Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s strongman, has a calm look that clashes with the site that he has had in history. Or maybe not calm it also seems that look trapped in amazement continues. In this extensive interview, the first since the start of the war with half Hispanic, Assad looked that way to negate any possibility of resigning, reports of use of chemical weapons and to the figure of 70,000 dead UN complaint. The story was made into a library of his palace in Damascus while listening to the distance the muffled sound of exchange of artillery and mortars shot.
- Why the Syrian crisis has spread and deepened as happened in another Arab country?
-Multiple internal and external elements have contributed to the crisis, the most important is external intervention, then, because the calculations of the countries who wanted to intervene in Syria were miscalculations. Those states believed the plan could end in a matter of weeks or months, but this did not happen, what has happened is that the Syrian people have endured and continue to do so. For us it comes to defending our country.
- Do you know that according to the UN this war has caused more than 70,000 deaths?
-Would have to ask those who raise these figures the credibility of their sources. All death is horrible, but many of the dead are speaking foreigners who came to kill the Syrian people. Nor can we forget that there are many Syrians missing. What is the number of Syrians killed, and which of foreigners? How many are missing? We can not give a precise figure. Of course this changes constantly because terrorists and sometimes kill their victims buried in mass graves.
- Discard there may have been excessive force disproportionately, by their troops in the repression?
– How could you determine whether there has been excessive force or not? What is the formula? It is not objective to talk about it. One responds by type of terrorism facing. At the beginning it was domestic terrorism and then came outside which led to the sophistication of the weapons they brought. The debate here is not the amount of force used or the type of weapon but the volume of terrorism we suffer with the consequent duty to replicate.
- Was not there at the start of the crisis the possibility of achieving a dialogue to avoid this outcome?
-At the start were reformist demands, but that approach was apparent, it was a facade a camouflage to make it happen as a matter of reform. We have made reforms … we changed the Constitution … change the laws … we canceled the state of emergency and announced a dialogue with the opposition forces, but at every step we took was increased terrorism. The logical question here is: what is the relationship between terrorism and reformism?
- How do you respond?
-Terrorism can not be the way of reform. How does a terrorist Chechen with reforms in Syria? How does a terrorist came from Iraq, Lebanon or Afghanistan with the reforms in Syria? Lately there have been about 29 nationalities fighting in Syria … What is the relationship between them and internal reformism? This is illogical. As for us, I say we have done renovations and now we have a policy initiative that includes dialogue. The basis of any political solution is what the Syrian people want, and this will govern the polls. No other way. On terrorism, nobody wants to talk with a terrorist. Terrorism hit U.S. and Europe, but no government spoke with the terrorists. One dialogue with political forces, but not with a terrorist beheads, kills and uses chemical gases.
-You claim the foreign military presence in Syria, but also ensures that no Hezbollah fighters and Iran.
-Syria, with its 23 million inhabitants, does not need human support of the country it is. We have military and security forces. We do not need Iran or Hezbollah for that. We have fighters from outside Syria. There are other people here but from Hezbollah and Iran before the crisis they have come to Syria.
-Among those reforms of the Constitution which says, are contemplated unrestricted freedom of the press?
-Maybe you know that a new press law that was enacted a package of laws …
-We have a title match is bigger than dialogue with political forces. This dialogue would lead to a Constitution that requires a referendum of the people. This Constitution will give greater freedoms. The laws are based on the new constitution and it is obvious that political and media freedoms collected. But one can not speak of freedom of the press with no political freedom in general.
- How does the conference on Syria scheduled for later this month by Russia and the U.S.. States?
-We received good Russian-American rapprochement, and we hope to set an international meeting to help the Syrians. But do not think that many Western countries actually want a solution in Syria. We do not believe that many of the forces that support terrorists want a solution. We support and applaud this effort, but we must be realistic. There can be no unilateral solution in Syria, it takes two sides at least.
- Are the forces that oppose or great powers who do not want a solution?
-In practice these opposing forces are linked to foreign countries and therefore have no choice. They live on what comes from outside, receive funds and do what they choose those countries. Both are the same thing and it is they who said they do not want dialogue with the Syrian state, the last time last week.
-When dialog speaks to whom concerns of the other side?
-We chose to talk with anyone who wants to talk, without exception. As long as Syria has free and sovereign decision. But this does not include terrorists, no state dialogues with terrorists. When they lay down their arms and go to the dialogue we have no problems. Believing that a political conference stop terrorism on the ground, is unreal.
- What is the likelihood that dialogue includes those external forces such as the U.S., for example, that supposedly support these people (terrorists)?
-We have said from the start that dialogue with any force in the country or abroad, provided they do not wield weapons. This is the only condition. We have not put conditions for dialogue. Even there are forces that are looked for justice, but we have not taken any action against anyone to leave room for the dialogue and to listen to everyone. The Syrian people will decide who is patriotic and who is not. We never said we wanted a solution that best suits the government, do not expose what we think it would be better. We have made the solution to the Syrian people.
-With regard to the international conference …
-For us the basic aspect to be addressed in any international conference is to stop the flow of money and weapons to Syria and stop sending terrorists who come from Turkey and funded Qatari and other Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia. While there are countries like Qatar and Turkey who have no interest in stopping the violence in Syria or in a political solution, terrorism will continue.
- Where puts Israel in this crisis?
-Israel supports two-way directly and terrorist groups, given logistical and instructs them on how and which sites to attack. For example they attacked a radar air defense system that detects any aircraft that comes from abroad, especially Israel.
-If shifted forward in dialogue, do you foresee a schedule of delivery of arms by the opposition?
-They are not a single entity, are groups and bands, not tens but hundreds. They are a mix, each group has its local leader. There are thousands who can unite thousands of people? This is the question. We can not talk of a calendar with a part we do not know who he is. When they have a unified structure then give you an answer to this question.
- Would you give a step back for a final solution? Are you willing to give up?
-My stay or not depends on the Syrian people. Not my personal choice to stay or go. It’s the people. If you want you stay, if you leave. The issue depends on the constitution of the polls. In the 2014 elections the people will decide.
He has raised the alternative that you resign as a condition of closing the conflict.
‘I’m an elected president and is the people who choose my stay. Now, someone says that the Syrian president must leave because the U.S. want it or because the terrorists asked, is inadmissible.
-Barack Obama has signaled that his country considers intervene but his chancellor, John Kerry has said that any progress should include you exit from office.
-I do not know if Kerry or another have received a mandate from the Syrian people to speak on behalf of this people, about who should go and who should stay. We have said that any decision regarding reforms in Syria or Syrian political action are decisions and is not permitted or U.S. or any other state to intervene in them. We are an independent, not accept that no one define what we need to do, nor the U.S. or anyone. Thus this probability is determined by the Syrian people. You go to elections, is a candidate and is a chance to win or not. Then you can not go to that conference and decide on something that the people have not decided. Another aspect: the country is in crisis and when the ship is in the midst of the storm, give it away, then the captain does not flee. The first is to deal with the storm, return the boat to the right place and then decide things. I’m not a person who shuns responsibility.
-France, Britain and Kerry himself claimed that his army used chemical weapons, sarin, against the civilian population …
‘We must not waste our time with these statements. Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. They say the use in residential areas. If a nuclear bomb was dropped on a city, and the balance was ten or twenty people, do you believe me? The use of chemical weapons in residential areas means killing thousands or tens of thousands in minutes. Who could hide such a thing?
- What do you attribute this complaint then?
-When raised the issue of chemical weapons did when terrorist groups used them in Aleppo in Khan al-Assal about two months ago. We have collected the evidence: the missile and chemicals used. We analyze these substances and send a letter to the Security Council to send a verification mission. U.S., France and Britain were in an embarrassing situation and said they wanted to send a mission to investigate chemical weapons in other areas where allege they were used. They did not to investigate where actual event occurred. A member of the commission, Carla del Ponte, announced that terrorists are those who use chemical weapons but neither the UN paid attention to that statement.
- Do you think that this claim could pave the way for militiar intervention in Syria?
-If this matter is used as a prelude to a war against Syria is likely. We do not forget what happened in Iraq where were the WMD of Saddam Hussein? West lies and falsifies to unleash wars, is his wont. Of course any war against Syria will not be easy, there will be an excursion. But we can not rule out the possibility to launch a war.
- On what basis?
-This was already part of Israel (the bombing). Force is likely especially after we hit that armed groups in many parts of Syria. Then these countries asked Israel to do this to boost the morale of terrorist groups. We assume that at some point there will be some kind of even limited intervention.
-You say that control the situation but as we speak, hear the roar of artillery on the outskirts of the city.
-The term control or not control is used when there is a war with a foreign army. But the situation is totally different. Terrorists penetrate scattered areas, and fleeing from one place to another. There are vast areas where they move and it is obvious that no army in the world can be on every corner.
- Do you really think the Americans cooperate with Qatar and Saudi Arabia to seize power ultraislámico Wahhabi regime in Syria?
-The West only cares about governments that are loyal. They want a government subservient to do what they want regardless of form. But what happened in Afghanistan refutes that. They supported the Taliban and 11-S paid a high price. The danger of this is that states want to spread Wahhabi extremist thought in the whole population and in Syria we have a moderate Islam and will resist it by all means.
-In the 2014 presidential election will there be international observers and allow free access to the world’s press to cover the event?
-To be honest, the issue of observers is a decision of the country as a part of the people can not tolerate the idea that this monitoring is a matter of national sovereignty. And we have no confidence in the West for the task. If observers agree that there will be such friendly countries as Russia or China for example.
-In the interview made Clarin in Buenos Aires, said firmly rejecting the idea of denying the Holocaust as Iran claims, do you keep that position?
-I wonder why not talk about the Holocaust and what is happening in Palestine, the million and a half Iraqis killed. The Holocaust is a historical question that needs a comprehensive vision and not be used as a political issue. I’m not a researcher to determine the exact history of this subject. The historical questions depend on who writes them, so the story is distorted at times.
- Excuse me, but there is some criticism that you make?
-It is illogical to be self-critical when it comes to events integers. If you see a film criticism before the end. When the frame is complete will do or not to criticize.
-Finally, do you have information on the whereabouts of journalists James Foley, an American missing for six months here, and Italian Domenico Quirico of La Stampa, lost about a month ago?
-There are journalists who entered Syria illegally in areas where terrorists are active. There have been cases where military troops have been able to release journalists who were kidnapped. In any case where we have information on any journalist who entered illegally, we will pass on to the country concerned. And so far we have no information about the two men vides journalists you.