to expand it to engulf everybody in it and already, like right now, the head of the council, the temporary head of the council is a Christian. So they are trying to get everybody involved.
(Dr. Kayali added that he thinks the Al Jazeera network and website is providing the most thorough coverage of Syria right now.)