Der Spiegel Interviews Assad
By Stephen Lendman
He called insurgents terrorists. He did so justifiably. He said Western countries lie. He's defending Syrian sovereignty, he stressed. More on what he said below.
He deplores war. He wants peaceful conflict resolution. He's defending Syria against foreign invaders. They're extremist insurgents.
He voluntarily agreed to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons. International inspectors arrived last week.
Syria's working cooperatively with them to destroy its CW stockpile. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov:
"Throughout all these weeks since the moment Syria joined the Chemical Weapons Convention Damascus (it) has faultlessly cooperated with international inspectors."
"We are satisfied with the way the process is unfolding. We don't have any reasons to believe that the impeccable cooperation that the Syrian government has thus far demonstrated will change in any way."
Lavrov added that Russia will do everything possible to help facilitate the elimination of CWs in Syria.
Security Council Resolution 2118 obligates both sides to cooperate fully. At issue is whether insurgents will comply. Doing so is very much in doubt.
Assad's term ends in August 2013. He's uncertain if he'll run for reelection. He told Der Spiegel it depends on whether Syrians support him. If not, he'll step down.
At issue, he said, is what they want. "The country is not mine alone. It's the country for all Syrians," he said.
He challenged critics blaming him for months of conflict. Who are these people, he asked? Do they "speak for themselves, or do they speak on behalf of the Syrian people or on behalf of the countries that are backing them?"
"Do they speak on behalf of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia or Qatar?"
"Let me be clear about this. This conflict is being brought to our country from the outside world."
"These people live in five-star hotels. They are dictated to by their financial backers and have no grass roots in Syria."
Assad denounced Obama for saying he forfeited his right to rule Syria.
He "has no right to pass judgment," he said. "(H)e has no right to tell the Syrian people whom to choose as their president."
Syria's conflict has nothing to do with his presidency, he stressed.
"Killing innocent people and terrorizing them by explosions and car bombs, brought to our country by al-Qaeda, is what causes pain to the Syrian people. What does that have to do with me being in office?"
Assad admitted making mistakes. At the same time, his "principle decisions were the right ones," he stressed. He's defending Syria against insurgent invaders.
They're from dozens of countries. They're not Syrians. They've committed appalling atrocities. He denied responsibility for last May's Houla massacre.
He blamed "armed gangs (and) extremists." He challenged Der Spiegel claiming otherwise. Where's the evidence, he asked? There is none.
Russian journalist Marat Musin witnessed what happened firsthand. He reported what he saw. He did so accurately. He exposed media misinformation. Doing so provided a vital service.
Western-enlisted death squads bear full responsibility. Government forces and/or so-called pro-Assad shabbiha had no involvement.
Hundreds of "bandits and mercenaries" attacked Houla, Musin explained. They massacred pro-Assad men, women and children.
Assad challenged Der Spiegel claiming he used CWs against his own people. "We did not use chemical weapons. This is not true," he stressed.
Obama lied saying so. He "never provided one shred of evidence. The only things he provided were lies." Pro-Western media repeat them ad nauseam.
Syria's CWs "haven't been activated," said Assad. "(N)o one can use them before they are prepared for that purpose."
So-called intelligence claiming Syria used them "is a complete fabrication and forgery, and I will not waste my time with such allegations," he stressed.
He accused Western countries and media of inventing reality.
"In the beginning, we talked about violent protests, while you talked about peaceful demonstrations," he said.
"When we started talking about extremists, you were still talking about 'some militants.' "
"When we talked about al-Qaeda, you were still talking about a few terrorists, although they are actually the majority."
John Kerry "sticks to the past and talks about 20%. This is exactly what I meant (about) the reality deficit you have."
"(T)he West prefers to trust al-Qaeda rather than to trust me," he said.
Washington uses Al Qaeda strategically as both ally and enemy. At times, it does so simultaneously in different theaters. It's longstanding US practice.
"In my case, and through Western support, now we have thousands of al-Qaeda fighters from 80 countries," said Assad.
"We have to deal with them. I am referring to those who have come from outside Syria."
"At the beginning of the crisis, we had over 60,000 outlaws at large."
"Those alone could form a whole army. How many are fighting us? I cannot give a specific figure."
"Most of them cross the border illegally for jihad. They come to Syria in the belief that they will go to heaven by waging war on atheists and non-Muslims."
"Even when we get rid of thousands of them, their ranks are replenished by other jihadists."
"(W)e have no other choice but to defend out country."
He stressed his commitment "to making the whole Middle East a WMD free zone."
"We are transparent and the experts can access any facility. We'll provide them with the data, which they can examine and verify and then judge our credibility."
"When we say we are transparent, we mean it. To date, we have complied with every agreement we have signed. Our history testifies to this."
Months of conflict caused thousands of deaths and extensive damage, Assad said. "(W)e'll need a lot of time to overcome this," he stressed.
"But the army and the people are united; and we have no choice but to trust and believe in our victory and in saving our country."
Assad thanked Russian President Putin for his support. He's "more supportive of us now than any other time," he said.
He's fulfilling previously agreed on weapons contracts. Syria has a right to defend itself.
Washington, key NATO allies, Israel and rogue Arab states want it defenseless.
"What right do they have," asked Assad? "We are a sovereign state, and we have the right to defend ourselves."
"We don't occupy anybody's land. Why isn't the international community bothered when Israel gets all kinds of weapons?"
"Why should Israel receive three submarines from Germany, despite the fact that it is an occupying power and still occupies our land?"
"We have the right to arm ourselves in accordance with the UN Charter."
"This is why the West isn't objective in this position. It's because of these double standards that we don't trust the West."
Syria must "restore stability," Assad stressed. "That's why we must get rid of the terrorists."
"Then, we need to get rid of their ideology that has infiltrated certain areas of Syria, because it is more dangerous than terrorism itself."
"This ideology, which encourages an eight-year old boy to slaughter a man while adults and children watch and cheer as if they were watching a football match."
"This actually happened in northern Syria. Getting rid of this mentality and liberating ourselves from it is going to be more difficult than getting rid of the chemical weapons."
Assad believes resolving crisis conditions with extremist militants isn't possible. His "definition of the opposition is a political program or entity that doesn’t carry weapons."
"If they were to lay down their weapons and return to normal life, it would be possible to talk to such people."
He remains hopeful that Syria will be liberated. He knows doing so will take time.
A Final Comment
Syrian Interior Minister Major General Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar said "(t)hose who bet on Syria's fall are either cheap traitors or deluded lurking enemies, and both of those have not read history well."
He's confident about a renewed safer, more stable and secure Syria. Resistance is its strongest weapon, he said.
He supports Arabic people and pan-Arab principles. He does so "despite the conspiring of some Arab rulers who went far beyond the enemies in plotting against (Syria) and stabbing it."
He said they were misled by "forces of evil." He left no doubt which ones he meant.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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