“The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So who created ISIS – Syria or the United States?”
This is a question asked by none other than Syria’s besieged President, Bashar Assad, in a highly telling interview conducted in the last fortnight. “We as Syrians,” he later says, “will never accept that Syria become a Western puppet state.”
Bashar el Assad, President of the war-torn Syria, granted a rare interview to France’s Paris Match recently. The extraordinary interview, which should be being much more broadly distributed than it is in the Western media, reveals a great deal about what is really going on in Syria and also correlates with a lot of what has been reported in alternative media in the last three years by researchers and agencies unconvinced by the prevailing fog of misinformation disseminated by corporate-controlled mainstream broadcasters.
What Assad says in this interview is so important, so candid, and some of it so poignant, that I’ve been moved to re-publish particularly striking extracts of it here. The full, original interview can be read here. Obviously, bolds, emphasis and italics in the text are my own and do not appear in the original.
What’s equally as extraordinary is how little attention mainstream organisations are giving to what Assad himself is saying, choosing instead to circulate commentary from other, mostly anti-government, sources or US/NATO sources. One of the striking things about what Assad says is how cogent and logical a picture it forms; contrast this to how contradictory, confusing and inconsistent the mainstream, Western/Gulf media narrative of the situation in the Middle East tends to be and then decide for yourself whose is the more reliable testimony and which version seems to match the facts better.
These are the sentiments and insights of a man presiding over the absolute devastation and gutting of his society due to the machinations of a covert international conspiracy; a man also, let’s bear in mind, whose days, like Gaddafi before him, may well be numbered.
In the interview, Assad talks about the US air strikes against ISIS, the use of chemical weapons, the origins of Islamic State, and speaks candidly about who he believes is orchestrating and supporting the rebel fighters tearing apart his once stable and multi-cultural country. “It’s painful,” he says, “to see the country which used to be one of the top five countries in the world in terms of security become a safe haven for terrorists.”
“Now we are fighting states, not only gangs,” explains Assad. “Billions of dollars are spent on those gangs. They receive arms from different countries, including Turkey,” he says, confirming information that the alternative, non-corporate media has been putting out for some time, but which the mainstream media entirely refuses to broadcast.
Says Assad; “Since the first days of this crisis we have been facing terrorism. It is true that there were demonstrations, but they were not large in number. In such a case, there is no choice but to defend your people against terrorists. There’s no other choice. We cannot say that we regret fighting terrorism since the early days of this crisis. However, this doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes made in practice. There are always mistakes.”
“Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different.”
He goes on to explain, concerning the length of the war, “The Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence everywhere, and it’s impossible for it to be everywhere. Consequently, in any place that the Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence, terrorists cross the borders and enter that region.”
In the interview, Assad speaks about the nature of the rebel groups trying to overthrow the Syrian government, which are largely made up of foreign – not Syrian – recruits from various nations. “20 years ago terrorism used to be exported from our region, particularly from Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia. Now it is coming to our region from Europe, especially from France. The largest percentage of the European terrorists coming to Syria are French,” he reveals.
On the origins and make-up of Islamic State, which had been a key part of the ultra-violent, bloody, armed uprising against Syria’s government and is now subsequently taking over vast swathes of neighboring Iraq; “The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakral-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?”
When challenged as to whether his army has been attacking civilians – an accusation that has been frequently made by the West and in corporate-controlled media – Assad says this; “When a terrorist attacks you with weapons, how do you defend yourself and your people – with dialogue?! The army uses weapons when the other side uses them. For us in Syria, it is impossible to have our objective as shelling civilians. There’s no reason to shell civilians.”
“If we are killing civilians, in other words killing our people, fighting terrorists at the same time and fighting the states which stand against us and which support the terrorists, like the Gulf countries, Turkey and the West, how could we ( still ) stand for four years?” he argues.
When the Paris Match interviewer asks Assad about UN accusations (based on satellite imagery) of the government attacking civilian neighborhoods in Homs and Hama, Assad answers; “First of all, you need to verify the figures provided by the United Nations. What are the sources of these figures? The figures being circulated in the world, particularly in the media, are exaggerated and inaccurate. Second, images of destruction are not only obtained through satellite images, they are there actually on the ground and they are accurate. When terrorists enter a certain region and occupy it, the army has to liberate it and there is a battle. So, naturally, there is destruction. But in most cases, when terrorists enter a certain area, civilians flee from it. In fact, the largest number of victims in Syria is among the supporters of the state, not the other way round; and a large number of those were killed in terrorist attacks.”
When the Paris Match interviewer suggests that Assad’s departure might be the only solution to the crisis, Assad answers that question in part by citing the case of Colonel Gaddafi in Libya and asking whether Libya is in a better or worse condition now that Gaddafi is gone. “The president of any state in the world takes office through constitutional measures and leaves office through constitutional measures as well.”
“No President can be installed or deposed through chaos. The tangible evidence for this is the outcome of the French policy when they attacked Gaddafi. What was the result? Chaos ensued after Gaddafi’s departure.”
The French interviewer then asks if Assad fears suffering the same fate as Gaddafi or as Saddam Hussein. Says Assad; “A captain doesn’t think of life and death, he thinks of saving his ship. If the ship sinks, everybody will die, so we would rather save the country. But I want to stress an important point here. Remaining president had never been my objective, before, during, or after the crisis. But we as Syrians will never accept that Syria become a western puppet state. This is one of our most important objectives and principles.”
When asked of US air strikes against Islamic State targets is helping the Syrian government’s efforts, Assad is dismissive and sceptical. “Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes. That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction. And that’s why saying that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping us is not true. Had these airstrikes been serious and effective, I would have said that they would be certainly useful to us.”
“But we are the ones fighting the battles against ISIS on the ground and we haven’t felt any change, particularly now that Turkey is extending direct support to ISIS in those regions.”
The French interviewer challenges Assad on the accusations of having used chemical weapons earlier in the crisis. Assad answers; “We haven’t used this kind of weapons; and had we used it anywhere, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people would have died. It’s impossible for these weapons to kill, as it was claimed last year, only one hundred people or two hundred people, particularly in areas where hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions, of Syrians live. These accusations do not surprise us; for when did the Americans say anything true about the crisis in Syria?”
Movingly, Assad goes on to talk about the Syria that has now been lost and the society that has been destroyed. “What I truly miss is Syria as it was. This is what we miss. And of course we miss the existence of a different world, a world which has logical and moral relations. At that time, we used to have great expectations for the development of our region and for more intellectual openness.”
“It is also painful for both my wife and I to see our belief that the West will help us in our bid for development and openness go in the opposite direction; and what is even worse, to see the West having allies among these medieval states in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”
Possibly the most poignant point in the interview is when Assad is asked what he tells his children when they ask about the situation going on in Syria. Assad talks about this being the “discussion goes on in every Syrian house now; and the most difficult thing in this discussion is when you deal with children whose social consciousness has developed during this crisis.” He explains the difficulty in explaining to children why people are killing in the name of religion.
But he also talks about a “second question” children ask; which is “Why does the West launch an aggression against us and why does it support terrorists and destruction?”
“Of course, they do not say the West in general, they specify certain countries, including the United States, France, and Britain,” Assad explains. “Why do they do that? Have we done anything to hurt them?”
The full text of the original Paris Match interview with Bashar Assad can be read here.
Over 200,000 Syrians, including an enormous number of children, have been killed so far in the ‘Civil War’, with millions of people displaced from their homes and turned into refugees in what has been the largest displacement of human beings in modern times.
Voices within US government are still discussing the forced removal of Bashar Assad from Syria even now and the US is currently arming Syrian rebel groups to help overthrow the Syrian government. A week ago Israel conducted unprovoked attacks on Syrian government targets near Damascus. Actual members of extreme Syrian rebel groups have stated in various media that Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are directly supporting them; if true, all of this constitutes criminal activity illegal under international law and legitimately classifiable as ‘war crimes’.
The mainstream media continues to fail to report any of this.