You were recently quoted in the New York Times, arguing that the current situation in Syria is "all being manipulated," and that the activists are deceiving the Syrian public and the world. Could you elaborate on this?Camille Otrakji: I believe that a clear majority of Syrians support many of the demands of the peaceful protesters. On the other hand, only a minority of Syrians are willing to risk destabilizing their country in order to try to achieve full regime change after a painful drawn-out conflict.
You might disagree with me if your impression of the state of the protests movement is the product of Aljazeera and BBC Arabic endlessly looping some bloody clip of the day and creating an impression that victory is near for "the Syrian people" who are demonstrating against their despised tyrant. In the early days of the Libyan revolt, Aljazeera created the same "victory-is-easy" impression for the Libyan people and they believed it, and until today they are killing each other and destroying their country.
This is not Egypt or Yemen, where you had hundreds of thousands or even millions of people protesting every day. In Syria we've seen a few thousands here, a few hundred there, mostly on Fridays. And yet western governments, the Syrian opposition, and the media covering Syria are all enthusiastically and casually using the term "the Syrian people" from the first day a few young men demonstrated in the Ummayad mosque. This implies they have the support of the entire Syrian population, which is a very serious distortion of the facts. Despite weekly calls from opposition figures for millions to demonstrate, based on the numbers of people we have seen in the streets of Syria thus far, it is clear that less than 1.0% of the country (about 150,000 Syrians) has joined the protests.