Video: President Bashar Al-Assad: “The Supporters of those Terrorists …Have the Endorsement of Some Western countries Including the U.S”

14 Jul


By SANA

Global Research, July 14, 2016

SANA Syrian Arab News Agency 14 July 2016

Damascus, SANA, President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to NBC News published Thursday, following is the full text:
Journalist: Mr. President, thank you for having us and allowing NBC News to ask you some important questions.
President Assad: You’re most welcome in Damascus.
Question 1: A few weeks ago, you told lawmakers here that you would retake every inch of Syria. The U.S. State Department called that “delusional.” You’re a long way from winning this war, aren’t you? Never mind retaking every inch of Syria.
President Assad: Actually, the Syrian Army has made a lot of advancement recently, and that is the goal of any army or any government. I don’t think the statement for the United States is relevant. It doesn’t reflect any respect to the international law, to the Charter of the United Nations. It doesn’t reflect respect of the sovereignty of a country that it had the right to take control of its full land.
Question 2: But how long do you think this will take you to win this war?
President Assad: You’re talking about something that is related to many factors. The most important factor is how long are the supporters of those terrorists are going to keep supporting them, especially Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the endorsement of some Western countries including the United States. If you don’t have that support, it won’t take more than a few months.

TO VIEW THE FULL NBC TV INTERVIEW CLICK IMAGE Here


Question 3: More than a few months. You see, I’ve been here ten times, and I’ve heard your governors say “it will take a month to retake Homs, it will take six months to retake somewhere else.” It always takes longer than that. So, realistically, this will take years, won’t it?
President Assad: That’s why I said that depends on how much support the terrorists are going to have, how much recruitment are you going to have in Turkey with the Saudi money, to have more terrorists coming to Syria. Their aim is to prolong the war, so they can prolong it if they want, and they’ve already succeeded in that. So, that depends on the question. If you’re talking about how much it’s going to take as only a Syrian conflict, an isolated conflict, this is where it won’t take more than a few months. But if it’s not isolated, as is the case today with the interference of many regional and international powers, it will be going to take a long time, and no-one has the answer to the question you have posed. Nobody knows how the war is going to develop.
Question 4: A year ago, the war was going quite differently. You made a speech in which you said you were short of troops, you had to give up some areas reluctantly. What changed after that? Was it that Russia entered the war? That’s the real reason this war is turning, isn’t it? That Russia is on your side.
President Assad: Definitely, the Russian support of the Syrian Army has tipped the scales against the terrorists.

Question 5: It’s the crucial factor?
President Assad: It is, it is, definitely. At the same time, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have sent more troops since that Russian legal intervention started, but in spite of that, it was the crucial factor, as you just mentioned.
Question 6: So, you owe President Putin a lot.
President Assad: Everyone who stood beside us; Russians, Iranians, and even the Chinese stood, but each one in its own way, whether political, military, or economic, because it’s not one factor; you cannot only talk about the firepower or the human resources. It’s a multi-factor issue. All those countries supported Syria, beside other countries who supported to a lesser degree.
Question 7: Has President Putin demanded anything of you? What’s the deal?
President Assad: When he wanted to intervene? He didn’t ask for anything.
Question 8: Nothing?
President Assad: For a simple reason: first of all, their politics are built on values. This is very important. The second thing, their interest is common interest with us now, because they are fighting the same terrorists that they should fight in Russia. We are fighting the terrorists that could be fighting in Europe, in the United States, anywhere else in the world. But the difference between President Putin and the other Western officials is that he could see that clearly while the other officials in Europe or in the West in general couldn’t see that. That’s why his intervention is based on values, and at the same time based on the interest of the Russian people.
Question 9: Do you speak much with him?
President Assad: When there’s something to speak about, of course we speak, or through officials.
Question 10: How often, for example, this year, have you spoken with him?
President Assad: I didn’t count them, but many times. We spoke many times.
Question 11: And how would you describe your relationship with him?
President Assad: Very frank, very honest, mutual respect.
Question 12: But he has demanded nothing of you, is that the case?
President Assad: Nothing at all, nothing at all.
Question 13: Because the suspicion is that Russia may be working in concert with the United States, and Secretary of State Kerry is meeting Vladimir Putin Thursday in Moscow. The suspicion is that they are coming to some sort of deal that might be bad news for you.
President Assad: First of all, regarding the first part, if he wanted to ask for something, he would ask me to fight the terrorists, because this is where his interest as a president and as a country – I mean Russia – lies. Second, regarding that allegation from time to time, that the Russians met with the Americans and they discussed something about the Syrian issue, like, in order to give the impression that they are deciding what is going to happen in Syria. Many times, the Russian officials many times said clearly that the Syrian issue is related to the Syrian people, and yesterday Minister Lavrov said that clearly; said we cannot sit with the Americans to define what the Syrians want to do. This is a Syrian issue, only the Syrian people can define the future of their country and how to solve their problem. The role of Russia and the United States is to offer the international atmosphere, to protect the Syrians from any intervention. The problem in that regard is that the Russians are honest, the Americans didn’t deliver anything in that regard. But, this is not to take the decision about what we have to do as Syrians.
Question 14: So just to be clear: neither Foreign Secretary Lavrov nor President Putin has ever talked to you about political transition, about a day when you would leave power? That’s never come up?
President Assad: Never, because as I said, this is related to the Syrian people. Only the Syrian people define who’s going to be the president, when to come, and when to go. They never said a single word regarding this.
Question 15: And you’re not worried in the least about Secretary Kerry meeting Vladimir Putin and coming to an understanding in which you may have to leave power?
President Assad: No, for one reason: because their politics, I mean the Russian politics, is not based on making deals; it’s based on values. And that’s why you don’t see any achievement between them and the Americans because of different principles. The American politics are based on making deals, regardless of the values, which is not the case for the Russians.
Question 16: But of course it’s not just Russia that’s bombing your enemies; it’s the United States. Do you welcome American airstrikes against ISIS?
President Assad: No, because it’s not legal. First of all, it’s not legal.
Question 17: It’s not legal for Russia to do it, is it?
President Assad: No, they are invited legally and formally by the Syrian government. It’s the right of any government to invite any other country to help in any issue. So, they are legal in Syria, while the Americans are not legal, with their allies, of course all of them are not legal. This is first. Second, since the Russian intervention, terrorism has been, let’s say, regressing, while before that, and during the American illegal intervention with their allies ISIS was expanding and terrorism was expanding and taking over new areas in Syria. They’re not serious. So, I cannot say I welcome the un-seriousness and to be in Syria illegally.
Question 18: Thousands of missions, hundreds of airstrikes… the United States is not being serious in Syria?
President Assad: The question is not how many strikes. What is the achievement? That’s the question. The reality is telling, the reality is telling that since the beginning of the American airstrikes, terrorism has been expanding and prevailing, not vice versa. It only shrank when the Russians intervened. So, this is reality. We have to talk about facts, it’s not only about the pro forma action that they’ve been taking.
Question 19: So, American airstrikes are ineffective and counterproductive?
President Assad: Yes, it is counterproductive somehow. When terrorism is growing, it is counterproductive. That’s correct.
Question 20: Whose fault is that? Is that a military fault, or is President Obama simply not being, let’s say, ruthless enough?
President Assad: No, first of all it’s not about being ruthless; it’s about being genuine. It’s about the real intentions, it’s about being serious, it’s about having the will. The United States doesn’t have the will to defeat the terrorists; it had the will to control them and to use them as a card like they did in Afghanistan. That will reflected on the military aspect of the issue. If you want to compare, more than a hundred and twenty or thirty Russian airstrikes in a few areas in Syria, compared to ten or twelve American allies’ airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, it means militarily nothing. But that military ineffectiveness is a reflection of the political will.
Question 21: There was a political will, as you put it, to remove you from power. That was the will of Washington. That seems to have changed. Have you any idea why the United States has changed its mind apparently about your future?

Question 5: It’s the crucial factor?
President Assad: It is, it is, definitely. At the same time, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have sent more troops since that Russian legal intervention started, but in spite of that, it was the crucial factor, as you just mentioned.
Question 6: So, you owe President Putin a lot.
President Assad: Everyone who stood beside us; Russians, Iranians, and even the Chinese stood, but each one in its own way, whether political, military, or economic, because it’s not one factor; you cannot only talk about the firepower or the human resources. It’s a multi-factor issue. All those countries supported Syria, beside other countries who supported to a lesser degree.
Question 7: Has President Putin demanded anything of you? What’s the deal?
President Assad: When he wanted to intervene? He didn’t ask for anything.
Question 8: Nothing?
President Assad: For a simple reason: first of all, their politics are built on values. This is very important. The second thing, their interest is common interest with us now, because they are fighting the same terrorists that they should fight in Russia. We are fighting the terrorists that could be fighting in Europe, in the United States, anywhere else in the world. But the difference between President Putin and the other Western officials is that he could see that clearly while the other officials in Europe or in the West in general couldn’t see that. That’s why his intervention is based on values, and at the same time based on the interest of the Russian people.
Question 9: Do you speak much with him?
President Assad: When there’s something to speak about, of course we speak, or through officials.
Question 10: How often, for example, this year, have you spoken with him?
President Assad: I didn’t count them, but many times. We spoke many times.
Question 11: And how would you describe your relationship with him?
President Assad: Very frank, very honest, mutual respect.
Question 12: But he has demanded nothing of you, is that the case?
President Assad: Nothing at all, nothing at all.
Question 13: Because the suspicion is that Russia may be working in concert with the United States, and Secretary of State Kerry is meeting Vladimir Putin Thursday in Moscow. The suspicion is that they are coming to some sort of deal that might be bad news for you.
President Assad: First of all, regarding the first part, if he wanted to ask for something, he would ask me to fight the terrorists, because this is where his interest as a president and as a country – I mean Russia – lies. Second, regarding that allegation from time to time, that the Russians met with the Americans and they discussed something about the Syrian issue, like, in order to give the impression that they are deciding what is going to happen in Syria. Many times, the Russian officials many times said clearly that the Syrian issue is related to the Syrian people, and yesterday Minister Lavrov said that clearly; said we cannot sit with the Americans to define what the Syrians want to do. This is a Syrian issue, only the Syrian people can define the future of their country and how to solve their problem. The role of Russia and the United States is to offer the international atmosphere, to protect the Syrians from any intervention. The problem in that regard is that the Russians are honest, the Americans didn’t deliver anything in that regard. But, this is not to take the decision about what we have to do as Syrians.
Question 14: So just to be clear: neither Foreign Secretary Lavrov nor President Putin has ever talked to you about political transition, about a day when you would leave power? That’s never come up?
President Assad: Never, because as I said, this is related to the Syrian people. Only the Syrian people define who’s going to be the president, when to come, and when to go. They never said a single word regarding this.
Question 15: And you’re not worried in the least about Secretary Kerry meeting Vladimir Putin and coming to an understanding in which you may have to leave power?
President Assad: No, for one reason: because their politics, I mean the Russian politics, is not based on making deals; it’s based on values. And that’s why you don’t see any achievement between them and the Americans because of different principles. The American politics are based on making deals, regardless of the values, which is not the case for the Russians.
Question 16: But of course it’s not just Russia that’s bombing your enemies; it’s the United States. Do you welcome American airstrikes against ISIS?
President Assad: No, because it’s not legal. First of all, it’s not legal.
Question 17: It’s not legal for Russia to do it, is it?
President Assad: No, they are invited legally and formally by the Syrian government. It’s the right of any government to invite any other country to help in any issue. So, they are legal in Syria, while the Americans are not legal, with their allies, of course all of them are not legal. This is first. Second, since the Russian intervention, terrorism has been, let’s say, regressing, while before that, and during the American illegal intervention with their allies ISIS was expanding and terrorism was expanding and taking over new areas in Syria. They’re not serious. So, I cannot say I welcome the un-seriousness and to be in Syria illegally.
Question 18: Thousands of missions, hundreds of airstrikes… the United States is not being serious in Syria?
President Assad: The question is not how many strikes. What is the achievement? That’s the question. The reality is telling, the reality is telling that since the beginning of the American airstrikes, terrorism has been expanding and prevailing, not vice versa. It only shrank when the Russians intervened. So, this is reality. We have to talk about facts, it’s not only about the pro forma action that they’ve been taking.
Question 19: So, American airstrikes are ineffective and counterproductive?
President Assad: Yes, it is counterproductive somehow. When terrorism is growing, it is counterproductive. That’s correct.
Question 20: Whose fault is that? Is that a military fault, or is President Obama simply not being, let’s say, ruthless enough?
President Assad: No, first of all it’s not about being ruthless; it’s about being genuine. It’s about the real intentions, it’s about being serious, it’s about having the will. The United States doesn’t have the will to defeat the terrorists; it had the will to control them and to use them as a card like they did in Afghanistan. That will reflected on the military aspect of the issue. If you want to compare, more than a hundred and twenty or thirty Russian airstrikes in a few areas in Syria, compared to ten or twelve American allies’ airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, it means militarily nothing. But that military ineffectiveness is a reflection of the political will.
Question 21: There was a political will, as you put it, to remove you from power. That was the will of Washington. That seems to have changed. Have you any idea why the United States has changed its mind apparently about your future?
President al-Assad9President Assad: No, because the problem with the American officials is that they say something and they mask their intentions, they go in a different way. They say something, they say the opposite. They say something, they do something different. So, you cannot tell what are their real intentions. What I’m sure about is that they don’t have good intentions towards Syria. Maybe they are making tactics, maneuvers, but they haven’t changed their intentions, as I believe.
Question 22: President Obama wanted you out. He’s leaving office soon, and you’re staying. Did you win?
President Assad: No, it’s not between me and him. It’s between me and whoever wants to destroy this country, and mainly the terrorists within Syria now. This is where we can win as Syrians; if we can get rid of those terrorists, if we can restore the stability in Syria, this is where we win. Otherwise, we cannot talk about winning. That’s true, they didn’t succeed, but if they don’t succeed in their plans, if it went into a fiasco, it doesn’t mean we win the war. So I have to be realistic and precise about choosing the terms in that regard.
Question 23: But one of the president’s key aims, which was to remove you from power, has clearly failed, or do you believe it’s failed?
President Assad: Yeah, I said he’s failed, but that doesn’t mean I win, because for him the war is to remove me, for me the war is not to stay in my position; for me the war is to restore Syria. So, you’re talking about two different wars; for me I’m not fighting my war, I’m not fighting the war that the president should stay. My war is to protect Syria. I don’t care about if I stay or not as long as the Syrians don’t want me to be in my position. For me, I don’t care about what the other presidents want; I care about what the Syrians want. If they want me to stay, I’m going to stay, if they want me to leave, I’m going to leave. So, it’s different, a completely different thing.
Question 24: Do you feel the United States has fundamentally misunderstood your war with ISIS, with what you might call a common enemy?
President Assad: Again, it’s not a common enemy, because for us we are genuine in fighting not only ISIS but al-Nusra and every affiliated to Al Qaeda organization within Syria. All of them are terrorists. So, if you want to talk not about ISIS, about the terrorist groups, we wanted to get rid of the terrorists, we wanted to defeat those terrorists, while the United States wanted to manage those groups in order to topple the government in Syria. So, you cannot talk about common interest unless they really want to fight those terrorists and to defeat them, and they didn’t do that. They’ve been in Iraq in 2006, they didn’t try to defeat them.
Question 25: But America is very genuine about fighting ISIS. ISIS is a threat to the American homeland. How can you say America is not serious about fighting ISIS?
President Assad: Because ISIS has been set up in Iraq in 2006 while the United States was in Iraq, not Syria was in Iraq, so it was growing under the supervision of the American authority in Iraq, and they didn’t do anything to fight ISIS at that time. So why to fight it now? And they don’t fight it now. It’s been expanding under the supervision of the American airplanes, and they could have seen ISIS using the oil fields and exporting oil to Turkey, and they didn’t try to attack any convoy of ISIS. How could they be against ISIS? They cannot see, they don’t see? How the Russians could have seen it from the first day and started attacking those convoys? Actually, the Russian intervention unmasked the American intentions regarding ISIS, and the other terrorist groups, of course.
Question 26: Three years ago, President Obama made a threat against you. He drew a red line, and then withdrew from that and did not attack you. What do you feel about that? Is that the sign of a weak president?
President Assad: That’s the problem with the United States. They’ve been promoting for years now that the only good president is ruthless or tough and who should go to war. This is the definition. Otherwise, he’s going to be a weak president, which is not true. Actually, for the American administrations since the second World War, they have shared in stoking the fire in conflicts in every part of this world. And as the time goes by, those administrations are becoming more and more pyromaniac. The difference now between those administrations is only about the means, not about the goal. One of them sends his own troops, like Bush, the other one is using surrogate mercenaries, the third one using proxies, and so on, but the core is the same, nothing has changed.
Question 27: But to go back to that moment three years ago, was that the sign of a weak United States and a weak president?
President Assad: No, because if you want to talk about the core, which is the war attacking Syria, they’ve been attacking Syria through proxies. They didn’t fight ISIS, they didn’t make any pressure on Turkey or Saudi Arabia in order to tell them “stop sending money and personnel and every logistic support to those terrorists.” They could have done so, they didn’t. So, actually they are waging war, but in a different way. They didn’t send their troops, they didn’t attack with missiles, but they send mercenaries. That’s what I meant. I mean, it’s the same.
Question 28: Did it surprise you that they didn’t attack?
President Assad: No, no. It wasn’t a surprise, but I think what they are doing now had the same effect. So, between mercenaries and between missiles, this one could be more effective for them. So, no, I couldn’t say that I was surprised.
Question 29: You’re a leader. By drawing a red line and not following through, has that damaged America’s credibility, not just in the Middle East, but in the world?
President Assad: But this credibility hasn’t ever existed for us, at least since the early 70s, to be frank with you, since we restored our relations with the United States in 1974 we never saw any administration that has real credibility in every issue we dealt with. They never had it. So, I cannot say that it is harmed. Many of their allies don’t believe them. I think the American credibility, not because of what you mentioned, because of their politics in general, their mainstream politics, are at an all-time low. That’s how we see it.
Question 30: An all-time low in terms of its credibility in the world?
President Assad: Generally, yeah. Regarding the politics in general, not regarding Syria. Yeah.
Question 31: Do you welcome the end of President Obama’s term of office?
President Assad: It means nothing for us, because if you change administration but you don’t change politics, it means nothing. So, it’s about the politics, and in Syria we never bet on any president coming or any president going. We never bet. Because what they say in their campaign is different from what they practice after they are elected.
Question 32: You’ve talked about presidents being the same, never changing their policy, but there will be a new president in the United States next year. Do you hope for a new relationship? Do you believe anything like that is possible?
President Assad: Yeah, of course. We always hope that the next president will be much wiser than the previous one, less pyromaniac as I said, less militaristic, adventurist president. That’s what we hope, but we never saw. I mean the difference is very marginal. So, we keep hoping, but we don’t bet on that hope.
Question 33: So, there will be a new president. There are two main choices: one of them is Donald Trump. What do you know of Mr. Trump?
President Assad: Nothing. Just what I heard in the media, and during the campaign. That’s what I say, we don’t have to waste our time hearing what they say in their campaign; they’re going to change after they are elected, and this is where we have to start evaluating the president, after the campaign, not during the campaign.
Question 34: And you’re here in Damascus, what are you hearing in the media about Mr. Trump?
President Assad: The conflict between the Americans, but we don’t pay much attention to it. I mean, even this rhetoric between the different, let’s say, nominees, is changing during the campaign. So, what you hear today is not relevant tomorrow. So, we cannot build our politics on day-to-day politics.
Question 35: But you’re following this election?
President Assad: Not really, not really. Because as I said, you don’t follow anything that you cannot consider as connected to the reality yet. It’s only connected to the reality when they are in office. So far, it’s only rhetoric. We don’t have to waste our time with rhetoric.
Question 36: Simply rhetoric. So, for example, talking about Mr. Trump; anything Mr. Trump says, you wouldn’t necessarily believe that would be the policy of a President Trump?
President Assad: No, we cannot. Whether Trump or Clinton or anyone. I’m talking in general, it’s not about the names. It’s a principle for every American president in every campaign.
Question 37: He’s made very few comments about Syria or the Middle East, but he’s described you as a “bad guy.” Does that worry you?
President Assad: That’s his opinion. No, it’s a personal opinion. He doesn’t have to see me as a good guy. The question for me: do the Syrians see me as a good guy or a bad guy, not an American person or president or nominee. I don’t care about it. It’s not part of my political map, let’s say.
Question 38: One of the things he’s said and been very clear about is that he would be much tougher on ISIS. You would welcome that, wouldn’t you? Because you just said President Obama isn’t serious.
President Assad: You don’t have to be tougher. This word doesn’t have any meaning in reality, in real life, in this region. You have to fight ISIS in different ways. ISIS is not only fighters you have to attack with the strongest bomb or missile. It’s not like this. The issue of terrorism is very complicated, it’s related to the ideology. How can you be tough against the ideology of ISIS? That’s the question. How can you be tough regarding their economy, how they offer money and donations? How can you deal with that?
Question 39: I think Mr. Trump is talking about military toughness. He wants to-
President Assad: It’s not enough, it’s not enough. You have to be smart. It’s not enough to be tough. First of all, you have to have the will, you have to be genuine, then you have to be smart, then you can be tough, and being tough and being militarily active, this is important, but this is the last option when you fulfill the first criteria.
Question 40: From what you know of Mr. Trump, is he smart enough?
President Assad: I don’t know him. When I sit with him face-to-face, I can judge him, but I only look at the person on the TV, and you know on the TV you can manipulate everything, you can make, how to say, you can rehearse, you can prepare yourself, so that’s not the issue.
Question 41: Do you like what you see on TV of Mr. Trump?
President Assad: I don’t follow the American elections as I said, because we don’t bet on it. We don’t follow it.
Question 42: He seems to respect President Putin. Does that give you hope that maybe he’s a man you could do business with?
President Assad: If he’s genuine, I think he’s saying the right thing, because every person on Earth, whether they agree or disagree with President Putin, should respect him, because he’s respectable. He respects himself, and he respects the other, he respects his values, respects the interests of his own people, and he’s honest and genuine. So, how can’t you respect someone with those descriptions? If he’s genuine, I think he’s correct. That’s what I can say.
Question 43: Mr. Trump has also made comments about Muslims, and not allowing Muslims into the United States. Did that anger you, upset you?
President Assad: Yeah, especially in Syria as a melting pot country made of many, many religions and sects and ethnicities, we think this diversity is richness, not the opposite. It’s the way the government and the way the influential forces in the society that made it a problem or a conflict. If you can have all those people living in one society with real integration, with harmony, this is richness, this is for the interest of any society, including the United States.
Question 44: So, Mr. Trump should not have made those comments about Muslims?
President Assad: Anyone shouldn’t make any discriminative rhetoric in any country. I don’t believe in this kind of rhetoric, of course.
Question 45: Mr. Trump has no experience in foreign policy. Does that worry you?
President Assad: Who had this experience before? Obama or George Bush or Clinton before? No-one of them had any experience. This is the problem with the United States. You have to look for a statesman who has real experience in politics for years, not because of having a position in Congress for a few years or being minister of foreign affairs for example. That doesn’t mean you have the experience. The experience in states should be much much longer. So we don’t think that most of the presidents of the United States were well-versed in politics.
Question 46: So, a man with no experience in foreign policy in the White House is not necessarily dangerous in your view?
President Assad: Anyone who doesn’t have experience in any position, in the White House or in the Presidential Palace in Syria or any other country, is of course dangerous for the country, generally. Of course, the United States as a great power, could have more impacts on the rest of the world. But it’s not only about the experience. At the end, when you have institutions, they can help. It’s about the intention. Is he going to be with good experience but with militaristic intentions? Destructive intentions and so on? So, you have to talk about many factors. It’s not enough to talk only about the experience.
Question 47: Someone with more experience in foreign affairs is Hillary Clinton. She is known to you, in one sense. What would the consequences be if Hillary Clinton wins the election?
President Assad: Again, the same, I have to repeat the same answer. It depends on her politics. What politics is she going to adopt? Is she going to prove that she’s tough and take the United States to another war or to make escalations? This is where it’s going to be bad for everyone, including the United States. If she’s going to go in another direction, that will be good. And again, we focus more about the intentions before talking about the experience. The experience is very important, but the intention is the most crucial thing for any president. So, can you ask them the question: can they tell genuinely the American people and the rest of the world what their real intentions about their politics are? Are they going to make escalation or we’re going to see more entente around the world?

Question 5: It’s the crucial factor?
President Assad: It is, it is, definitely. At the same time, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have sent more troops since that Russian legal intervention started, but in spite of that, it was the crucial factor, as you just mentioned.
Question 6: So, you owe President Putin a lot.
President Assad: Everyone who stood beside us; Russians, Iranians, and even the Chinese stood, but each one in its own way, whether political, military, or economic, because it’s not one factor; you cannot only talk about the firepower or the human resources. It’s a multi-factor issue. All those countries supported Syria, beside other countries who supported to a lesser degree.
Question 7: Has President Putin demanded anything of you? What’s the deal?
President Assad: When he wanted to intervene? He didn’t ask for anything.
Question 8: Nothing?
President Assad: For a simple reason: first of all, their politics are built on values. This is very important. The second thing, their interest is common interest with us now, because they are fighting the same terrorists that they should fight in Russia. We are fighting the terrorists that could be fighting in Europe, in the United States, anywhere else in the world. But the difference between President Putin and the other Western officials is that he could see that clearly while the other officials in Europe or in the West in general couldn’t see that. That’s why his intervention is based on values, and at the same time based on the interest of the Russian people.
Question 9: Do you speak much with him?
President Assad: When there’s something to speak about, of course we speak, or through officials.
Question 10: How often, for example, this year, have you spoken with him?
President Assad: I didn’t count them, but many times. We spoke many times.
Question 11: And how would you describe your relationship with him?
President Assad: Very frank, very honest, mutual respect.
Question 12: But he has demanded nothing of you, is that the case?
President Assad: Nothing at all, nothing at all.
Question 13: Because the suspicion is that Russia may be working in concert with the United States, and Secretary of State Kerry is meeting Vladimir Putin Thursday in Moscow. The suspicion is that they are coming to some sort of deal that might be bad news for you.
President Assad: First of all, regarding the first part, if he wanted to ask for something, he would ask me to fight the terrorists, because this is where his interest as a president and as a country – I mean Russia – lies. Second, regarding that allegation from time to time, that the Russians met with the Americans and they discussed something about the Syrian issue, like, in order to give the impression that they are deciding what is going to happen in Syria. Many times, the Russian officials many times said clearly that the Syrian issue is related to the Syrian people, and yesterday Minister Lavrov said that clearly; said we cannot sit with the Americans to define what the Syrians want to do. This is a Syrian issue, only the Syrian people can define the future of their country and how to solve their problem. The role of Russia and the United States is to offer the international atmosphere, to protect the Syrians from any intervention. The problem in that regard is that the Russians are honest, the Americans didn’t deliver anything in that regard. But, this is not to take the decision about what we have to do as Syrians.
Question 14: So just to be clear: neither Foreign Secretary Lavrov nor President Putin has ever talked to you about political transition, about a day when you would leave power? That’s never come up?
President Assad: Never, because as I said, this is related to the Syrian people. Only the Syrian people define who’s going to be the president, when to come, and when to go. They never said a single word regarding this.
Question 15: And you’re not worried in the least about Secretary Kerry meeting Vladimir Putin and coming to an understanding in which you may have to leave power?
President Assad: No, for one reason: because their politics, I mean the Russian politics, is not based on making deals; it’s based on values. And that’s why you don’t see any achievement between them and the Americans because of different principles. The American politics are based on making deals, regardless of the values, which is not the case for the Russians.
Question 16: But of course it’s not just Russia that’s bombing your enemies; it’s the United States. Do you welcome American airstrikes against ISIS?
President Assad: No, because it’s not legal. First of all, it’s not legal.
Question 17: It’s not legal for Russia to do it, is it?
President Assad: No, they are invited legally and formally by the Syrian government. It’s the right of any government to invite any other country to help in any issue. So, they are legal in Syria, while the Americans are not legal, with their allies, of course all of them are not legal. This is first. Second, since the Russian intervention, terrorism has been, let’s say, regressing, while before that, and during the American illegal intervention with their allies ISIS was expanding and terrorism was expanding and taking over new areas in Syria. They’re not serious. So, I cannot say I welcome the un-seriousness and to be in Syria illegally.
Question 18: Thousands of missions, hundreds of airstrikes… the United States is not being serious in Syria?
President Assad: The question is not how many strikes. What is the achievement? That’s the question. The reality is telling, the reality is telling that since the beginning of the American airstrikes, terrorism has been expanding and prevailing, not vice versa. It only shrank when the Russians intervened. So, this is reality. We have to talk about facts, it’s not only about the pro forma action that they’ve been taking.
Question 19: So, American airstrikes are ineffective and counterproductive?
President Assad: Yes, it is counterproductive somehow. When terrorism is growing, it is counterproductive. That’s correct.
Question 20: Whose fault is that? Is that a military fault, or is President Obama simply not being, let’s say, ruthless enough?
President Assad: No, first of all it’s not about being ruthless; it’s about being genuine. It’s about the real intentions, it’s about being serious, it’s about having the will. The United States doesn’t have the will to defeat the terrorists; it had the will to control them and to use them as a card like they did in Afghanistan. That will reflected on the military aspect of the issue. If you want to compare, more than a hundred and twenty or thirty Russian airstrikes in a few areas in Syria, compared to ten or twelve American allies’ airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, it means militarily nothing. But that military ineffectiveness is a reflection of the political will.
Question 21: There was a political will, as you put it, to remove you from power. That was the will of Washington. That seems to have changed. Have you any idea why the United States has changed its mind apparently about your future?
President al-Assad9President Assad: No, because the problem with the American officials is that they say something and they mask their intentions, they go in a different way. They say something, they say the opposite. They say something, they do something different. So, you cannot tell what are their real intentions. What I’m sure about is that they don’t have good intentions towards Syria. Maybe they are making tactics, maneuvers, but they haven’t changed their intentions, as I believe.
Question 22: President Obama wanted you out. He’s leaving office soon, and you’re staying. Did you win?
President Assad: No, it’s not between me and him. It’s between me and whoever wants to destroy this country, and mainly the terrorists within Syria now. This is where we can win as Syrians; if we can get rid of those terrorists, if we can restore the stability in Syria, this is where we win. Otherwise, we cannot talk about winning. That’s true, they didn’t succeed, but if they don’t succeed in their plans, if it went into a fiasco, it doesn’t mean we win the war. So I have to be realistic and precise about choosing the terms in that regard.
Question 23: But one of the president’s key aims, which was to remove you from power, has clearly failed, or do you believe it’s failed?
President Assad: Yeah, I said he’s failed, but that doesn’t mean I win, because for him the war is to remove me, for me the war is not to stay in my position; for me the war is to restore Syria. So, you’re talking about two different wars; for me I’m not fighting my war, I’m not fighting the war that the president should stay. My war is to protect Syria. I don’t care about if I stay or not as long as the Syrians don’t want me to be in my position. For me, I don’t care about what the other presidents want; I care about what the Syrians want. If they want me to stay, I’m going to stay, if they want me to leave, I’m going to leave. So, it’s different, a completely different thing.
Question 24: Do you feel the United States has fundamentally misunderstood your war with ISIS, with what you might call a common enemy?
President Assad: Again, it’s not a common enemy, because for us we are genuine in fighting not only ISIS but al-Nusra and every affiliated to Al Qaeda organization within Syria. All of them are terrorists. So, if you want to talk not about ISIS, about the terrorist groups, we wanted to get rid of the terrorists, we wanted to defeat those terrorists, while the United States wanted to manage those groups in order to topple the government in Syria. So, you cannot talk about common interest unless they really want to fight those terrorists and to defeat them, and they didn’t do that. They’ve been in Iraq in 2006, they didn’t try to defeat them.
Question 25: But America is very genuine about fighting ISIS. ISIS is a threat to the American homeland. How can you say America is not serious about fighting ISIS?
President Assad: Because ISIS has been set up in Iraq in 2006 while the United States was in Iraq, not Syria was in Iraq, so it was growing under the supervision of the American authority in Iraq, and they didn’t do anything to fight ISIS at that time. So why to fight it now? And they don’t fight it now. It’s been expanding under the supervision of the American airplanes, and they could have seen ISIS using the oil fields and exporting oil to Turkey, and they didn’t try to attack any convoy of ISIS. How could they be against ISIS? They cannot see, they don’t see? How the Russians could have seen it from the first day and started attacking those convoys? Actually, the Russian intervention unmasked the American intentions regarding ISIS, and the other terrorist groups, of course.
Question 26: Three years ago, President Obama made a threat against you. He drew a red line, and then withdrew from that and did not attack you. What do you feel about that? Is that the sign of a weak president?
President Assad: That’s the problem with the United States. They’ve been promoting for years now that the only good president is ruthless or tough and who should go to war. This is the definition. Otherwise, he’s going to be a weak president, which is not true. Actually, for the American administrations since the second World War, they have shared in stoking the fire in conflicts in every part of this world. And as the time goes by, those administrations are becoming more and more pyromaniac. The difference now between those administrations is only about the means, not about the goal. One of them sends his own troops, like Bush, the other one is using surrogate mercenaries, the third one using proxies, and so on, but the core is the same, nothing has changed.
Question 27: But to go back to that moment three years ago, was that the sign of a weak United States and a weak president?
President Assad: No, because if you want to talk about the core, which is the war attacking Syria, they’ve been attacking Syria through proxies. They didn’t fight ISIS, they didn’t make any pressure on Turkey or Saudi Arabia in order to tell them “stop sending money and personnel and every logistic support to those terrorists.” They could have done so, they didn’t. So, actually they are waging war, but in a different way. They didn’t send their troops, they didn’t attack with missiles, but they send mercenaries. That’s what I meant. I mean, it’s the same.
Question 28: Did it surprise you that they didn’t attack?
President Assad: No, no. It wasn’t a surprise, but I think what they are doing now had the same effect. So, between mercenaries and between missiles, this one could be more effective for them. So, no, I couldn’t say that I was surprised.
Question 29: You’re a leader. By drawing a red line and not following through, has that damaged America’s credibility, not just in the Middle East, but in the world?
President Assad: But this credibility hasn’t ever existed for us, at least since the early 70s, to be frank with you, since we restored our relations with the United States in 1974 we never saw any administration that has real credibility in every issue we dealt with. They never had it. So, I cannot say that it is harmed. Many of their allies don’t believe them. I think the American credibility, not because of what you mentioned, because of their politics in general, their mainstream politics, are at an all-time low. That’s how we see it.
Question 30: An all-time low in terms of its credibility in the world?
President Assad: Generally, yeah. Regarding the politics in general, not regarding Syria. Yeah.
Question 31: Do you welcome the end of President Obama’s term of office?
President Assad: It means nothing for us, because if you change administration but you don’t change politics, it means nothing. So, it’s about the politics, and in Syria we never bet on any president coming or any president going. We never bet. Because what they say in their campaign is different from what they practice after they are elected.
Question 32: You’ve talked about presidents being the same, never changing their policy, but there will be a new president in the United States next year. Do you hope for a new relationship? Do you believe anything like that is possible?
President Assad: Yeah, of course. We always hope that the next president will be much wiser than the previous one, less pyromaniac as I said, less militaristic, adventurist president. That’s what we hope, but we never saw. I mean the difference is very marginal. So, we keep hoping, but we don’t bet on that hope.
Question 33: So, there will be a new president. There are two main choices: one of them is Donald Trump. What do you know of Mr. Trump?
President Assad: Nothing. Just what I heard in the media, and during the campaign. That’s what I say, we don’t have to waste our time hearing what they say in their campaign; they’re going to change after they are elected, and this is where we have to start evaluating the president, after the campaign, not during the campaign.
Question 34: And you’re here in Damascus, what are you hearing in the media about Mr. Trump?
President Assad: The conflict between the Americans, but we don’t pay much attention to it. I mean, even this rhetoric between the different, let’s say, nominees, is changing during the campaign. So, what you hear today is not relevant tomorrow. So, we cannot build our politics on day-to-day politics.
Question 35: But you’re following this election?
President Assad: Not really, not really. Because as I said, you don’t follow anything that you cannot consider as connected to the reality yet. It’s only connected to the reality when they are in office. So far, it’s only rhetoric. We don’t have to waste our time with rhetoric.
Question 36: Simply rhetoric. So, for example, talking about Mr. Trump; anything Mr. Trump says, you wouldn’t necessarily believe that would be the policy of a President Trump?
President Assad: No, we cannot. Whether Trump or Clinton or anyone. I’m talking in general, it’s not about the names. It’s a principle for every American president in every campaign.
Question 37: He’s made very few comments about Syria or the Middle East, but he’s described you as a “bad guy.” Does that worry you?
President Assad: That’s his opinion. No, it’s a personal opinion. He doesn’t have to see me as a good guy. The question for me: do the Syrians see me as a good guy or a bad guy, not an American person or president or nominee. I don’t care about it. It’s not part of my political map, let’s say.
Question 38: One of the things he’s said and been very clear about is that he would be much tougher on ISIS. You would welcome that, wouldn’t you? Because you just said President Obama isn’t serious.
President Assad: You don’t have to be tougher. This word doesn’t have any meaning in reality, in real life, in this region. You have to fight ISIS in different ways. ISIS is not only fighters you have to attack with the strongest bomb or missile. It’s not like this. The issue of terrorism is very complicated, it’s related to the ideology. How can you be tough against the ideology of ISIS? That’s the question. How can you be tough regarding their economy, how they offer money and donations? How can you deal with that?
Question 39: I think Mr. Trump is talking about military toughness. He wants to-
President Assad: It’s not enough, it’s not enough. You have to be smart. It’s not enough to be tough. First of all, you have to have the will, you have to be genuine, then you have to be smart, then you can be tough, and being tough and being militarily active, this is important, but this is the last option when you fulfill the first criteria.
Question 40: From what you know of Mr. Trump, is he smart enough?
President Assad: I don’t know him. When I sit with him face-to-face, I can judge him, but I only look at the person on the TV, and you know on the TV you can manipulate everything, you can make, how to say, you can rehearse, you can prepare yourself, so that’s not the issue.
Question 41: Do you like what you see on TV of Mr. Trump?
President Assad: I don’t follow the American elections as I said, because we don’t bet on it. We don’t follow it.
Question 42: He seems to respect President Putin. Does that give you hope that maybe he’s a man you could do business with?
President Assad: If he’s genuine, I think he’s saying the right thing, because every person on Earth, whether they agree or disagree with President Putin, should respect him, because he’s respectable. He respects himself, and he respects the other, he respects his values, respects the interests of his own people, and he’s honest and genuine. So, how can’t you respect someone with those descriptions? If he’s genuine, I think he’s correct. That’s what I can say.
Question 43: Mr. Trump has also made comments about Muslims, and not allowing Muslims into the United States. Did that anger you, upset you?
President Assad: Yeah, especially in Syria as a melting pot country made of many, many religions and sects and ethnicities, we think this diversity is richness, not the opposite. It’s the way the government and the way the influential forces in the society that made it a problem or a conflict. If you can have all those people living in one society with real integration, with harmony, this is richness, this is for the interest of any society, including the United States.
Question 44: So, Mr. Trump should not have made those comments about Muslims?
President Assad: Anyone shouldn’t make any discriminative rhetoric in any country. I don’t believe in this kind of rhetoric, of course.
Question 45: Mr. Trump has no experience in foreign policy. Does that worry you?
President Assad: Who had this experience before? Obama or George Bush or Clinton before? No-one of them had any experience. This is the problem with the United States. You have to look for a statesman who has real experience in politics for years, not because of having a position in Congress for a few years or being minister of foreign affairs for example. That doesn’t mean you have the experience. The experience in states should be much much longer. So we don’t think that most of the presidents of the United States were well-versed in politics.
Question 46: So, a man with no experience in foreign policy in the White House is not necessarily dangerous in your view?
President Assad: Anyone who doesn’t have experience in any position, in the White House or in the Presidential Palace in Syria or any other country, is of course dangerous for the country, generally. Of course, the United States as a great power, could have more impacts on the rest of the world. But it’s not only about the experience. At the end, when you have institutions, they can help. It’s about the intention. Is he going to be with good experience but with militaristic intentions? Destructive intentions and so on? So, you have to talk about many factors. It’s not enough to talk only about the experience.
Question 47: Someone with more experience in foreign affairs is Hillary Clinton. She is known to you, in one sense. What would the consequences be if Hillary Clinton wins the election?
President Assad: Again, the same, I have to repeat the same answer. It depends on her politics. What politics is she going to adopt? Is she going to prove that she’s tough and take the United States to another war or to make escalations? This is where it’s going to be bad for everyone, including the United States. If she’s going to go in another direction, that will be good. And again, we focus more about the intentions before talking about the experience. The experience is very important, but the intention is the most crucial thing for any president. So, can you ask them the question: can they tell genuinely the American people and the rest of the world what their real intentions about their politics are? Are they going to make escalation or we’re going to see more entente around the world?
President al-Assad8Question 48: Well, one difference between them clearly is that Mrs. Clinton is determined, it seems still, to get rid of you. At least that’s her stated position. Mr. Trump says he’s focusing on ISIS, leave you alone. That’s a clear difference between the two. Hillary Clinton, well, I’ll ask you the question: does Hillary Clinton represent more of a threat to you than Donald Trump?
President Assad: No, because since the beginning of this crisis we heard the same motto “Assad must go” many times from nearly every Western official in different levels, whether leader or foreign official or any other official. We never cared about it. So you cannot talk about this as a threat; this is interfering in our internal issues we’re not going to respond to. As long as I have the support of the Syrian people, I don’t care about whoever talks, including the president of the United States himself. Anyone. So it’s the same for us. That’s why I say Clinton and Trump and what Obama said, for me, nothing. We don’t put it on the political map, we don’t waste our time with those rhetoric, or even demands.
Question 49: But if Hillary Clinton as president establishes a no-fly zone over your territory, over northern Syrian for example, that makes a huge difference.
President Assad: Of course. This is where you can talk about threat, that’s why I said the policy is the crucial thing for us. When they started supporting the terrorists with such projects or plan or step, this is where you can have more chaos in the world. That’s another question: does the United States have an interest in having more chaos around the world, or the United States have more interest in having stability around the world? That’s another question. Of course, the United States can create chaos. They’ve been creating chaos for the last 50-60 years around the world. It’s not something new. Are they going to make it worse, more prevailing? That’s another question. But it’s not about me. It’s not about the president. It’s about the whole situation in the world, because you cannot separate the situation in Syria from the situation in the Middle East, and when the Middle East is not stable, the world cannot be stable.
Question 50: Let me just probe you about how far you might want a new relationship with the United States. ISIS is headquartered in your country in Raqqa. If you knew that ISIS was about to attack the United States, would you warn America?
President Assad: As a principle, yes, because they may attack civilians, and I cannot blame the innocents in the United States for the bad intentions of their officials. This is not correct. And as I said many times, I don’t consider the United States as a direct enemy as they don’t occupy my land. But at the same time, this is, let’s say, not realistic, for one reason; because there’s no relation between us and the United States. This kind of information or cooperation needs security cooperation based on political cooperation. We have neither. So you cannot have it anyway.
Question 51: I’ve spoken to your [Deputy] Foreign Minister Dr. Fayssal Mikdad many times, and he’s described to me the danger of Syria and its crisis exploding, not just across the Middle East, but across the world, and that has clearly happened. Is, as ISIS is driven back or broken, is there a danger that their fighters scatter?

Is there a danger that as you defeat ISIS, the United States becomes more vulnerable to terrorism?
President Assad: No. If we defeat ISIS we are helping the rest of the world, because those terrorists coming from more than a hundred countries around the world, including the Western countries, if they aren’t defeated they will go back with more experience, more fanaticism, and more extremism, and they’re going to attack in those countries. So, if we defeat them here, we are helping every other country, including the United States.
Question 52: But ISIS fighters may leave Raqqa, and as we’ve seen with terrorist attacks in Europe, they come to France, they come to Belgium. They could come to the United States as well and attack. That is a real risk, isn’t it?
President Assad: Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. I said if we defeat them here, if we defeat terrorism in the meaning they cannot go back, we are helping then. If they leave, if they escape, if you keep having this terrorism, this is where you can start exporting those terrorists to Europe, as what happened in France recently. So what you said is correct, that’s what I mean. If we defeat them here, and they cannot go back, this is where we help the others. If they go back, they will be a danger to the rest of the world.
Question 53: Like any war, there are two sides. Your forces have been accused of doing some terrible things. I’ve been here many times and I have seen some of the terrible things as a result of your forces’ airstrikes, bombardments, and so on. Do you believe one day you will face an international court?
President Assad: First of all, you have to do your job as a president. When you are attacked by terrorists, I mean as a country, you have to defend your country, and that is my job according to the constitution. So, I’m doing my job, and I’m going to keep doing it no matter what I’m going to face. Let’s be clear about this. Defending the country cannot be balanced with the personal future of the president, whether he is going to face a criminal court or anything like that, or to face death. It doesn’t matter. If you don’t want to face all these things, leave that position and give it to someone else.
Question 54: But the reason people are saying you should face a war crimes tribunal is that you are clearly using any means whatsoever. I mean, I know you don’t agree that there are such a thing as a barrel bomb. Never mind the metal, the charges that you are using, indiscriminate force, indiscriminate weapons in civilian areas. That’s true, isn’t it?
President Assad: First of all, those people, do they have any criteria that what the means that you should use with the terrorists? They don’t have. So, this is irrelevant. It has no meaning from a legal point of view and from a realistic point of view. Second, if you talk about indiscriminate, no army would use indiscriminate armaments in such a situation where there’s nearly intermingle between the two sides.
Question 55: With respect Mr. President, I have seen a bomb thrown from a helicopter. That was indiscriminate.
President Assad: Let’s say, technically, this is not the issue whether to throw it from a helicopter or from an aircraft. So, this is not the issue. The more important thing, if you want to talk about precise, let’s say we are using precise armaments like the Unites States using the drones and the highest precision missiles in Afghanistan, how many terrorists have they killed so far? They have killed many, many folds of civilians and innocents.
Question 56: Even if that’s true, that doesn’t make anything that you do right.
President Assad: No, no, no. I mean, first of all, the kind of armament that you are using is not related to what you have mentioned. It is not whether you use high precision or less precise armaments. There’s no such criteria. This is only part of the media campaign recently. I’m talking now legally. So, we had the right-
Question 57: With respect, it is not just a media campaign. The United Nations, as you well know, has spoken about this. Human rights groups have spoken about this, not just indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians, but the UN spoke this week about the problems in Aleppo, in Darayya, which is just very close to here, of the use of starvation as a weapon of war, sieges. That’s going on right now close to us, isn’t it?
President Assad: We’re going to talk about the siege. Now, regarding the armaments, the only thing that the government cannot use in any war is the armaments that’s been banned by international law. Any other armaments that you’ve been using against terrorism, it’s your right. So, it’s our right to use any armament to defeat the

terrorists.
Question 58: And you know there’s a charge that you have used chemical weapons, which you deny.
President Assad: We didn’t. So far, it has been three years and no one had offered any evidence regarding this, only allegations.
Question 59: There is plenty of evidence but you reject them.
President Assad: No, no. There is no evidence, actually, only pictures on the Internet and any one can-
Question 60: Photographic, scientific, eyewitness…
President Assad: Nothing. You have a delegation coming from the international organization of chemical weapons. They came to Syria and they didn’t have any evidence. They went and collected everything, samples and everything to offer evidence, but they couldn’t. There is no evidence. So, we didn’t use it, and there is no logic in using it.
Question 61: Let’s talk about the methods your forces are using close to here which is cutting off an area and besieging it, and there are thousands of civilians very close to here, who are starving. Do you recognize that?
President Assad: Let’s presume that what you are saying is correct, let’s presume that. Now, you are talking about encircled or besieged by the army for years now, not for months, for years. They don’t have food, and every basics because the government doesn’t allow them, but at the same time they have been fighting for two years, and they have been shelling us with mortars and killing civilians from their area. It means, according to this narrative, that we are allowing them to have armaments, but we don’t allow them to have food, is that realistic?
Question 62: That’s what the UN says. The UN says, for example, in Madaya it’s only managed to get four aid convoys in, in all these years.
President Assad: How do we prevent them from having food and we don’t prevent them from having armaments to kill us? What is the logic in this? This is contradiction. We either besiege everything or we allow everything. This is first. Second, the proof that this is not correct is that you have every video about the convoys coming from the United Nations to reach those areas. Otherwise, how could they survive for years if they are under the siege? It’s been years, they have been talking about the same narrative, repeating, reiterating for years now, but people are still alive, how could they live without food?
Question 63: As you know, targeting civilians in a war is a war crime and just recently, the family of Marie Colvin, an American journalist, has launched a suit in the United States charging you and your government with deliberately targeting and killing her. You know Marie Colvin; she was a friend of mine.
President Assad: Yeah, a journalist, yeah.
Question 64: Did your forces target Marie Colvin and her colleagues with an intention to kill her?
President Assad: No, very simply. First of all, the army forces didn’t know that Marie Colvin existed somewhere, because before that we hadn’t known about Marie Colvin. So, it’s a war and she came illegally to Syria, she worked with the terrorists, and because she came illegally, she’s been responsible of everything that befall on her, this is first. Second-
Question 65: She is responsible for her own death?
President Assad: Of course, she came illegally to Syria. We can be responsible of everyone within our country when they come legally to Syria. She came illegally, and she went with the terrorists. We didn’t send her anywhere, we don’t know anything about her.
Question 66: As you know, that doesn’t explain why missiles hit the house that she was in in Homs?
President Assad: No, no, nobody knows if she was killed by a missile or which missile or where did the missile come from or how. No one has any evidence. This is just allegations, because it’s a conflict area, it’s a war. You know about crossfire, when you are caught in a crossfire somewhere, you cannot tell who killed who. So, these are allegations. Second, we had hundreds of journalists who came to Syria legally and illegally, and they covered for the terrorists, not for the government, and we didn’t kill them. So, why to single out this person in order to kill her? There is no reason. This is second. Third, tens of journalists working for the government and support the government have been killed, did we kill them? We didn’t. So, this is war. Have you heard about a good war? I don’t think that anyone has heard about a good war. It’s a war. You always have causalities, you always have innocent people being killed by any means, and no one can tell how.
Question 67: You see the impression you give, Mr. President, is of a man who feels he bears no responsibility for the terrible things that are done in his name to the Syrian people. You have an air of “oh well, it really does not matter.”
President Assad: You only bear the responsibility for the decision that you take. You don’t bear the responsibility for the decision that you didn’t take.
Question 68: But some of the decisions you’ve taken have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.

President Assad: Like?
Question 69: Attacking certain areas, launching campaigns, airstrikes, the use of certain weapons.
President Assad: The only two decisions that we’ve taken since the beginning of the crisis are to defend our country against the terrorists, and that’s a correct decision. The second one is to make dialogue with everyone. We made dialogue with everyone, including some terrorist groups who wanted to give up their armaments, and we made it. We’re very flexible. We didn’t take any decision to attack any area that doesn’t include terrorists or where terrorists don’t shell the others’ cities

adjacent to them.
Question 70: Do you ever see pictures, photographs, videos of children, for example, in rebel-held areas? And I wonder if you have seen these photographs, what do you feel? Sorrow, regret, nothing?
President Assad: My question is, how could you verify that those children that you saw on the internet are in their area?
Question 71: You see, there you go again, Mr. President. An answer like that simply reinforces people’s view that you are evading responsibility-
President Assad: No, no, no.
Question 72: That actually you don’t care for the people on the other side that your forces kill.
President Assad: That question could be answered, if you answer that question: how can you blame now Bush for the one million Iraqis dead since the war in Iraq in 2003?
Question 73: I’m not talking about President Bush; I am here to ask you-
President Assad: No, no. I’m talking about the principle now; it’s about the principle. The same principle. He attacked a sovereign country, while I defend my country. If you want to use one standard, it is one thing, but if you want to do a double standard, that is another thing.
Question 74: You’re still not giving me the impression that actually you care very much.
President Assad: No, no. I talk to an American audience, so there must be an analogy between the two things, because it is about the logic that you use to explain something. It is not only about my answer. He attacked a sovereign country while we are defending our country. He killed Iraqi people on their land, we are defending mainly against terrorists who are coming from different places in that world. So, this is our right, while to talk about a clean war where there is no causalities, no civilians, no innocent people to be killed, that doesn’t exist. No one could make it. No war in the world.
Question 75: Is this how you explain the war, for example, to your children at the breakfast table, I am sure they are very-
President Assad: Of course, I’m going to talk about the reality, about the facts, while to talk about children being killed, children of who, where, and how? You are talking about propaganda and about media campaigns, and about sometimes fake pictures on the internet. We cannot talk but about the facts. We have to talk about the facts. I cannot talk about allegations.

Question 76: Have you ever cried about what happened to Syria?
President Assad: Crying doesn’t mean you are a good man, and doesn’t mean you have a lot of passion; it’s about the passion that’s within your heart, it is not about your eyes, it is not about the tears. This is first. Second, as a president, it’s about what you’re going to do, not about how you’re going to feel. How are you going to protect the Syrians? When you have an incident, bad incident, and you have it every day, do you keep crying every day, or you keep working? My question is how I can help whenever I have a bad event or incident. I ask myself how can I protect the other Syrians from having the same problem.
Question 77: What are you going to do next? Are you just going to go on and on and on? You and your father have been in power for forty-six years, is that right?
President Assad: No, it’s not right, because he is a president and I am another president. So, it’s not right. The description is not right at all. He was elected by the Syrian people, and I was elected after he died. He didn’t put me in any position, so you cannot connect. I’m a president, and he’s a president. I have been in power for sixteen years, not for forty-five years.
Question 78: You have been in power for sixteen years, my question is: are you going to go on and on and on?
President Assad: Ah, in my position? In my position, you have to ask the Syrian people. If they don’t want me, I have to leave right away, today. If they want me, I have to stay. It depends on them, I mean, if I want to stay against their will, I cannot produce, I cannot succeed, and I do not think I have the intention not to

succeed.
Question 79: How do you think history will remember you?
President Assad: How I hope history will remember me. I cannot foretell; I am not a fortuneteller. I hope that history will see me as the man who protected his country from terrorism and from intervention and saved its sovereignty and the integrity of its land.
Question 80: Because you know what the first draft of history is saying, that you’re a brutal dictator, you are a man with blood on your hands, more blood on your hands than even on you father.
President Assad: No, again, I will draw that example if you have a doctor who cut the hand because of a gangrene to save the patient, you do not say he’s a brutal doctor. He’s doing his job in order to save the rest of the body. So, when you protect your country from the terrorists and you kill terrorists and you defeat terrorists, you are not brutal; you are a patriot. That is how you look at yourself, and that’s how the people want to look at you.
Question 81: And that is how you see yourself, as a patriot?
President Assad: I cannot be objective about looking at myself. The most important thing is how the Syrians look at me, that is the real and objective opinion, not my opinion. I cannot be objective about myself.
Journalist: Mr. President, thank you very much for answering NBC’s questions and for taking time to talk to me. Thank you very much.
 


The Islamic State (ISIS-Daesh) Received Secret Funding from Gulf states: British Parliament Report

13 Jul

By Rori Donaghy

Global Research, July 13, 2016

Middle East Eye 12 July 2016

A British parliamentary report released on Tuesday has concluded there is “historical evidence” the Islamic State (IS) group received funding from within Arab Gulf states.
In evidence submitted to the foreign affairs select committee, the Ministry of Defence said: “[There] is historical evidence of financial donations to Daesh [IS] from within Gulf states. Furthermore, it is understood that family donations are being made to Daesh, through the unregulated Alternative Value Transfer Systems (AVTS).”
AVTS include ways of globally transferring money that includes little information about the individuals involved in the transaction – examples include the open source online currency Bitcoin.
The MoD cited as evidence an incident in September 2014 when an IS official was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department after receiving a $2m donation “emanating from the Gulf”.
The MoD also said in its evidence that private donations to IS are “minimal” compared to its other revenue streams, which include oil and taxation.
The committee said in an assessment of IS finances that Britain should be able to “ask hard questions of close friends” when discussing how donations have reached the Syria-Iraq based militant group.
The report concluded that IS has been put under severe financial pressure after a sustained international campaign that has forced the group to turn to “gangsterism and protection rackets” for money.
The report argued that plunging oil prices and air strikes on IS in Syria and Iraq have reduced the group’s ability to operate, however, the most controversial part is undoubtedly the section on donations to IS.
While the government told the committee that it had no evidence any country had provided funding to IS as a “matter of policy,” concerns were raised in the report about how Gulf states responded to the group’s initial rise to prominence, before and around the time of its seizing of the Iraqi city Mosul in June 2014.
The MoD said Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar have played an “important role” in the anti-IS coalition, but officials from the Foreign Office said “some governments in the region may have failed to prevent donations reaching ISIL (IS) from their citizens”.
Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood told the committee that after IS “first caught international attention,” the group “may have been perceived as a defender of Sunni Muslims in the wars in Iraq and Syria”.
Former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki – who was in office between 2006 and 2014 – was repeatedly accused of favouring his Shia Muslim sect and oppressing Iraqi Sunni Muslims.
In Syria, where a brutal civil war has raged since early 2011, President Bashar al-Assad has also been repeatedly accused of specifically targeting Sunni Muslims who desire his overthrow.
Ellwood said that the period of IS being viewed as a defender of Sunnis was “before 2014”. Dan Chugg, head of the Foreign Office’s ISIL Task Force, told the committee that “around two years ago” IS “may have been able to attract donations from sympathetic Sunnis, with the wealthiest states in the region – the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf – being the subject of particular concern”.
“[It] was certainly a problem in the early days of the Daesh organisation that there was funding coming in from Gulf countries and other places,” Chugg said, using an alternative acronym for IS.
The committee asked Ellwood for his opinion on reports speculating that donations may have been sent to IS by individuals close to royal families in the Gulf.
Ellwood said: “It is very opaque, it has to be said. When somebody who is close to the top of a royal family is a very rich individual donor and chooses to do so, that is very likely to happen.”
On the same issue of the royal families being somehow involved – either directly or indirectly – in the funding of IS, Chugg told the committee: “It is difficult with some of these countries to know exactly what is government funding and what is not when you are dealing with royal families, wealthy princes and those kind of things.
“Our strategy was not to try to ascertain whose problem and whose fault it was, but to stop the funding going to Daesh. That was what was important. And that is what our efforts have been focused on.”
Turkey, Gulf deny funding IS
The Gulf states and Turkey have repeatedly denied allegations of funding IS and defended their actions by pointing to their role in the international coalition which is attempting to defeat the group.
However, Chugg said that while he is “not aware of hard evidence that those countries were funding Daesh” two years ago, there “was a lot of speculation that those countries were not playing a terribly helpful role” in taking on the group.
The report did say that regional states have since established legal and institutional infrastructure to stop the ability of IS to raise funds. But it added that some regional states have been “slow” to implement these measures.
The report cited the fact Saudi Arabia only made it illegal for its citizens to fund IS in March 2015, while Britain had designated the group terrorist by June 2014.
The report concluded its section on donations to IS by calling for Britain to work with its regional allies “to ensure that they have the capacity and resolve to rigorously enforce local laws to prevent the funding of ISIL, so that the group cannot benefit from donations in the future”.

SIS-Israeli Relations: A Marriage of Convenience?

7 Jul

09.05.2016 Author: Martin Bergerhttp://m.journal-neo.org


The question of why the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) hasn’t launched a single attack against Israel so far has been bothering international analysts for months, since the “Jewish State” would seem a somewhat logical target for alleged “radical Islamists” supposedly building a “caliphate”.
Ever since 2014, when this terrorist group began capturing large areas of land in Iraq and Syria it hasn’t engaged in a single hostile act against the “Zionist regime”, as they call Israel. One of the lastest public threats against Israel released by ISIS last December, involved a masked terrorist who announced in a video clip:

“We will uproot the state of the Jews (Israel) and you and Fatah, and all of the secularists are nothing and you will be over-run by our creeping multitudes. The rule of sharia (Islamic law) will be implemented in Gaza, in spite of you. We swear that what is happening in the Levant today, and in particular the Yarmouk camp, will happen in Gaza”

However, after careful evaluation, one can safely conclude that the ISIS threat against Israel – is a tribute to the traditional Arab perception of the “Zionist regime” that has “occupied” Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. Muslims of the Middle East have been critical of ISIS due to the fact that so far it has been waging a bloody war against co-believers, while leaving Israel, who has consistently oppressed and subjugated the Palestinians, alone. To address this increasing frustration, ISIS published an article in its weekly journal that tried to explain that Israel is the enemy of ISIS, but not the most important one under current circumstances.

The top priority in its so-called “holy war” in the Middle East are the Shia centers of power, to be followed by Sunni monarchies of the Persian Gulf who are “occupying” two sacred Muslim shrines in Mecca and Medina. Therefore, the Shia Hezbollah group and other pro-Iranian allies are to go first, ISIS representatives argue, only to be followed by Saudi Arabia and its neighbors. Once those targets are “dealt with”, only then ISIS would agree to launch a “holy war” against Israel.

But there’s yet another possible explanation of the extremely high “tolerance” that ISIS affords Israel. A number of United Nations reports (in particular, S/2013/345, S/2014/401 and S/2014/85) contain data that the Israeli Armed Forces (IDF) has been in regular contact with ISIS militants since 2013. The journal Addicting Info has even made an attempt to bring some light to this story:

“In a new report from the UN, it is revealed that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were maintaining regular contact with members of the so-called Islamic State since May of 2013. Initial reports from the IDF stated that this was only for medical care for civilians, but that story fell apart when the UN observers identified direct contact between IDF forces and ISIS soldiers, including giving medical care to ISIS fighters. Observations even included the transfer of two crates from the IDF to ISIS forces, the contents of which have not been confirmed at this time. Further the UN report identified what the Syrians label a crossing point of forces between Israel and ISIS, a point of concern brought before the UN Security Council. This report from the UN strengthens the claims by the Syrian regime that Israel is heavily involved in operations within the nation.”

To some extent, this version in which Israel is collaborating with ISIS can by confirmed by recent developments like the air raid Israel launched against military facilities near Damascus International Airport or the murder of Iranian General Mohammed Ali Allahdadi in Syria. Additionally, Israel was pretty reluctant to support US military actions against ISIS at the initial stages of the operation.
Acting on the principle of ” my enemy’s enemy is my friend ,” Israel has been supporting ISIS to address the growing regional influence of Iran and Syria. It’s clear that in an effort to put an end to “the problem of Hezbollah” once and for all, Israel found itself drifting towards Saudi Arabia’s position. That is why the Hezbollah was put in the list of terrorist organizations by the League of Arab States, due to the massive amount of pressure applied on it by Riyadh. However, ISIS won’t be able to find a spot for itself in this “marriage of convenience” between the two states.
However, Israel has already realized by now that it will have to fight terrorists such as ISIS all the same, since they are well-prepared for the both military and political engagements. Even though ISIS is in no position to launch a frontal assault, it can attack Israel from within. There’s reports that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu is frankly worried that the ever growing Arab population of Israel may fall victim to ISIS propaganda, despite a massive amount of countermeasures that have been put in place by Israeli secret services. Europe may serve as a perfect example of how a well defended entity can be infiltrated by terrorist cells that are capable of subsequently brutal attacks.
The Economist underlines that Israel is facing jihadists everywhere, by noting:
ROM the military observation points overlooking the spot where Israel’s frontiers meet those of Syria and Jordan, Israelis can clearly see the positions of Liwa Shuhada al-Yarmouk—the Yarmouk Martyrs’ Brigade. It is only one of many dozens of Syrian rebel groups, yet Israeli officers half-jokingly describe the fighters, mainly Syrians from nearby villages, as “Daesh lite”. The brigade, which may have between 600 and 1,000 men, has sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “Caliph” of Islamic State (IS), also known by its Arabic acronym, Daesh. The black flag of IS forms part of its logo
Thus, Israel has already started to “play chicken” with ISIS, while preparing for direct military engagements with Hezbollah. The situation in the region is getting out of control rapidly. By making an attempt to use terrorists to promote its own interests, Washington has transformed the Middle East into a powder keg, and the fuse is burning. Therefore, before it’s not too late, the White House should abandon the extremist forces in the Middle East, regardless of the political and economic costs, in order to start fighting this plague genuinely. Washington only correct position – is combating ISIS.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

The Brexit reshuffles world geopolitics

29 Jun

By Thierry Meyssan

VOLTAIRE NETWORK | DAMASCUS (SYRIA) | 28 JUNE 2016 


Favourable to the Brexit, Queen Elizabeth is now able to reorient her country towards the yuan.
While the world Press is searching for ways to re-start the reconstruction of Europe, still without Russia and now without the United Kingdom, Thierry Meyssan considers that nothing can now prevent the collapse of the system. However, he points out, what is at stake is not the European Union itself, but the institutions which enable the domination of the world by the United States, and the integrity of the United States themselves.

No-one seems to comprehend the consequences of the British decision to leave the European Union. Those commentators who interpret party politics, and who forfeited their understanding of international challenges a long time ago, have been concentrating on the elements of an absurd campaign – on one side, the adversaries of uncontrolled immigration, and on the other, the «bogeymen» who have been threatening the United Kingdom with the direst of torments.
But the stakes of this decision have nothing to do with these themes. The discrepancy between reality and the discourse of the political media illustrates the disease from which the Western elite is really suffering – their incompetence.
While the veil is being ripped apart before our eyes, our elites do not understand the situation any better than the Communist Party of Soviet Russia could see the consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 – the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991, then the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon) and the Warsaw Pact six months later, followed by the attempts to dismantle Russia itself, in which it almost lost Chechnya.
In identical fashion, we will soon be witnessing the dissolution of the European Union, then NATO, and unless they pay close attention, the dismantling of the United States.
What interests are behind the Brexit?
Contrary to the boastful claims of Nigel Farage, UKIP was not the originator of the referendum it has just won. The decision was imposed on David Cameron by the members of the Conservative Party.
For them, London’s policy must be a pragmatic adaptation to the evolution of the world. This «nation of shop-keepers», as Napoleon qualified it, observes that the United States are no longer either the world’s prime economy or its major military power. There is therefore no further reason to hang on as their privileged partner.
Just as Margaret Thatcher never hesitated to destroy British industry in order to transform her country into an international financial centre, in the same way the Conservatives did not hesitate to open the door for the independence of Scotland and Northern Ireland – and thus the loss of North Sea oil – in order to transform the City into the primary off shore financial centre for the yuan.
The Brexit campaign was largely supported by the Gentry and Buckingham Palace, who mobilised the popular Press to call for a return to independence.
Contrary to the interpretations published in the European Press, the departure of the British from the EU will not happen slowly, because the EU will collapse faster than the time necessary for the bureaucratic negotiations concerning their withdrawal. The Comecon states did not have to negociate their exit, because the Comecon had ceased to function as soon as the centrifugal movement began. The member states of the EU who hang on, desperately trying to save whatever remains of the Union, will fail in their adaptation to this new distribution, and run the risk of experiencing the painful convulsions of the first few years of the new Russia – a vertiginous drop in the standard of living and life expectancy.
There is an urgent need to reform the institutions in order to save the hundred thousand civil servants, elected officials and European collaborators who will inevitably lose their jobs, and the national elites who are also tributary to the system. All of them wrongly believe that the Brexit has opened a breach into which the Euro-sceptics will plunge. But the Brexit is only a response to the decline of the United States.
The Pentagon, which is currently preparing the NATO summit in Warsaw, has not yet understood that it is no longer in a position to browbeat its allies into increasing their Defence budget and backing up their military adventures. Washington’s domination of the world is over.
We are moving into a new era.
What is going to change?
The fall of the Soviet bloc was first of all the death of a certain vision of the world. The Soviets and their allies wanted to build a united society in which as many things as possible were to be considered common property. They succeeded in creating a Titanic bureaucracy and a grim bouquet of comatose leaders.
The Berlin Wall was not destroyed by anti-communists, but by a coalition of the Communist Youth and the Lutheran Churches. Their intention was to refound the Communist ideal, but liberated from the Soviet yoke, the political police and the bureaucracy. They were betrayed by their elites, who, after having long served the interests of the Soviets, did an eager about-face and rushed to serve the interests of the United States. The most passionate of Brexit voters are attempting to regain their national sovereignty, and make the leaders of Western Europe pay for the arrogance they showed in imposing the Treaty of Lisbon after the popular rejection of the European Constitution (2004-07). They too may be disappointed by what comes next.
The Brexit marks the end of the ideological domination of the United States, that of the dime-store democracy celebrated as the «Four Freedoms». In his address on the State of the Union in 1941, President Roosevelt defined them as (1) Freedom of Speech and expression, (2) the Freedom of all people to honour their God in the way they choose, (3) Freedom from need, (4) Freedom from Fear [of foreign aggression]. If the English are going to return to their traditions, continental Europeans are going to revisit the questions posed by the French and Russian revolutions concerning the legitimacy of power, and shake up their institutions at the risk of sparking a new Franco-German conflict.
The Brexit also marks the end of the military-economic domination of the US, since NATO and the EU are simply the two sides of a single coin – even if the construction of their Foreign Policy and Common Security took longer to implement than that of free exchange. Recently, I was writing a note on this policy in terms of the situation in Syria. I examined all the internal documents of the EU, both public and unpublished, and arrived at the conclusion that they had been written without any knowledge of the reality on the ground, but from notes taken by the German Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was himself reproducing the instructions of the US State Department. A few years earlier, I had to do the same job for another state, and had arrived at a similar conclusion (except that in this other case, the intermediary was not the German, but the French government).
First consequences within the EU
Currently, the French trade unions are rejecting the project for a law on Labour which has been drawn up by the Valls government on the basis of a report by the European Union, which itself was inspired by instructions from the US State Department. While the mobilisation of the CGT (General Confederation of Labour) has enabled the French people to discover the role of the EU in this affair, they still have not grasped the EU-USA connection. They have understood that by inverting the standards and placing company agreements above branch agreements, the government was in fact questioning the preeminence of the Law over the contract – but they do not know about the strategy of Joseph Korbel and his two children, his natural daughter, the Democrat Madeleine Albright, and his adopted daughter, the Republican Condoleezza Rice. Professor Korbel assured that in order to dominate the world, all Washington needed to do was impose a re-writing of international relations in Anglo-Saxon legal terms. Indeed, by placing the contract above the Law, Anglo-Saxon legalese privileges, in the long term, the rich and powerful over the poor and needy.
It is probable that the French, the Dutch, the Danes and others will try to detach themselves from the EU. For that, they will have to confront their ruling class. Though the duration of this combat is unforseeable, its issue leaves no doubt. In any case, in the period of upheaval which is coming, the French workers will be difficult to handle, unlike their English counterparts, who are currently disorganised.
First consequences for the United Kingdom
Prime Minister David Cameron played the summer holiday card in order to postpone his resignation until October. His successor, probably Boris Johnson, therefore has the time to prepare the change which can be implemented as soon as he arrives at Downing Street. The United Kingdom will not wait for its definitive exit from the EU to develop its own policy – to begin with, dissociating itself from the sanctions levied against Russia and Syria.
Contrary to what the European Press claims, the City of London is not directly concerned by the Brexit. Because of its particular status as an independent state placed under the authority of the Crown, it has never been part of the European Union. Of course, it will no longer be able to shelter the head offices of certain companies which will retreat back into the Union, but on the contrary, it will be able to use the sovereignty of London to develop the yuan market. Already in April, it obtained the necessary privileges by signing an agreement with the Central Bank of China. Besides which, it may develop its activities as a fiscal paradise for Europeans.
While the Brexit will temporarily disorganise the British economy while it waits for a new set of rules, it is probable that the United Kingdom – or at least England – will reorganise rapidly for its own greater profit. We’ll have to wait and see if the creators of this earthquake will have the wisdom to share its rewards with their people. The Brexit is a return to national sovereignty, but it does not guarantee popular sovereignty.
The international landscape may evolve in many different ways according to the coming reactions. But even if things turn out badly for some people, it’s always better to adhere to reality, as the British have done, rather than clinging to a dream until it shatters.

The Inconvenient Truth: Assad’s Popularity Confounds NATO Propagandists

27 Jun

By Barbara McKenzie, 

Source: http://russia-insider.com/en/inconvenient-truth-assads-popularity-confounds-nato-propagandists/ri15217

Face it, NATO and its allies would have labelled Jesus Christ the Butcher of Damascus if this had suited their agenda of forced regime change in Syria

Anyone who saw the vilification of Alex Salmond during the run-up to the referendum on Scottish Independence, or of Corbyn during the British Labour leadership campaign, by ‘responsible organs of the Press’, must have come to full realisation of how totally unbridled, how totally unprincipled, the Establishment and its mouthpieces can be once they declare war.

The Establishment has been demonising popular leaders who threaten its hegemony for centuries. If you believe Bashar al Assad evil, purely on the claims of the Establishment and its press, then you probably accept that Joan of Arc was a witch, Bonny Dundee was depraved, Napoleon ate babies, Ares Velouchiotis was a sick sadist, Arthur Scargill was corrupt, Alex Salmond is the new Ghengis Khan, and Jeremy Corbyn everything thrown at him last year. (I’m guessing the traditional view of Richard III is suspect as well…)
In the case of Bashar al Assad, the accusations range from gassing his own people (long disproved), to the frankly batty one of being responsible for 90% of the deaths in Syria (even though almost half of all deaths have been soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army – presumably Assad has been killing his own soldiers …). The hollowness of the accusations has been well documented.
The attack on al Assad is reinforced by creating an equivalence between all secular leaders in the Middle East – they are, or were, defined without exception as evil dictators. George Galloway jubilantly declared his support for the Arab Spring in a strongly worded critique of Gaddafi in a radio broadcast in February 2011. ‘I have been waiting for these Arab dictatorships to fall, and it appears that one after the other they are falling, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya’ – Galloway clearly does not see Iraq as part of the pattern.

The Establishment has been demonising popular leaders who threaten its hegemony for centuries. If you believe Bashar al Assad evil, purely on the claims of the Establishment and its press, then you probably accept that Joan of Arc was a witch, Bonny Dundee was depraved, Napoleon ate babies, Ares Velouchiotis was a sick sadist, Arthur Scargill was corrupt, Alex Salmond is the new Ghengis Khan, and Jeremy Corbyn everything thrown at him last year. (I’m guessing the traditional view of Richard III is suspect as well…)
In the case of Bashar al Assad, the accusations range from gassing his own people (long disproved), to the frankly batty one of being responsible for 90% of the deaths in Syria (even though almost half of all deaths have been soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army – presumably Assad has been killing his own soldiers …). The hollowness of the accusations has been well documented.
The attack on al Assad is reinforced by creating an equivalence between all secular leaders in the Middle East – they are, or were, defined without exception as evil dictators. George Galloway jubilantly declared his support for the Arab Spring in a strongly worded critique of Gaddafi in a radio broadcast in February 2011. ‘I have been waiting for these Arab dictatorships to fall, and it appears that one after the other they are falling, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya’ – Galloway clearly does not see Iraq as part of the pattern.

Galloway repeated this sentiment again at the Oxford Union in October 2012, in relation to Syria, though admittedly he had turned against the idea of military intervention. While the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt may indeed have had considerable popular support, Galloway in 2012 appears to have been still unaware of the huge demonstrations in support of Gaddafi in Libya the previous year. In Syria too, big demonstrations in support of the al Assad government took place from a very early stage, notably in Damascus and Aleppo.
The Arab Spring has been well exposed as a propaganda tool to enable Western powers, with the help of oppressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia, to destabilise secular, progressive, independent countries like Libya and Syria and put in place a pliant leadership. In this interview recorded in Damascus 2013, a Syrian soldier gives his own take on the Arab Spring.

An integral part of the campaign against al Assad is the smearing of those who are sceptical about the negative claims regarding al Assad, don’t like bloody proxy wars dressed up as revolutions and moreover support Syria’s right to control its own destiny.
They are termed Assadistas, fascists, truthers, monsterphiliacs even (yes I’ve got links, no I’m not promoting the authors here). The argument goes something like, ‘the evil dictator Bashar al Assad gassed his own people, you are trying to prove he’s not an evil dictator and didn’t gas his own people, therefore you are a fascist supporting an evil dictator’.
Inevitably the campaign to undermine those investigating the truth about Syria extends to preventing them from discussing their findings publicly. British journalists Owen Jones and Jeremy Scahill, both dedicated supporters of forced regime change in Syria, were instrumental in preventing Mother Agnes Mariam, a nun based in Homs, from speaking at the Stop the War Coalition. That STW buckled to such pressure is a shameful moment in their history.
The concerted efforts to stop Tim Anderson, author of The Dirty War on Syria, from speaking at the Crossing the Border conference on the refugee crisis to be held on Lesvos, Greece in July, is another example of the determination of regime change advocates to stifle open discussion, though this time without success.
The attack was orchestrated by Syrian Solidarity UK (usually referred to by the unfortunate acronym SSUK), notable for its strong support for the White Helmets who are embedded with al Qaeda in Syria (Jabhat al Nusra). At the same time the group published a hit piece against the Syrian Solidarity Movement, which is led by a group of pro-Syrian activists and journalists, including Dr Anderson.
If Bashar al Assad were a war criminal he would not have the support of his people, and Syria would not have been able to hold off against externally funded forces as it has done for five years. Before the Syrian war Bashar al Assad was the most popular leader in the Arab world. Polls show that Bashar al Assad still has the support of the majority of Syrians.

Al Assad’s position within Syria is now stronger than ever. Syrians view with horror the thought that extremist takfiris who have collaborated with the West might have a permanent role in Syria’s future, and are more than ever determined to resist sectarianism. The al Assads are seen as representing the tolerant, multi-confessional country they are so proud of.
Bashar is an Alawite, his wife Asma is Sunni, and they make a point of showing solidarity with Syria’s Christian community, exemplified by the couple’s surprise attendance at choir practice at the Church of Our Lady of Damascus last Christmas, a few days after the church suffered a mortar attack. If Bashar al Assad is deposed, it will not be by the will of the Syrian people.


Dutch newspaper publishes cartoon depicting Turkey’s Erdogan as an ape

26 Apr

The cartoon, published by the populist daily De Telegraaf, shows the Turkish President squashing free speech http://goo.gl/uLsZaM

Al Qaeda and ISIS Equipped with Surface-to-Air Missiles, Target Syrian Planes.

14 Apr

By SputnikGlobal Research, April 10, 2016

  
A Second Syrian plane shot down by Islamist rebels in one month as al-Nusra and Daesh continue to acquire American weaponry from Turkey, bankrolled by Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday, Islamist rebels shot down a Syrian plane, the second such incident in less than a month, and captured the pilots. Inquiries are being made at the highest level as to how the al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria, has come into possession of advanced Western surface-to-air missiles.
Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker sat down with Institute of Islamic Thought director Zafar Bangash on Thursday to discuss the developing situation in Syria and whether access to this weaponry will undermine Syrian air superiority.
Where are al-Qaeda affiliates getting these advanced weapons?
“According to the information that has emerged, it was al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda in Syria,” explained Bangash. He speculated that the missiles were sold to the extremist group by Turkey and paid for by Saudi Arabia, in a continuing effort to overthrow the Assad regime. He suggested that the Americans have a hand in it as well, saying, “the United States has always been involved in providing these weapons, even if not directly.”
The plane shot down on Tuesday was over Aleppo, an al-Nusra and Daesh stronghold. Why is that significant?
“Aleppo is the only major city that has been under the control of al-Nusra or Daesh,” explained Bangash. “The Syrian Army was making progress along with Hezbollah fighters and Iran’s revolutionary guards backed by the Russian Air Force and have been inching towards Aleppo.”
Bangash elaborated that the capture of Aleppo by rebel forces is significant, due to it being the largest city in Syria, and formerly the country’s financial hub. “It is even larger than Damascus, so obviously the terrorist groups and their backers will put up a tough fight not to lose it,” said Bangash.
Does terrorist access to anti-aircraft technology deprive the Syrian army of air supremacy?
“Not completely. I don’t think it will prove a game-changer because Russia is still there,” said Bangash. “These terrorists can cause some damage and some threat to the Syrian air force, and I am sure that the Syrian air force will change their tactics.”
nonetheless, Russia’s continued presence in the fight against extremist militants will continue to keep rebel groups on their heels as allied forces march towards Aleppo. “Russian air force planes carried out a number of operations last week,” said Bangash. “Further, per the ceasefire agreement between Russia and the US, the terrorist groups were specifically excluded from the ceasefire, so Russia has no obligation whatsoever to avoid attacking these groups.”
Has the US presence in Syria benefitted the extremist organizations?
“Yes,” said Bangash who explained that, since 2005, the Americans along with Saudi Arabia and Turkey have had their eyes on ousting Assad from controlling Syria. “If the Syrian people don’t want Assad, that is for the Syrian people to decide, it isn’t for the United States or any other country to decide.”
He said that he “thinks it is very clear that the US wants to bring down the government of Bashar al-Assad, and that is why the Americans are talking about increasing their special forces in Syria.” Bangash said that the US presence has never been welcomed by the Syrian government. “They have not been given permission by the Syrian government and that is in violation of international law and the UN Charter.”
In contrast, Bangash says that the Russian government came in to maintain the stability of the current Syrian regime, and prevent the country from becoming a failed state, similar to Libya following the ouster of Muammar Gadhafi. “Russia went there with permission of the legitimate government, but the US is there illegally,” he stressed.

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