Bashar Al-Assad Exclusive Interview: Terrorism, Russia and US Responsibilities

In an exclusive interview given only days ago, President Bashar Assad spoke frankly with the chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff from Yahoo News, at the Presidential office in Damascus.

The Syrian civil war has spurred many an opinion on refugee bans, fighting terrorism, sovereignty; Russian alliances and American undermining the fight against ISIS. Human rights abuses; safe zones that Trump wants to establish in Syria; and proxy wars are all on the table for Assad to discuss – and openly.

In the interview, a little over 30 minutes long, Isikoff and Assad have a diplomatic standoff. Isikoff asks a question about human rights here or the civil war there, and Assad rebuts it. The rhetoric is propaganda, proxy wars, fake news, US support for ISIS and the US interactions with Saudi Arabia when they dare to declare the Syrian government as violating international human rights law.

Assad gives many strong statements. Here are some of the less likely to be covered by mainstream media news, post interview, below.

“We have one position in Syria, our priority is about fighting terrorism.”

Assad is willing to accept all “cooperation” from any nation who “genuinely” wants to fight terrorism. But when asked about the US assisting in the fight, Assad responds “but of course, if the US is genuine.” (mark 3:16)

The contentious US fight against terrorism on Syrian soil has long been under scrutiny, with some observers accusing the western superpower of supplying military support to Syria terrorist groups, essentially empowering the jihadists to overthrow Assad and to perpetuate the brutal civil war.

In the interview, Assad is open to American support but states it is essential for cooperation between the Russians and the Americans for the terrorists to be quashed. And that it will only work (on the American behalf) if Syrian sovereignty is respected. (mark 3:38)

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“It is much more viable, much more practical and less caustic to have stability [in Syria] than to create safe zones.”

Pushed on Trump’s safe zones to help the Syrians return to their nation, and Assad argues it an unrealistic goal. Safe zones, he said, can only happen with stability and a safe environment. (5:12)

Assad argues that Russian cooperation to defeat the terrorists hasn’t impacted on Syrian sovereignty. Rather, Assad is brutal in his pragmatism, explaining to Isikoff, “If you lift the embargo … and start fighting against terrorism,” then the Syrians can start to return to the country.

Isikoff argues the safe zone rebuttal. Assad very quickly states there are two reasons for Syrians leaving: the supporting of terrorism – and he names the US under the Obama Administration; and to lift the embargos, which have caused economic refugees. (mark 6:50)

“It is a humanitarian disaster created by the western support of those terrorists.”

Discussing the movement of refugees from Syria and the ‘humanitarian disaster’ Assad agrees, but adds Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the regional context as partly responsible. (mark 7:30)

Isikoff attempts to drag Assad’s opinion on the 7-nation ban and the refugee crisis, and Assad doesn’t argue the 7-nation ban that includes his people. He argues that America must do what is right for America under its “own sovereignty” of the nation. It is their right, Assad says, refusing to be coerced into saying he will allow America into Syria without restraint, or that Trump’s policy is wrong. (8:30)

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“The United States is in no position to talk about human rights, since the Vietnam War.”

Referring to US-Syrian cooperation to deter the terrorists, Isikoff argues the problem some people would have, would be with the human rights track record of the Syrian government.

President Assad’s response: “How could you [the US] have such a very close relation[ship] with Saudi Arabia?” (mark 14:15)

“This is a [US] cosmetic campaign against ISIS”

Assad stipulates the US support for terrorists; that ISIS was grown from the war in Iraq. “The US created all this mess…who supported the rebels and called them moderate rebels while they became ISIS? …We didn’t, these are facts… this is reality, we didn’t give money, we didn’t support these terrorists, your country supported them, UK, France, publicly…”(mark 22.20)

“It [ISIS] started shrinking after the Russian intervention, not the American one. How could they use our oil fields and export with 1000 of barrel trucks to Turkey without being seen by your drones and by your satellites while the Russians would be able to do so and attack them and destroy them and all their facilities…this is a cosmetic campaign against ISIS.” (mark 24:25)

Assad continues, “My country is being destroyed by proxy terrorists.”

You can see the full interview here.


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