US Makes Huge Investment In Propaganda and Destabilization Programs

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters on the current budget negotiations in Washington on December 9, 2014.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks to reporters on the current budget negotiations in Washington on December 9, 2014. | Photo: Reuters

“At least US$236 billion of the $1.1 trillion budget bill is allocated to destabilization and intelligence campaigns around the world.”

U.S. congressional leaders approved on Tuesday $1.1 trillion spending package for the fiscal year 2015. The package includes aid for programs to destabilize Cuba, restrictions on aid to immigration agencies, and increased support for other military-intelligence activities around the world.

In a statement released on Tuesday by the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriation Committee, some $64 billion is destined to “Overseas Contingency Operations.”

Another $60 billion will go to fund the C.I.A. and 17 other federal agencies, according to the International Committee of the Fourth International (I.C.F.I.).

The committee suggests that nearly half of all “non-military” spending, some $236 billion, is actually directed to sustaining U.S. military-intelligence capabilities.

$2.6 billion will go toward “Economic Aid Packages” for various countries, some of which is earmarked for activities in Cuba.

The U.S. will also invest directly in international communication systems. $726 million is slated for “International Radio Broadcasting Operations,” with $4.8 million going directly toward maintaining, construction, and transmission of digital radio in Cuba. Another  $27.1 million will go to the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.

US $30 billion will be awarded to the “Fund for Democracy” meant to “promote democracy around the world.” This includes organizations like U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), whose political actions in Latin America and Africa has been highly criticized, will receive $55 million of those funds.

An additional $10.7 million will be designated for vaguely termed “Global War against Terrorism.” And finally, another general fund of US $20 million will be allocated to support other programs in foreign countries, like Venezuela.

Due to pressure by the Republican-held Congress, the US $1.1 trillion bill will fund all government agencies until September 2015 – except the agency which handles immigration, the Department of Homeland Security that will only receive funding until February 2015. The Republicans want to be able to control the agency that is responsible for implementing President Barack Obama’s immigration order.

House interferes with Obama’s immigration plan

 

 

 

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Jews Claim Historical Right To Crimea

Russian Jews have a historic right

on which to base their land settling activity in the Crimea. This was the opinion expressed by Dr. Simon Dubnow, well known Russian Jewish historian, in an interview with the representative of the “Menorah.”

If the question of Jewish right to colonize Crimea is raised it must be remembered that the Jews have a right to claim to be autochthons of all the northern coast of the Black Sea. As early as the ancient Bosphorean empire, before the Christian era, colonies of Hellenized Jews have flourished on the Black Sea coast. Inscriptions which have been found there dating back to the first cenutry prove the existence of organized Jewish communities in this region. These Hellenized Jews were followed by the Byzantine Jews in the fifth century of the Christian era. The Khazar empire, the leading classes of which adopted Judaism, existed between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Then, settlements of Jews and Karaites existed in this region between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. Finally, the Jewish colonies have existed there since the nineteenth century. The historic rights of the Jews to colonize Crimea and the entire Black Sea coast from Odessa to the Caucasus cannot be doubted and it is certainly desirable in a region where for two thousand years our ancestors have, under the Greeks and the Scythians, engaged in agriculture, that the Jews should again cultivate the land. However, the modern Scythians are more dangerous than the ancient-“Time# Danaos et dona ferentes” (I fear the Danaos even if they bring me gifts) he declared.

Are the Khazars (“Jews”) Going Back To Ukraine?

Leaked report: Israel acknowledges Jews in fact Khazars; Secret plan for reverse migration to Ukraine

times of israel

(Our Russian and Ukrainian correspondents Hirsh Ostropoler and I. Z. Grosser-Spass also contributed to this story, delayed due to the crisis over the Crimean referendum.)

“All Jews who wish to return would be welcomed back without condition as citizens, the more so if they take part in the promised infusion of massive Israeli military assistance, including troops, equipment, and construction of new bases. If the initial transfer works, other West Bank settlers would be encouraged to relocate to Ukraine, as well. After Ukraine, bolstered by this support, reestablishes control over all its territory, the current Autonomous Republic of Crimea would once again become an autonomous Jewish domain.”

Fast-breaking Developments

Followers of Middle Eastern affairs know two things: always expect the unexpected, and never write off Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has more political lives than the proverbial cat.

Only yesterday came news that Syrian rebels plan to give Israel the Golan Heights in exchange for creation of a no-fly zone against the Assad regime. In an even bolder move, it is now revealed, Israel will withdraw its settlers from communities beyond the settlement blocs—and relocate them at least temporarily to Ukraine. Ukraine made this arrangement on the basis of historic ties and in exchange for desperately needed military assistance against Russia. This surprising turn of events had an even more surprising origin: genetics, a field in which Israeli scholars have long excelled.

A Warlike Turkic People—and a Mystery

It is well known that, sometime in the eighth to ninth centuries, the Khazars, a warlike Turkic people, converted to Judaism and ruled over a vast domain in what became southern Russia and Ukraine. What happened to them after the Russians destroyed that empire around the eleventh century has been a mystery. Many have speculated that the Khazars became the ancestors of Ashkenazi Jews.

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Arabs have long cited the Khazar hypothesis in attempts to deny a Jewish historical claim to the land of Israel. During the UN debate over Palestine Partition, Chaim Weizmann responded, sarcastically: “lt is very strange. All my life I have been a Jew, felt like a Jew, and I now learn that I am a Khazar.” In a more folksy vein, Prime Minister Golda Meir famously said:  “Khazar, Schmazar. There is no Khazar people. I knew no Khazars In Kiev. Or Milwaukee. Show me these Khazars of whom you speak.”

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Contrarian Hungarian ex-communist and scientist Arthur Koestler brought the Khazar hypothesis to a wider audience with The Thirteenth Tribe (1976), in the hope that disproving a common Jewish “racial” identity would end antisemitism. Clearly, that hope has not been fulfilled. Most recently, left-wing Israeli historian Shlomo Sand’s The Invention of the Jewish People took Koestler’s thesis in a direction he had not intended, arguing that because Jews were a religious community descended from converts they do not constitute a nation or need a state of their own. Scientists, however, dismissed the Khazar hypothesis because the genetic evidence did not add up. Until now. In 2012, Israeli researcher Eran Elhaik published a study claiming to prove that Khazar ancestry is the single largest element in the Ashkenazi gene pool. Sand declared himself vindicated, and progressive organs such as Haaretz and The Forward trumpeted the results.

Israel seems finally to have thrown in the towel. A blue-ribbon team of scholars from leading research institutions and museums has just issued a secret report to the government, acknowledging that European Jews are in fact Khazars. (Whether this would result in yet another proposal to revise the words to “Hatikvah” remains to be seen.) At first sight, this would seem to be the worst possible news, given the Prime Minister’s relentless insistence on the need for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” and the stagnation of the peace talks. But others have underestimated him at their peril. An aide quipped, when life hands you an etrog, you build a sukkah.

Speaking off the record, he explained, “We first thought that admitting we are really Khazars was one way to get around Abbas’s insistence that no Jew can remain in a Palestinian state. Maybe we were grasping at straws. But when he refused to accept that, it forced us to think about more creative solutions. The Ukrainian invitation for the Jews to return was a godsend. Relocating all the settlers within Israel in a short time would be difficult for reasons of logistics and economics. We certainly don’t want another fashlan like the expulsion of the settlers in the Gaza Hitnatkut [disengagement].

“We’re not talking about all the Ashkenazi Jews going back to Ukraine. Obviously that is not practical.

Speaking on deep background, a well-placed source in intelligence circles said: “We’re not talking about all the Ashkenazi Jews going back to Ukraine. Obviously that is not practical. The press as usual exaggerates and sensationalizes; this is why we need military censorship.”

Khazaria 2.0?

All Jews who wish to return would be welcomed back without condition as citizens, the more so if they take part in the promised infusion of massive Israeli military assistance, including troops, equipment, and construction of new bases. If the initial transfer works, other West Bank settlers would be encouraged to relocate to Ukraine, as well. After Ukraine, bolstered by this support, reestablishes control over all its territory, the current Autonomous Republic of Crimea would once again become an autonomous Jewish domain. The small-scale successor to the medieval empire of Khazaria (as the peninsula, too, was once known) would be called, in Yiddish, Chazerai.

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the Khazars did not have to live within ‘Auschwitz borders.’”

“As you know,” the spokesman continued, “the Prime Minister has said time and again: we are a proud and ancient people whose history here goes back 4,000 years. The same is true of the Khazars: just back in Europe and not quite as long. But look at the map: the Khazars did not have to live within ‘Auschwitz borders.’”

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“As the Prime Minister has said, no one will tell Jews where they may or may not live on the historic territory of their existence as a sovereign people. He is willing to make painful sacrifices for peace, even if that means giving up part of our biblical homeland in Judea and Samaria. But then you have to expect us to exercise our historical rights somewhere else. We decided this will be on the shores of the Black Sea, where we were an autochthonous people for more than 2000 years. Even the great non-Zionist historian Simon Dubnow said we had the right to colonize Crimea. It’s in all the history books. You can look it up.”

Old-New Land?

Black Sea, showing Khazar presence in Crimea and coastal regions: Rigobert Bonne, Imperii Romani Distracta. Pars Orientalis, (Paris, 1780). Note Ukraine and Kiev at upper left. At right: Caspian Sea, also labeled, as was the custom, as the Khazar Sea

“We’d like to think of it as sort of a homeland-away-from-home,” added the anonymous intelligence source. “Or the original one,” he said with a wink. “After all, Herzl wrote about the Old-New Land, didn’t he? And the transition shouldn’t be too difficult for the settlers because, you know, they’ll still get to feel as if they are pioneers: experience danger, construct new housing, carry weapons. The women can continue to wear scarves on their heads, and the food won’t be very different from what they already eat.”

In retrospect, we should have seen this coming, said a venerable State Department Arabist, ticking off the signs on his fingers: a little-noticed report that Russia was cracking down on Israeli smuggling of Khazar artifacts, the decisions of both Spain and Portugal to give citizenship to descendants of their expelled Jews, as well as evidence that former IDF soldiers were already leading militias in support of the Ukrainian government. And now, also maybe the possibility that the missing Malaysian jet was diverted to Central Asia.

A veteran Middle East journalist said: “It’s problematic, but in a perverse way, brilliant. In one fell swoop, Bibi has managed to confound friend and foe alike. He’s put the ball back in the Palestinians’ court and relieved the pressure from the Americans without actually making any real concessions. Meanwhile, by lining up with the Syrian rebels and Ukraine, as well as Georgia and Azerbaijan, he compensates for the loss of the Turkish alliance and puts pressure on both Assad and Iran. And the new Cypriot-Israeli gas deal props up Ukraine and weakens the economic leverage of both the Russians and the Gulf oil states. Just brilliant.”

At What Point Will Putin Bend Under Obama’s Ukraine Extortion?

Have we reached the point where American economic warfare against Russia has become so painful that Putin has to stop standing in between Bashar Assad and Obama?  With the “one-two punch” of punitive banking and oil industry sanctions, followed by plunging oil prices, the American aggression is starting to bear evil fruit.

Further economic sanctions of similar severity and as yet to be identified legal sanctions will severely compound Putin’s problems, across the board.  This would probably be enough to crash the ruble, even before any military provocations are carried out.  So, as is the way of geostrategic thinkers, Putin can easily see the endgame of Obama’s gambit, meaning that the military contest will decide everything in the end, so why not go there now?  Thus explaining the resurgence of Russian apocalyptic references to the humiliation being forced upon it.  If we get past all of the diplomatic B.S., who will blink first, when it comes to pulling the nuclear trigger?

If the United States Government insists on pushing this punish Putin paranoia over Ukraine and for resisting his will in Syria, then this summer will be a very dangerous time to visit Europe or the Middle East.  Obama forced this “war or surrender” scenario upon Putin once before, over the Ghouta chemical weapons extortion caper last September (SEE: Syria: Russia will stand by Assad over any US strikes, warns Putin on September 6).  Deflecting that ultimatum, Putin managed to sidestep Obama’s push with the plan to dispose of Assad’s chem weapons, catching everyone off guard on September 10 (SEE: Russian move to avert airstrikes on Syria benefits Obama and Putin).

Now we are faced with another contrived confrontation between nuclear superpowers, this time it is over Ukraine.  The Russian war resolution, a.k.a. “Ukrainian Freedom Support Act,” authorizes Obama to cross all of Russia’s “red lines” on Ukraine, as punishment for helping the Syrian govt avoid the Western siege, as much as it is over aid to the NovoRussian rebels.  In this act, Russia is presented with a list of specific demands, running the gamut from semi-reasonable measures, such as stopping weapons to Donbass, to demands which are outrageous in the extreme, like vetting all Russian aid to Assad through the “internationally recognized government” of Syria, a “government” which is either run by Saudi puppet Ahmad Jarba, or Saudi hand-puppet, Hadi al-Bahra.  In other words, the Saudi pretenders to the Syrian presidency (handpicked by Kerry and Obama) who were assembled in Geneva by Obama, will gain International legitimacy through the Ukrainian back door.   After the Ukraine resolution goes into effect, Putin will be faced with this ludicrous dilemma, have to completely alter Russian foreign and domestic policies to accommodate Washington’s demands.  It doesn’t matter what he does in Ukraine, if he continues to send military aid to Assad, without first getting permission from the Syrian National Coalition, he will be faced with even deadlier (as yet unknown) consequences than the economic warfare inflicted so far.

Assad will very likely be hung out to dry, flapping in the breeze, either way.  Whether Putin accepts Obama’s ultimatum or forces a military solution, it will very likely become impossible for him carry-on for Syria much longer.  Assad’s only hope is if Putin chooses to walk down the hard road, carrying little Bashar along the way.

Obama’s demands cover nearly all facets of Russian international commerce and diplomatic actions, including demands to vacate Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, reverse course in Moldavia, Georgia, not to mention, leaving the rest of Eastern Europe and the Central Asian Republics alone.  Obama wants the entire former Soviet Union territory in one fell swoop.  The US is claiming the equivalent of veto control over the Gazprom decision-making process, as well as the right to arm Ukraine to the teeth, and the right to install propaganda transmitters anywhere now covered by Russian broadcasts.

In other words, the US Congress has set up another international confrontation between the US and Russia, to veto ANY RUSSIAN BEHAVIOR which has not been pre-authorized by the White House.  If Putin doesn’t cede total control over his govt to Obama, in the interests of peace and world government, then the US will move proxy forces into Russian territory, beginning with Eastern Ukraine.  The Ukraine act plainly states that Western allies will enter the Donbass conflict, to provide “evacuation assistance” to refugees in the war zone.

All US anti-Russian sanctions, diplomatic moves and economic warfare have been directed towards bringing Russia to its knees, in a make-or-break showdown, intended to end either in total Russian surrender or world war.  Now the US Congress, speaking on behalf of the entire human race, doubles Russia’s punishment, while also moving the contest into the military sphere, all with the overt intention of destroying the Russian economy and toppling Vladimir Putin.

When it comes down to the wire and Putin is left with no wiggle room, he will once again choose to bend over for Obama and let him ride right up his ass, if he cannot come-up with another judo dodge move.  When push comes to shove, Bashar Assad will be toast and Obama will be crowned king of the world, or else we we warm-up the tactical nuclear missiles.

peter.chamberlin@hotmail.com

President al-Assad–Syria won’t be a puppet state for the West “full Text”

President al-Assad: Syria won’t be a puppet state for the West “full Text”

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Damascus, SANA, President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to “Paris Match” Magazine, following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, three years into this war, and considering how things have turned out, do you regret that you haven’t managed things differently at the beginning, with the appearance of the first signs of the revolution in March 2011? Do you feel that you are responsible for what happened?

President Assad: Even in the first days of the events, there were martyrs from the army and the police; so, since the first days of this crisis we have been facing terrorism. It is true that there were demonstrations, but they were not large in number. In such a case, there is no choice but to defend your people against terrorists. There’s no other choice. We cannot say that we regret fighting terrorism since the early days of this crisis. However, this doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes made in practice. There are always mistakes. Let’s be honest: had Qatar not paid money to those terrorists at that time, and had Turkey not supported them logistically, and had not the West supported them politically, things would have been different. If we in Syria had problems and mistakes before the crisis, which is normal, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the events had internal causes.

Question 2: Your army is blamed for its excessive use of force during this war. Why are civilians shelled?

President Assad: When a terrorist attacks you with weapons, how do you defend yourself and your people, with dialogue?! The army uses weapons when the other side uses them. For us in Syria, it is impossible to have our objective as shelling civilians. There’s no reason to shell civilians. If we are killing civilians, in other words killing our people, fighting terrorists at the same time, and fighting the states which stand against us and which support terrorists, like the Gulf countries, Turkey, and the West, how could we stand for four years? If we haven’t been defending the people, we wouldn’t have been able to stand all this pressure. Consequently, saying that we are shelling civilians doesn’t make any sense.

Question 3: Satellite imagery of the cities of Homs and Hama show completely destroyed neighborhoods; and the United Nations, of which your country is a member, talks about 190,000 people having been killed in this war. Were all the people in those neighborhoods terrorists?

President Assad: First of all, you need to verify the figures provided by the United Nations. What are the sources of these figures? The figures being circulated in the world, particularly in the media, are exaggerated and inaccurate. Second, images of destruction are not only obtained through satellite images, they are there actually on the ground, and they are accurate. When terrorists enter a certain region and occupy it, the army has to liberate it, and there is a battle. So, naturally, there is destruction. But in most cases, when terrorists enter a certain area, civilians flee from it. In fact, the largest number of victims in Syria is among the supporters of the state, not the other way round; and a large number of those were killed in terrorist attacks. Of course, when you have war and terrorism innocent people die. This happens everywhere in the world. But it is impossible for a state to target civilians.

Question 4: According to the United Nations too, there are three million Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, what amounts to one eighth of Syria’s population. Are all those allied with terrorists?

1President Assad: No, no. Those who left Syria are generally people who left because of terrorism. There are those who support terrorism, and there are those who support the state but left because of the security situation. There is also a significant number of those who do not support any side.

Question 5: From a military perspective, do you have the means which enable you to win this war?

President Assad: Now we are fighting states, not only gangs. Billions of dollars are spent on those gangs. They receive arms from different countries, including Turkey. So, it is not an easy war from a military perspective. Nevertheless, the Syrian Army is winning in many places. On the other hand, no one can say how this war will end or when. But the major war for them in the beginning was how to win the hearts of the Syrians; and they have lost this war. The communities which embraced terrorists have become very small, and that is the reason why the army is winning. So, we have to look at this war militarily, socially, and politically.

Question 6: But they haven’t lost yet, since half your territories are out of your control.

President Assad: The Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence everywhere, and it’s impossible for it to be everywhere. Consequently, in any place that the Syrian Army doesn’t have a presence, terrorists cross the borders and enter that region. But the Syrian Army has been able to regain control over any region it decided to enter. This is not a war between two armies where you can say that they took a certain part and we took another part. The war now is not like that. We are talking about terrorist groups which suddenly infiltrate a city or a village. That’s why it’s going to be a long and difficult war.

Question 7: Many people say that the solution lies in your departure. Do you believe that your departure is the solution?

2President Assad: The president of any state in the world takes office through constitutional measures and leaves office through constitutional measures as well. No President can be installed or deposed through chaos. The tangible evidence for this is the outcome of the French policy when they attacked Gaddafi. What was the result? Chaos ensued after Gaddafi’s departure. So, was his departure the solution? Have things improved, and has Libya become a democracy? The state is like a ship; and when there is a storm, the captain doesn’t run away and leave his ship to sink. If passengers on that ship decided to leave, the captain should be the last one to leave, not the first.

Question 8: This means that the captain is prepared to die. You talked about Gaddafi. Do you fear facing the same fate and to meet your death like Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi?

President Assad: A captain doesn’t think of life and death, he thinks of saving his ship. If the ship sinks, everybody will die, so we would rather save the country. But I want to stress an important point here. Remaining president had never been my objective, before, during, or after the crisis. But we as Syrians will never accept that Syria become a western puppet state. This is one of our most important objectives and principles.

Question 9: Let’s talk about ISIS. Some people say that the Syrian regime encouraged the rise of Islamic extremists in order to divide the opposition. How do you respond to that?

President Assad: In Syria we have a state, not a regime. Let’s agree on the terms first. Second, assuming that what you are saying is true, that we supported ISIS, this means that we have asked this organization to attack us, attack military airports, kill hundreds of soldiers, and occupy cities and villages. Where is the logic in that? What do we gain from it? Dividing and weakening the opposition, as you are saying? We do not need to undermine those elements of the opposition. The West itself is saying that it was a fake opposition. This is what Obama himself said. So, this supposition is wrong, but what is the truth? The truth is that ISIS was created in Iraq in 2006. It was the United States which occupied Iraq, not Syria. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was in American prisons, not in Syrian prisons. So, who created ISIS, Syria or the United States?

Question 10: The Syrians we meet in Damascus talk about sleeping Jihadi cells in the West more than they talk about the war against ISIS. Isn’t that strange?

4President Assad: Terrorism is an ideology, not an organization or a structure; and ideology doesn’t acknowledge any borders. 20 years ago, terrorism used to be exported from our region, particularly from Gulf countries, like Saudi Arabia. Now, it is coming to our region from Europe, especially from France. The largest percentage of the European terrorists coming to Syria are French; and you had a number of incidents in France. There was also an attack in Belgium against a Jewish museum. So, terrorism in Europe is no longer asleep, it is being awakened.

Question 11: The Americans, in their war against ISIS, are tactical (temporary) allies. Do you still think that their intervention constitutes a violation of national sovereignty?

President Assad: First, you said that it is tactical, and this is an important point. You know that tactics without a strategy do not produce results, so it will not defeat terrorism. It is an illegal intervention, first because it is not authorized by a Security Council resolution, and second because it did not respect the sovereignty of a state, Syria, in this case. So, it is an illegal intervention, and consequently constitutes a violation of sovereignty.

Question 12: According to Agence France Presse, your air forces made at least 2,000 sorties in 40 days, and this is a huge number. When your aircraft cross the alliance’s aircraft, for instance on their way to shell Raqqa, do you coordinate or do you have a non-aggression agreement?

President Assad: There is no direct coordination. We attack terrorism everywhere, regardless of what the United States, or the alliance it leads, is doing. You might find it strange that the number of daily Syrian air strikes against terrorists is larger than that launched by the alliance. There’s no coordination; and at the same time you need to realize that the alliance’s airstrikes are merely cosmetic.

Question 13: But these airstrikes are helping you, and one reason why U.S. Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel resigned is that he believed that they support your government and your positions.

President Assad: Don’t you see that this question contradicts the earlier question, in which you said that we support ISIS? This means that we are ISIS’s enemies.

Journalist: I said that some people say, sometimes, that you have supported ISIS to divide the opposition.

President Assad: And I didn’t mean “you” by my remark, I meant “those” people.

Journalist: Since one result of the alliance’s airstrikes, from an American perspective, was Chuck Hagel’s resignation, do you think that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping you?

3President Assad: Terrorism cannot be destroyed from the air, and you cannot achieve results on the ground without land forces who know the geographical details of the regions and move in tandem with the airstrikes. That’s why, and after two months of the alliance’s airstrikes, there are no tangible results on the ground in that direction. And that’s why saying that the alliance’s airstrikes are helping us is not true. Had these airstrikes been serious and effective, I would have said that they would be certainly useful to us. But we are the ones fighting the battles against ISIS on the ground, and we haven’t felt any change, particularly that Turkey is still extending direct support to ISIS in those regions.

Question 14: On July 14th, 2008, you stood on the presidential podium in the Champs Elysees on the sidelines of the Mediterranean summit. Today, the French government considers you an outcast. How do you feel about that?

President Assad: The good relationship which extended from 2008 to 2011 was not based on a French initiative. It had two sides: the first was an American effort to make the French government influence the Syrian role, particularly in relation to Iran. The second side was a result of Qatar urging France to improve relations with Syria. So, the good relations with France had American and Qatari motives and were not the product of an independent will. Today, there is no difference since both administrations, I mean those of Sarkozy and Hollande, are not independent.

Question 15: Francois Hollande still considers you an opponent. Do you believe that you can revive relations with him some time in the future?

President Assad: The issue has nothing to do with personal relations, for I don’t know him to start with. It has to do with relations between states and institutions, relations based on the interests of two nations. When there is any French official, or French government, seeking mutual interests, we will deal with them. But this administration is acting equally against the interests of our people and against the interests of the French people. As for him considering me a personal enemy, I don’t see the logic of that. I’m not competing with Hollande for anything. I believe that Hollande’s competitor in France now is ISIS, because his popularity is close to that of ISIS.

Question 16: Are there chemical weapons in Syria today, yes or no?

President Assad: No. When we announced this, it was a clear announcement, and when we decided to abandon chemical weapons, our decision was final.

Question 17: But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accuses you of violating the agreement because you used chlorine. Is that true?

5President Assad: You can find chlorine in any house in Syria. Everyone has chlorine, and any group can use it. But we haven’t used it because we have traditional weapons which are more effective than chlorine, and we do not need to use it. We are fighting terrorists, and using traditional weapons without concealing that or being shy about it. So, we don’t need chlorine. These accusations do not surprise us; for when did the Americans say anything true about the crisis in Syria?

Question 18: Have you used chemical weapons?

President Assad: We haven’t used this kind of weapons; and had we used it anywhere, tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people would have died. It’s impossible for these weapons to kill, as it was claimed last year, only one hundred people or two hundred people, particularly in areas where hundreds of thousands, and maybe millions, of Syrians live.

Question 19: In your latest visit to Paris in November 2010, I conducted an interview with your wife, Mrs. Asmaa al-Assad. Do you miss traveling outside the borders of your country?

President Assad: Traveling is not one of my hobbies anyway; and my visits were not for tourism, but for work. What I truly miss is Syria as it was. This is what we miss. And of course we miss the existence of a different world, a world which has logical and moral relations. At that time, we used to have great expectations for the development of our region, for more intellectual openness. We used to believe that France, with its cultural heritage, is the country which is most capable of playing this role with Syria in the Middle East.

Question 20: Your wife used to consider herself an ambassador of modernity. How does she live in Syria, and how does she feel about what is happening in Syria, particularly that she hasn’t left the country?

President Assad: Like all Syrians, she feels pain. Both of us feel pain for the destruction and the blood we see in Syria, to see Syria going backwards decades and not years. It’s painful to see the country which used to be one of the top five countries in the world in terms of security become a safe haven for terrorists. It is also painful for both my wife and I to see our belief that the West will help us in our bid for development and openness go in the opposite direction, and what is even worse, to see the West having allies among these medieval states in the Gulf, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Question 21: People describe you as being very close to your children. How do you explain to them what is happening to your country when you return home in the evening?

6President Assad: Of course, this discussion goes on in every Syrian house now; and the most difficult thing in this discussion is when you deal with children whose social consciousness has developed during this crisis. There are two basic questions asked, not only in our family but in many families. The first question: how can people who believe or say they are defending God and Islam kill and murder? This is a case which is not easy to explain, and children ask whether these people know that they are wrong. And the answer here is that there are those who know but make use of religion for private purposes, and there are ignorant people who do not know that religion is good. They think, instead, that religion means killing.

The second question: why does the West launch an aggression against us, and why does it support terrorists and destruction? Of course, they do not say the West in general, they specify certain countries, including the United States, France, and Britain. Why do they do that? Have we done anything to hurt them? We also explain to them that people are something, and states are something else.

Journalist: Thank you.

President Assad: Thank you.