DAMASCUS – President Bashar al-Assad said on Monday that any political idea for resolving the crisis in Syria that isn’t based on eliminating terrorism is a meaningless idea that has no chance of seeing the light; therefore the priority is eliminating terrorism wherever it is found in Syria.
In a speech delivered before heads and members of public organisations President al-Assad said:
‘We warned them that the spread of terrorism isn’t stopped by wars or ended by planes. Terrorism is a sick mentality, a twisted creed, and an aberrant practice that emerged and expanded in environments rife with ignorance, backwards thinking, and the stealing of people’s rights and demeaning them.
The President noted that colonialism was the one that set up those negative elements and nurtured them, adding ‘how could those who spread the seeds of terrorism combat it?’ He said that war should be the last resort, and even when it’s inevitable it should never replace policies and procedures for isolating the elements that produce and nurture terrorism in order to uproot it completely rather than ‘clip its nails’ as they are doing now, adding ‘their short-sightedness made them believe that they will be immune to the fallout of terrorism that is spreading from one place to another in our tumultuous Arab world, whose flames have burned entire countries in an already unstable Middle East. It did not occur to them that it will strike at the heart of the European continent.’
President al-Assad went on to say: ‘This does not mean that they have learned their lesson; as they still deal with this phenomenon in a hypocritical manner; they call it terrorism when it hits them, and call it revolution, freedom, democracy, and human rights when it hits us. There, its perpetrators are terrorists, and here, they are rebels and moderate opposition. They scream at the top of their voices whenever they are touched by a spark of fire while they fall deathly silent when we are burned by it.’
The President said that the West’s hypocrisy can be summed up in the fact that they claim to be fighting a monster when in fact this monster is of their own creation and it went out of control. What they want is to keep this monster in check and not eliminate it. All their military, political and media campaigns are in fact smoke screens, and what the West has done so far has led to a growth of terrorism instead of eliminating it, and this is confirmed by reality, not personal analysis, as terrorism has spread geographically, its material resources have increased, and its manpower has doubled,’ he elaborated.
President al-Assad questioned the possibility of expecting states with a long history of colonialism full of occupation, murder, destruction, and exploiting terrorism to actually fight terrorism, asserting that such a thing is impossible because colonialism and terrorism are similar. ”We have not depended on anyone other than ourselves since the first day, and we expected good intentions only from a few real friends of the Syrian people who have principles and morals, who want stability in the region, Syria, and the world, and who respect international law and appreciate the will of the people, viewing the world in a manner where relations are between equals with no masters and slaves,’ he explained.
The President lauded the position of the BRICS states and others regarding the crisis, saying that Iran has provided economic, military, and political support to bolster the Syrians’ steadfastness, something that Russia did as well. Russia, along with China, have constituted a safety valve that prevented the transformation of the Security Council into a tool for threatening peoples and a platform for aggression on states, particularly Syria,’ he said, adding that Russia also launched several helpful initiatives to push towards dialogue among Syrians.
He added that the link between the external opposition and terrorists is that they have the same master that is funding, coordinating and calling the shots, at times instructing terrorists to escalate terrorist acts, at others ordering the opposition linked to it to wail louder as a means of bringing about political pressure.
The President said that those who support terrorists have confronted the Syrian people with two choices: either to succumb to their will to turn Syria to a satellite state which takes orders from them, or they will go on supporting terrorists to destroy Syria, adding ‘in summation, terrorism is the real tool, and the political track is a substitute tool. Terrorism is a tool they implement to reach the goals they aspire to.
‘As long as terrorism is a tool in their hands and part of interlocutors represented by external opposition which is tied to them are part of the dialogue, and as long as they are capable of aborting the political track, then any talk of what they call political solution and we call political track is hollow and meaningless.’
President al-Assad reaffirmed Syria’s support for the political track, clarifying ‘but it is one thing to support the political track, and another to be fooled by it,’ adding that it is a necessity to strike terrorism for an inter-Syrian dialogue to work out, but the masters of the terrorists and the external opposition doesn’t want that, as without terrorism they will lose any ability to influence the course of events.’
Commenting on calls on the Syrian state to make concessions, President al-Assad said that only the Syrian people are authorised to do so, and the government doesn’t have authorisation from the Syrian people to concede rights, adding that after years of war, the Syrian people have been resilient, sacrificing for the sake of the homeland, and if they had wanted to give up, they would not have waited all this time and paid as much.
‘The bottom line is: All talk about any political initiative which is not based on eliminating terrorism is meaningless and does not stand a chance to see light,’ stated President al-Assad, ‘therefore, until the political situation is changed and serious efforts materialise, we have no other choice but to continue fighting terrorism.’
Commenting on the military situation, the President said that the Syrian armed forces have been battling terrorists all across Syria, adding ‘it is natural that battles have ups and downs, but in the war we are fighting now, the armed forces cannot be omnipresent in every part of the Syrian lands, which makes it possible for terrorists to enter areas and strike their stability until the Syrian army comes to liberate them. This has been happening since the start of the crisis.
‘Recently, the states supporting terrorists have increased their support to them, and in some cases, they directly intervened to back them,’ he explained, ‘and this has led to some state-controlled areas coming under the control of terrorists, which has somewhat frustrated the Syrian citizens, and the anti-Syria propaganda has fed this frustration by marketing the illusion that the Syrian state is losing the factors of its steadfastness and that the Syrian army is collapsing.’
He added that at the same time, the propaganda machine has been belittling the army’s gains, with the circles hostile to Syria claiming that they would not have been possible without the support of allied forces from countries including Iran. The President made it clear that Iran has only pledged military expertise and nothing else while ‘our brothers in the Lebanese Resistance have been fighting with us and offered everything in their power.
‘The blood of our faithful brothers from the Lebanese Resistance has mixed with the blood of their brothers in the Army and they have their prominent role and effective performance along with the Army in making achievements,’ President al-Assad said, stressing that it is impossible for any non-Syrian brothers or friends to come and defend the country on the Syrians’ behalf.
The President said that Syrians became frustrated when the army withdrew in some areas because the Syrians have faith in the army’s ability, and when someone fails to perform a specific task, those who have faith in them are frustrated, therefore the frustration shows faith and confidence in the army’s ability rather than doubt in it. President al-Assad addressed questions posed by some people, as to are certain areas being conceded, or why others are lost, and why the army isn’t going to other areas, saying ‘Each part of Syria is precious and invaluable and each spot equals in its demographic and geographic importance all other spots. However, war has its conditions, strategies, and priorities’.
He said that leadership decisions are governed by priorities and reality on the ground, and the war being waged in Syria is divided among scores of fronts in all directions and areas, with the enemy being backed by the richest and most influential states and having unlimited supplies of personnel, funding, and weapons.
‘If we thought that we would be victorious in all battles in all areas at the same time, it would be unrealistic and impossible, and this was apparent since the beginning despite the escalation of combat activity,’ he explained, elaborating by saying that two priorities are vital areas that must be held so as to prevent other areas from falling, and this is decided by numerous military, political, economic, and services criteria.
The President said that the leadership’s decisions try to balance the military importance and the civilian importance of areas, but when the situation is critical and terrorists gain an advantage, the military priority takes precedence, as holding on to a certain area with military priority leads to recovering other areas, while losing it would lead to losing other areas, and this may mean holding on to a vantage point or a hill while losing another area that causes media and political buzz among citizens, adding ‘this is what war is like.’
President al-Assad said that the second main priority is the lives of soldiers, who have families waiting for them at home, so decisions take into account the lives of civilians and soldiers alike as they are both more precious than land which can be reclaimed, but a lost life cannot be reclaimed. Regarding elements that impose themselves on the battleground, the President said that first among them is the human element, and in this regard the Syrian soldier showed very high bravery, ability, and skill, but this varies from one person to another, and of course the qualities and abilities of terrorists vary as well, and sometimes mistakes occur in military operations, and even the slightest mistake can have a very high price and lead to a series of losses.
The second element is the nature of the terrain, President al-Assad said, explaining that combat in mountains is different from combat in plains and in big cities or small cities or villages and so on, and another important factor is the social incubator, saying that in general the social incubator in Syria supports the state, even in some areas under the control of terrorists, but the degree of support may vary from vocal and moral support which is the basis of support, to material support such as providing food or information, and all the way up to bearing arms to fight alongside the army, something which has been very decisive in winning some battles as fast as possible with minimal losses. Some might say that it’s the army’s duty to do all that, and that is correct, but that doesn’t prevent anyone from defending their home, their street, their neighbourhood, their village, and their city,’ he added.
President al-Assad said ‘This brings us to a simple and self-evident question… are the Syrian Armed Forces optimally capable of carrying out their tasks well and protecting the homeland? I don’t like exaggerations, so I am giving a scientific, practical, true, and realistic answer: yes, certainly it is capable, and comfortably so,’ the President stated.
‘There are rules in this universe; nothing comes from a void, and nothing goes to a void, nothing moves or changes without energy. The army’s energy is manpower, and if we want the army to give its best, then we need to give it our best,’ he explained, saying that while there is a lack of manpower, he isn’t painting a dark picture as the enemy media will exploit that and say that the president is saying that people aren’t joining the army and this proves that the army and the state are collapsing, and this is simply not the case at all.
The President asserted that people are joining the army, and the rate of this increased in recent months. He said that the Syrian Armed Forces have made achievements that shattered conceptions of theoretical standards of power, and the main driving force that allowed these achievements to be made was will, and will is linked to fighters, and achievements rely on steadfastness along with having the manpower needed to carry them out.
The President said that the amnesty decree issued on Saturday seeks to encourage those who have evaded military conscription to join the army, as a few hundred such people have expressed their desire to do so which is why the decree was issued, expecting that there are a few thousands who would benefit from the decree and join the army.
‘I would like to assert another point, gentlemen; the homeland doesn’t belong to those who live in it, or to those who have a passport or a nationality. The homeland belongs to those who defend and protect it. The people who don’t defend their homeland have no homeland and don’t deserve one,’ he said. He asserted ‘Defeat and defeatism isn’t in the Syrian Arab Army’s dictionary.’
The President went on to say that along with the military war, Syria has been facing a psychological media war that sought to market and enforce the idea of dividing Syria into entities distributed on supporters-opposition basis and sectarian and ethnic basis, and this approach used the term ‘civil war’ and various sectarian and ethnic terms when talking about Syria to drive those concepts into the minds of Syrians and pass them off as an inescapable reality, and to imply that Syria will never be the same again, which would entail accepting the status quo and submitting to foreign dictations.
‘In fact, the reality, while complicated, isn’t like that,’ he asserted, saying that division doesn’t happen by establishing control over geographic areas, but rather when the people accept or seek it, when the people don’t want to coexist, and this isn’t the case in Syria.
President al-Assad said that before the crisis, many were unaware of the dangers posed by sectarian sentiments, but now the lesson has been learned, noting that there has been no movement of civilians from state-controlled areas to terrorist-controlled areas, nor is there any diversity in those areas; in fact terrorists of various nationalities are on one side, and the rest of Syrians are on the other side, so any talk of division is untrue.
The President called for adhering to the nationalist terms that bring us together and unify us, and keep away from the proposed entities and identities some try to market in place of a unified Syria, and from the divided sectarian and ethnic societies they want to replace the cohesive Syrian society.
The President said he is optimistic about the military situation in light of the Syrian state’s capabilities, but said he can promise nothing when it comes to the political track, as there are many elements that influence political work, elements other than Syria’s friends like Russia, Iran, and China, and the other BRICS states.
‘We are at a critical stage where there can be no middle grounds, where hesitation is equivalent to cowardice, defeatism and treason,’ added the President, affirming that Syria is determined to stand its ground and to never relinquish its rights, lands, freedom, and sovereignty.
Commenting on the Iranian nuclear deal, President al-Assad hailed it as a great victory that crowned the struggle of the Iranians who have endured three decades of blockade and an 8-year war that left much of its infrastructure in ruins, emerging strong and making great scientific achievements, despite all the attempts to undermine it which it overcame thanks to the unity of the Iranian people.
The West, he went on to say, has placed the bets on the imminent fall of Iranian regime copying the same scenario that they attempted in Syria, commending the position of the Iranian opposition which placed the interests of their country and its rights to have nuclear power above political differences.
He noted that all Iranians made a distinction between political differences and differences related to national principles, saying ‘this is a message to the Syrian external opposition which is linked to outside forces, because they began moaning since their project to strike Syria in 2013 failed and escalated their moaning in a radical and dramatic way recently, with them crying, yelling, blaming, and reproaching their masters in the West for failing to provide them with what they need to ‘liberate’ the Syrian people.’
He went on to say that this ‘opposition’ offered more than its masters asked for, but their masters offered them nothing because slaves receive no offerings; the masters only use the slaves and look down on them, adding ‘they look down on you more than the Syrian people, because we in Syria know some details about you, while your masters know everything about you, and you will be used like a paper then discarded in the trash bin, while the Syrian people have long since discarded you among the trash of history.’
He concluded: ‘The price is high because the scheme is formidable. The war is a war of existence; to be or not to be. As Syrians, we won’t be able to save Syria unless everyone feels that this battle is their own. The future of the region hinges on Syria’s victory!’