US attack on Syria ‘remains a possibility’ warns Assad

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Demonstrators demanding ‘Hands off Syria’ after the demonstration in London on August 31
Demonstrators demanding ‘Hands off Syria’ after the demonstration in London on August 31

PRESIDENT Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to the Latin America TeleSUR TV channel last Wednesday which has been featured on the Syrian state TV Sana network.

In it he refused to rule out a US invasion of his country.

He said: ‘As for the possibility of an American aggression, if you look back at the wars waged by the United States and American policies – at least since the early 1950s, you find that it has always been a policy of one aggression after another – starting with Korea, then Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq; this is the American policy.

‘We also cannot forget American policy in South America where it instigated military coups and caused the deaths of millions; tens of governments were toppled as a result of American policy

‘For decades this has been their policy, which continues today – unchanged, it is also unlikely to change in light of the current American domestic situation.

‘So the possibility of aggression is always there, this time the pretext is chemical weapons, next time it will be something else.

‘The more important element in all of this is that for decades, the United States has been superseding the Security Council, superseding the UN Charter, superseding the sovereignty of states and superseding all human and moral conventions.

‘So, maybe all of us in the world need to keep this possibility in our minds – and this what we are doing in Syria. Is there a possibility of aggression? It might not be now, but nobody knows when it could happen. It remains a possibility, and we shouldn’t rule it out.

‘As for the interests of the United States, I believe that for decades, the actions of the United States, through wars and interventions, completely contradict their interests.

‘It is a superpower and as such has political, economic, military and other interests. It can achieve these interests through mutual respect, good relations, trust, credibility and promoting science and knowledge instead of spreading terrorism, destruction and fear.

‘There’s no doubt that as a superpower it has interests. Most of the big powers have interests around the world, but these interests need to be based on achieving stability in the world first.

‘You cannot have any interests in an unstable region full of wars and terrorism. So yes, it has interests, but everything the United States is doing and all its policies, contradict its interests and the interests of the American people.

‘Violence destroys any chance for political action.’

TeleSUR then asked: ‘Yesterday he talked about a political and peaceful solution for the Syrian crisis; nevertheless he left the door open for you to step down. He literally said that the time has come for Russia and Iran to know that President Assad remaining in power means giving extremist groups a wider space to step up their activities. What do you think of what Obama said, and do you consider it likely that you will step down?

Assad replied: ‘As to the question of stepping down, American officials – or some of their European allies, have been raising this issue for over a year.

‘It doesn’t concern us for a simple reason: Syria has been independent for generations – for more than five decades, the United States has not toppled a president in Syria and has not brought any official to a position of power.

‘So the United States cannot presume now that it has the right to decide, on behalf of the Syrian people who is in power and who isn’t.

‘This issue is decided upon one hundred per cent by the wishes of the Syrian people; even friendly countries have no say in this matter.

‘This is determined by the desires of the Syrian people, which are solely expressed through the ballot box.

‘When the Syrian people don’t want you, you should leave immediately; and the opposite is true. Regardless of what the United States says or does in this regard, it has no role whatsoever. That’s why these statements are of no significance to us.

‘The world is better when the United States stops interfering.’

Assad was asked by TeleSUR concerning Obama’s statement that ‘the world is better now thanks to the United States:’ ‘How do you think that the world is better thanks to the United States?’

He responded: ‘Let’s talk about facts. Has Iraq become better with the American presence? Has Afghanistan become better? Is the situation in Libya better? Is the situation in Tunisia better? Is the situation in Syria better? In which country is the situation better? Was Vietnam better when the Americans interfered or when it was left alone to become independent and develop on its own?

‘Look at the situation in South America: is it better now or when the United States used to interfere? The truth is that the world is better when the United States stops interfering – we don’t want it to help anyone.

‘He (Obama) said yesterday “we cannot solve the problems of the whole world” – well, I say that it is better if the United States does not solve the problems of the world. In every place it tried to do something, the situation went from bad to worse.

‘What we want from the United States is for it not to interfere in the affairs of other countries, then, the world will certainly be better.’

TeleSUR then asked: ‘Did you find anything new in Obama’s position towards President Rouhani when he quoted President Rouhani as saying that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis, and that the chemical weapons were passed to the armed groups fighting in Syria by Western countries? And how do you see President Rouhani’s position when he calls for the cessation of financing and arming of the opposition?’

President Assad replied: ‘The Iranian position towards the Syrian crisis is very objective because they know the reality of what is happening in Syria. At the same time, they understand that this is one region, and consequently if there is a fire in Syria, it is bound to spread to neighboring countries and later to countries further away, including Iran.

‘Iran bases its policies on these foundations and also on the grounds that it is the Syrian people’s right to solve their own problems.

‘As to American remarks on the Iranian position: first, as I said before, regardless of whether American statements are positive or negative, whether they praise, criticise, condemn or denounce – nobody believes them. In the same token, the Iranians are not naive to be deceived by the American position; Iran’s experience is similar to Syria’s experience with successive American administrations, at least since the Islamic Revolution in Iran. That’s why what concerns us is not the American remarks, what is important for us is the essence of Iranian policy towards Syria; and once again I stress that in essence it is objective and achieves stability for our region, if different parties in Syria have adopted the Iranian vision.’

TeleSUR then asked how did Assad see the Iran-US rapprochement? ‘Is the United States really engaging Iran, or is it just an attempt to push Syria’s friends away from it? Or is this position another way of saying that the United States has no choice but negotiations rather than the use of force to protect its interests?’

Assad responded: ‘First, unfortunately even the United States’ closest allies do not trust them; so the Iranian-American rapprochement does not mean that Iran trusts the United States.

‘Our relations with the United States have been through various stages of ups and downs, but trust has never existed at any of these stages.

‘However, in politics, you need to try all methods and means and to knock on all doors in order to reduce tension in the world. ‘So, communication and dialogue are necessary in relations between states. We believe that the rapprochement between Iran and the United States, whether regarding the Iranian nuclear programme or regarding anything else, is positive and good for the region, if the United States has a real and genuine desire to deal with mutual respect with Iran, not to interfere in its domestic affairs, and not to prevent it from acquiring nuclear technology.

‘On the other hand, I can’t imagine that the United States has abandoned its principle of resorting to military force.

‘I think the opposite is true; when the United States saw that it had competitors on the international arena – or let’s say partners, if not competitors, in the form of great and emerging powers in the world – it started to resort more to the principle of force, although this same administration was elected on the basis of rejecting the Bush doctrine of using force; now, it returns to the same doctrine.

‘I believe that they are trying to co-opt the Iranian position as they tried to do with Syria a few years ago, but the Iranians are fully aware of this game.’

He was then asked: ‘What evidence do you have, what is the Russian and Syrian government doing in order to prove that it was the terrorist groups and not the Syrian government who used chemical weapons?’

Assad responded: ‘Of course we have both evidence and indicators. As for the evidence, when toxic gasses were used in Khan al-Assal, we took samples from the soil, blood samples from the victims, and also pieces from the projectiles used to carry the toxic material to that region.

‘Later on, during operations carried out by the Syrian Army, a number of hiding places were discovered housing different sized containers filled with chemical agents – and in some cases toxic materials, as well as the instruments required to manufacture them.

‘We provided the evidence to the Russian government before the UN mission came to Syria. We also have the confessions of the terrorists who brought some chemical agents from neighbouring countries into Syria. These confessions were broadcast on television about a week ago.’

TeleSUR asked, ‘Why are they talking about chemical weapons in Syria and nuclear weapons in Iran while not talking about the Israeli nuclear weapons?’

Assad replied: ‘Israel is an aggressive state. It was created based on expansion. It occupies other people’s land and kills the people surrounding it. It has killed numerous Palestinians for over six decades. It killed numerous Lebanese and many Egyptians, Syrians and others using assassinations, bombing, terrorism and other methods.

‘Today it plays the same role by supporting the terrorists directly in the areas adjacent to the Syrian front, i.e. near the occupied Golan, where it provides them with logistic and medical support and also with information, weapons and ammunition. . .

‘As for Israeli nuclear weapons, as you said, nobody talks about them because Israel, the aggressive state, the rogue state, enjoys full support from the United States in all its policies.

‘It covers up all its crimes. As long as this process of covering up continues inside the United States, in the Security Council and the United Nations, in the international organizations, including the IAEA, it’s no longer surprising that any weapon anywhere in the world can be discussed, but not Israeli weapons.

‘This is the prevailing logic in the world, the logic of hegemony, of colonialism, the logic of force.’

Assad was then asked: ‘Are there any attempts to engage the different parties in Syria? Is there any hope of an internal solution in Syria leading to the Geneva conference?’

He responded: ‘No matter how intense the terrorist operations become, and how bad the situation is, we should continue to initiate political action to solve any problem.

‘We believe in this and have pursued it from the very beginning, despite the recent escalation of terrorist acts.

‘Political action requires, first of all, putting an end to smuggling terrorists from neighbouring countries and stopping the support for these terrorists with weapons, money, and all the logistical support necessary to help them carry out their terrorist operations.

‘At the same time, dialogue is inevitable among Syrians, all Syrian parties about the future of Syria. This dialogue should start with the political system in the country: which system do the Syrians want, and consequently address the laws and regulations that stem from that system.

‘There are many other elements and details: when the Syrians at the table reach a certain conclusion, it should be presented to the Syrian people for approval through a popular referendum.

‘Now, the Geneva conference is an important venue, and it provides an opportunity for dialogue among the different Syrian constituents. Of course, we do not assume that the terrorists who carried out acts of killing will attend, neither do we accept that dialogue can be conducted with entities which called for foreign intervention.

‘By law, and judging by the popular sentiment in Syria, those who called for foreign intervention are traitors and cannot be accepted by anyone.

‘As for the principle of the Geneva conference, it is an important and necessary step towards paving the way for dialogue between Syrian constituents.

‘But the Geneva conference cannot replace internal Syrian dialogue, and certainly it does not replace the opinion of the people, which should be determined through a referendum.

‘These are the broad lines of our vision for political action to solve the Syrian crisis; all these elements will not achieve any real results on the ground if support for terrorism is not stopped.’

Assad was then asked: ‘Who are the parties with whom you will negotiate? How can this dialogue be achieved on the international level, and what is the timeframe for achieving a political solution for the Syrian crisis?’

President Assad responded: ‘I can answer the part of the question that is related to the parties inside Syria, which represent the Syrian people.

‘There are different types of parties – opposition parties, parties in the middle, or parties supporting the state.

‘With regards to the parties outside Syria, we need to ask the states that support them because these states – the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others – have propped up these individuals who do not represent the Syrian people.

‘If these states tell them to go to Geneva, they will go; they will say and do as they are told. If we want to have an answer to this part of the question, we need to ask those states whether they intend to send these individuals or not, because they do not represent the Syrian people. Neither the Syrian people nor the Syrian government will be sending them.

‘This is why I have said that by dialogue, I mean engaging with the various opposition groups, basically, based in Syria as well as other influencers and movements that do not necessarily belong to the opposition.’