If there’s a silver lining in Turkey’s brazen move to shoot down a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian border late last month, it’s that it gave Putin the excuse he needed to expose Ankara’s role in bankrolling Sunni extremism in the Mid-East.
Despite the fact that fomenting sectarian discord and creating the type of instability that leads to regime change is part and parcel of US foreign policy, the general public is blissfully ignorant when it comes to the role played by Washington and its Mid-East allies in fostering the kind of chaotic conditions under which groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda thrive. Generally speaking, everyday Westerners are happy to remain in the dark about such things but when civilians start getting shot at concert halls and pizza joints in Paris, people start asking questions. And Putin has been happy to provide answers.
Of course the Russian President isn’t the only one who’s been shouting from the rooftops about the ill effects of foreign meddling in the Mid-East. No one understands how dangerous covert intervention can be better than Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
“If you are worried about [refugees], stop supporting terrorists,” Assad said in an interview with Russian news organizations in September. “That’s what we think regarding the crisis. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees.”
In other words, were it not for the all-out effort to destabilize the government in Damascus by channelling weapons and money to militants, the war in Syria might not have ever happened and thus residents of bombed out former urban centers like Aleppo wouldn’t have been forced to run for their lives to Western Europe.
If you believe Seymour Hersh’s latest exposé, even The Joint Chiefs of Staff understood the problem with the anti-Assad strategy adopted by Washington, Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha. According to Hersh, the Joint Chiefs passed intelligence to Assad via a series of intermediaries in an effort to undermine the White House and the CIA’s support for militants.
In a new interview with Die Presse, Assad once again exposes who exactly is behind Syria’s five-year conflict and accuses the UN of being a puppet of the US. Assad also bemoans Saudi Arabia’s support for Wahhabism, which he calls a “dark” and dangerous ideology that’s now being exported to Europe. Read the full interview (translated) below.
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The Press: The civil war has been going on four years. What is now left of Syria?
Bashar al-Assad: If they talk about the infrastructure, much of it is destroyed. But it’s about the people, what the people left, that is the question. And it comes, as it resists this dark ideology that have brought from different countries the terrorists. I think the majority of people, regardless of their political color, now supports their government. Continue supporting the unity of Syria and thus an integrated society, which is composed of a multi-colored spectrum.
Every day you can hear the shelling, even here in Damascus, quite close to us. They said it reign unity, people believe in their government. Are you really convinced?
To be honest, I’m more convinced than ever. Now when you go to areas that are under government control, you can all different spectrums of the Syrian society and the encounter. Without any exception If you go into controlled areas of terrorists, you will either see only a portion of that spectrum or not Syrian citizens and only fighters. The contrast is obvious.
Currently about 4,000 Syrians flee each day from your country. To date, there are a total of 4.3 million who have fled. You must have heard some of their stories, from which it is clear why they have gone. How do you feel when you hear about it?
These are sad stories. What can you do? They have fled because of the terrorist attacks and the embargo of the West. I think most of those people are willing to return to their country, they still love.
When we hear the stories of the Syrians in the West, then they talk about widespread torture, about people in prison and about things that wreaks your army. These are the reasons why they left Syria. Infected since no truth in these stories?
The facts to decide what is true or not. If you torture people, killing and so on, how could you resist without public support – and the now almost five years? And we are attacked by Western governments of the strongest countries in the world and the richest countries in the world such as the Gulf states. And Turkey, our neighbor, is against me as president and also against the government. Without broad support will not do. And how you should get this support if you tortures his own people?
The international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the UN have been previously published reports in which is of “death and dying” is mentioned. Is there in these reports is no grain of truth?
If you verify such reports, then you may find that they are politicized and one-sided. You have previously spoken of shelling. This happens every few days, and many civilians, innocent civilians, are killed. Was written about in these reports?There are so many proofs that were released by the terrorists themselves on the Internet. There are photos, videos of torture, about murder and decapitations.Was all this worth mentioning?
You want to say everything is on one side, even the United Nations?
Of course, definitely, it is politicized. Even the UN, which is indeed controlled by the US. And the US against Syria. You want to do research? Then come to Syria!
But it is, it is difficult in Syria an independent investigation be carried out.
No, it is not difficult. You’re here, so everyone can do the same.
Western countries are struggling against the IS. They are fighting against the same enemy, the fighting also you. Would you look at this country as your allies?
It all depends on their true intentions. What is meant by the fight against terrorists? If you come just for the IS, because one is afraid of its influence on the region? Should your motive be the fear, then we are not allies. We have fought against terrorism from the outset. There was Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida, many terrorists. But the West did not fight. You know, the fight against terrorism should be a stable, sustainable principle. That is the way in which we can be allies. The Western policy towards terrorism is not objective, not realistic and currently not very productive. On the contrary, it is counterproductive.
The bomb strategy of coalition against IS does not work?
No, this strategy is not working. You can not fight terrorism without ground troops.You also need a real, social support, on whom one can rely in the war against these terrorists.
The Western coalition says a lasting peace is in Syria without you possible.There may be a period of transition, but ultimately you have to go definitely.What do you think?
Of course, we do not accept that. We are a sovereign country. Whether it is a good or bad president, which is a purely Syrian affair, not a European. That is why we do not enter it. We waste about no idea. The Syrian people will decide who goes or stays. If the people no longer want me, then I have to go immediately, today.
Hundreds wannabe jihadists come from Europe to Syria. Why do they do what they are looking for here?
The most important question is: Why were these people in Europe? Coming here is logical. Syria was made by Europe, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia become a hotbed of terror. There is chaos and that is a nexus for terrorism. This is like a fertile soil that attracts terrorists from around the world. But the key question remains: Why was there such people in Europe? There has been dealt with terrorism in an unrealistic manner.
What has Europe, in your opinion, made so wrong?
On the one hand, European governments failed to integrate these people into their societies. They lived as in the ghetto and, if you live in the ghetto, it is an extremist. Second, many Europeans have sold their values ??against petrodollars.You have Wahhabi organizations from Saudi Arabia allowed to bring their dark and extremist ideology to Europe. Therefore from there terrorists now are exported to us. We have no export, all came to Syria and then go back to Europe.The three criminals who are responsible for the attacks in Paris have all lived in Europe and not in Syria.
How do you see Turkey’s role? Does your neighbor holds a key position?
Of course, it is the logistical key. And of course, Saudi Arabia is the other key, with his money and his ideology.
Are there groups for you on the side of the rebels, with whom would you negotiate? The IS and the Nusrafront as al-Qaida offshoot have long rejected by Russia and the US.
Any person who is armed, killing people, damaging public and private property, is a terrorist. We as a government not negotiate with terrorists. We have negotiated with a group of them, so that they could go back to their normal lives. They gave up their weapons in, there was an amnesty and it worked. This is a realistic solution. We talk to everyone, but the question is, who is really willing to contribute something?
Is there someone in your eyes?
As are Russia, Iran and its allies that support the Syrian government and recognize its legitimacy. The West is not among them. There is no one ready.There are a total of only a few countries that are ready. No one dares to take with Syria Contact to solve the problem – as long as it is not part of the agenda of the United States.
But you remain in the end have no choice but to talk to as many of the parties involved. What about those who want your resignation?
Yes, of course I’m ready. However, if they want me gone, they must take the path through the ballot box. If they convince the Syrian people that there is a better alternative and I’m not the appropriate choice for the future, then I will the president go. We have no problems.
That sounds really good. But realistically, how much freedom for enjoying an opposition party in Syria? What is the freedom of politicians to criticize you or to stand even against you?
Let me be objective. We are not Europe. It’s about cultural things and that’s not just a political issue. We are on the path to democracy in Syria, a slow but steady way. This has nothing to do with the president, because Syria is not my company, but a country with people. The development of democracy is also a social and political process. But we are moving forward.
One could say, however, that there was a step towards greater democracy four years ago. People have risen up, but that was brutally suppressed.
How many have since been brought? Do you have any figures? The largest number of people who were demonstrating on a day in Syria at the beginning of the crisis, were 130,000. Well, we’ll double that number to 300,000 and now we double it again and make it 600,000. This is still nothing compared to the 24 million people in Syria. In the first week many policemen were killed by mobs.Who were these people? Peaceful demonstrators who had from the outset machine guns and everything else? So this is what has happened. But no matter, the President shall be separated in accordance with the Constitution and the ballot box out of office. That’s also the way a president comes into office on the.This reflects public opinion.
Were there in the last few years a real opposition in Syria? People who pose a real alternative in the elections? Has it ever been?
Yes, there were and are. With us an opposition exists. You can meet, they’re here in Syria, they live in Syria and have their roots here. These are big, small, old and new opposition groups. That’s no problem, we have them and they are allowed.
Well! What we saw in the media, was the brutal crackdown on the opposition! And now we have war, barrel bombs, overcrowded prisons and extreme governance. I think any reasonable person would think twice to criticize you or note against you.
The question is, what do you do against such people, the policemen killed in the first few days, inflicting damage and fires laid? This happened six months later can not remember how the Western media had suggested: Peaceful demonstrations were violent clashes erupted due to the crackdown by the authorities. That is not true. Policemen were killed in just the first week.
When you look back on 2011, what would you do differently today?
There are two pillars on which is built our policy. That dialogue and the fight against terrorism. Today we do with both on. We are fighting against terrorism and try a dialogue with all parties.
They would react exactly as if it would again be an uprising, as in 2011, today?
If that happens again and the same people kill cops, then we must take action.That’s part of our job as a government.
After four years of civil war, a large part of the country is under the control of various rebel groups. Innocent civilians are dying every day on both sides. People have to endure incredible suffering. You, as their President, but are responsible for protecting all of these people. Do not ask sometimes if you have done enough for them?
I can not allow judgment about myself. I am not objective when I talk about my own person. The Syrian people must say, if I have done enough or too little. There are many people who claim that the President had not cracked down hard enough with these terrorists. This is contrary to what the Western media published.
You can look in the mirror every morning and say, yes, I’ve done enough?
Of course, I can look at myself in the mirror each morning. Whereby not everyone is the same morning. Sometimes we judge a decision by one, two, or even three or four different perspectives. We live in a situation that is changing very fast.Thinking and mood can change from day to day. That will not stop until it is past the crisis.
How long will this last?
Once the countries responsible seriously do something about the spate of terrorists and their logistics, then I guarantee it is in less than a year to finish. The terrorists have found in Syria still no lasting social soil. That’s why they make us so far not too worried. The only problem is that the terrorists will continue to be supported. So the overall situation is still chaotic and the crisis prolonged. The countries concerned to call the political solution. However, in reality they mean to overthrow the government and the President. Therefore, everything will continue to drag on.