MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad Reflects on Civil War, Oil, Terrorism and America in Rare Interview – Sputnik International

Posted by M. C. on November 12, 2019

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201911111077273037-syrias-bashar-al-assad-reflects-on-civil-war-oil-terrorism-and-america-in-rare-interview/

Having endured a deadly, drawn-out civil war which is gradually drawing to a close, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is facing the daunting task of reuniting and reconstructing a devastated nation, filling in the power vacuum in newly-liberated parts of the country and overcoming a Western-imposed economic blockade.

The Presidential Palace in Damascus overlooks the Syrian capital, but the most troubled parts of the war-ravaged country are out of sight.

The future of those lands, as well as the broader question of how to solve the ongoing political imbroglio and rebuild Syria, are on Bashar al-Assad’s mind as he speaks in his first interview to foreign media in over a year.

The president talks to RT’s Afshin Rattansi about the origins of the conflict that engulfed his country and the role of Western governments in it, and gives his take on the recent and future developments in Syria and elsewhere.

On the interview embargo

Bashar al-Assad, who turned 54 in September, last gave an interview to a foreign news outlet in June 2018. He says he had stopped speaking to Western media completely because of their hunt for a “scoop”, but feels now that “public opinion in the world, and especially in the West, has been shifting during the past few years”.

“They know that their officials have told them so many lies about what’s going on in the region, in the Middle East, in Syria, in Yemen,” he says of the Western public. “They know there is a lie, but they don’t know the truth; so, I think, it’s time to talk about this truth.”…

On chemical attacks

As the fighting intensified, a series of alleged chemical attacks occurred in opposition-held areas in 2013. Damascus and Moscow both suggested that the March attack in Khan al-Assal was a false flag operation by the opposition-aligned militias, which blamed the government in turn.

When UN investigators arrived on the ground to investigate the incident, their visit coincided with an even larger-scale sarin attack in Ghouta on 21 August, which reportedly led to hundreds of casualties. The United States was quick to accuse the Syrian government and was on the brink of a military intervention, averted only when Damascus agreed to surrender all of its chemical weapons…

On the US’ role in terrorist insurgence

The president reiterates a widespread assumption that those terror groups emerged as a direct consequence of the CIA arming the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union.

He says of the American policy: “They invaded Afghanistan, they got nothing. They invaded Iraq, they got nothing, and they started to invade other countries but in different ways.

“The problem with the Unites States now is that they fight a survival war from their point of view because they are losing their hegemony…

On the ‘looting’ of Syria’s oil

During the war, terrorists have captured large swathes of oil-rich territories in northeast Syria; they have since been ousted from there by US-backed Kurdish militias which apparently continue extracting and smuggling out Syria’s oil.

US President Donald Trump has made it clear in recent weeks that “securing” Syria’s oil (i.e. keeping it in the hands of Kurds and away from the Damascus government) is his major priority in Syria. Moscow has recently exposed Washington’s efforts to keep the oil fields under its military control, describing them as “banditry.”…

On Turkey’s invasion

Fighting is still going on in some parts of the country, particularly in the rebel-held north-west province of Idlib and in the north-east, where Turkey recently launched an offensive against Kurdish fighters who it designates as terrorists.

It drove the Syrian Democratic Forces – a Kurdish-led alliance of militias that includes Arab groups – to seek protection from Damascus, whose forces have moved into the areas vacated by American troops and Kurds.

Al-Assad views the Turkish encroachment as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty but refuses to lay the blame on the Turks altogether.

“The Turkish people are our neighbours, and we have a common history, and we cannot make them the enemy,” he says. “The enemy is Erdogan and his policy and his coteries. So, being against those [terrorist] groups in Turkey and in Syria does not mean that we see eye to eye in another aspect, especially after he invaded Syria, publicly and formally.”

On the Kurdish deal

Al-Assad, now probably in a much stronger military position than ever in the past nine years, has ruled out a power-sharing agreement with Kurds. He says the deal with the SDF is intended for the Syrian government to restore “full sovereignty” over the previously Kurdish-held territories and pull the Kurds from the Turkey border in order to “remove the pretext for the Turks to invade Syria.”

He adds he has also invited Kurds to join the government forces; some heeded the call and some did not…

On attacks by Israel

Tel Aviv, which is at loggerheads with Damascus over the Golan Heights, has on many occasions bombed targets in Syria throughout the war that it believes are signs of Iran’s military presence in the country.

Asked if Israel provides a direct support to terrorists, al-Assad says: “Every time the Syrian army advanced against those Al-Nusra terrorists in the south, Israel used to bombard our troops, and whenever we advance somewhere else in Syria, their airplanes started committing air strikes against our army.”

In his opinion, this indicates that there was a “correlation” between the operations of Israel’s army and Syria-based terrorists.

On Iranian tanker arrest

Al-Assad took a back seat over the summer when headlines from the Middle East were mostly dominated by Iran’s stand-off with the US and the UK.

Syria was indirectly implicated in a spat between Tehran and London over a tanker seized by the Royal Marines off Gibraltar on suspicion of shipping Iranian oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

The president strikes a tone similar to that of his allies in Iran, calling Britain’s actions an act of “piracy.” He suggested that the UK “wanted to affect the people in Syria” in “the last-ditch attempt” to turn them against his government…

On rebuilding Syria

Cornered by Syrian troops and Russian airstrikes, the Idlib terrorists are posed to surrender sooner or later. And however preoccupied President al-Assad may be with the restive province, a transition from war to peace will be needed next.

That transition is complicated by international sanctions, but al-Assad is adamant that Syria will be able to overcome it – with a little help from its friends.

“We have the human resources enough to build our country,” the president reassures, “so I would not worry about this embargo, but definitely, the friendly countries like China, Russia and Iran, will have priority in this rebuilding.”

When asked whether the EU member states would be allowed to participate, he answeres flatly: “Every country which stood against Syria will not have a chance to be part of this reconstruction.”

What about Britain?

“Definitely not.”

*Daesh is a terror group banned by Russia, the US, and numerous other states.

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Yah, MORE OIL! That’s what I want, MORE OIL!

 

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