Dr. Salah Wanli is a surgeon and former German MP of Syrian origin. He has spent 47 years living in estrangement as an expatriate away from his homeland. When we asked him if living in Germany for so many years had alienated him from Syria, he replied; “If my body was moving in Germany, my soul always found its inspiration from Damascus and the other Syrian cities.”
Because of his busy schedule working in his surgical hospital in the city of Hamburg, we waited three months to be able to interview Dr. Wanli. Previously a member of the North German Parliament, Dr. Wanli also continues to devote himself to political work every night. Our goal in pursuing an interview with him is to find out the reasons for his behind-the-scenes movements between the poles of most of the components and groups of the Syrian revolution which are distinguished by their sincere patriotism. As most of these movements have been surrounded by secrecy, we speculated that something new might possibly be coming to light soon.
SYRIAWISE was finally able to engage with Dr. Wanli and here is the full text of our interview with him.
SYRIAWISE: To start with, is there anything new in the near future with regard to your Syria-related political activities?
Dr. Wanli: God willing, everything in its time. But the survival of the secret depends on keeping it secret!
SYRIAWISE: Your answer did nothing to satisfy our curiosity.
Dr. Wanli: When the time was right, you would be one of the first media outlets to know exactly what has been going on behind the scenes. It is a national project that the forces of the Syrian opposition had to complete quickly in order to align with the emergence of global and regional cues which can be used to achieve the original goals of the Syrian revolution, to refocus our efforts on the implementation of the United Nations resolutions, and to undo all the obstacles created by the decisions of Astana and Sochi and the farce of preparing the constitution in Geneva. All these efforts were merely distractions that gave the criminal regime time to get Assad out of the intensive care room so that it would appear to the world that he had won and that the revolution for freedom and dignity had gone with the wind.
SYRIAWISE: Do you not think that opening the doors of Syria to embrace all Syrians is necessary for the success of the national project promoted by some influential Syrian opposition figures at the helm of the Syrian National Council and the Coalition?
In spite of all that cash flow and chaos, they could not twist the arm of the free patriots so the revolutionary situationDr. Salah Wanli
Dr. Wanli: Years ago, when the National Council failed to implement the Syrian national project, it was empowered by some foreign countries to maintain its continued control over the Council which was mired in billions of dollars of which the needy were deprived while living in tents and humiliation camps. Instead of helping those who needed it most, they acquiesced to being agents of well-known agendas which led to leaving the regime free to continue killing, destroying, displacing, and then starving those who remained inside. In spite of all that cash flow and chaos, they could not twist the arm of the free patriots so the revolutionary situation, despite the cracking of some of its pillars, has remained consistent to its ideals in most of the Syrian forces to this day.
SYRIAWISE: After nearly twelve years, don’t the Syrians have the right to ask, what is next?
Dr. Wanli: Yes! Had it not been for their question, the Syrians would have lost their Syrian identity as a result of their invasion by means of demographic and cultural change and the dominance of sectarian thought. All the free people in Syria are waiting for the honorable leaders of the revolution and the best patriots to collectively champion the achievement of their national project which must be achieved, even if it comes in the twelfth year of their revolution.
SYRIAWISE: Dr. Wanli, it is well known that you have been head of the Syrian National Democratic Assembly since it was founded a little before 2013 when your revolutionary activity became one of the features of the Syrian revolution. In your opinion, what are the most important revolutionary tasks that you have accomplished?
Dr. Wanli: The Syrian National Democratic Assembly, represented by all its members, did everything they could in line with the internal system in which we adopted the peaceful struggle to achieve the constants of the revolution, the most important of which are the three pillars; no to sectarianism — no to militarism — no to foreign interference. The announcement of the birth of this assembly was made by national politician and former minister Dr. Hussein Ammash. We entered the arena of peaceful struggle by addressing all the violations committed by some of the parties. My personal disappointment at the beginning of the revolution was feeling compelled to submit my resignation as a member of the National Council of the Revolution due to the violations and irresponsible behavior of some of the members. To be objective in answering, I must classify what we have done according to the many stages the revolution has gone through.
We devoted most of our efforts to appeal to the countries that were interfering in the revolution’s march to give priority to humanitarian work in their efforts and to put pressure on the regime to release the detaineesDr. Salah Wanli
1. We presented peaceful propositions along with the three instruments, relying on the principle of raising the level of national awareness to confront any developments by using the policy of peaceful disobedience in its various forms, disassociating from encouraging the use of violence and weapons.
2. We have politically resisted opposition men from adopting a military solution and arming the revolutionaries. Unfortunately, the implementation of the weaponizing of the revolution was a systematic regional and international matter which forced us to work on introducing political offices to work on controlling the use of weapons in a way that would benefit the defense of land and honor without transgressing the constants of the revolution. We devoted most of our efforts to appeal to the countries that were interfering in the revolution’s march to give priority to humanitarian work in their efforts and to put pressure on the regime to release the detainees as a necessary priority to put an end to harm from the popular incubator of the revolutionaries.
silence on Assad’s crimes would only make him more intrusive as long as there was no international accountabilityDr. Salah Wanli
3. In 2014, the most important American administrations (congressional, military, and security) were invited as representatives to the assembly along with some of the components of the revolution who allied with us. In-depth dialogues took place during these meetings in which we were able to explain the reasons for the revolution and the necessity of its success, believing in the constants officially declared by the opposition. My talk focused on the fact that the Syrian people respect the American people, even though the support of successive American governments did not help us in putting pressure on Israel regarding their occupation of the Golan, despite the existence of UN resolutions recognizing this. I recognized that the ultimate goal is for peace with Israel. I reminded them that Syria in the fifties was forced to arm its military forces by the Soviet Union after they had failed us by not arming our military themselves and that this was not in their best interest or ours. We wanted to live in undiminished peace because we embraced liberalism. We made it clear to the interlocutors that if they were committed to what they call democracy, then they should remedy, with their political power in the world, the catastrophe that was worsening daily and growing like a snowball to the extent that it would eventually affect their interests and the interests of the relevant countries in the region. All the interlocutors recorded in their notebooks everything I told them. I confronted them with a clear conscience when I slammed some documents with apparent violence on their tables while citing one criticism after another that their silence on Assad’s crimes would only make him more intrusive as long as there was no international accountability.
4. I later organized several opposition conferences that some international officials attended, the last of which was at the beginning of this year.
SYRIAWISE: May we ask who was funding these conferences?
Dr. Wanli: Some of it was funded with my modest private funding and some of it with financial assistance generously presented by some of the participants which made up for what I lacked in covering some of the costs. Note that we did not ask for any material assistance from any country, except for my mediation with them in arranging for the conference to be held on their land and in securing the necessary visas to attend.
SYRIAWISE: When we were following you up for a date, we were told you were busy hosting a Ukrainian family in your house! Is this piece of information correct?
there is no Syrian who does not extend a helping hand to the displaced people of his country. This behavior is a virtue of Syrian valuesDr. Salah Wanli
Dr. Wanli: I wish you had not known that because good deeds must not be revealed. But it is okay to answer that our Syrian people have tasted the bitterness of forced displacement and there is no Syrian who does not extend a helping hand to the displaced people of his country. This behavior is a virtue of Syrian values. But what about you? If you came face to face with a Ukrainian family living in the street, wouldn’t you help them as well? Therefore, I invited them to stay in my house. At first, I thought that perhaps the situation would calm down and they would be able to return home. When three months had passed and the crisis had worsened and appeared as if it might be prolonged, I decided to rent a modest apartment for them and to furnish it as necessary for housing and comfort. I feel that I am helping a family that escaped from death to not have to live in the streets of Hamburg or die of starvation. The catastrophe experienced by so many Syrians has refined our humanity and many Syrians did, and still are, doing the same out of respect for human dignity.
SYRIAWISE: After 47 years of exile in Europe, have you assimilated with the German people?
Dr. Wanli: (Gracious as always, with a smile on his face) They have given me a lot of knowledge, wisdom, good acceptance, and friendship. And in return, I have done my best to repay them with the benefit of my sincerity and loyalty to their good souls.”