Telesur: Thank you for receiving us, Mr President.
Bashar al-Assad: I welcome your team and Channel Telesur to Syria.
Telesur: Let me get straight to the most recent event. Russia warns that the terrorists could be preparing alleged chemical attacks. What precaution is Syria taking to avoid this?
Bashar al-Assad: First, terrorists, for [many] years, on more than one occasion and in more than one region throughout Syria had deployed chemical substances. This is why we had asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (“OPCW”), to send expert commissions to investigate what was happening. Yet on each occasion, the United States would block the investigations or would block commissions being sent to carry out these investigations and this is what happened last week: when we asked for investigations to be carried out on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the city of Jan Sheijun, the United States and its allies slowed down the resolution within the OPCW.
For our part, we continue to insist and try, together with our Russian and Iranian allies for that Organization to send a team to investigate what happened given that if it does not do it, the United States will accomplish it; or, at some time, will repeat in the future this same pantomime or farce through the fabrication of the use of chemical weapons, (as “false flag operations”) in some other place in Syria and thus will have an excuse for a military intervention to support the terrorists.
This is the situation on the one hand, and on the other, we are continuing to fight the terrorists, given that the objective behind the US and the West alleging that we have chemical weapons is to lend support to the terrorists in Syria. This is why we will continue to fight these terrorists.
Telesur: According to the Pentagon, your government still has chemical weapons. Do you really still have 1% of these weapons despite the undertaking you gave four years ago to hand them over to be destroyed?
Bashar al-Assad: We both remember very well that occasion in 2003 when Colin Powell stood in the UN and showed the whole world the proof that demonstrated that President Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons, nuclear weapons and other kinds of weapons. However when US forces entered Iraq, it was demonstrated that everything that they said was a lie.
Afterwards, Colin Powell acknowledged that the CIA had misled him with these false pieces of evidence. This would not have been the first nor will it be the last time. If you want to be a politician in the United States, you will have to be a down and out liar, given that this is a characteristic typifying US politicians: to lie every day, say one thing and then do another. This is why we must not believe what the Pentagon or others say, since they say things that serve their policies, not things that reflect reality and the situation on the ground.
Telesur: What is Syria’s goal in buying from Russia state-of-the-art anti-air systems of the latest generation?
Bashar al-Assad: Basically, we are in a state of war with Israel. Since it was established in 1948, Israel has been attacking the Arab nations near it. So it is only to be expected that we equip ourselves with similar anti-missile systems. The terrorists, as is obvious, following instructions from Israel, the United Nations, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have destroyed part of these systems. This is why it is normal that we negotiate with Russia to strengthen these systems and to be able to tackle any Israeli air threat or to confront possible threats from US missiles, which are now probable given the recent US attack against the airdrome in Shayrat, Syria.
Telesur: What specific role has Israel played in the war being waged against Syria? We know that the attacks have continued over recent weeks against the positions taken up by the Syrian Arab Army in Syria.
Bashar al-Assad: Israel plays a role in this conflict in different ways: its first role is direct aggression, especially through its air force and with artillery fire or missiles launched against positions of the Syrian Army.
Second, Israel is supporting the terrorists in two ways: first, it gives them direct support with arms; and second, it provides them with logistical support to allow them to undertake manoeuvres across regions under Israeli control, and medical help in their hospitals.
When I say this, I am neither making allegations nor speculating. I am referring to facts that have been verified, that can be found, filmed and published on the Internet and that you can obtain as evidence that demonstrates Israel’s role in supporting the terrorists in Syria.
Telesur: How would you define the current foreign policy of Donald Trump in the world, and in particular, in Syria?
Bashar al-Assad: It is not the President of the United States that makes policies but the US institutions that govern the system. These institutions are the CIA, the Pentagon, big corporations, arms companies, oil companies and the large financial institutions as well as lobbies that influence US decisions.
The US president comes to implement these policies. This is evidenced by the fact that Trump tried to take a different path during his presidential campaign and as president he could not. The offensive against him, hit him like a tonne of bricks; and, as we have seen over recent weeks, he has changed his narrative completely and has submitted to the conditions laid down by the US Deep State. This is why, undertaking an evaluation of the US President’s foreign policy would be a waste of time and a fictional, given that he can say whatever he likes, but, at the end of the day, he will do what those institutions order him to do. That is the policy that has held sway in the United States for many decades now. That is nothing new.
Telesur: Donald Trump now has picked another fight with North Korea. Could it influence the US’s current vision on Syria?
Bashar al-Assad: No, the United States always tries to control every country without exception. It does not accept allies, be they developed, advanced countries from the bloc of Western Allies or other countries in the rest of the world. Every state must be a US satellite state. So, what is happening in Syria, what is happening in North Korea, with Iran, with Russia and possibly with Venezuela now, is aimed at re-establishing US hegemony across the world. This is because the US thinks that its hegemony is currently being threatened and that this threatens the interests of the political elites in the United States.
Telesur: The role of Russia in this conflict is clear. Bur what part has China, the other great international power, played?
Bashar al-Assad: With respect to Russia and China, there is huge cooperation on political action or political position.
We have reached common positions and we cooperate in the UN Security Council. As of course you know, the United States and its allies have tried several times to use the Security Council to legitimize the role of terrorists in Syria and to provide a legal basis for intervening in Syria. The intervention is illegitimate and constitutes an act of aggression. This is why China and Russia have come together here. China’s role standing with Russia was essential on this issue.
On the other hand, some of the terrorists are Chinese nationals. They have arrived in Syria via Turkey and they represent a threat to us, in Syria. Yet they are also a threat to China. China is already mindful that terrorism in any part of the world may shift to some other place. Then these terrorists, be they Chinese nationals or nationals of another state, could return to China and cause havoc there just as they have now done in Europe, in Russia and as is occurring in Syria. At present, we are cooperating with China on security matters.
Telesur: Currently the Western and US media talk of moderate terrorists and extreme terrorists. Is there actually any difference inter se?
Bashar al-Assad: For them, a moderate terrorist, is a terrorist that kills, slits someone’s throat and assassinates without raising the al-Qaeda flag or shouting “Alahu akbar”; they contrast this man with the “extreme” terrorist: someone that raises this flag or when he kills, shouts “Alahu akbar”. This is the distinction they are making. For the United States, anyone whosoever serves its political agenda against any other country, even though that person may practice the worst forms of terrorism is an “ “oppositional fighter” and not a terrorist and will be a “moderate” and not an “extremist”; a freedom fighter and not someone that is fighting on behalf of sabotage and destruction.
Telesur: Six years of war. In what state is Syria. a country where the human cost cannot be calculated?
Bashar al-Assad: The most painful thing in any war is the human losses; the suffering that engulfs a family on losing one of its members; any family will be affected for life. It is only natural in a region like ours, where families are held tightly together, by strong bonds. Nothing can compensate for this kind of loss, and no other pain comes even close to it.
As for the other losses, clearly there are colossal economic losses; losses in the infrastructure that was built over a period spanning 50 years or more, using a Syrian labour force. The Syrian infrastructure was not constructed with a foreign labour force and we have the capacity to rebuild it ourselves.
Equally as far as the economy goes, it was firstly due to the capabilities of the Syrians that made it successful, given that, we essentially had limited economic relations with Western countries.
When the war is over, everything will be reconstructed and we will not have any problems doing this. For sure this will require some time, but it is not beyond us.
The greatest loss, the one that strikes the Syrian heart most painfully, is the loss in terms of human lives.
Telesur: Of the 86 countries that form part of the coalition attacking Syria, will any participate in the reconstruction of the country?
Bashar al-Assad: No, of course not. First, they are not after the reconstruction of Syria; but, without doubt, there will be some companies in these countries, that when they see that things are beginning to turn, (i.e. the economy and the wheel of construction in Syria), being opportunists only sniffing out money, are ready to try to come to Syria to grab a part of the reconstruction. There is no doubt that their aim is simply to make money.
But of course the Syrian people will not accept this. No country that has positioned itself against the Syrian people and that has contributed to the devastation and destruction of Syria will ever have a role in reconstructing this country. This is something on which I will not budge.
Telesur: What was life like during these past 6 years in this nation under siege?
Bashar al-Assad: Of course life is hard; every Syrian citizen has been affected; the terrorists have destroyed the infrastructure. In some areas, they have electricity only for one or two hours and in other areas they do not have electricity at all. There are areas that have been without electricity for two or three years, where there is no television, where the children do not go to school, where there are no clinics and hospitals, where noone attends to the ill. It is all the fault of the terrorists that those people are living in a prehistoric time. There are areas where for years, people have been deprived of a water supply as has happened in Aleppo … for long years, the city of Aleppo has been without water. Here they sometimes drink water which has not been purified; such water is used domestically and for other ends. Life has been just so difficult.
Telesur: One of the main targets during these years has been Bashar al-Assad. Have you been afraid during this time?
Bashar al-Assad: When you find yourself in the middle of a war, you become fearless. I think that this is a state of mind found among the populace at large. But yes, you are anxious as to what will become of the Homeland. What significance does personal safety as a citizen have when the country is under threat? You cannot feel secure.
I think that what we feel generally in Syria is a concern for the future of Syria rather than fear for ourselves. The proof of this is that the mortar projectiles are falling randomly in Syria, entering any house; but you see that life goes on in Syria. There is a desire to live that is so much stronger than a subjective feeling of fear. This feeling, for me, personally as President, comes from a feeling emanating from the people in general, and not from myself. I do not live isolated from others,
Telesur: The Western media throughout the world has spun much propaganda against you. But am I really seated before that demon that the media paints?
Bashar al-Assad: Yes, from the Western perspective you find yourself seated before a devil. That is the current Western PR campaign.
This Western PR campaign always takes place when a country, government or person refuses to bow down to their interests or does not work in favour of Western interests but instead works for the interests of its own people. This is what the Western Colonialists have demanded throughout history.
They say that that person is bad and that he kills good people. Well, if it is so and he kills good people, who has supported him for six years? Russia, Iran or any other friendly nation do not support individuals at the expense of the people.
What they claim simply cannot be the case. If this person kills his people, how is it that his people support him?
This is the contradictory account of the West and this is why we do not waste our time with these Western versions that, throughout History, have been jam-packed with lies – though this is nothing new.
Telesur: What would Syria do to put an end to this war when we are just about to begin the sixth round of the Geneva Talks?
Bashar al-Assad: We have said that the solution has two prongs.
The first prong is the fight terrorism. This is up not for discussion. As far as the terrorists are concerned, we have no other option than to fight them.
The other prong is the political issue which can be divided into two parts: the first is the dialogue with all political forces on Syria’s future; and the second consists of local reconciliations. By this we mean that we are negotiating with terrorists in each town or city, treating each case on an individual basis.
The objective of reconciliation is for the terrorists to lay down their weapons and get a pardon from the State, so that in this way, they can resume the normal course of their lives. Reconciliation has been underway for the last three or four years and has achieved good results and is still going on today.
These are the issues that we can work on to resolve the Syrian Crisis.
Telesur: From this country at war, how do you see the situation in Latin America, particularly in Venezuela, where a package of measures, very similar to the ones that triggered the conflict in Syria, have started to be implemented.
Bashar al-Assad: It is normal that there is a similarity given that the plan is the same and the executor is the same. The United States leads the orchestra and the other Western countries form the choir that accompanies it.
South America in general and Venezuela in particular, have been the backyard of the United States for the last decades; the backyard from where Western Countries, and above all the United States, achieved their economic interests through the influence of huge transnationals within your countries. Then there were the coups d’etat that took place during the sixties and seventies, military or political coups, which tended to consolidate US control over the interests of your people.
But Latin America has freed itself over the last 20 years and has obtained its self-determination; its governments have begun to defend the interests of their people, something that is unacceptable to the United States which has taken advantage now of what is occurring in the world, from the Orange Revolution in Ukraine to the most recent coup that occurred in this country several years ago; they are exploiting what is happening in the Arab countries, in Libya and in Syria, Yemen and other countries. And their goal is to apply it to the Latin American countries and they have begun in Venezuela with the aim of topping the national government and this will be extended to other South American countries.
Telesur: There are those that think, especially ordinary citizens in Latin America that a similar situation to that which is occurring in Syria could be repeated in Latin America. What do you think?
Bashar al-Assad: This is for sure. This is why I said that if the plan is the same, the executor is the same, it is normal that the scenario in both countries not only appears the same but is the same. It is probable that some local headings are different.
At the beginning they used to say that the protests in Syria were peaceful. But to ensure that marches and the peaceful protests did not gain momentum, they infiltrated into them individuals that would fire against both parties, the police and demonstrators as well. This is what caused the deaths and then they began to say that the government was killing its people. It is the same scenario that is being replicated everywhere.
This same scenario will be repeated in Venezuela. This is why the Venezuelan people must be conscious that there is a difference between being a member of a group opposing the government in power and being against the Patria. There is a huge difference.
This is the situation on the one hand; and on the other, no foreign country can watch over Venezuela’s interests better than the people of Venezuela. Yet the West simply cannot accept this. The West is not looking out to protect human rights, nor the interests of individual states. It is only concerned in the interests of one part of the governing elite in their states; this ruling elite is not necessarily political, but also comprises of economic undertakings.
Telesur: Let’s talk about Latin America, Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution that was a strong ally. How do you remember the late President Hugo Chávez?
Bashar al-Assad: President Chavez was a personality that stood out throughout the world. When we talk of Latin America, both President Chavez and Fidel Castro, the late leader of the Cuban Revolution, instantly come to our minds. These are two giants that changed the image of Latin America.
And of course, I was personally acquainted with Chavez and I met with him more than once. I formed a deeply personal relationship with President Chávez, when he visited us in Syria and when I visited Venezuela. He visited us on two occasions not just one.
When you met him, it would immediately strike you that he was a child of the people; that you did not feel that you were with a President or a politician but with someone that is living the suffering of the people. In all his conversations, at any minute, he spoke in detail about the citizens of his country. When he spoke with a leader of another State or with a state official from another country, he was thinking of how they could create common interest that would be reflected through their people, He was a true leader, a highly charismatic personality and a person of infinite sincerity.
Telesur: They demonized Chavez when he was alive and it appears that it is now Nicholas Maduro’s turn.
Bashar al-Assad: This is normal because he is following the same national line; as long as President Maduro continues with the national path, the path of the independence of Venezuela, and keeps working for the citizens of his country, it is to be expected that he will be the prime target for the United States. That is rather obvious and there is no need to bother our minds with it.
Telesur: Bashar al-Assad how do you see the final day of this war?
Bashar al-Assad: Even if we could today put to aside foreign interference in Syria, the problem would still be complicated. The vast majority of Syrians are fed up with the war; they want a solution and they want to return to security and stability. There is a dialogue between us as Syrians, there are meetings and the people live together. What I’m trying to say is that there is no real barrier.
The problem at present is that each time we take a step towards a solution and the re-establishment of stability, the terrorist gangs receive larger sums of money and arms with a view to drag out the situation. This is why, you could say that the solution would put an end to the external support that the terrorists have been receiving. This is the first thing.
For our part in Syria, the path to restoring security will be reconciliation among all Syrians and forgiveness for what has happened in the past, during the war. I am sure that when this happens, Syria will be very much more strong than it was prior to the war.
Telesur: Are you prepared to reconcile with those that have taken up arms against the Syrian people?
Bashar al-Assad: Of course. This reconciliation can already be seen in many different areas; there are those that fought together with the Syrian army and some that fell afterwards as martyrs; others are in their cities, in the areas controlled by the State. For us there are no problems. Reconciliation is essential to put an end to any war; and we are heading in that direction.
Telesur: Mr President, what is your final message for Latin America and for the world?
Bashar al-Assad: Safeguard your independence.
In our Arab region, we celebrate independence in more than one country. But for some countries in our region, this independence signified only the departure of the occupation forces. Real independence is when the people make the national decisions.
For us, Latin America was model of independence. What I mean by independence is that the end of being under occupation, that is, having foreign troops; but also, that there is national decision-making, openness and democracy. You gave the world an important model. Keep it, because many countries that aspire to development, especially Third World countries, should follow the model applied in Latin America.
TeleSUR (Latin America)