Dennis Kucinich: Why are we at war in Syria?

By Dennis Kucinich | March 14, 2017

The United States government is now at war in Syria, with nearly 1,000 combat-ready U.S. troops providing artillery and air support in the north. We have put our troops in an impossible and perilous position, with enemies on all sides.

The war in Syria is not a fight for democracy. The U.S. is fighting alongside and supporting the cause of 80,000 jihadis from 90 different countries. Nearly a half-million Syrians have died in the war fueled by this sinister worldwide participation.

The U.S. is equipping terrorists who keep changing their name, but the game is the same: To unite and achieve a radical Islamic fundamentalist takeover of the region.

Billions of U.S. tax dollars have helped spawn this war, creating death and misery, massive migrations of refugees and immigration crises.

The U.S. presence in Syria is an illegal act of war. It violates international law and it is unconstitutional. Syria did not invite the U.S. to come in. Congress has not approved it. Syria has been fighting Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, ISIS and other radical Islamic terror groups to whom Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the U.S. have given direct and indirect aid.

ISIS and the other terrorist groups can be defeated by cutting off their funds, which is exactly what Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s just-introduced bill, the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (HR 608), aims to do. A companion bill, S. 532, has been introduced in the Senate by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.

Most of the media is fueling the war, unwittingly becoming a mouthpiece for the masterful, intelligent propagandists of jihadi groups whose “humanitarian” messaging permeates every level of social media. It tugs at the conscience of caring people while masking the reality of violent subjugation and religious extremism that propels their movement.

A deeper question needs to be asked: Why is it U.S. policy to upend Syrian society, whose tradition has been to respect freedom of worship by people of all faiths, and replace it with religious extremism?

Syria provides its people with universal health care and universal education, up to postgraduate level. Its literacy rate is approximately that of the United States. Before the war, Syria was moving progressively toward a society where women have full rights and are free to come and go as they wish, to dress as they wish, to participate in all occupations.

Have we not learned our lessons from Iraq and Libya, where our direct interventions set the trajectory for democracy back to the Dark Ages? We are destroying every American value we say we support with this senseless, reckless behavior.

Is the U.S. presence emboldening those who want to destroy Syria? On Saturday morning, more than 40 Iraqi pilgrims traveling by bus to a holy site in a cemetery in downtown Damascus were killed, and more than 120 were injured, when explosive devices were detonated. The group claiming responsibility for this massacre? Tahrir al-Sham, a deadly hybrid of Al Qaeda, so-called “moderates” previously backed by the U.S.

The attack on this previously safe area of old Damascus signals a new and more dangerous phase of the efforts of radical Islamic fundamentalists to overturn the Syrian government through acts of terror and paramilitary assaults.

Why in the world does the United States want to help establish a fundamentalist caliphate, guided by Shariah law? Why, in fact, has our government given mere lip service to the slaughter of Christians and the desecration of holy places in the region? How does this reflect American values?

Some people say that if we fight them over there, we won’t have to fight them over here. They are wrong. It’s not that we are fighting them over there. We are supporting them over there, with our tax dollars and now our troops.

Every day we occupy Syria, we arm, train and empower our enemies and put our brave young men and women at risk, using them as pawns in an insane game of nations.

If we really are serious about fighting terrorism and making America safer, we must look to history, learn from our mistakes and get off this endlessly expensive wheel of war.

Pres Assad: Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one.

11 March 2017

The president added in an interview given to Chinese PHOENIX TV that the solution to the crisis in Syria should be through two parallel ways: the first one is to fight the terrorists, and this is our duty as government, to defend the Syrians and use any means in order to destroy the terrorists who’ve been killing and destroying in Syria, and the second one is to make dialogue.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Thank you Mr. President for having us here in Dimashq, the capital of Syria. I think this is the first interview you have with Chinese media after the national ceasefire and after so many fresh rounds of talks, both in Astana and in Geneva, and of course after US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, and these days, as we have seen, your troops are making steady progress in battlefields, but peace talks do not seem just as productive. So, as far as the Geneva talks is concerned, your chief negotiator, Mr. Jaafari, was trying hard to find out who should be sitting on the other side of the negotiation table. So, according to your idea, who should be sitting there?

President Assad: This is a very crucial question. If you want those negotiations to be fruitful, we have to ask “who is going to be sitting there?” I mean, there could be a lot of good people with good intentions, but the question is: who do they represent? That’s the question. In this situation, you have different groups, you have people who are, let’s say, patriotic, but they don’t represent anyone, they represent themselves. You have others who represent the terrorists, and you have terrorists on the table, and you have others who represent the agenda of foreign countries like Saudi Arabia, like Turkey, like France, UK and maybe the United States. So, it’s not a homogeneous meeting. If you want it to be fruitful, going back to the first point that I mentioned, it should be a real Syrian-Syrian negotiations. In spite of that, we went to that meeting because we think any kind of dialogue could be a good step toward the solution, because even those people who are terrorists or belonging to the terrorists or to other countries, they may change their mind and go back to their normality by going back to being real Syrians, detach themselves from being terrorists or agents to other groups. That’s why I say we didn’t expect Geneva to produce anything, but it’s a step, and it’s going to be a long way, and you may have other rounds, whether in Geneva or in Astana.

Question 2: But anyway, it is an intra-Syrian talks, right? But the matter of fact is, it is proxy dialogue. I mean, main parties do not meet and have dialogue directly.

President Assad: Exactly.

Journalist: Are you personally satisfied with the current negotiation format or mechanism?

President Assad: we didn’t forge this mechanism; it was forged by de Mistura and the UN with the influence of the countries that wanted to use those negotiations in order to make pressure on Syria, not to reach any resolution. As you just said, each one represents a different agenda, even the opposition delegations, it wasn’t one delegation; different delegations of the opposition. So, if I’m going to – as a government – if I’m going to negotiate with someone, who’s it going to be? Which one? Who represents who? That’s our question. So, you are right, this time there was no negotiations in Geneva, but this is one of the reasons, that’s why it didn’t reach anything. The only thing we discussed in Geneva was the agenda, the headlines, what are we going to discuss later, that’s it.

Question 3: But as we see, lot of time, money, energy have been put into this effort, and the clashes are still going on, people are still dying, and the refugees are still increasing.

President Assad: Exactly.

Journalist: What is the possible way of having a negotiation?

President Assad: Again, you are correct. The more delay you have, the more harm and destruction and killing and blood you’ll have within Syria, that’s why we are very eager to achieve a solution, but how and in which way? You need to have two parallel ways: the first one is to fight the terrorists, and this is our duty as government, to defend the Syrians and use any means in order to destroy the terrorists who’ve been killing and destroying in Syria. The second one is to make dialogue. This dialogue has many different aspects; you have the political one, which is related to the future of Syria; what political system do you need, what kind? It doesn’t matter which one, it depends on the Syrians, and they’re going to have referendum about what they want. The second part is to try to bring many of those people who were affiliated to the terrorists or who committed any terrorist acts to go back to their normality and lay down their armaments and to live normal life in return for amnesty that has been offered by the government, and we’ve been going in that direction for three years, and it worked very well. It worked very well. So, actually, if you want to talk about the real political solution since the beginning of the crisis, of the war on Syria, till this moment, the only solution was those reconciliations between the government and the different militants in Syria, many of them joined the government now, and they are fighting with the government. Some of them laid down their.

Question 4: But talking about the Syria war, you can never exclude the foreign factors. The Saudi-backed high negotiating committee, HNC, are saying that they are counting on the Trump administration to play a positive role instead of the mistaken policies under his predecessor Barack Obama. So, from your side, what do you expect from Trump’s Middle East policy, particularly policy on Syria?

President Assad: The first part that you mentioned about their hopes, when you pin your hopes on a foreign country, doesn’t matter which foreign country, it means you’re not patriotic, and this is proved, because they should depend on the support of the Syrian people, not any other government or administration.

Now, regarding the Trump administration, during his campaign and after the campaign, the main rhetoric of the Trump administration and the president himself was about the priority of defeating ISIS. I said since the beginning that this is a promising approach to what’s happening in Syria and in Iraq, because we live in the same area and we face the same enemy. We haven’t seen anything concrete yet regarding this rhetoric, because we’ve been seeing now certain is a local kind of raids. You cannot deal with terrorism on local basis; it should be comprehensive, it cannot be partial or temporary. It cannot be from the air, it should be in cooperation with the troops on the ground, that’s why the Russians succeeded, since they supported the Syrian Army in pushing ISIS to shrink, not to expand as it used to be before that. So, we have hopes that this taking into consideration that talking about ISIS doesn’t mean talking about the whole terrorism; ISIS is one of the products, al-Nusra is another product, you have so many groups in Syria, they are not ISIS, but they are Al Qaeda, they have the same background of the Wahabi extremist ideology.

Question 5: So, Mr. President, you and Mr. Donald Trump actually share the same priority which is counter-terrorism, and both of you hate fake news. Do you see any room for cooperation?

President Assad: Yeah, in theory, yes, but practically, not yet, because there’s no link between Syria and the United States on the formal level. Even their raids against ISIS that I just mentioned, which are only a few raids, happened without the cooperation or the consultation with the Syrian Army or the Syrian government which is illegal as we always say. So, theoretically we share those goals, but particularly, not yet.

Question 6: Do you have personal contact with the President of the United States?

President Assad: Not at all.

Journalist: Direct or indirect.

President Assad: Indirect, you have so many channels, but you cannot bet on private channels. It should be formal, this is where you can talk about a real relation with another government.

Question 7: As we speak, top generals from Turkey, Russia, and the United States are meeting somewhere in Turkey to discuss tensions in northern Syria, where mutually- suspicious forces are allied with these countries. So, do you have a plan for a final attack on Daesh when the main players actually do need an effective coordination in order to clear Syria of all terror groups?

President Assad: Yeah, if you want to link that meeting with ISIS in particular, it won’t be objective, because at least one party, which is Turkey, has been supporting ISIS till this moment, because Erdogan, the Turkish President, is Muslim Brotherhood. He’s ideologically linked and sympathetic with ISIS and with al-Nusra, and everybody knows about this in our region, and he helped them either through armaments, logistically, through exporting oil. For the other party, which is the United States, at least during Obama’s administration, they dealt with ISIS by overlooking their smuggling the Syrian oil to Turkey, and this is how they can get money in order to recruit terrorists from around the world, and they didn’t try to do anything more than cosmetic against ISIS. The only serious party in that regard is Russia, which is effectively attacking ISIS in cooperation with us. So, the question is: how can they cooperate, and I think the Russians have hope that the two parties join the Russians and the Syrians in their fight against terrorism. So, we have more hopes now regarding the American party because of the new administration, while in Turkey nothing has changed in that regard. ISIS in the north have only one route of supply, it’s through Turkey, and they’re still alive and they’re still active and they’re still resisting different kinds of waves of attacks, because of the Turkish support.

Question 8: Now, US troops are in Manbej. Is the greenlight from your side? Did you open the door for these American troops?

President Assad: No, no, we didn’t. Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders, whether they are American, Turkish, or any other one. And we don’t think this is going to help. What are they going to do? To fight ISIS? The Americans lost nearly every war. They lost in Iraq, they had to withdraw at the end. Even in Somalia, let alone Vietnam in the past and Afghanistan, your neighboring country. They didn’t succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions.

Question 9: Talking about Russia and China, they just vetoed a new UN sanction on Syria last week. What do these Chinese vetoes mean exactly for your country?

President Assad: Let’s be very clear about their position, which is not to support the Syrian government or the Syrian president, because in the West they try to portray it as a personal problem, and as Russia and China and other countries and Iran support that person as president. It’s not the case. China is a member of the Security Council, and it’s committed to the Charter of the United Nations. In that veto, China has defended first of all the Charter, because the United Nations was created in order to restore stability around the world. Actually, the Western countries, especially the permanent members of the Council as a tool or means in order to change regimes or governments and to implement their agenda, not to restore stability, and actually to create more instability around the world. So the second part is that China restored stability in the world by creating some kind of political balance within the United Nations, of course in cooperation with Russia, which is very important for the whole world. Of course, Syria was the headline, the main headline, this is good for Syria, but again it’s good for the rest of the world. Third, the same countries that wanted to use the UN Charter for their own vested interested are the same countries who interfered or tried to intervene in your country in the late 90s, and they used different headlines, human rights, and so on, and you know that, and if they had the chance, they would change every government in the world, whether big country or small country, just when this government tries to be a little bit independent. So, China protected the Chinese interests, Syrian interests, and the world interests, especially the small countries or the weak countries.

Question 10: If I’m not mistaken, you said China is going to play a role in the reconstruction of Syria. So, in which areas you think China can contribute to bring Syrian people back to their normal life after so many years of hardships?

President Assad: Actually, if you talk about what the terrorists have been doing the last six years, it’s destroying everything regarding the infrastructure. In spite of that, the Syrian government is still effective, at least by providing the minimum needs for the Syrian people. But they’ve been destroying everything in every sector with no exception. Adding to that, the Western embargo in Syria has prevented Syria from having even the basic needs for the livelihood of any citizen in Syria. So, in which sector? In every sector. I mean, China can be in every sector with no exception, because we have damage in every sector. But if we talk about now, before this comprehensive reconstruction starts, China now is being involved directly in building many projects, mainly industrial projects, in Syria, and we have many Chinese experts now working in Syria in different projects in order to set up those projects. But of course, when you have more stability, the most important thing is building the destroyed suburbs. This is the most important part of the reconstruction. The second one is the infrastructure; the sanitation system, the electricity, the oil fields, everything, with no exception. The third one: the industrial projects, which could belong to the private sector or the public sector in Syria.

Question 11: Alright. And it seems no secret that there are some Chinese extremists are here, fighting alongside Daesh. I think it is a threat to both Syria and China. What concrete or effective measures do you have to control border and prevent these extremists from free movement in the region?

President Assad: When you talk about extremists or terrorists, it doesn’t matter what their nationality is, because they don’t recognize borders, and they don’t belong to a country. The only difference between nationality and nationality, is that those for example who came from your country, they know your country more than the others, so they can do more harm in your country that others, and the same for Syrians, the same for Russian terrorist, and so on. So now, the measures, every terrorist should be defeated and demolished, unless he changed his position to the normal life. Second, because you’re talking about different nationalities -more than 80 nationalities – you should have cooperation with the other governments, especially in the intelligence field, and that’s what’s happening for example with the Chinese intelligence regarding the Uyghur terrorists who are coming from China through Turkey. Unfortunately, the only means that we don’t have now and we don’t control is our borders with Turkey, because the Uyghur in Particular, they came from Turkey, the others coming maybe from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, form the sea, maybe, and the majority from Turkey, but the Uyghur terrorists coming mainly from Turkey. Why? I don’t know why, but they have the support of the Turkish government, and they were gathered and collected in one group, and they were sent to the northern part of Syria. So, the mission now is to attack them, wherever they existed. Of course, sometimes you cannot tell which one… who is who, they mix with each other, but sometimes they work as separate groups from different nationalities. And this is very crucial kind of cooperation between the Syrian and the Chinese intelligence, and we did many good steps in that regard.

Question 12: Mr. President, as you may be fully aware that the “White Helmets” took an Oscar this year for the best documentary short, but folks are saying that the truth about this “White Helmets” is not like what Netflix has presented, so what is your take on this?

President Assad: First of all, we have to congratulate al-Nusra for having the first Oscar! This is an unprecedented event for the West to give Al Qaeda an Oscar; this is unbelievable, and this is another proof that the Oscars, Nobel, all these things are politicized certificates, that’s how I can look at it. The White Helmets story is very simple; it is a facelift of al-Nusra Front in Syria, just to change their ugly face into a more humanitarian face, that’s it. And you have many videos on the net and of course images broadcasted by the White Helmets that condemn the White Helmets as a terrorists group, where you can see the same person wearing the white helmet and celebrating over the dead bodies of Syrian soldiers. So, that’s what the Oscar went to, to those terrorists. So, it’s a story just to try to prevent the Syrian Army during the liberation of Aleppo from making more pressure on the attacking and liberating the districts within the city that have been occupied by those terrorists, to say that the Syrian Army and the Russians are attacking the civilians and the innocents and the humanitarian people.

Question 13: Right. Now Palmyra. I took a one-day trip to Palmyra this time. Now, the city is under your control, so as its strategic position is concerned, because Homs is the heart of Syria, it’s right in the middle, now, when you have Palmyra, what is your next target? Are you going to expand a military operation into Raqqa and Dier Ezzor?

President Assad: We are very close to Raqqa now. Yesterday, our troops reached the Euphrates River which is very close to Raqqa city, and Raqqa is the stronghold of ISIS today, so it’s going to be a priority for us, but that doesn’t mean the other cities are not priority, in time that could be in parallel, because Palmyra is on the way to Dier Ezzor city in the eastern part of Syria which is close to the Iraqi borders, and those areas that have been used by ISIS as route for logistic support between ISIS in Iraq and ISIS in

Syria. So, whether you attack the stronghold or you attack the route that ISIS uses, it has the same result.

Question 14: How many days do you think this war is going to last?

President Assad: if we presume that you don’t have foreign intervention, it will take a few months. It’s not very complicated internally. The complexity of this war is the foreign intervention. This is the problem. So, in the face of that intervention, the good thing that we gained during the war is the unity of the society. At the very beginning, the vision for many Syrians wasn’t very clear about what’s happening. Many believed the propaganda of the West about the reality, about the real story, that this is against the oppression. If it’s against the oppression, why the people in Saudi Arabia didn’t revolt, for example? So, now what we gained is this, this is our strongest foundation to end that war. We always have hope that this year is going to be the last year. But at the end, this is war and you can’t expect what is going to happen precisely.

Question 15: Mr. President, you are President of the Syrian Republic, at the same time, you are a loving husband and a father of three. How can you balance the role of being a President, a father, and a husband?

President Assad: If you cannot succeed in your small duty which is your family, you cannot succeed in your bigger duty or more comprehensive duty at the level of a country. So, there is no excuse that if you have a lot of work to abandon your duties; it’s a duty. You have to be very clear about that, you have to fulfill those duties in a very good way. Of course, sometimes those circumstances do not allow you to do whatever you have to do, your duties, fully, let’s say.

Journalist: During a day, how much time you spend on work, and how much time you spend with your family members?

President Assad: Actually, it’s not about the time, because even if you are at your home, you have to work.

Journalist: Okay.

President Assad: Let’s say, in the morning and the evening, you have the chance, but in between and after those times, you have the whole day to work.

Question 16: Have you ever thought of leaving this country for the sake of your family?

President Assad: Never, after six years, I mean the most difficult times passed; it was in 2012 and 2013, those times we never thought about it, how can I think about it now?

So, no, no, this is not an option. Whenever you have any kind of reluctance, you will lose. You will lose not with your enemies; you lose with your supporters. Those supporters, I mean the people you work with, the fighters, the army, they will feel if you’re not determined to defend your country. We never had any feeling neither me nor any member of my family.

Question 17: And how is Kareem’s Chinese getting along?

President Assad: He learned the basics of Chinese language, I think two years ago. Unfortunately, the lady and the man who taught him had to leave, because they were members of the Chinese Embassy. They went back to China. Now, he stopped improve his Chinese language.

Question 18: Do you think it is a good choice to learn Chinese for him?

President Assad: Of course, of course, because China is a rising power.

Journalist: You didn’t force him to learn Chinese? It’s his own option, right?

President Assad: No, no, we never thought about it, actually. I didn’t think that he has to learn Chinese, and I didn’t expect him, if I thought about it, that he would say yes, because for many in the world the Chinese language is a difficult language to learn. He took the initiative and he said I want to learn Chinese, and actually till this moment, I didn’t ask him why. I want him to feel free, but when he’s getting older, I’m going to ask him how? How did it come through your mind to learn this language, this difficult language, but of course important language.

Journalist: You didn’t ask him before? President Assad: No, not yet. Journalist: So, you think it’s a good choice?

President Assad: Of course, of course. As I said, it’s a rising power, it’s important. I mean, most of the world has different kinds of relation with China whether in science, in politics, in economy, in business, I mean, in every filed you need it now. And our relation for the future is going to be on the rise. It was good, but it’s going to be on the rise because when a country like China proves that it’s a real friend, a friend that you can rely on, it’s very natural to have better relation on the popular level, not only on the formal level.

Journalist: Thank you Mr. President, thank you for your time.

President Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria, you’re most welcome.

11 March 2017

CIA’s 1986 report presents blueprint for collapse of Syria

16 February 2017

A CIA report on Syria has written in 1986 presents clues regarding the riots began in 2011 and its aftermath. In the report, CIA emphasises that ‘‘a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates’’ would ideally serve for US interests

It has not yet been possible to learn the whole role of the United States in the "regime change" operations began in Syria in 2011.

However, a report within the CIA’s declassified documents during previous weeks allows us to forge a link between the scenarios predicted by the American intelligence for Syria in the 1980s and today’s situation in Syria.

The memo dated July 1986 and entitled "Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change" was prepared by CIA only for high-level officials of the Ronald Reagan administration.

The report essentially considers possible scenarios that could lead to the ouster of Hafez Al-Assad, who was Syria's President from 1971 to 2000, Prime Minister from 1970 to 71, or other dramatic changes in Syria.


Before reviewing the context of the report, it should be reminded that 1986 was a crucial year for Syria and the region as well. 

1986 was a year that Hafez Al-Assad's government in Syria was once again suppressed through an international isolation and a year that various terrorist attacks took place domestically. 

The scenario, known as the Hindawi affair, which would result in the bombing of a plane by the Syrian intelligence, left Syria in a very difficult situation. Although it was claimed that this incident was a conspiracy organised by Mossad (the national intelligence agency of Israel) in order to put the Syria behind the eight ball, the arrow had already left the bow.

In March and April of the same year, five cities of Syria were shaken by bomb attacks, and more than 200 civilians lost their lives in the events.

The claim has been spoken over the years until today that at the end of 1985, the meeting of the Colonel Oliver North from the US National Security Council and Amiram Nir the counter-terrorism advisor of Shimon Peres, who was the prime minister of Israel at that period, triggered terrorist incidents in Syria.


The intelligence report considers the insurrection of the Muslim Brotherhood between the years 1979-1982 as a Sunni challenge.

By 1986, the CIA, which predicted that a second "Sunni challenge" is unlikely, says that "an excessive government reaction to minor outbreaks might trigger large-scale unrest."

The CIA reporting "in most instances the regime would have the resources to crush a Sunni opposition movement", believes that along with it, widespread violence may pave the way for a civil war by forcing the large numbers of Sunni officers in the army to flee or mutiny.

The report asserts that although the Sunnis carve out 60 percent of the armed forces, they are concentrated in junior ranks. From this point of view, the American intelligence believes that the Sunnis in the army will turn against the Syrian government in case of the resurrection of the violence between the Alevis and Sunnis in Syria.


In the CIA report, the Muslim Brotherhood is given an extensive role in a possible regime change.

Although the report considers a regime change under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood as a long-term scenario, one of the three scenarios projected for the ouster of the ruling Ba'ath Party, is still the Muslim Brotherhood insurrection (the other two scenarios are the power struggles among the successors of Assad, and the possibility of sparking a coup d’etat by the military reverses).

The CIA, saying the Muslim Brotherhood’s armed opposition was drastically crushed in 1982, judges that there is still a potential for another Sunni opposition movement.

Indicating that the role of the Muslim Brotherhood between 1979-1982 was "to exploit and orchestrate opposition activity by other organised groups", the CIA reports that these groups still exist, and they might coalesce into an extensive movement under a proper leadership.

For the leadership of these groups and a new Sunni opposition movement, the CIA thinks young professionals who formed the militant faction of the Muslim Brotherhood and the remnants of the Brotherhood.

In the report, it is stated that even though Assad has crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1980s, ‘‘Sunni opposition’’ fell into deep as small fractions, while the CIA claims that a sectarian conflict may begin, if the government mistakenly considers the small protests as a ‘‘resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood’’, and violently suppressed them.

The CIA argues that excessive use of force by the government to these small protests might be seen by the Sunnis as "an evidence of a government vendetta against all Sunnis".

Similar to the confidential CIA report suggested to make covert US operations and arms aid for the Sunni opposition through using Iraq as a base, it is determined that the Sunni opposition in Syria might be supplied by Iraq in a case of a possible civil war.


Although the report fundamentally focuses on the possibilities that can overthrow the Assad's administration, it also delivers an opinion about the question of which one of these scenarios best serves the US interests.

At the end of the preface of the report, it is admitted that one of the desired outcomes for the US is the Sunni regime in Syria.

According to the CIA, a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates is the form of government that would best serve the US interests.

The CIA’s report also claims that business moderates would see a strong need for Western aid and investment to build Syria’s private economy, and added that these factors would open the way for stronger ties to Western governments.


An interesting evaluation in the CIA report, as it can be seen in the contemporary Syria, is the possibility of a religious state that could seek to establish in a case of the ouster of Assad.

The CIA warns that "religious zealots might seek to establish an Islamic republic" if the Ba’ath state structure collapses. 

Syria President Assad's interview to French TF1 and EUROPE 1

We fight for the Syrian people, therefore, they support their government, army and President

16 Feb 2017

President Bashar al-Assad affirmed that victory in Aleppo is an important step in the way to defeat and to eliminate the terrorism from our country, adding “we don’t think that we can talk about winning the war unless we defeat the terrorists everywhere in Syria.”

The president added in an interview given to French TF1 TV and EUROPE 1 Radio that the west supported terrorists in Syria under the name of “moderate,” but it was supporting the same basis of al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Following is the full text of the interview:

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.

President Assad: Good morning.

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: You mean next after Aleppo?

Journalist: Yes.

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.

Question 7: So, there’s no difference between Daesh and the other groups?

President Assad: Definitely, in Syria the grassroots are the same; the same people who were in ISIS were before in al-Nusra, now they are moving from organization to organization, because it’s the same ideology: it’s Wahabi ideology, this is the source of this terrorism.

Question 8: This is the same enemy for you, all the terrorists are the same?

President Assad: Yeah, of course, according to the law, not for me. As I said, according to the law and the international law, no-one has the right to hold armaments except the army and the police in any country. I think the same in France, unless I’m wrong, you can tell me, but that’s what I think, everywhere in the world.

Question 9: So, Raqqa, which is the heartland of Daesh, where the terror attacks in France were prepared, Raqqa is not a priority target for you?

President Assad: No, again, they’re not necessarily prepared in Raqqa. Raqqa is a symbol of ISIS.

Journalist: It’s a symbol.

President Assad: You have ISIS close to Damascus, you have them everywhere, you have them in Palmyra now, you have them in the eastern part of Syria, so no, it’s not about al-Raqqa; everywhere is a priority, depending on the development of the battle, but for us all the same: Raqqa, Palmyra, Idleb; all the same.

Question 10: Sir, you present yourself as the main shield against terrorism. There’s a lot of people, in the West in particular, would think that ISIS on the one hand and your regime on the other hand are the two sides, the two faces of a same evil trying to crush any form of democratic and free expression in this country. What would you answer to them? It’s a real question.

President Assad: First of all, we’re not a regime; we are a state, institutions. Second one, that’s the demonization of the Western mainstream media and political strata regarding Syria and the Syrian government and Syrian army, because they supported those “moderates” at the very beginning, and at the beginning they said they are “peaceful demonstrators,” then they said “they’re not peaceful, they are fighters but they are moderate,” but they couldn’t recognize that they were supporting the same grassroots of Al Qaeda and ISIS. That’s why they say that we are trying to promote those terrorists and to use them as alternative so the West cannot choose. First of all, the West doesn’t have to choose between me and ISIS: my people have to choose, because this is a Syrian issue, to be frank with you. So, we don’t care about what the Western officials think about this; they have to worry about their people and to protect their people from the terrorist attacks that’s been happening because of their policies.

Question 11: Sir, of course we are extremely shocked, particularly in France, by the horror of terrorism, but we are also horrified by a report from Amnesty International released a few days ago, last week. It’s about the prison of Sednaya. It’s not far from here, not far from Damas. 13,000 executed prisoners, massive hangings, torture. Amnesty speaks – I read the report – of a place where the Syrian state silently slaughters its own people, the Syrian state, your government. Mr. President, is everything permitted in order to win the war? Can you do everything that you want?

President Assad: No, everything legal. You cannot do anything…

Journalist: But according to Amnesty report, seems to be illegal.

President Assad: No. There’s difference between me and you talking about facts in this… in Syria, or talking about allegations. If you want to talk about allegations, we can spend the time talking about allegations, never-ending allegations. Anyone can say whatever he wants, and we can discuss it, but in that case, we’re not going to talk about facts. But if you want to talk about Amnesty, because Amnesty is known around the world, it’s shameful for such an organization to build a report on allegations. If you take any allegations to a court in your country, you have court, you have judicial system, could they take any decision regarding allegations, or they have to look for the evidence? This report is built on allegations, not a single shred of documents, not a single evidence. They didn’t say 13,000; they said between 5,000 and 13, which is double and half the number, it means it’s not precise. There’s no mentioning of names, of anyone who is from the victims; only 36 out of those thousands, and there are many flaws. They said, for example, the Grand Mufti is endorsing the execution. The religious figures in Syria has nothing to do with any judicial process. The execution in Syria is legal, it’s part of the law since the independence, so the government can execute anyone legally; why to do it illegally?

Journalist: You can tell us that there’s no torture in the prison of Sednaya as Amnesty said?

President Assad: The question is torture for what? I mean, if you want to say that we are committing torture, for what? What do I get? Why? Just for sadism? We are sadists? What is it for? I mean, to get information? We have all the information, so we don’t use it, it’s not our policy, because for a simple reason: if we commit such atrocities, it’s going to play into the hands of the terrorists, they’re going to win. It’s about winning the hearts of the Syrian people. If we committed such atrocities at any stage of this conflict, we wouldn’t have the support after six years. It’s a very simple fact. But again, if you go back to the reports, reports should be built on fact. There’s not a single fact in that report, and they have to prove it, they cannot.

Question 12: But Amnesty is suggesting to send international observers to the detention centers in Syria, to get some proof, or to prove that you’re right, and that there’s no crime being committed. What’s your answer to this proposal?

President Assad: I think we need an investigation on the Amnesty itself, when they adopt a report based on allegations. This is a shame, shame on such an organization that has never been impartial, it’s always biased.

Journalist: Testimonies of former guards and prisoners?

President Assad: It’s about the sovereignty. If you have allegations every day and reports every day, you can spend the time receiving delegations. Would you accept now, if you ask your government, to send a Syrian delegation to investigate why your army, through Sarkozy and later Hollande, attacked the Libyans and killed tens or hundreds of thousands? Can we go investigate the money that Sarkozy got from the Libyan leader? It’s a matter of sovereignty. No, we’re not going to allow Amnesty to be here, for any reason. I’m not talking about that report, but you have to – as mainstream media – investigate; that report is based on what? Just allegations? You don’t take it seriously.

Journalist: So, your answer is no to the visit of international observers.

President Assad: Definitely, no, no. We don’t care about such a childish report based on nothing, just allegations. And they said they interviewed a few witnesses who are opposition and defected, so it’s a biased report.

Question 13: But you acknowledge that there are some executions, numerous executions, official, legal executions in Syria, going on.

President Assad: Since the independence, you have it, since the independence. It’s part of the Syrian law, execution, if there’s a killing act, there is execution. So, it’s not about the crisis, not about that report, it’s not about that prison. You have legal ways to do it, and it’s a judicial way.

Question 14: Sir, let’s talk about relation between France and Syria. In a few weeks from now, a new president will be elected in France, and among the debates we have in our country there is the issue of resuming dialogue with your government. Do you hope for the renewal of diplomatic relations with France?

President Assad: It’s not about the diplomatic relations. First of all, it’s about the policy of France. So, if we don’t have this diplomatic relation, it’s not that big problem for the time being now. Maybe in the long-term, you need to have good relations with any country, including diplomatic relations.

Journalist: So, let’s talk about the policy of France.

President Assad: Exactly. The policy of France, that started from day one, to support the terrorists in Syria, and is responsible directly of the killings in our country.

Journalist: How can you say it… it’s a serious accusation against France. How can you say that France is supporting terrorism?

President Assad: They said, I didn’t accuse them. They said, many times, they supported the war, and Hollande recently said it was a mistake not to launch war in 2013. They said that they send armaments to whom they call “moderate” groups, which are terrorists. They said that, I didn’t say. The Americans said the same, the French said the same. So, your officials – go back to their statements during the last two, three, four years, maybe – you have more than one self-accusation by the French officials.

Question 15: Francois Hollande is about to leave the power in France. You’re still there. Did you win your struggle, your arm-wrestling with Francois Hollande?

President Assad: It’s not between me and him, it’s not something personal, I never met him, I don’t care about him, to be frank, and his popularity is 11 percent recently, which is rock-bottom, I think, for any president in the history of France. Actually, it’s between me and the terrorists, and between me and whoever supports the terrorists. Till this moment, the terrorists couldn’t win the war, but they’ve been destroying Syria, they killed hundreds of thousands of Syrians, so I cannot say I won the war. They didn’t succeed in their plan, but till this moment we haven’t finished our war, so I cannot say that I won the war.

Question 16: Do you have any contacts… do you follow, first of all the French political campaign, the presidential campaign going on right now?

President Assad: We follow it in general, not in details, because we don’t bet on the Western elections for one reason, a simple reason; that we don’t take the Western officials at their word during the campaign, because they say something for the voters, not for the sake of the country, for the voters to go and vote. This is reality, I’m being frank with you.

Question 17: Sir, you see, even the difference between the right wing and the left wing in France considering relation with Syria, you see a difference?

President Assad: Yes, you can feel it, but at the end whoever becomes president, what’s his policy going to be? The same as we used to see it as rhetoric before the elections, or what? That’s the question. So, it’s not something you bet on. Of course, you prefer somebody who doesn’t take the position of warmonger, you prefer it, but you don’t know…

Journalist: For example, who do you think, who is the best one who doesn’t want war?

President Assad: We don’t see any big difference now, but again, I wouldn’t bet on their rhetoric. Regarding rhetoric, there’s no big difference.

Question 18: And do you have some contacts with some of the candidates? None of them?

President Assad: No, we don’t have any contacts with any of them.

Journalist: And with intelligence service?

President Assad: In some cases, we had some indirect contacts.

Journalist: With French intelligence service?

President Assad: Yes.

Journalist: You personally, you have contact with intelligence service?

President Assad: Actually, in one of the delegations that came to Syria, it was parliamentarian, one from the intelligence was part of the delegation. So, it’s involved. Of course, the French government said “they are parliamentary delegation, we’re not involved, we don’t agree,” which is not true. Of course, we have so many channels.

Question 19: A country already changed its president; that is the United States. One of the first contested decisions of Donald Trump is the Muslim ban. It intended to forbid citizens from some Muslim countries, including Syria, to travel to US. As a Syrian citizen, as president of Syria, do you feel some humiliation there?

President Assad: No, no, because it’s not against the Syrian people, first of all, it’s against the terrorists that could infiltrate some of the immigrants to the West, and that happened; happened in Europe, mainly in Germany, and it could happen in the United States. So, I think the aim of Trump is to prevent those people from coming, so he took it this way. Second…

Journalist: So, he’s in the right way, when he…

President Assad: No, no, I’m talking about something we can disagree or agree on as persons, but for me as president, I wouldn’t worry about that. I’m worried about how can I bring the Syrian people to Syria, not to send them to the United States. I wouldn’t feel happy if they could access other countries, I will feel happy when they can come back to Syria, because they want to come back to Syria, the majority of the Syrians left because of the terrorism and the embargo, the Western embargo. So, if I want to deal with that decision, I would ask Trump and the Western countries to lift the embargo and to stop supporting the terrorists. They wouldn’t have problem with this. They won’t have immigrants or terrorists infiltrating the immigrants. Second, this is another important point, all the fuss that we heard about Trump’s decisions is not because they are worried about the Syrians or about any other countries; it’s because they want to use our cause, our problem, our conflict, as the fuel for their conflict with Trump, because you have other decisions that have been taken by Obama few months ago regarding the same issue, the mainstream media in the United States didn’t talk about it; it only talked about Trump when he announced it publicly and he took it in a stark way.

Question 20: So, you feel more comfortable, you, with Donald Trump than with Mr. Barack Obama?

President Assad: No, I cannot feel comfortable unless I see his policy towards Syria; I haven’t seen it yet. So, again we have to be cautious with every Western leader because they can say something and do the opposite, and then they can say something… do something in the morning and do the opposite in the evening. They wouldn’t commit to anything; they are very pragmatic till they sell their values, they don’t have values in their policies.

Question 21: But at least there is one thing that didn’t change so far, is this sort of disengagement of the US from the region, this is pretty obvious. A second round of negotiations is starting now in Astana, in Kazakhstan, and it’s very striking; the Western countries are totally out of the game, they’re out of the picture. Is this really good for the future of the negotiations and the future of peace in the region?

President Assad: No, the more support you have for any political process, the better, but the Western countries that been involved in those processes, mainly France and UK, lost the chance of achieving anything in Geneva, twice; two rounds in Geneva and they couldn’t achieve anything because they supported those groups that represented the terrorists against the government. They didn’t want to achieve peace in Syria; they wanted to achieve their goals through the peace axis of the whole process.

Question 22: But the fact that the destiny of the Middle East is supervised right now by two countries, Iran and Russia, that by the way don’t have a fantastic democratic record of their own, is that a good thing?

President Assad: Again, the more involvement you have around the world, the better, and that’s not only our vision; that’s even the Russian vision, and the Russians invited many countries to come and help them in fighting terrorism and supporting this political process, but the Western countries isolated themselves, not Iran, not Russia. They were very passive in dealing with all these initiatives, like Astana; where are they? Did the Russians tell them not to come? No, they didn’t. They didn’t come.

Journalist: So, Iran and Russia are promoters of peace, and the Western countries of war?

President Assad: Exactly, a hundred percent, hundred percent.

Question 23: Let’s continue to talk about Russia. Would you say that Vladimir Putin is finally the real decision-maker in the region and even in your country, in Syria?

President Assad: No, no, he’s not. We are the decision-maker regarding Syria. Regarding other countries, I cannot talk on behalf of the others. They respect our sovereignty; every step they took, whether strategic step or tactical step, it was in cooperation with Syria. They never did take a single step without us. They base their politics on values and on their interests, especially regarding fighting terrorism. So, no, it’s our decision.

Question 24: But would you say that without Russia, your government would have collapsed a long time ago?

President Assad: This is a hypothetical question; nobody can tell you about the war because it’s in fluctuation. Of course, which is definite for everyone, that without the Russian support, it would have been worse. How much worse? I cannot tell you, no-one can tell you. Collapsed, withstood, I cannot tell you, but definitely, the Russian support was very crucial in order for ISIS and al-Nusra to re-shrink; because they were expanding after the American alliance started its attacks, cosmetic campaign in Syria, they were expanding till the Russians intervened, they started shrinking. This is reality. This is a fact.

Question 25: Are you stricken by the fact that a few years ago, most of the observers and analysts were saying that you wouldn’t last very long in power, and especially after Aleppo, now the possibility that you may stay is agreed by a large number of people. So, the question is, the question about you remaining in power, this is a question also in Astana in the negotiations. In our country, when a political man has a bad record, usually, usually he doesn’t stay in power very long time. After seventeen years in power, six years of war, three hundred thousand plus dead in this country, a destroyed and divided country, would you say from a moral perspective, not a legal one, a moral perspective, that this record allows you to remain in power, whatever the outcome of the negotiations might be?

President Assad: You know about that terrorists who committed the recent attacks in France last year, and then the police killed some of them, you know about that. What do you go to tell that policeman? Do you tell him you’re a killer or a savior? He killed. The same for a doctor who could take out a leg because there is gangrene in the leg. Would you tell him you committed atrocity, or you saved the life of the patient? So, it’s about the reason why you commit an act, this is first. And in our case, we were fighting the terrorists to protect the people. It’s not my point of view; it’s a duty according to the constitution and to the law. If I don’t do that, I would be the killer, because I will allow the terrorists to kill more Syrians in Syria, and that’s the duty of your army to protect the French, otherwise, they will say “no, we don’t do anything, because they call us a killer.”

Question 26: So, you would say eventually that you have done everything you could and you should for your country?

President Assad: What I could?Definitely. What I should? The Syrian people say, would say what I should have done, because we have different points of view. But regarding who’s going to say this is a bad record when you talk about the moral part of your question, it’s only related to the Syrian people, not the European officials to say this is bad record or good record. They were talking about “Assad must go,” now they don’t talk about “Assad must go.” I don’t care about either. I never cared about this, since the very beginning. I care about our war against the terrorism, about fighting their plans to destroy our country. That’s my worry since the beginning. That’s why it’s the same for me whatever they say. The record is a Syrian record, not a European record by any means.

Question 27: But when Syrian people can say if they approve or not your policy? We have election in France now, when is the next one in Syria?

President Assad: You have two means: the current means and the one that comes in the future at the end of the war. That time, you can talk about any means, whether you have ballot box, you have elections, you have anything. In the meantime, the people can have one means: either to support you or not. After six years of the war, if that president has bad record according to the Syrian people, why would they support him? A simple question: why do they have to support him? Why they didn’t they support the terrorists? And according to that question when you talk about three hundred thousand or four hundred thousand killed, and you talk about the president killing them, it’s like you’re giving the terrorists a certificate of good behavior because we are killing the people and they are protecting the people; Al Qaeda and al-Nusra and ISIS are protecting the people. So, this is the content of that question. Actually, no, we are fighting for the Syrian people. That’s why the Syrian people supported their government and their army and their president.

Journalist: Thank you Mr. President for receiving Europe 1 and TF1.

President Assad: Thank you very much for coming.

Full text of Pres Assad's interview to Yahoo News

10 Feb 2017

President Bashar al-Assad gave interview to Yahoo News in which he stressed that the US needs to be genuine regarding the fight against terrorism if its wants to really defeat terrorism in Syria, adding that this aim requires a clear political position on the part of the US towards the sovereignty and unity of Syria and cooperation with its government and people.

The following is the full text of the interview:

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?

President Assad: No, not yet.

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: I 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?

Americans’ only way to defeat terrorism in Syria is through cooperation with Syria’s government and people

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.

Question 6: But you have welcomed Russian troops into your country. Would you welcome American troops into your country?

President Assad: We invited the Russians, and the Russians were genuine regarding this issue. If the Americans are genuine, of course they are welcome, like any other country that wants to defeat and to fight with the terrorists. Of course, with no hesitation we can say that.

Question 7: So, you want American troops to come into Syria to help fight ISIS?

Sending troops is not enough for fighting terrorism, a genuine political position on respecting Syria’s sovereignty and unity is needed

President Assad: Troops is part of the cooperation. Again, let’s go back to the comprehensive, you cannot talk about sending troops if you’re not genuine, if you don’t have a clear political position toward not only the terrorism; toward the sovereignty of Syria, toward the unity of Syria. All these factors would lead to trust, where you can send your troops. That’s what happened with the Russians; they didn’t only send their troops. First of all, there’s a clear political position regarding those factors. This is where the Russians could come and succeed in fighting the terrorists in Syria.

Question 8: Do you see cooperation between the United States and Russia to attack ISIS in Syria?

Any cooperation in any conflict around the world needs rapprochement between the Russians and the Americans

President Assad: It is essential. Any cooperation in any conflict around the world, it needs the, let’s say, the rapprochement, between the Russians and the Americans. It’s very essential, not only for Syria.

Question 9: Well, you talk to the Russians all the time, don’t you?

President Assad: Of course.

Question 10: Yeah? When’s the last time you spoke to President Putin.

President Assad: A few weeks ago.

Question 11: What’d you talk about?

President Assad: About the problem in Syria, about the advancement of the Syrian Army in Syria.

Question 12: Right. Are you going to try to broker some sort of arrangement between the United States and Russia in this fight?

President Assad: There’s direct contact between them, and President Putin had a telephone call with President Trump a week or so, and they talked about different issues including Syria, so they don’t need my role to do so, and we don’t have any contact with the Americans to help the Russians make contact or improve their relation. We’re not in that position.

Question 13: President Trump recently said he absolutely wants to create “safe zones” inside Syria to protect refugees, and possibly allow many of them to return. If such a move would help protect your country’s endangered citizens, would you support that?

The idea of safe zones is not realistic….It’s much more viable, practical and less costly to have stability than to create safe zones

President Assad: But actually, it won’t. It won’t. Safe zones for the Syrians could only happen when you have stability and security, where you don’t have terrorists, where you don’t have flow and support of those terrorists by the neighboring countries or by Western countries. This is where you can have a natural safe zone, which is our country. They don’t need safe zones at all. It’s much more viable, much more practical and less costly to have stability than to create safe zones. It’s not a realistic idea at all.

Question 14: Upwards of half of your country’s population has been displaced. How can you say that safe zones to protect them from bombardment would not be helpful?

President Assad: The first thing you have to ask: why were they displaced? If you don’t answer that question, you cannot answer the rest. They were displaced for two reasons: first of all, the terrorist acts and the support from the outside. Second, the embargo on Syria. Many people didn’t only leave Syria because of the security issues. As you see, Damascus is safe today, it’s nearly normal life, not completely. But they don’t find a way for life in Syria, so they have to travel abroad in order to find their living. So, if you lift the embargo, and if you stop supporting the terrorists – I’m not talking about the United States, I’m talking about everyone who supported terrorists including the United States during Obama’s administration – if you stop all these acts, most of those people will go back to their country.

Question 15: There are, what, 4.8 million Syrian refugees since this crisis began. Just as way of comparison, that is more than 4 times the total number of Palestinian refugees from the events of 1947 and 48. Do you accept that this is a humanitarian disaster?

The refugee crisis was created due to Western, Turkish, Qatari and Saudi support to terrorists

President Assad: It is a humanitarian disaster created by the Western support of those terrorists, of course, and the regional support by Turkey and Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It didn’t happen just like this.

Question 16: And you bear any responsibility at all for this disaster?

President Assad: As president?

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad: Regarding the policies that I undertake since the beginning of the crisis, they were supporting the dialogue between the Syrians, fighting terrorists, and supporting reconciliation, and they succeeded. So, no, regarding these policies, I think we were correct, and we are continuing on these pillars for the future of Syria regarding this crisis.

Question 17: As you know, President Trump has signed a very controversial executive order barring refugees, immigrants, from predominantly Muslim countries, but specifically all Syrian refugees, saying that their entry into the country would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. The premise is that some of them are terrorists.

President Assad: Yeah.

Journalist: Do you agree with President Trump on this?

US ban of refugee entry is an American responsibility as Syria’s President ti to restore stability to help Syrian refugees go back home

President Assad: This question has two aspects: the first one is American, this is an American issue and it’s related to the sovereignty of the American nation. Every country has the right to put any regulations to enter their country. We can disagree or agree, but if you ask me as president, as official in the Syrian state, my responsibility is not to go and ask any president to allow the Syrians to go there and to have refuge in that country. My responsibility is to restore the stability, in order to bring them back to Syria and find refuge in their country. So, I’m not going to discuss that this is right or wrong; this is American issue.

Question 18: But the question was: are some of these refugees, in your view, aligned with terrorists?

President Assad: Oh, definitely.

Journalist: Definitely?

President Assad: Definitely. You can find it on the net; the same picture that you saw them – in some cases, of course – in some instances, those terrorists in Syria, holding the machinegun or killing people, they are peaceful refugees in Europe or in the West in general. Yeah, that’s true.

Question 19: So, how many terrorists do you believe are among the 4.8 million Syrian refugees?

President Assad: No one has any number, nobody knows, because nobody knows all the terrorists to give a percentage, no one at all.

Question 20: Do you believe it’s a significant number?

President Assad: It’s not about significant, because you don’t need a significant number to commit atrocities. 11th of September, it happened by only 15 terrorists out of maybe millions of immigrants in the United States, so it’s not about the number; it’s about the quality, it’s about the intentions.

Question 21: So, if what you’re saying is correct, then President Trump would be justified in keeping them out of the United States?

President Assad: I’m not American to justify it; only American people would say this is against the interests of the United States or with the interests. From the outside, we can discuss it as value; this is with the values of the humanitarian situation in the world or not, that’s how we can discuss it. But again, I can only speak as president; for me the priority is to bring those citizens to their country, not to help them immigrate. That’s the natural duty according to the constitution and to the law.

Question 22: Would you welcome all of Syria’s refugees back into your country?

President Assad: Definitely, definitely.

Journalist: Definitely? Even the terrorists?

President Assad: I don’t have to welcome them as president; I don’t own the country, it’s not my house, it’s not my company, it’s not my farm. This is country to every Syrian.

Question 23: But if you believe that some of them are terrorists, what would you do with them when they return to Syria?

President Assad: It doesn’t matter what I believe, what matters is what the law would say about every person who committed any act against his country, taking into consideration that we gave amnesty in Syria to thousands of people who committed actions or acts against their country as part of the reconciliation.

Question 24: How do you expect them to return? What is your vision or plan for bringing Syria’s refugees back into Syria?

President Assad: Already many of them, not a huge number, but many of them came back to Syria, many of them, in spite of the security issues and the embargo. So, the majority of Syrians would like to come back to their country. This is natural for every citizen. They will come back when there’s security and when there’s no embargo.

Question 25: Your military, just last month, drove the rebels from eastern Aleppo. Do you see this as a turning point in Syria’s civil war, and do you believe you’ve now won this war?

Aleppo is an important step in the fight against terrorism, but the turning point was taking the decision to fight terrorism in spite of propaganda

President Assad: No, it’s not a turning point. The turning point was when we took the decision to fight terrorism in spite all the propaganda against us abroad, especially in the West, and against every pressure. That was the turning point. Aleppo is an important step against terrorists, in the fight against terrorism, but I cannot say it is a turning point, because we’re still going in the same way, in the same direction, we haven’t changed our direction. Maybe for the terrorists it’s a turning point? They better answer. Maybe for their masters in the West and in the region, it could be, but they have to answer, I cannot answer on their behalf.

Question 26: I was asking you before about potential cooperation between the United States and Syria, but the problem that many would have with that is the continued allegations of human rights abuses by your government. Now, just today, we have a new report from Amnesty International about Sednaya prison, “human slaughterhouse” they call it, 5,000 to 13,000 detainees hanged in mass hangings there, horrific conditions, trials of blindfolded prisoners, one to three minutes in length, no lawyers, secret, all in secret. This would, on its face, be contrary to every aspect of international law. What do you know about what’s going on in that prison?

President Assad: Let’s first of all talk about the first part of your question, which is the problem how to – for the United States – to open relations with Syria, regarding the human rights. I will ask you: how could you have this close, very close relation, intimate relation, with Saudi Arabia? Do you consider beheading as human right criteria?

Journalist: But I’m not interviewing the King of Saudi Arabia right, I’m interviewing you.

President Assad: Yeah, I know. Yeah, of course.

Journalist: I’m asking you about reports of human rights abuses in your prison, in your country.

The US is in no position to say “I don’t open relations [with Syria] because of human rights, as it has killed millions of civilians since Vietnam war till this moment

President Assad: You own the question, I own the answers, so that’s my answer. So, when you answer about Saudi Arabia and your relation, you can put yourself in that position. Second, the United States is in no position to talk about human rights; since Vietnam war till this moment, they killed millions of civilians, if you don’t want to talk about 1.5 million in Iraq, without any assignment by the Security Council. So, the United States is in no position to say “I don’t open relations because of human rights,” and they have to use one standard. This is first.

The second part now. Now I can move to the other part, that report, like many other reports published by Amnesty International, put into question the credibility of Amnesty International, and we never look at it as unbiased. It’s always biased and politicized, and it’s a shame for such an organization to publish a report without a shred of evidence. They said it’s based on interviews, on interviews.

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad: What about the documents? What about the concrete evidence? Not a single concrete…

Journalist: Interviews with four former prison officials and guards, three former Syrian judges, three doctors…

President Assad: It means nothing.

Journalist: It means nothing?

President Assad: It’s interview… no, no, when you need to make a report, you need concrete evidence. You can make any report, you can pay money to anyone like Qatar did last year. They paid money for such a report, and they brought their own witnesses, and they made a report.

Question 27: I wanna just read you something from the report… “the process of hanging is authorized by officials at the highest levels of the government. Death sentences are approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria, and by either the Minister of Defense or the Chief of Staff of the Army, who are deputized to act on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad.”

President Assad: First of all, what’s the evidence? This is first. Second…

Journalist: Is it true or not?

President Assad: No, no, it’s not true, definitely not true.

Journalist: How do you know? Do you know what goes on in that prison? Have you been there?

President Assad: No, I haven’t been, I’ve been in the Presidential Palace, not in the prison.

Journalist: So here you have a very disturbing report about something going on in one of your prisons, are you going to investigate?

President Assad: So, Amnesty International knows more about Syria than me, according to you. No, that’s not true. No, they haven’t been to Syria, they only base their reports on allegation, they can bring anyone, doesn’t matter what’s his title, you can forge anything these days, and we’re living in a fake news era, as you know, everybody knows this. So, we don’t have to depend on this. Second, you have to talk about the reality, they said in their report that we made serial executions, is that correct?

Journalist: Yes. Mass hangings.

President Assad: First of all, execution is part of the Syrian law. If the Syrian government or institution wants to do it, they can make it legally, because it’s been there for decades.

Journalist: Secret trials, no lawyers?

President Assad: Why do they need it, if they can make it legally? They don’t need anything secret.

Journalist: Is that legal, in your country?

President Assad: Yeah, yeah, of course, it’s legal, for decades, since the independence. The execution, according to the law, after trial, is a legal action, like any other court in many countries in this region.

Question 28: Will you allow international monitors to visit that prison and inspect and investigate these reports?

President Assad: It depends on the credibility of that organization, not anyone, because they’re going to use this visit just to demonize the Syrian government more and more and more, like what’s happening.

Question 29: This is not the first time that very serious human rights allegations have been made. Just last week, a woman in Spain, Syrian, filed a lawsuit accusing nine of your senior government intelligence and security officials of human rights abuses. Her brother had disappeared in one of your prisons. You asked about documents, the lawyers who have filed this, accusing your government of human rights abuses, have collected 3,000 pages of evidence and over 50,000 photographs taken by one of your former government’s photographers showing emaciated, tortured bodies in your prisons.

President Assad: Who verified the pictures? Who verified that they’re not edited and photoshopped and so on?

Journalist: Have you seen the photos?

President Assad: No, I didn’t.

Journalist: Have you seen the photos?

President Assad: No, no, I saw some photos in previous reports. But it’s not about the photo. How can you verify the photo?

Journalist: You have said that the…

President Assad: Do you have a photo?

Journalist: I do have the photos.

President Assad: Can you show it to me?

Journalist: Yes, I’ll be happy to. here.

President Assad: This photo… have you verified who are those?

Journalist: I… can tell you…

President Assad: Because you have it, and because you mention it in front of your audience…

Journalist: There’s a number of photos…

President Assad: You have to convince your audiences, you cannot mention such a picture without verifying who are those and where and everything about, just to put it in front of the audience, tell them “they’ve been killed by the Syrian soldiers.”

Journalist: The woman who filed the lawsuit, the Syrian woman who filed the lawsuit said she saw her brother in those photographs.

President Assad: At the end, these are allegations. We have to talk about concrete evidence, at the end. That’s how you can base your judgment. Anyone can say whatever he wants.

Question 30: The US State Department gave these photos to the American FBI crime lab, digital lab. They examined these photos, and said the bodies and scenes depicted – these are 242 of these images – the bodies and scenes depicted exhibit no artifacts or inconsistencies that would indicate they have manipulated. As a result of the above observations, all of these 242 images appear to depict real people and events.

President Assad: Who said that?

Journalist: The FBI. Have you seen their report?

President Assad: No. When was that?

Journalist: That was 2015.

President Assad: The question is when your institutions were honest about what’s happening in Syria? That’s the question. Never. For us, never, so we don’t have to rely on what they say, if the FBI say something, it’s not evidence for anyone, especially for us. The most important thing: if you take these photos to any court in your country, could they convict any criminal regarding this? Could they tell you what this crime is, who committed it? If you don’t have this full picture, you cannot make judgement, it’s just propaganda, it’s just fake news, they want to demonize the Syrian government. In every war, you can have any individual crime, it happened here, all over the world, anywhere, but it’s not a policy.

Question 31: But let me just… If I hear what you’re saying, the FBI is just forwarding… propagating propaganda, Amnesty International is propagating propaganda, everybody is conspiring against the Syrian government. Why?

President Assad: Ask them, we’re not…

Journalist: You’re the one making the allegation.

President Assad: No, no, I’m not making an allegation, they supported the terrorists, and you go back to what they said… John Kerry, a few months ago, said and by his voice that “we were watching ISIS advancing, and we expected the Syrian president to make concessions.” What does it mean? Obama said it in one of his speeches, that the war on Iraq created ISIS. So, who supported ISIS? We didn’t create it, you created it, the United States created all this mess. Who supported the rebels and called them “moderate rebels” while they became ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria? We didn’t. So, it’s not a conspiracy, these are facts, this is reality. We didn’t give money, we didn’t support these terrorists. Your country supported them, UK, France, publicly, and they said they sent armaments, we didn’t. So, it’s not my allegation, it’s your official allegation, including Joe Biden, the Vice President of Obama. He said, about Saudi Arabia and other countries supporting the extremists…

Journalist: That’s Saudi Arabia, but the United States…

President Assad: So, this allegation is their allegation, it’s American allegation before it’s been Syrian allegation.

Question 32: The United States and its coalition partners have been bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it’s supporting the Iraqi army in its efforts to liberate Mosul from ISIS. How can you say that the United States is supporting ISIS?

President Assad: Can you explain to me how could they defeat ISIS in Iraq, and ISIS was expanding since the American coalition started attacking in Syria?

Journalist: Is it expanding now?

President Assad: It’s been expanding, no, it’s…

Journalist: Is it expanding now?

ISIS started shrinking after Russian intervention not the American intervention

President Assad: It started shrinking after the Russian intervention, not the American one. How could they use our oil fields and export with thousands of barrel trucks to Turkey without being seen by your drones and by your satellites while the Russians could be able to do so and attack them and destroy them. destroy all their facilities? How? This is cosmetic campaign against ISIS.

Question 33: Just to be clear; I have shown you the FBI report, I have shown the photographs, I have shown you the Amnesty International report. Will you cooperate in investigations to determine if these very serious reports are in fact true?
President Assad: You showed me many things, but you didn’t show me a single evidence.

Journalist: I showed you an FBI report.

President Assad: No, no, it’s not evidence at all. It’s actually the contrary; any American institution for us during the Syrian crisis was against the reality, it was the opposite of the truth. That’s how we look at it. So, it’s not a Syrian institution, we don’t care about what they say. For me, what I care about is what reports I have from Syrian people, and we had investigations, because we have many claims regarding not mass crimes, actually, more individual acts and we’ve been investigating many, and many people were punished, but that happened in every war.

Question 34: Do you… are you disturbed enough about any of this to try to determine the truth yourself?

President Assad: I think you should show it to Western officials to ask them that question: are they disturbed to see what’s happening since they started supporting the terrorists in Syria? This killing and this destruction? That’s the question. Of course I’m disturbed; I am Syrian.

Journalist: You are disturbed about this? About these reports?

President Assad: About what’s happening in Syria. No, no, not about the report. I don’t care about the report.

Journalist: Not about this.

President Assad: No, no, I’m disturbed about what’s happening in Syria. It’s my country, it’s being destroyed by proxy terrorists, of course.

Question 35: You have acknowledged that your troops in this war have committed mistakes in its prosecution against the rebels, and that anyone could be punished. So, how many mistakes are we talking about?

President Assad: No, I didn’t say that. I never said that. I said there are always mistakes in any action; that’s a human…

Journalist: How many mistakes are we talking about? How many innocent civilians have been killed by your government’s mistakes?

President Assad: Nobody knows, because thousands and thousands of those are missing people; nobody knows anything about their fate, nobody at all. So, you cannot tell till the end of this war.

Question 36: Was it a mistake to bomb hospitals in Aleppo?

President Assad: We never bombed hospitals in Aleppo. Why to bomb a hospital? Can you convince your audience that we have interest in bombing hospitals? Actually, this is against our interest. This is against our interest to bomb a hospital if it’s used as hospital, and the proof that it was a lie, every time they talk about bombing hospitals, every time they say this is the last hospital in eastern part of Aleppo, and the second time they talk about another hospital and they say the same; “they bombed the last hospital.” So, it’s lies and lies and lies. We can spend the whole interview talking about lies, and we can talk about the truth and reality. I have to talk about the reality.

Question 37: Is it a mistake to use barrel bombs and chlorine gas?

President Assad: You have to choose which part of the narrative is correct. Once they said we are using indiscriminate bombs and they called it barrel bombs. The other day, they said we targeted hospitals and schools and convoys. We either have precise armaments or we have indiscriminate armaments. So, which one do you choose?

Question 38: Well, you do acknowledge though that innocent civilians… there have been civilian casualties in this war?

President Assad: Of course, every war is a bad war, every war is a bad war. You cannot talk about good war. Let’s agree about this. Every war has causalities; every war has innocent people to pay the price. This is the bad thing about war. That’s why we need to end that war, but having casualties doesn’t mean not to defend our country against the terrorists and against the invasion from abroad through those proxies by foreign countries like the Western countries and the regional ones. This is self-evident.

Question 39: President Obama gave a speech in 2013 about US counter-terrorism efforts, including drone strikes, and he says while defending those strikes, nevertheless it is a hard fact that US strikes have resulted in civilian casualties from me and those in my chain of command, those deaths will haunt us as long as we live. Are you haunted by the deaths of innocent civilians caused by your government’s military actions?

President Assad: That’s an important example about the armament, it’s not about what bomb do you use, whether you call it barrel or any other name; it’s not about that. It’s about the way you use and your intentions. That’s why the state of the art drones with their missiles, the American ones, killed much more civilians than terrorists. So, it’s not about the drone, it’s not about the armaments; it’s about your intentions. In our case in Syria, of course we have to avoid the civilians, not only because they are our people and this is a moral issue; it’s actually because it’s going to play into the hands of the terrorists. If we kill the civilians intentionally, it means we are helping the terrorists. So, why would we do it, why we are defending the civilians and killing the civilians? It doesn’t work; this is contradiction. If we are killing the civilians, who are we defending in Syria? Against who and for who?

Question 40: You were asked just yesterday: are all means justified in this war, and you said, your answer was yes, it’s a duty. So, you can use every mean in order to defend the Syrian people.

President Assad: Exactly.

Journalist: Every mean?

President Assad: Every mean.

Journalist: Including torture?

President Assad: No, it’s not a defense; torture is not a defense. Why to use torture? What’s the relation between torture and defending your country?

Journalist: So, where you draw the line?

President Assad: You have rules, you have very clear rules like any army; when you want to defend your country, you use your armaments against the terrorists. This is the only rule that I’m talking about. This is all the means that you can use in order to defend your country militarily, if I’m talking about military. Of course, you have to defend it politically, economically, in every sense of the word. But if you talk militarily, torture is not part of defending your country.

Question 41: Last question: can you just give us your vision of a settlement of this conflict, and can it… under any circumstances, will you be willing to step aside if it can end this disaster of a war for the Syrian people?

President Assad: Definitely, for me, whenever the Syrian people don’t want me to be in that position, I will leave right away, this is a very simple answer for me and I don’t have to think about it, and I’m not worried about this. What I would worry about is if I’m in that position and I don’t have the public support; this is going to be a big problem for me and I can’t bear it, and I cannot produce anyway. Regarding the first part, how would I see the solution, two pillars: the first one is fighting terrorism; without fighting terrorism and defeating the terrorists, no other solution would be fruitful at all, at all, any kind of solution. In parallel, dialogue between the Syrians about the future of Syria, that will include anything, everything, regarding the whole political system, the whole Syria in every sense of the word, then when we can get elections, and you can have national unity government, then you can have parliamentarian elections, then if the Syrian people think about early presidential elections or any kind of presidential elections, that will be viable.

Journalist: So, earlier than the completion of your term, which I believe, is in 2021?

President Assad: If there is public consensus about this.

Question 42: How would you determine whether there’s public consensus or not?

President Assad: We can discuss it at that time; it’s still early to talk about it. We haven’t finished any of the stages that I’m talking about. So, we never thought about how because we don’t know what circumstances are we going to face that time. But at the end, when you live in a country, you can sense; Syria is not a continent, it’s a small country, we can deal with each other, we can know each other as society. You can sense, you can feel if there is public consensus, and then if you want to do something documented, you can have referendum, that’s very clear.

Question 43: Do you have any cause for optimism?

President Assad: Of course, without that optimism we wouldn’t fight for six years. The only… the main optimism that we’ve had is that we’re going to defeat those terrorists and their masters, and we’re going to restore stability in Syria, and more important than my optimism is the determination of the Syrian people; this is very important source for optimism. Without that determination, you wouldn’t see Syria in these very difficult and exceptional circumstances still living the minimum life, let’s say, if not the normal life, but the minimum life, to survive, and for the government to offer different services and subsidies, and so on.

Journalist: Thank you Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you very much.