|The News Line: Feature
Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Terrorists have gained from the ĎAmerican Allianceí says Syrian President Assad
PRESIDENT al-Assad has given an interview to the Chinese ĎPHOENIXí TV Channel
The following are excerpts from the interview:
Question: You see, there are both Russian and NATO military activity going on in and over Syria. So, in your opinion, what are the differences in their presences in Syria, and are they both having effective coordination with the Syrian government?
President Assad: Letís make this comparison through the facts; before the Russian participation started about two months ago, it had been more than a year the American Ė what they call ĎAmerican allianceí Ė started their campaign against the terrorists, but the result is that the terrorists have gained more ground and more recruits from around the world.
During the first month of the Russian participation, the same terrorists groups have been retreating and fleeing Syria in thousands to Turkey then to other countries; some to Europe, some to Yemen, and other areas. So, this is the fact. The second one, the mythology; you cannot fight terrorism through air raids. You need troops on the ground. The Americans only fight through their airplanes.
Question: And how about the Russians? Are they sending any troops? They are not, right? The Russians are depending on the Syrian troops on the ground.
President Assad: What about the Russians? They are depending on the Syrian troops on the ground. They are cooperating with us. So, the difference, the main difference, is that the Americans donít cooperate with any ground troops, while the Russians are doing this.
Question: So you mean the American troops, they are not having any coordination with the Syrian government?
President Assad: At all, not a single communication or connection.
Question: Speaking of coordination, we see that the Russian and American planes, they carried out flight tests last week, according to Washington itís a planned communication test, and according to Moscow itís joint military exercise, so what is it? So, which term is more accurate, and what is the purpose of this test or exercise, whatever you name it?
President Assad: It was publically announced: not to have any conflict between the Russian and the American airplanes or aircrafts, because they work sometimes in the same area. This is the only reason.
Question: And thatís it? Just to validate the safety protocols? They are not ready to fight together against the terrorism yet?
President Assad: They (the Americans) didnít actually; they took some actions against some terrorists in some areas in order to prevent them from attacking certain areas that they donít want them to be in, but they didnít do the same, for example, when the terrorists attacked Palmyra, which is a very important city, regarding its heritage, around the world. They didnít do anything.
Question: Mr. President, how can you be sure that thereís no moderate oppositions in Syria? And if that really is the case, how do you understand the fact that last week, in one day, the Russian planes bombed dozens of targets using the coordinates supplied by the opposition groups. Have you been informed of this?
President Assad: Actually, thereís no tangible Ďopposition group,í under two quotations. First of all, if you want to define Ďopposition group,í we donít mean militants, because when you talk about opposition, itís a political term, not a military term. Whenever you hold a machinegun, you are a militant, you are a terrorist, whatever you want, but you cannot call Ďoppositioní people who hold machineguns or any kind of armaments.
But if you want to talk about who is related to extremists Ė this is the debate now Ė actually, no, the majority of those groups are linked to Al Qaeda, whether ISIS or al-Nusra, and we didnít define them; they defined themselves through videos. You can find them on YouTube, on the internet, they published pictures from the very first day they started slaughtering, eating hearts, beheading, and dismemberment, and so on. So, they defined themselves as extremist groups.
While if you want to talk about the opposition in the moderate way, you can talk about the political opposition that you have some of them within Syria, some of them outside Syria. Part of this opposition supported the terrorists politically, and some of them no; they stood against the terrorists and supported their government, although they are opposition.
Question: But now the Russian military, they are working with opposition groups, and did they tell you about this before they did this?
President Assad: Yes, again, itís not opposition groups; they work with some of the militants, and we deal with some of the militants, because we need reconciliations in Syria. If you want to make reconciliations, local reconciliations, you want to talk to the people who have the armaments.
So, we dealt with them, and thereís cooperation between the Syrians and the Russians regarding this kind of reconciliation. So, yes, they did recently, and we encourage them to do so, because this is the most effective way to make the situation better and to reach peace in the future.
Question: How do you understand the existence of the IS? Some say that they originated from Iraq, some say they originated from Syria. Where did their ideology come from anyway, and who is backing them financially?
President Assad: In 2006, it was announced in Iraq as IS, which is the Islamic State, but it was Ďof Iraqí at that time, and their leader was al-Zarkawi who was killed by the Americans. The Americans announced his assassination. So, they announced that there is the Islamic State in Iraq under their supervision, or letís say under American occupation.
So, the Americans said that, so no-one can say that it didnít exist in Iraq or it didnít exist under the American supervision. This is clear. ISIS and al-Nusra, they are offshoots of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and in Afghanistan Ė as Clinton said, and as everybody knows Ė they were formed in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets at that time with Saudi money and American supervision and instructions.
So, this is very clear, this is reality. Now, their ideology is the Wahabi ideology, the Wahabi-Saudi ideology. Who supported them? The Saudi family supported the Wahabi institution publically and formally, and of course we have so many figures, Wahabi figures, who can send money to them. Logistically, all kinds of supports to ISIS, whether itís human resources, money, and selling their oil, and so on, passes through Turkey, in cooperation with the Saudis and Qataris, and of course with American and Western overlooking of whatís going on. But without this logistical space, or letís say backyard, to ISIS, ISIS cannot survive, because it doesnít incubation in Syria, it doesnít have the incubator in Syria.
Question: They donít?
President Assad: No, they donít. So far, they donít. They are like a foreign body in our country. But because of the fear, because of the oppression, because of the killing, they could take some areas. But actually, their force is coming from Turkey with the personal support of Erdogan and Davutoglu.
Question: Do you have lists of who are actually buying their oil, and do you understand how itís even, I mean, the financial transactions, being realised?
President Assad: Mainly through Turkey, both money and oil selling, money coming through Qatar and Saudi Arabia. And of course, the Turkish government itself, and the oil goes from Syria to Turkey because anyway most of the oil fields are closer to Turkey and closer to Iraq. They cannot sell through Iraq, because the Iraqi government has been fighting ISIS, while the Turkish government has been supporting ISIS. So, this is the only lifeline to ISIS, through Turkey.
Question: But you see, I donít understand what happened. It seemed like Syria and Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey, used to have good relationships before the crisis, so happened? It seems like all of a sudden, they just turned against Syria, or turned against you. How do you understand it?
President Assad: Because the current President of Turkey, who was Prime Minister at that time, heís Muslim Brotherhood in his heart, so when he saw that the Muslim Brotherhood took over in Tunisia and later in Libya then in Egypt, he thought that he could revive the Ottoman empire in the Arab world, but not under the Ottoman name; under the Islamic name.
So he thought that he could rule the world. The only obstacle was Syria. Thatís why, for him as an ideological person, he forgot about everything, every plan we put in order to have good relations, prosperity, and so on, and he put his ideology first. So, for him, the Muslim Brotherhood should take over in Syria and he will be the ĎImamí of the Muslim Brotherhood in this region.
Question: And how about Saudi Arabia?
President Assad: Saudi Arabia is Wahabi anyway. Saudi Arabia never had, letís say, warm relations with Syria, so we cannot say that they were in a good position then they changed. Itís different from Turkey, completely different. Saudi Arabia is a mixture of two things: the Saudi family, and the Wahabi institution, for more than 200 years now, before the recent Saudi family, even the first Saudi family. So, thereís a link; the Saudi family will be committed towards what the Wahabi institution will ask for.
Question: So, even if as you say that the IS is not going to stay, Turkey is going to be here, and Saudi Arabia is going to be here. How can you reconcile with these two countries?
President Assad: For us, I mean as a politician, as a state, as a government, their main goal is to work for the sake of their people, so whatever is proposed to be good, we have to follow it. So, if those countries are ready to stop supporting terrorists, we donít have any problem. Itís not about living in the past; we look to the future. So, we have to work in order to reach that point.
After that, the people, their interests, their feelings, will define what kind of relations we can have with those countries. But we cannot say that weíre not going to have this relation. At the end we have people; itís not only about the government. In Turkey you have 70 millions or more than 70 millions, and many of them are against Erdogan, many of them they understand what is happening in Syria, and they understand that if thereís fire in Syria, the fire will burn Turkey later.
Question: Weíre going to come back to the economic aspect later, but if thereís going to be elections soon, do you see yourself participating as a candidate?
President Assad: Thatís my right, but itís too early to say Ďyes, Iím going to runí or not. That depends on how my feeling is regarding the Syrian people. I mean, do they want me or not? I might accept it or not. So, you cannot talk about something thatís going to happen maybe in the next few years. Itís too early. Sometimes you can define it only a few months before that, but I wouldnít say no, I wouldnít run if I feel that.
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