The Syrian ongoing crisis needs someone to take the lead and force Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, French writer and philosopher Bernard Henri Levy told Al Arabiya on Friday.
That leader could either be an Arab or a western, he said.
“I would like somebody -- can be Hollande, can be Cameron, can be Obama, can be anybody -- to take the lead of the coalition, obliging Bashar al-Assad to resign. I want somebody to take a lead. In this sort of circumstance, what one needs is a pilot in the plane. The plane is here, there is a huge powerful army, the Turk army, who can intervene. You have the Arab League who wants to get rid of Bashar al-Assad. We need a leader -- it can be an Arab leader, it can be a Europe leader, it can be Hollande,” Levy said in an interview with Al Arabiya’s weekly program Noqtat Nezam (Point of Order), aired on Friday.
On the Oath of Tobruk
Levy directed and starred in a documentary about the events and his involvement in last year’s Libyan revolution, which featured in the Cannes Film Festival.
“It is not a celebration, it is documentation, of what I saw, and what I did, honestly, how could I do something else? I cannot comment about the whole revolution in Libya, I documented what I saw and what I did, and what i was part of,” he said.
He was accompanied by two masked men whom Levy identified as members of the Free Syrian Army, who smuggled themselves out of Syria with France’s assistance.
“The message I wanted to send was the following: What can be done in Syria…cue question... reply...The Oath of Tobruk. What we did in Libya, what we did together. Arabs, Europeans, Americans. That was what I wanted to say by the presence of these Syrians with me and with my Libyan brothers. And it was like…you know…like in the Olympic Games when the flame goes from one hand to another hand. What happened is, they in Cannes, whether the flame of liberty, the flame of freedom, went from the hands of my Libyan companions to the hands of the two Syrian commanders.”
On foreign intervention in Syria
Levy also discussed on the program several reasons as to how the situation in Syria is different from that in Libya.
“I agree that Syria is not Libya, of course, that’s evident, but I would like to say that it is, again, more doable in Syria than in Libya, for one reason. Number one, because of the Turks. Number two, because of the determination of the Arab League, as far as I know, very strong to get rid of him, and number three, because Bashar al-Assad is probably less mad, less crazy, than Qaddafi was. If there was really an escalation of the threat, if there really was a strong signal sent by the international community, my bet is that Mr. Assad would listen to -- Qaddafi did not listen to anything, and you know to what he finished,” he said.
He added that the motives for potential foreign intervention in Syria are far from oil and gas reserves, as was agreed upon by many analysts as the reason for foreign intervention in Libya.
“Syria has something else. Syria has strategic interests. There is not only oil in life. There are two reasons to intervene in Syria. Number one: people. Martyrdom of children, women, disarmed civilians. But if you want to make real politics, why not? You have something which is as important as economical interest which is strategically interest. Do we want the best ally of Ahmadinejad, of Iran, to prevail in this part of the world? This is the question.”
On his firm support of Israel
“I never called myself a defender of Israel. An advocate of Israel -- yes. A Zionist -- no. A Zionist has a very meeting. It means that a destiny of a Jew can be only to be in Israel, which is not my case. I can live in France, I am a French citizen. I could live in America, in an Arab country. So I am not a Zionist.”
When asked whether his partiality to Israeli rights would conflict with his relationship with Syrians, Levy said it was their problem to deal with.
“If they will have a problem with that, so be it. I know, I’m sure that for a lot of them it is not a problem, because a lot of them, of the democrats in Syria, are exactly like me. Partisans of peace. Partisans of cohabitation between the two parties. What do we want for our children? Eternal war again? Decades of war? Or do we want peace? My friends, the democrats of Syria, they are like me. They prefer peace to war, because they know that war today is hell. Hell! The alternative is peace or hell.”
French Lawrence of Arabia?
Comparisons have been allegedly drawn between Levy and Lawrence of Arabia or James Bond.
“None of them, but if I had to choose, Laurence of Arabia is a great figure, yes. Lawrence of Arabia was a great figure. He had a mix of courage, of great talent. The seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of the great books of world literature. I'm not sure I'll be able to achieve such great books. So, for me it would be a great target to reach,” he said.