President Al-Assad To Der Spiegel: All Decisions Taken By The West F



Damascus, (SANA) – President Bashar al-Assad said that all the
political decisions that have been taken by the west in the last ten
years have been in support of al-Qaeda, intentionally or inadvertently.

In an interview with the German Der Spiegel News Magazine, President
al-Assad said that through Western support, now there are thousands
of al-Qaeda fighters from 80 countries in Syria.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Der Spiegel: Mr. President, do you love your country?

President Assad: Of course, and in this I am no different from most
people. This is not merely about emotions, but rather about what one
can do for his country if he has the power and especially in times
of crisis; and at this particular time, I realize more than ever how
much I love my country and so I must protect it.

Der Spiegel: Wouldn’t you be more patriotic if you stepped down and
allowed for negotiations over an interim government or for a cease-fire
with the armed opposition?

President Assad: The Syrian people determine my fate; no other party
can determine this issue. As for the armed opposition or factions,
who do they represent – the Syrian people? If so, this can be proven
only through the ballot box.

Der Spiegel: Are you prepared to run in the next elections?

President Assad: My term ends in August next year. The presidential
elections should take place before that time. I cannot decide now
whether I am going to run; this depends on what the Syrian people
want. If people are not behind me, I won’t stand in the elections.

Der Spiegel: Will you seriously consider giving up power?

President Assad: This is not about me or what I want. It’s about
what people want. The country is not mine alone, it’s the country
for all Syrians.

Der Spiegel: But some people say that you are the cause of the
rebellion, because people want to get rid of corruption and tyranny.

They call for a true democracy; and according to the opposition,
this is not possible with you in power.

President Assad: Do these people speak for themselves, or do they
speak on behalf of the Syrian people or on behalf of the countries
that are backing them? Do they speak on behalf of the United States,
the United Kingdom, France, Saudi Arabia or Qatar? Let me be clear
about this: this conflict is being brought to our country from the
outside world. These people live in five-star hotels, they are dictated
to by their financial backers and have no grass roots in Syria.

Der Spiegel: Do you deny that there is a strong opposition against
you in your country? President Assad: There is certainly an opposition
in our country. What country doesn’t have opposition? It’s impossible
for all the Syrians to be on my side.

Obama has no right to tell the Syrian people whom to choose as their

Der Spiegel: It’s not only us who deny the legitimacy of your
presidency. U.S. President Barack Obama said at the U.N. General
Assembly meeting in New York that a leader who kills his people and
gases children to death has forfeited any right to rule his country.

President Assad: First, he is the president of the United States
and has no right to pass judgment on Syria.Second, he has no right
to tell the Syrian people whom to choose as their president. Third,
what he says in realty has no foundation whatsoever. He has been
calling for me to step down for one and a half years. What next? Have
his statements made any impact? None whatsoever.

Der Spiegel: For us, it seems that you are ignoring reality. By
stepping down, you save the people a great deal of suffering.

President Assad: This has nothing to do with me being president.

Killing innocent people and terrorizing them by explosions and car
bombs, brought to our country by al-Qaeda, is what causes pain to
the Syrian people. What does that have to do with me being in office?

Der Spiegel: It is relevant because your forces and security services
have committed some of these atrocities and you are responsible
for that.

President Assad: Despite the fact that the protests were not peaceful
at all, it was our policy from the beginning to respond to the
demands of the demonstrators. In the first weeks, we lost soldiers
and policemen who were killed in those protests. Nevertheless, a
specialized committee changed the constitution to meet protesters’
demands and a referendum was held. On the other hand, we also needed
to confront terrorism; it’s the duty of the government to defend
the country and take the relevant decisions to that effect. In the
context of implementing these decisions, mistakes were made. We must
acknowledge that.

Der Spiegel: The rebellion started with demonstrations in Dara’a and
the victims were not only members of your security forces. The other
side also suffered a great deal. The protesters were beaten and fired
at. This harsh treatment was one of the regime’s mistakes.

President Assad: When political measures are implemented – anywhere
in the world – mistakes are made; we are only human.

Der Spiegel: So, you acknowledge that the harsh treatment meted out at
the protesters was a mistake. President Assad: There were individual
errors. We all make mistakes. Even the president might make mistakes.

Even if mistakes were made in on the ground, our principal decisions
were the right ones.

Der Spiegel: Was the Houla massacre also the result of mere individual

President Assad: Neither the government nor its supporters are to
blame for that, because it was the armed gangs and the extremists who
attacked the families who supported the government. This is exactly
what happened. If you want to assert something to the contrary,
you need to provide the evidence and this is what you cannot do. We,
however, and contrary to your claims, can give you the names of the
victims who were killed because they stood against terrorism.

Der Spiegel: We have evidence. Our reporters were in Houla and talked
to the victims and carried out thorough investigations. The U.N.

experts reached a conclusion, after investigating the case, that 108
people in the village were killed, including 49 children and 34 women,
victims of your regime. How can you deny responsibility and accuse
the so-called terrorists.

President Assad: With respect to your reporters, we Syrians, know
our country better, know the truth better and can fully document that.

Der Spiegel: The culprits were ‘shabiha’, members of the militias
with links to your regime. President Assad: Do you have any evidence
to prove that?

Der Spiegel: We heard this from people we consider credible.

President Assad: I’ll be candid and even blunt with you: your question
is based on wrong information. What you are asserting has no ground
in reality. A lie is a lie, no matter how you phrase it or present it.

Der Spiegel: That’s right. So, you don’t acknowledge that your
‘shabiha’ took part in the massacre. President Assad: What do you
mean by ‘shabiha?’

Der Spiegel: The militias close to your regime.

President Assad: This name is actually of Turkish origin, in Syria
don’t know ‘shabiha.’ The reality is that, when armed groups attack
remote areas, and the army and police cannot provide sufficient
protection to citizens, villagers arm themselves and create patrols
in self-defense. It’s true that some of those fought with our forces,
but these are not militias formed to protect the president. What
concerns these people is their country, which they are defending
against al-Qaeda terrorists that have been attacking them for months.

We are defending ourselves and not anything else

Der Spiegel: So, it was only the other side who committed massacres
and terrorism, and your soldiers, militias, security forces and
intelligence services have nothing to do with that?

President Assad: One cannot make such sweeping generalizations: “They
are one hundred percent guilty, and we are zero percent.” The truth
is not always black and white; in the middle there are shades of grey.

But, in principle this is true. We are defending ourselves and not
anything else. As to individual mistakes, I cannot, as president of
all the Syrians, follow and check on each and every one of the 23
million Syrians.

Der Spiegel: Wouldn’t it be possible that the crimes against the
villagers were committed by parts of the Syrian Army outside your

President Assad: There are criminals in every country, even in your
country. Those can be everywhere. This is normal; but we don’t have
sufficient information about this.

Der Spiegel: The legitimacy of a president does not rest on slogans
and promises, but on actions. As a result of the gas attack against
your people, you forfeited every right to be in your position.

President Assad: We did not use chemical weapons; this is not true.

And the picture you are drawing of me is not true. The United States,
the entire western world, the richest countries in the Arab world
and neighbouring Turkey are against me, and terrorists are crossing
the borders from Iraq. On top of all of this, I kill my people, who
support me nevertheless! Am I superhuman? No. So, why am I still in
power two and half years on? The answer is simple: because a large
segment of the Syrian people support me, they support the government
and the state. Whether they constitute 50% or less, that is a different
issue. But this large segment also means ‘legitimacy.’ This is how
things are in reality.

Der Spiegel: After the U.N. investigation of this crime, U.S.

President Obama had no doubt that your regime used chemical weapons
on August 21 in an attack that claimed the lives of over a thousand
people, including hundreds of children.

President Assad: Once again, Obama never provided one shred of
evidence. The only things he provided were lies.

Der Spiegel: But the conclusions reached by the U.N. investigators …

President Assad: What conclusions? When the investigators came to
Syria, we asked them to continue their work and we hope that they
will provide an explanation of who is responsible for this act.

Der Spiegel: The trajectory of the gas shells could be traced back
from their point of impact to their point of launching. And it shows
that they were launched from 4th division installations.

President Assad: This doesn’t prove anything. These terrorists can be
anywhere; they are even in Damascus itself. They could fire a missile
next to my home.

Der Spiegel: But launching rockets containing Sarin gas cannot be
done by your enemies. They don’t have the capabilities to do that
because it requires military equipment, training and accuracy.

President Assad: Who says so? Terrorists used Sarin gas in a Tokyo
attack in the 1990s. Sarin is called the “kitchen gas” because anyone
can make it anywhere, in any room. Der Spiegel: The two attacks cannot
be linked or compared. This is about a military operation in Damascus.

President Assad: No one can say with any certainty that they used
rockets. We have no evidence. But the certain thing is that Sarin was
used. Is it not possible that one of our rockets hit a terrorist site
containing Sarin? Or that they made a mistake while dealing with it?

They are in possession of Sarin and they already used it in Aleppo.

Der Spiegel:13 cases were identified where Sarin was used, but in
no case has it been used with such intensity as on August 21st. Have
you conducted any investigations of your own?

President Assad: Every investigation should start with identifying
the number of the real victims. The armed groups speak about 350. The
United States speaks about 1,400. Medecins Sans Frontièresmention
about 280. This cannot be right. Even the photos taken of the victims
contain discrepancies. For instance, a dead child appears in two
different locations.

Der Spiegel: You mean that the photos of the victims have been

President Assad: I want to say this case should be verified thoroughly;
and no one has done that so far. We cannot do it, because it is an
area where terrorists operate.

Der Spiegel: This close to the city?

President Assad: They are very close to Damascus, close to our military
barracks; they could kill our soldiers.

We win with our population support and vice versa

Der Spiegel: Do you think you can regain control of the areas you lost?

President Assad: It is not about winning or losing in territorial
terms. We are not two states, one controlling an area belonging to the
other, as in the case with Israel, which occupies our Golan Heights.

This is about terrorism, which should be eliminated. When we liberate a
certain area, as we have done in many areas of Syria, it doesn’t mean
that we are winning, because the terrorists withdraw to another area
and destroy it. That’s why we are also concerned about our citizens’
security.It is also important for us to win the support of our
population: we win with their support and vice versa.

Der Spiegel: Do you still control the chemical weapons stockpiles?

President Assad: Yes, certainly. Furthermore, to assure you, I would
like to add that the stored materials haven’t been activated; and no
one can use them before they are prepared for that purpose.

Der Spiegel: This doesn’t rule out that the army was responsible for
the attack. Western intelligence services intercepted phone calls in
which your commanders urge the general command to use poisonous gas.

President Assad: This is complete fabrication and forgery and I will
not waste my time with such allegations.

Der Spiegel: Isn’t it puzzling that we, in the West, have a completely
different assessment of the situation?

President Assad:I n fact, your region is always late in recognizing
reality and is extremely slow in understanding this reality. In the
beginning, we talked about violent protests, while you talked about
peaceful demonstrations. When we started talking about extremists,
you were still talking about “some militants.”When we talked about
al-Qaeda, you were still talking about a few terrorists, although
they are actually the majority. Now you realize that it is about 50/50.

Take, for instance, Secretary of State Kerry who still sticks to
the past and talks about 20%. This is exactly what I meant with the
reality deficit you have.

Der Spiegel: Is the reluctance the West to trust your assessments
due to the lack of confidence in you. Where does the reason lie?

President Assad: I think the West prefers to trust al-Qaeda rather
than to trust me.

Der Spiegel: This is absurd!!

President Assad: I mean it. Maybe you didn’t mean it, but it looks
like it: all the decisions you have taken in the West for the past
ten years have been in support of al-Qaeda. Some might have done that
intentionally and some inadvertently. In any case, and through Western
support, now we have thousands of al-Qaeda fighters from 80 countries.

We have to deal with them. I am referring to those who have come from
outside Syria.

Der Spiegel: You are losing many soldiers, those who defect to the
opposition. Are you telling us that they became al-Qaeda affiliates

President Assad: No, I am not saying that they are all al-Qaeda,
but most of them are. The minority are defectors or criminals. At the
beginning of the crisis, we had over 60,000 outlaws at large. Those
alone could form a whole army. How many are fighting us? I cannot give
a specific figure. Most of them cross the border illegally for jihad.

They come to Syria in the belief that they will go to heaven by waging
war on atheists and non-Muslims. Even when we get rid of thousands
of them, their ranks are replenished by other jihadists.

Der Spiegel: Yet, you believe you will win in this conflict?

President Assad: Even if there was no chance of winning the fight,
we have no other choice but to defend our country.

Der Spiegel: On the subject of trust, we want to remind you that you
have always denied that you possessed chemical weapons, while now
you acknowledge that you have them.

President Assad: We never stated that we had no chemical weapons. We
always phrased our statements “if we had …, then …” But we
never lied.

Der Spiegel: It is reported that German companies supplied you with
chemical materials, which you used to make chemical weapons. Do you
have more specific information about this? President Assad: No,
because these are technical issues. But, in principle, we didn’t
receive outside help to make these weapons, because we didn’t need
assistance. We are experts in the field.

We are committed to making the whole Middle East a WMD free zone

Der Spiegel: Then, how many tons of Sarin gas or other agents do
you have?

President Assad: This remains classified information until it is
provided to OPCW.

Der Spiegel: According to intelligence agencies, you have a thousand
tons in your stockpile. President Assad: What’s important is the
principle not the figure. We have these weapons – yes, but we
are committed to making the whole Middle East a WMD free zone. Der
Spiegel: This is also a matter of trust. You say you have 32 stores,
while Western intelligence services put the figure at 50.

President Assad: This is a technical issue better determined by
specialists. As president, my focus is on the political track. We are
transparent and the experts can access any facility. We’ll provide
them with the data, which they can examine and verify and then judge
our credibility. When we say we are transparent, we mean it: to date,
we have complied with every agreement we have signed. Our history
testifies to this. However, we will not bear the costs of destroying
the weapons.

Der Spiegel: And the international community should simply accept
that you haven’t hidden secret stockpiles somewhere?

President Assad: In international relations, things are not about
trust and believing, they are about setting up the mechanisms on which
the approach can be based. Whether you trust me as a person is not
important. What is important is for institutions to work with each
other: my government and the OPCW. What is important for me is to win
the trust of the Syrian people and not the West. What is important
for me is Syria not the West.

Der Spiegel: Don’t you need the West?

President Assad: Of course, but not to replace the Syrians, or the
Russians who are real friends. They understand better than the West
the truth about what is happening here in reality. If I am praising
them now, this is not because of the close ties that have linked us
for years, but because, frankly, the Russians are more independent
than you are in Europe. You rely too much on the United States in
your policies and easily adopt its policies.

Der Spiegel: The fact of the matter is that the Russians have
strategic interests in Syria. President Assad: You can discuss that
with President Putin. But I will say that some Europeans have come
and signaled that they are convinced with our political position and
that they share our analyses and explanations of the situation. But
they cannot say this in public because it’s difficult for them at
this moment in time.

Der Spiegel: And this applies to the poisonous gas attack?

President Assad: Of course. I say some, not all. To make this clearer,
I’ll elaborate on the accusations against us. Both Obama and Kerry
presented lies. But Obama couldn’t convince his people with his lies.

According to one opinion poll, 51% of the American people reject a
military strike against Syria. The British Parliament was against the
strike too; and there was a tough debate in the French parliament. The
whole “atmosphere” in Europe was against the strike, including the
Vatican. Why? Because most people didn’t believe Obama’s story.

Der Spiegel: Is Germany part of the contacts you are making?

President Assad: We have contacts with some institutions and recently
there have been channels that didn’t exist before. We exchange
information, but we cannot talk about political communications.

Der Spiegel: Does Germany play a special role for you?

President Assad: When I look at Europe, the question for me is: who
is closer to the reality of what is happening in our region? For us
now, Germany and Austria have the most objective vision and are the
closest to reality. This helps achieve Europe’s interests.

Der Spiegel: Could Germany play an intermediary role?

President Assad: I would be happy if German envoys visited Damascus
to engage with us directly. If they talk to us, it doesn’t mean
they support our government. They can ascertain for themselves the
situation and base their work on the facts. If they think that by
not engaging with us, they are isolating us, I tell them: you are
isolating yourselves from reality; so, it’s about their interests.

What do they gain when al-Qaeda is in their backyard wreaking havoc
on the world? After two and half years, they should reconsider their
policies. They should ask themselves: what are they gaining. What
do their people gain when there is a state of chaos that they are

Der Spiegel: In light of the unrest in your country, are the chemical
weapons stockpiles under control?

President Assad: There is no cause for concern, they are very well

Der Spiegel: This applies to biological weapons too? You have
biological weapons?

President Assad: We didn’t give any information in this regard because
it is considered classified information. This should not be understood
as confirmation that we possess them.

Der Spiegel: You understand the international community’s concern
about WMDs falling into the hands of the terrorists.

President Assad: It is not as bad as it is portrayed by the media
and believed in the West. There is no need for any undue concern.

Der Spiegel: As far as we know, you lost about 40% of your territories
to the armed opposition, and in some areas about two thirds of
the land.

President Assad: These are exaggerated figures. 60% of the country
is desert and there is nobody there. In other parts of the country,
the terrorists don’t control any connected areas.

Der Spiegel: This doesn’t apply to the area adjacent to the Turkish

President Assad: They exist only in the area north of Aleppo,
otherwise, there are only pockets. You cannot talk about a real
frontline against us. Sometimes, these fighters are completely isolated
and exist in areas where we don’t want to deploy the army.

The percentage of land is not important to us.People’s solidarity is
much more important and this is growing all the time, because they
see what the terrorists are doing and what it leads to.

Der Spiegel: As a result of the violence of the conflict, a quarter of
the Syrian population, i.e. five million people have become refugees.

President Assad: We don’t have accurate figures; but even four million
is an exaggerated figure. Many of those who are displaced within
Syria go to live with relatives and don’t appear in any statistics.

Der Spiegel: You talk about this issue as if it were an issue of
paying taxes and not a humanitarian disaster.

President Assad: The exact opposite is true. You in the West use these
figures as if you were reading a spreadsheet: four, five, six, seven
million. These figures are of your making: seventy thousand victims,
eighty thousand, ninety thousand, one hundred thousand, as if it were
an auction.

Der Spiegel: The reason for this exodus is that people are fleeing
you and your regime.

President Assad: Is this a question or a statement? If it’s a
statement, then it’s completely wrong. If people flee, they do so
for a number of reasons, first of which is fear of the terrorists.

Der Spiegel: Nobody flees from your soldiers and security forces?

President Assad: The army represents Syria; otherwise it would have
disintegrated long ago. It doesn’t pose a threat to anyone. When we
talk about refugees, let’s talk about another government – the Turkish
government – which uses these figures for its own interests. It
manipulates these figures and plays this humanitarian card at the
United Nations in order to put pressure on us. Another reason for their
interests is the money they receive to help the refugees, the money
that moves only in the wrong direction, to their pockets; there are
so many reasons. Of course within these large numbers of refugees,
yes, some did flee in fear of the government but the situation is
now changing with about a hundred or a hundred and fifty thousand
refugees returning home.

Der Spiegel: How could you push those to take that step?

President Assad: We engaged with them in order to dispel their fears.

Those who committed no crime have nothing to fear. Our message was:
if you want to be against the government: come back and speak against
us; and it worked.

Army and people united, no choice but to trust and believe in our
victory and saving Syria

Der Spiegel: You cannot show any military victory on any military
front: you regaining control over Aleppo, which you announced,
hasn’t happened. Ma’aloula is still a big problem. Even parts of
Damascus are being shelled. We heard the sound of shelling on our
way to your palace.

President Assad: When you are dealing with this kind of crisis, it
is impossible for you to be as strong as in the past. The damage is
huge and we’ll need a lot of time to overcome this. But the army and
the people are united; and we have no choice but to trust and believe
in our victory and in saving our country.

Der Spiegel: How can you believe in your victory if you brought
Hezbollah in to help you?

President Assad: Lebanon is a very small country, about four million
people. Damascus alone has five million, and Syria is too large
and wide a country to be covered by Hezbollah. We cooperated on the
borders with Lebanon in the fight against those terrorists who were
also attacking Hezbollah members. That cooperation was fruitful
and successful.

Der Spiegel: So, you can at last do without Hezbollah’s help?

President Assad: I didn’t say that, I only wanted to clarify and
correct the western perception that the Syrian army couldn’t fight
any more and that’s why Hezbollah intervened.

Der Spiegel: Hezbollah is one of the few entities that continue to
support you. It seems that President Putin is gradually losing his
patience with you.

President Assad: President Putin is more supportive of us now than
any other time. He showed this by using three vetoes at the Security
Council to prevent sanctions against us. Der Spiegel: But he endorsed
the most recent resolution, which calls for the destruction of the
chemical weapons.

President Assad: That was a good resolution.

Der Spiegel: Because it averted the military strike?

President Assad: There was no item in that resolution that undermined
our interests. President Putin knows from his experience in fighting
terrorism in Chechnya what we are going through here.

Der Spiegel: That’s why you are confident Moscow will provide you with
the S300 air defense system, which you have been waiting months for?

President Assad: He has said more than once that he will support
Syria in different fields and that he is committed to the contracts
signed between us. This doesn’t only apply to air defense systems
but to other weapons as well which enable us to defend ourselves.

Der Spiegel: The international community will do everything to prevent
arming you.

President Assad: What right do they have? We are a sovereign state,
and we have the right to defend ourselves. We don’t occupy anybody’s
land. Why isn’t the international community bothered when Israel gets
all kinds of weapons? Why should Israel receive three submarines from
Germany, despite the fact that it is an occupying power and still
occupies our land? We have the right to arm ourselves in accordance
with the U.N. charter. This is why the West isn’t objective in this
position; it’s because of these double standards that we don’t trust
the West.

Der Spiegel: Aren’t you concerned that Israel will shell the new
defense system as soon as it arrives from Moscow?

President Assad: In our case, and in this state of war, we don’t allow
ourselves to feel fear. We have to do everything to be strong; and we
shall not allow anyone to destroy our armaments and military equipment.

Der Spiegel: And if it happened? President Assad: Then, if things
come to that, we shall talk about it then.

We need peace and stability in this region

Der Spiegel: In the past your rhetoric about Israel was more

President Assad: No, we need peace and stability in this region. We
have always been aware of this. When it comes to revenge and reacting
to a strike, we need to ask ourselves: where would that lead,
particularly now that we are fighting al-Qaeda. We need to be careful
not to ignite a new war.

Der Spiegel: When will you win against al-Qaeda?

President Assad: When we restore stability; that’s why we must get rid
of the terrorists. Then, we need to get rid of their ideology that has
infiltrated certain areas of Syria, because it is more dangerous than
terrorism itself. This ideology, which encourages an eight-year old
boy to slaughter a man while adults and children watch and cheer as if
they were watching a football match. This actually happened in northern
Syria. Getting rid of this mentality and liberating ourselves from it
is going to be more difficult than getting rid of the chemical weapons.

Der Spiegel: Such scenes might not be strange in states like Somalia,
Liberia and Sierra Leone, but in Syria?

President Assad: The brutality we are witnessing in Syria is
incredible. Think of the Bishop whose head the terrorists severed
with a small knife.

Der Spiegel: Somalia, Liberia and Sierra Leone have been “failed”
states for decades. Yet, you believe you can restore Syria back to
pre-rebellion times?

President Assad: Concerning stability, yes, when an end is put to
billions of dollars flowing from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, when Turkey
stops its logistical assistance to the terrorists. Then we can solve
the problem in a few months.

Der Spiegel: Is a negotiated solution still possible?

President Assad: With the armed groups – no. My definition of
the opposition is a political program or entity that doesn’t carry
weapons. If they were to lay down their weapons and return to normal
life, it would be possible to talk to such people. When we spoke
earlier about defectors, it is also important to point out that now
many of them are withdrawing from rebel camps and joining the fight
on our side.

Der Spiegel: For the international community, you are responsible for
escalating this conflict, which has no end in sight. How can you cope
with such guilt?

President Assad: It’s not about me, but about Syria. The situation
in Syria worries and saddens me; that’s where my concern is, I am
not concerned for myself.

Der Spiegel: Do your wife and three children stand at your side?

President Assad: Certainly, they have never left Damascus for one

Der Spiegel: Has it crossed your mind that your end will be similar
to President Ceausescu of Romania, when he was killed by a group of
his soldiers?

President Assad: I am not worried about myself. Had I been worried
and fearful, I would have left Syria a long time ago.

Der Spiegel: Mr. President, thank you very much for this interview.