Created on Thursday, 16 February 2017 19:50 | Published Date | | | Hits: 1775
Journalist: President Bashar Al-Assad, thank for accepting this encounter with TF1 and with Europe 1 here in Damascus. We’re going to speak about the future of Syria, about the war on terror, about the recent gains and support that you can count on, as well as the heavy accusations you’re still facing.
Journalist: Good morning, Mr. President, bonjour monsieur le président.
Question 1: A simple question to start with: after the fall of Aleppo two months ago, can one say that you have won the war?
President Assad: No, we don’t think that we can talk about winning the war unless we defeat the terrorists everywhere in Syria. It’s just an important step in the way to defeat and to eliminate the terrorism from our country, but I think it’s going to be a long way for one reason, a simple reason; because they still have the support of many Western countries including France, including UK, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Qatar in our region.
Question 2: You talk about a long way; can you summarize from a military point of view the objectives that you have still to reach?
President Assad: Definitely, when I talk about eliminating the terrorists from our country, it means to take over every inch of our country, to bring it back under the control of the government, and that’s the duty of any government; is to take control of every place.
Question 3: In which part of Syria particularly, which town?
President Assad: Of course, now you have to, and we are, we continue our campaign in the area surrounding Aleppo, just to make Aleppo more immune against any other terrorist attacks from the western and northern part that’s been supported by Turkey directly, by the Turkish army.
Question 4: But the next step is Idleb? This is what people say; next big battle will be Idleb.
President Assad: Could be Idleb, could be Raqqa, could be anywhere. Now, it depends on the situation on daily basis, because you change your plans. So, we didn’t put that plan before finishing Aleppo as city and rural area. So, it’s still early to talk about which is next. That depends on the development of the battles in the different areas.
Question 5: But the situation is far better off now for you as it used to be, militarily speaking.
President Assad: Of course, every place you can liberate from the terrorists means the situation is better, but it’s not enough for us.
Question 6: Sir, for France, the main terrorist threat is Daesh, there’s no question about this. For you, all armed groups, or most of them, are terrorists. Why is Daesh not a specific threat for you?
President Assad: Let me answer you about two points: the first one, it’s not for us, when we say they are terrorists, not for us as government; it’s for the law, and for the international law. Whoever carries a machinegun in my country or in your country and starts killing people and destroying properties is a terrorist. This is an international concept, so it’s not for us. For us, whoever wants to give up his armament is not a terrorist anymore, according to the law. But if you talk about Daesh, I think when you say that the French people or the Europeans worry about Daesh, I think this is misunderstanding of the situation; Daesh is a product, it’s not the problem. The problem is the ideology of Daesh, which is the same for al-Nusra, the same for many other organizations, like-minded organizations in Syria, and maybe in Libya or any other country. So, you should be worried about those terrorists; they don’t care about being ISIS or al-Nusra, they implement what their ideology is telling them to do, mainly terrorist acts.
Created on Friday, 10 February 2017 14:18 | Published Date | | | Hits: 2529
Question 1: Mr. President, thanks for giving us the opportunity. This is your first interview with American media since President Trump has taken office. Have you had any communications with President Trump directly or indirectly, or anybody in his administration?
Question 2: This is an opportunity for you to convey a message to President Trump, if you have one. What would you like to say to him?
President Assad: wouldn’t convey the message through the media, I would send it through a different channel, maybe diplomatic channels. But any message for us is the public one, we don’t have two messages; we have one stand, one position toward what’s happening in Syria, and it’s about fighting terrorism.
Question 3: You said yesterday, I believe, that what you have heard from the new administration is promising. Explain what you meant.
President Assad: The position of President Trump since he started his campaign for presidency till this moment is that the priority is to fight terrorism, and we agree about this priority, that’s our position in Syria, the priority is to fight terrorism, and that’s what I meant by promising.
Question 4: You indicated that you thought there was some way for cooperation between the United States and Syria, but you didn’t explain what that would be. What sort of cooperation can you envision?
President Assad:Against terrorists, and against terrorism. That’s self-evident for us. This is beside having cooperation between any two nations, but in the meantime, in these circumstances, the priority is to have cooperation in fighting terrorism between the different nations, including Russia, Iran and Syria, of course.
Question 5: The President has tasked his Secretary of Defense with developing plans for defeating ISIS or Daesh. Among the proposals they are reportedly considering is using more special forces and even military assets such as Apache helicopters inside Syria, and arming Kurdish fighters who are fighting Daesh in the north. If such moves would defeat ISIS, would you welcome them?
President Assad: Could the American prowess defeat the terrorists in Afghanistan or in other places? No, you cannot… it’s not enough to have this Apache or F-16 or F-35, whatever you want to label it, to defeat terrorists. There has to be a more comprehensive way of dealing with that complicated issue. So, if you want to start genuinely, as United States, to do so, it must be through the Syrian government. We are here, we are the Syrians, we own this country as Syrians, nobody else, nobody would understand it like us. So, you cannot defeat the terrorism without cooperation with the people and the government of any country.
Created on Tuesday, 07 February 2017 07:30 | Published Date | | | Hits: 2236
DAMASCUS, (ST)_ H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad answered scores of questions raised by Belgian media means accompanying the visiting Belgian Parliamentarian Delegation, chaired by MP Filip Dewinter, February 6, 2017:
Question 1: Mr. President, we’ve been to Aleppo, we’ve seen the destruction, how do you see the way forward to peace nowadays after Astana?
President Assad: If you want to talk about how to see the peace, it’s not related mainly to Astana; it’s related to something much bigger: how can we stop the flowing of the terrorists toward Syria, or in Syria, how can we stop the support from regional countries like Turkey, Gulf states, or from Europe like France and UK, or from the US during the Obama administration. If we deal with that title, this is where you can talk about the rest, about the political procedure. Astana is one of the initiatives during this war on Syria, and it’s about the dialogue between the Syrians. Now it’s too early to judge Astana, the first one was positive because it was about the principles of the unity of Syria, about the Syrians deciding their future. How can you implement this communique? That’s the question, and I think we are going to see Astana 2 and so on. So, the peace is two things: fighting terrorists and terrorism, stopping the flowing of terrorism, every kind of logistical support. Second, dialogue between the Syrians to decide the future of their country and the whole political system. These are the headlines about how we see the future of Syria.
Question 2: We have seen many breaches in the ceasefire, would you consider the ceasefire is still upholding, or is it dead?
President Assad: No, it’s not dead, and it’s natural in every ceasefire anywhere in the world, in every war, in any conflict, to have these breaches. It could be sometimes on individual levels, it doesn’t mean there’s policy of breaching the ceasefire by the government or by any other party, and this is something we can deal with on daily basis, and sometimes on hourly basis, but till this moment, no, the ceasefire is holding.
Question 3: In the fight against terror group Daesh, do you think all means are justified?
President Assad: Yeah, but I don’t know what the means that are available to tell you yes or “all means,” so I don’t what the “all means” are. But if you want to talk about military means, yes of course, because the terrorists are attacking the people – I’m not only talking about ISIS; ISIS and al-Nusra and all the Al Qaeda-affiliated groups within Syria – when they are attacking civilians, and killing civilians, and beheading people, and destroying properties, private and public, and destroying the infrastructure, everything in this country, let’s say, our constitutional duty and legal duty as government and as army and as state institutions is to defend the Syrian people. It’s not an opinion; it’s a duty. So, regarding this, you can use every mean in order to defend the Syrian people.
Question 4: But we have seen the destruction in Aleppo, you have seen the images as well. Was there no other way to do it?
President Assad: Actually, since the beginning of the crisis, of the war on Syria, we used every possible way. We didn’t leave any stone unturned in order to bring people to the negotiating table, but when you talk about the terrorists, when you talk about terrorists, when you talk about Al Qaeda, when you talk about al-Nusra and ISIS, I don’t think anyone in this world would believe that they are ready for dialogue, and they always say they’re not; they have their own ideology, they have their own way path, they don’t accept anything that could be related to civil state or civil country, they don’t, and I think you know as a European about this reality. So, no, making dialogue with al-Nusra and Al Qaeda is not one of the means, but if somebody wanted to change his course on the individual levels, we are ready to accept him as a government, and give him amnesty when he goes back to the normal life and gives up his armament.
Created on Friday, 20 January 2017 07:11 | Published Date | | | Hits: 5251
H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad gave the following interview to the Japanese TBS TV channel:
Question 1: Thank you Mr. President, thank you for availing us of this opportunity to know your perspective of what is happening in Syria, and the future of this country. First of all, I have one question: now that the Astana talk nears, what do you seek and expect from this conference?
President Assad: First of all, you’re most welcome in Damascus, and I am glad to speak to the Japanese audience for the first time during this war on Syria. We don’t have expectations, let’s say, we have hopes from Astana, that it’s going to be a podium for talks between different Syrian parties regarding everything, but I think it’s going to focus more at the very beginning – it’s going to be the priority, as we see it – is about the ceasefire in different places in Syria in order to protect lives, to allow the humanitarian aid to reach different areas in Syria. It’s not clear yet whether this meeting is going to be about any political dialogue, because it’s not clear who’s going to participate in it. So far, it’s about talking between the government and the terrorist groups in order to make ceasefire and to allow those terrorist groups to join the reconciliations in Syria, which means giving up your armaments and having amnesty from the government. This is the only thing that we can expect in the meantime.
Question 2: And do you accept the formation of transitional government to be discussed in this conference?
President Assad: Anything that will be discussed should be based on the constitution, because it’s not about the government and the opposition or the government and the terrorist groups; it’s about every Syrian citizen who has the right to define the future of Syria. So, in our constitution there’s nothing called transitional government. You can have regular government that represents different parties and different political entities in Syria. This is our proposition. So, yes, if anybody wants to join this government, what we call it national unity government, this is viable for every party outside or inside Syria, and after that government, you can talk about, let’s say, legislative elections or parliamentarian elections, that would be followed by another government later, which is based on the results of the elections.
Question 3: New United States President Mr. Donald Trump is going to be inaugurated soon. What do you expect of Mr. Trump, and what kind of policy change do you expect from this?
President Assad: As you know, he’s one of few American presidents that weren’t in politics before. Most of the previous presidents, they used to have certain kinds of political jobs or positions. This one is not so. If you read different media, even the American media, they look at him as unpredictable, because they know little about his vision. The only thing that we have that we can base our judgment upon is his rhetoric during the campaign, and if you want to pick up the thing that we can say that it’s good in those rhetorics is our priority today, which is fighting the terrorism, and that’s what he said, President Trump, he said that his priority is to fight ISIS. Of course, ISIS is one of the aspects of terrorism, one of the organizations; when you talk about ISIS you have to talk about al-Nusra, and you have so many Al Qaeda-affiliated groups now within Syria, but he meant by ISIS, I think, the terrorism, so I think this priority that he put is very important. So, we expect, and we hope, that the next administration will be genuine in implementing this rhetoric regarding the terrorism and help not only Syria, because the terrorism today is not a Syrian problem; it’s a Middle Eastern and global problem. So, we hope that they are genuine to forge a real and realistic alliance to fight the terrorists in the region, and that of course will include Syria first of all.
Created on Monday, 09 January 2017 06:00 | Published Date | | | Hits: 3757
Question 1: Mr. President, you have just met a French delegation of MPs. Do you think this visit will have an influence on the French position about Syria?
President Assad: This is a French question. We hope that any delegation that would come here is to see the truth about what is happening in Syria during the last years, since the beginning of the war six years ago, and the problem now, regarding France in particular, is that they don’t have an embassy, they don’t have any relation with Syria at all, so it’s like… we can say it’s a blind state. How can you forge a policy towards a certain region if you can’t see, if you’re blind? You need to see. The importance of those delegations is that they represent the eyes of the states, but that depends on the state; do they want to see, or they want to keep adopting the ostrich policy and they don’t want to tell the truth, because now everything in the world is changing regarding Syria on every level, the local, the regional, and the international. Until this moment, the French administration hasn’t changed its position, they still speak the old language which is disconnected from our reality. That’s why we have a hope that there’s someone in the state who wants to listen to these delegations, to the facts. I’m not talking about my opinion, I’m talking about the reality in Syria. So, we have hope.
Question 2: Mr. President, you said that Aleppo is a major victory for Syria, and a major turn in the crisis. What do you feel when you see the pictures of the hundreds of civilians that were killed in the bombings, and the devastation of the city?
President Assad: Of course, it’s very painful for us as Syrians to see any part of our country destroyed, or to see any blood shedding anywhere,this is self-evident, this is emotional part, but for me as President or as an official, the question for the Syrian people: what I’m going to do. It’s not only about the feeling; the feeling is self-evident as I said. How we’re going to rebuild our cities.
Question 3: But was the bombing of east Aleppo the only solution to retake the city, with the death of civilians, your fellow citizens?
President Assad: It depends on what kind of war you’re looking for. Are you looking for a quiet war, war without destruction? I haven’t heard, in the history, of a good war, every war is bad. Why bad? Because every war is about destruction, every war is about the killing, that’s why every war is bad. You cannot say “this is a good war” even if it’s for a good reason, to defend your country, for a noble reason, but it’s bad. That’s why it’s not the solution, if you have any other solution. But the question is: how can you liberate the civilians in those areas from the terrorists? Is it better to leave them, to leave them under their supervision, under their oppression, under their fate defined by those terrorists by beheading, by killing, by everything but not having state? Is that the role of the state, just to keep and watch? You have to liberate, and this is the price sometimes, but at the end, the people are liberated from the terrorists. That’s the question now; are they liberated or not? If yes, that’s what we have to do.
Question 4: Mr. President, a ceasefire has been signed on the 30th of December, why do Syrian Army still fight near Damascus in the region of Wadi Barada?
President Assad: First of all, ceasefire is about different parties, so when you say there’s viable ceasefire is when every party stops fighting and shooting, and it’s not the case in many areas in Syria, and that was reported by the Russian center of observation regarding the ceasefire. There’s breaching of that ceasefire on daily basis in Syria, including Damascus, but in Damascus mainly because the terrorists occupy the main source of water of Damascus where more than five million civilians are deprived from water for the last three weeks now, and the role of the Syrian Army is to liberate that area in order to prevent those terrorists from using that water in order to suffocate the capital. So, that’s why.
Question 5: Mr. President, Daesh is not a part of the ceasefire…
Journalist: Do you plan to take again Raqqa, and when?
President Assad: Let me just continue the second part of the first question. Second part of that ceasefire is not about al-Nusra and ISIS, and the area that we’ve been fighting to liberate recently, regarding the water sources of the capital Damascus, is occupied by al-Nusra, and al-Nusra announced formally that they are occupying that area. So, it’s not part of the ceasefire.
Regarding al-Raqqa, of course it’s our mission, according to the constitution and according to the laws, that we have to liberate every inch of the Syrian land. There’s no question about that, it’s not to be discussed. But it’s about when, what are our priorities, and this is military, regarding to the military planning, about the military priorities. But nationally, there’s no priority; every inch is a Syrian inch, it should be within the purview of the government.
Question 6: Important talks will take place in Astana at the end of the month, including a lot of Syrian parties, including some opposition groups, let’s say. What are you ready to negotiate directly with them, and what are you ready to negotiate to help the peace to come back in Syria.
President Assad: conference is ready to go when they define… when they set the time of that conference. We are ready to negotiate everything. When you talk about negotiation regarding whether to end the conflict in Syria or talking about the future of Syria, anything, it’s fully open, there’s no limit for that negotiations. But who’s going to be there from the other side? We don’t know yet. Is it going to be real Syrian opposition – and when I say “real” it means has grassroots in Syria, not Saudi one or French one or British one – it should be Syrian opposition to discuss the Syrian issues. So, the viability or, let’s say, the success of that conference will depend on that point.
Question 7:Are you even ready to discuss your position as President? That has been contested.
President Assad: Yeah, but my position is related to the constitution, and the constitution is very clear about the mechanism in which you can bring a president or get rid of a president. So, if they want to discuss this point, they have to discuss the constitution, and the constitution is not owned by the government or the president or by the opposition; it should be owned by the Syrian people, so you need a referendum for every constitution. This is one of the points that could be discussed in that meeting, of course, but they cannot say “we need that president” or “we don’t need that president” because the president is related to the ballot box. If they don’t need him, let’s go to the ballot box. The Syrian people should bring a president, not part of the Syrian people.
Question 8: And with this negotiation, what will be the fate of rebel fighters?
President Assad: From what we’ve been implementing during the last three years, because you want genuinely to have peace in Syria, the government offered amnesty for every militant who gives up his armaments, and it worked, and they still have the same option if they want to go back to their normality and to go back to their normal life. This is the maximum that you can offer, amnesty.
Question 9: Mr. President, as you know, French presidential election will take place, do you have a favorite, do you have a preference for one of the candidates?
President Assad: No, because we don’t have any contacts with any one of them, and we cannot count very much on the statements and rhetoric during the campaign, so we always say let’s wait and see what policy they’re going to adopt after they are in their position. But we always have hopes that the next administration or government or president, they want to deal with the reality, to disconnect themselves from the disconnected policy from our reality. That’s our hope, and they can work for the interest of the French people, because the question now after six years: as a French citizen, do you feel safer? I don’t think the answer is yes. The immigration problem, has it made the situation in your country better? I think the answer is no, whether in France or in Europe. The question now: what is the reason? This is the discussion that the next administration or government or president should deal with in order to deal with our reality, not with their imaginations as has been happening during the last six years.
Question 10: But one of the candidates, Francois Fillon, doesn’t have the same position as the official one; he would like to reestablish the dialogue with Syria. Do you expect his election – if he’s elected – could change the position of France about Syria?
President Assad: His rhetoric regarding the terrorists, or let’s say the priority to fight the terrorists and not meddling in the affairs of other countries, are welcome, but we have to be cautious, because what we’ve learned in this region during the last few years is that many officials would say something and do the opposite. I wouldn’t say that Mr. Fillon would do this. I hope not. But we have to wait and see, because there’s no contact. But so far, what he said, if it’s implemented, that will be very good.
Question 11: Do you appreciate him as a politician, Francois Fillon?
President Assad: I didn’t have any contact with him or cooperation, so whatever I say now won’t be very credible, to be frank with you.
Question 12: Is there a message you want to address to France?
President Assad: I think if I want to send it to the politicians, I will say the self-evident thing; that you have to work for the interest of the Syrian citizens, and for the last six years the situation is going in the other direction, because the French politics harmed the French interests. So, for the French people, I would say the mainstream media has failed in most of the West. The narrative has been debunked because of the reality, and you have the alternative media, you have to look for the truth. The truth was the main victim of the events in the Middle East, including Syria. I would ask any citizen in France to search for the reality, for the real information, through the alternative media. When they search for this information, they can be more effective in dealing with their government, or at least not allowing some politicians to base their politics on lies. That’s what we think is the most important thing during the last six years.
Question 13: Mr. President, your father has been a lifelong President of Syria. Do you consider the option of not being the President anymore, one day?
President Assad: Yeah, that depends on two things: the first one is the will of the Syrian people; do they want that person to be president or not. If I want to be president while the Syrian people doesn’t want me, even if I win in the elections, I don’t have strong support, I cannot achieve anything, especially in a complicated region like Syria. You cannot be just elected president, that doesn’t work, you need popular support. Without it I cannot be successful. So, at that time, there’s no meaning to be president.
The second one; if I have that feeling that I want to be president, I will nominate myself, but that depends on the first factor. If I feel that the Syrian people doesn’t want me, of course I wouldn’t be. So, it’s not about me mainly, it’s about the Syrian people; do they want me or not. That’s how I look at it.
Question 14: Last question; Donald Trump is to be appointed as President of the United States in less than two weeks. He has been clear that he wants to improve relationships with Russia, which is one of your main allies…
Journalist: Do you consider… do you expect that it will change the position of the United States towards Syria?
President Assad: Yeah, if you want to talk realistically, because the Syrian problem is not isolated, it’s not only Syrian-Syrian; actually, the biggest part… or let’s say the major part of the Syrian conflict is regional and international. The simplest part that you can deal with is the Syrian-Syrian part. The regional and the international part depends mainly on the relation between the United States and Russia. What he announced yesterday was very promising, if there’s a genuine approach or initiative toward improving the relation between the United States and Russia, that will effect every problem in the world, including Syria. So, I would say yes, we think that’s positive, regarding the Syrian conflict.