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President al-Assad to The Sunday Times: Syria will not bow down and will continue to resist the pressure


DAMASCUS,(ST)_ In an interview with Britain's Sunday Times newspaper,  President Bashar al-Assad stressed  that dialogue is pertinent to every  Syrian ,  about all walks of life in Syria, and  Syria 's future  cannot be simply determined by who leads it, but the ambitions and aspirations of all its people.

The President said that internal and external opposition is not related to the geographical location, but to its roots, its resources and representation." Were these roots planted in Syria, Do they represent the Syrian people and Syria's interests or the interests of foreign governments? " the President continued, adding "this is how we do view dialogue, so we started and so we will continue."

H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad's Interview with Russian TV


Assad: Erdogan thinks he's Caliph, new sultan of the Ottoman (EXCLUSIVE)                                              

Published: 09 November, 2012, 08:32
Edited: 09 November, 2012, 13:00

In an exclusive interview with RT, President Bashar Assad said that the conflict in Syria is not a civil war, but proxy terrorism by Syrians and foreign fighters. He also accused the Turkish president of eyeing Syria with imperial ambitions.

Assad told RT that the West creates scapegoats as enemies – from communism, to Islam, to Saddam Hussein. He accused Western countries of aiming to turn him into their next enemy.

While mainstream media outlets generally report on the crisis as a battle between Assad and Syrian opposition groups, the president claims that his country has been infiltrated by numerous terrorist proxy groups fighting on behalf of other powers.

In the event of a foreign invasion of Syria, Assad warned, the fallout would be too dire for the world to bear.

 ‘My enemy is terrorism and instability in Syria’

­RT: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, thank very much for talking to us today.

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: You are most welcome in Damascus.

RT: There are many people who were convinced a year ago that you would not make it this far. Here again you are sitting in a newly renovated presidential palace and recording this interview. Who exactly is your enemy at this point?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: My enemy is terrorism and instability in Syria. This is our enemy in Syria. It is not about the people, it is not about persons. The whole issue is not about me staying or leaving. It is about the country being safe or not. So, this is the enemy we have been fighting as Syria.

RT: I have been here for the last two days and I had the chance to talk to a couple of people in Damascus. Some of them say that whether you stay or go at this point does not really matter anymore. What do you say about this?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: I think for the president to stay or leave is a popular issue. It is related to the opinion of some people and the only way can be done through the ballot boxes. So, it is not about what we hear. It is about what we can get through that box and that box will tell any president to stay or leave very simply.

RT: I think what they meant was that at this point you are not the target anymore; Syria is the target.

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: I was not the target; I was not the problem anyway. The West creates enemies; in the past it was the communism then it became Islam, and then it became Saddam Hussein for a different reason. Now, they want to create a new enemy represented by Bashar. That's why they say that the problem is the president so he has to leave. That is why we have to focus of the real problem, not to waste our time listening to what they say.

 ‘The fight now is not the president’s fight – it is Syrians’ fight to defend their country’

­RT: Do you personally still believe that you are the only man who can hold Syria together and the only man who can put an end to what the world calls a ‘civil war’?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: We have to look at it from two aspects. The first aspect is the constitution and I have my authority under the constitution. According to this authority and the constitution, I have to be able to solve the problem. But if we mean it that you do not have any other Syrian who can be a president, no, any Syrian could be a president. We have many Syrians who are eligible to be in that position. You cannot always link the whole country only to one person.

RT: But you are fighting for your country. Do you believe that you are the man who can put an end to the conflict and restore peace?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: I have to be the man who can do that and I hope so, but it is not about the power of the President; it is about the whole society. We have to be precise about this. The president cannot do anything without the institutions and without the support of the people. So, the fight now is not a President’s fight; it is Syrians’ fight. Every Syrian is involved in defending his country now.

RT: It is and a lot of civilians are dying as well in the fighting. So, if you were to win this war, how would you reconcile with your people after everything that has happened?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Let’s be precise once again. The problem is not between me and the people; I do not have a problem with the people because the United States is against me and the West is against me and many other Arab countries, including Turkey which is not Arab of course, are against me. If the Syrian people are against me, how can I be here?!

‘Syria faces not a civil war, but terrorism by proxies’

­RT: They are not against you?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: If the whole world, or let us say a big part of the world, including your people, are against you, are you a superman?! You are just a human being. So, this is not logical. It is not about reconciling with the people and it is not about reconciliation between the Syrians and the Syrians; we do not have a civil war. It is about terrorism and the support coming from abroad to terrorists to destabilize Syria. This is our war.

RT: Do you still not believe it is a civil war because I know there are a lot who think that there are terrorist acts which everyone believes take place in Syria, and there are also a lot of sectarian-based conflicts. For example we all heard about the mother who has two sons; one son is fighting for the government forces and the other son is fighting for the rebel forces, how this is not a civil war?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: You have divisions, but division does not mean civil war. It is completely different. Civil wars should be based on ethnic problems or sectarian problems. Sometimes you may have ethnic or sectarian tensions but this does not make them problem. So, if you have division in the same family or in a bigger tribe or whatever or in the same city, it does not mean a civil war. This is completely different and that is normal. We should expect that.

RT: When I asked about reconciling with your people, this is what I meant: I heard you say on many different occasions that the only thing you care about is what the Syrian people think of you and what Syrian people feel towards you and whether you should be a president or not. Are you not afraid that there has been so much damage done for whatever reason that at the end of the day Syrians won’t care about the truth; they will just blame you for the carnage that they have suffered?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: This is a hypothetical question because what the people think is the right thing, and regarding what they think, we have to ask them. But I don’t have this information right now. So, I am not afraid about what some people think; I am afraid about my country. We have to be focused on that.

RT: For years there have been so many stories about almighty Syrian army, important and strong Syrian secret services, but then we see that, you know, the government forces are not able to crush the enemy like people expected it would, and we see terrorist attacks take place in the middle of Damascus almost every day. Were those myths about the Syrian army and about the strong Syrian secret services?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Usually, in normal circumstances when you have the army and the secret services and the intelligence, we focus on the external enemy even if we have an internal enemy, like terrorism because the society is helping us at least not to provide terrorist’s incubator. Now in this case, it is a new kind of war; terrorism through proxies, either Syrians living in Syria or foreign fighters coming from abroad. So, it is a new style of war, this is first and you have to adapt to this style and it takes time, it is not easy. And to say this is as easy as the normal or, let us say, the traditional or regular war, no, it is much more difficult. Second, the support that has been offered to those terrorists in every aspect, including armaments, money and political aspect is unprecedented. So, you have to expect that it is going to be a tough war and a difficult war. You do not expect a small country like Syria to defeat all those countries that have been fighting us through proxies just in days or weeks.

RT: Yes, but when you look at it, I mean on one hand, you have one leader with an army, and he orders this army go straight, go left, go right and the army obeys. On the other hand, you have fractions of terrorists who are not unified and have no one unified strategy to fight you. So, how does that really happen when it comes to fighting each other?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: This is not the problem. The problem is that those terrorists are fighting from within the cities, and in the cities you have civilians. When you fight this kind of terrorists, you have to be aware that you should do the minimum damage to the infrastructure and minimum damage to the civilians because you have civilians and you have to fight, you cannot leave terrorists just killing and destroying. So, this is the difficulty in this kind of war.

Without foreign rebel fighters and smuggled weapons, ‘we could finish everything in weeks’

­RT: You know that the infrastructure and economy are suffering; it is almost as if Syria is going to be fall into decay very soon and the time is against you. In your opinion, how much time do you need to crush the enemy?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: You cannot answer this question because no one claimed that he had the answer about when to end the war unless when we have the answer to when they are going to stop smuggling foreign fighters from different parts of the world especially the Middle East and the Islamic world, and when they are going to stop sending armaments to those terrorists. If they stop, this is when I can answer you; I can tell that in weeks we can finish everything. This is not a big problem. But as long as you have continuous supply in terrorists, armaments, logistics and everything else, it is going to be a long-term war.

RT: Also, when you think about it, you have 4,000 km of loosely controlled borders, so you have your enemy that can at any time cross over into Jordan or Turkey to be rearmed, get medical care and come back to fight you!

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: No country in the world can seal the border. Sometime they use this word which is not correct, even the United Stated cannot seal its border with Mexico for example. The same can be applied to Russia which is a big country. So, no country can seal the border. You can only have a better situation on the border when you have good relations with your neighbor and this is something we do not have at least with Turkey now. Turkey supports more than any other country the smuggling of terrorists and armaments.

‘The Syrian Army has no orders to shell Turkish land’

­RT: Can I say to you something? I have been in Turkey recently and people there are actually very worried that a war will happen between Syria and Turkey. Do you think a war with Turkey is a realistic scenario?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Rationally, no I do not think so – for two reasons. The war needs public support and the majority of the Turkish people do not need this war. So, I do not think any rational official would think of going against the will of the public in his country and the same for the Syrian people. So, the conflict or difference is not between the Turkish people and the Syrian people; it is about the government and officials, it is between our officials and their officials because of their politics. So, I do not see any war between Syria and Turkey on the horizon.

RT: When was the last time you spoke to Erdogan and how did the talk end?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: May 2011, after he won the election.

RT: So, you just congratulated him, and it was the last time

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Yes and it was the last time.

RT: Who is shelling Turkey? Is it the government forces or the rebels?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: In order to find the answer, you need a joint committee between the two armies in order to know who shells who because on the borders you have a lot of terrorists who have mortars; so, they can do the same. You have to go and investigate the bomb in that place itself and that did not happen. We asked the Turkish government to have this committee but they refused; so, you cannot have the answer. But when you have these terrorists on your borders, you do not exclude them from doing so because the Syrian army does not have any order to shell the Turkish land because we do not find any interest in this, and we do not have any enmity with the Turkish people. We consider them as brothers, so why do it; unless that happened by mistake, then it needs investigation.

RT: Do you accept that it may be mistakenly from the government forces?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: That could happen. This is a possibility and in every war you have mistakes. You know in Afghanistan, they always talk about friendly fire if you kill your soldier; this means that it could happen in every war, but we cannot say yes.

‘Erdogan thinks he is a Caliph’

­RT: Why has Turkey, which you call a friendly nation, become a foothold for the opposition?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Not Turkey, but only Erdogan’s government in order to be precise. Turkish people need good relations with the Syrian people. Erdogan thinks that if Muslim Brotherhood takes over in the region and especially in Syria, he can guarantee his political future, this is one reason. The other reason, he personally thinks that he is the new sultan of the Ottoman and he can control the region as it was during the Ottoman Empire under a new umbrella. In his heart he thinks he is a caliph. These are the main two reasons for him to shift his policy from zero problems to zero friends.

RT: But it is not just the West that opposes you at this point; there are so many enemies in the Arab world and that is to say like two years ago when someone heard you name in the Arab world they would straighten their ties, and now in the first occasion they betrayed you, why do you have so many enemies in the Arab world?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: They are not enemies. The majority of Arab governments support Syria in their heart but they do not dare to say that explicitly.

RT: Why not?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Under pressure by the West, and sometimes under pressure of the petrodollars in the Arab world.

RT: Who supports you from the Arab world?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Many countries support Syria by their hearts but they do not dare to say that explicitly. First of all, Iraq which played a very active role in supporting Syria during the crisis because it is a neighboring country and they understand and recognize that if you have a war inside Syria you will have war in the neighboring countries including Iraq. I think there are other countries which have good position like Algeria, and Oman mainly and there are other countries I would not count all of them now but I would say they have positive position without taking actions.

RT: Saudi Arabia and Qatar, why are they so adamant about you resigning and how would an unstable Middle East fit their agenda?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Let’s be frank, I cannot answer on their behalf. They have to answer this question but I could say that the problem between Syria and many countries whether in the Arab world or in the region or in the West, is that we kept saying no when we think that we have to say no, that is the problem. And some countries believe that they can control Syria through orders, through money or petrodollars and this is impossible in Syria, this is the problem. May be they want to play a role. We do not have a problem, they can play a role whether they deserve this or not, they can play a role but not to play a role at the expense of our interests.

RT: Is it about controlling Syria or about exporting their vision of Islam to Syria?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: You cannot put it as a government policy sometimes. Sometimes you have institutions in certain country, sometime you have persons who try to promote this but they do not announce it as an official policy. So, they did not ask us to promote their, let’s say, extremist attitude of their institutions but that happened in reality whether through indirect support of their government or through the foundation from institutions and personnel. So, this is part of the problem, but when I want to talk as a government, I have to talk about the announced policy. The announced policy is like any other policy; it is about the interest, it is about playing a role, but we cannot ignore what you mentioned.

RT: Iran which is a very close ally also is exposed to economic sanctions, also facing a threat of military invasion. If you were faced with an option to cut ties with Iran in exchange for peace in your country, would you go for it?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: We do not have contradicting options in this regard because we had good relations with Iran since 1979 till today, and it is getting better every day, but at the same time we are moving towards peace. We had peace process and we had peace negotiations. Iran was not a factor against peace. So, this is misinformation they try to promote in the West that if we need peace, we do not have to have good relation with Iran. There is no relation; it is two completely different subjects. Iran supported Syria, supported our cause, the cause of the occupied land and we have to support them in their cause. This is very simple. Iran is a very important country in the region. If we are looking for stability, we need good relations with Iran. You cannot talk about stability while you have bad relations with Iran, Turkey and your neighbors and so on. This is it.

‘Al-Qaeda’s final aim is an Islamic emirate in Syria’

­RT: Do you have any information that the Western intelligence is financing rebel fighters here in Syria?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: No, so far what we know is that they are offering the know-how support for the terrorists through Turkey and sometimes through Lebanon mainly. But there is other intelligence, not the Western, but the regional intelligence which is very active and more active than the Western one under the supervision of the Western intelligence.

RT: What is the role of Al-Qaeda in Syria at this point? Are they controlling any of the rebel coalition forces?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: No, I do not think they are looking to control; they are looking to create their own kingdoms or emirates in their language, but they mainly try now to scare the people through explosions, assassinations, suicide bombers and things like this to push the people towards desperation and to accept them as reality. So, they go step by step but their final aim is to have this, let’s say, Islamic Emirate in Syria where they can promote their own ideology in the rest of the world.

RT: from those who are fighting you and those who are against you, who would you talk to?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: We talk to anyone who has genuine will to help Syria, but we do not waste our time with anyone who wants to use our crisis for his own personal interests.

RT: There has been many times…not you but the government forces have been accused for many times of war crimes against your own civilians, do you accept that the government forces have committed war crimes against their own civilians?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: We are fighting terrorism. We are implementing our constitution by protecting the Syrian people. Let’s go back to what happened in Russia more than a decade ago when you faced terrorism in Chechnya and other places; they attacked people in theaters and schools and so on, and the army in Russia protected the people, would you call it war crimes?! No, you would not. Two days ago, Amnesty International recognized the crimes that were committed few days ago by the armed groups when they captured soldiers and executed them. Also Human Rights Watch recognized this. Human Rights Watch recognized more than once the crimes of those terrorist groups and few days ago it described these crimes as war crimes, this is the first point. The second point, if you have an army that committed a crime against its own people, this is devoid of logic because the Syrian Army is made up of Syrian people. If you want to commit a crime against your people, then the army will divide, will disintegrate. So, you cannot have a strong army while you are killing your people. Third, the army cannot withstand for twenty months in these difficult circumstances without having the embrace of the public in Syria. So, how could you have this embracement while you are killing your people?! This is a contradiction. So, this is the answer.

‘I must live in Syria and die in Syria’

­RT: When was the last time you spoke to a Western leader?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: It was before the crisis.

RT: Was there any time at which they try to give you conditions that if you left the post of presidency then there will be peace in Syria or no?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: No, they did not propose it directly, no, but whether they propose that directly or indirectly, it is a matter of sovereignty; only the Syrian people will talk about this. Whoever talks about this in the media or in a statement directly or indirectly has no meaning and has no weight in Syria.

RT: Do you even have a choice because from what it seems from the outside that would not have anywhere to go. Where would you go if you want to leave?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: To Syria. I would go from Syria to Syria. This is the only place where we can live. I am not a puppet. I was not made by the West to go to the West or to any other country. I am Syrian, I was made in Syria, I have to live in Syria and die in Syria.

 ‘I believe in democracy and dialogue – but we must be realistic’

­RT: Do you think that at this point there is any chance for diplomacy or talks or only the army can get it done?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: I always believe in diplomacy and I always believe in dialogue even with those who do not understand or believe in it. We have to keep trying. I think that we will always achieve a partial success. We have to look for this partial success before we achieve the complete success. But we have to be realistic. You do not think that only dialogue can make you achieve something because those people who committed these acts they are of two kinds: one of them does not believe in dialogue, especially the extremists, and you have the outlaws who have been convicted by the court years ago before the crisis and their natural enemy is the government because they are going to be detained if we have a normal situation in Syria. The other part of them is the people who have been supplied by the outside, and they can only be committed to the governments which paid them the money and supplied them with the armament; they do not have a choice because they do not own their own decision. So, you have to be realistic. And you have the third part of the people whether militants or politicians who can accept the dialogue. That’s why we have been in this dialogue for months now even with militants and many of them gave up their armaments and they went back to their normal life.

‘The price of a foreign invasion will be more than the world can afford’

­RT: Do you think a foreign invasion is imminent?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: I think the price of this invasion if it happened is going to be more than the whole world can afford because if you have a problem in Syria, and we are the last stronghold of secularism and stability in the region and coexistence, let’s say, it will have a domino effect that will affect the world from the Atlantic to the Pacific and you know the implication on the rest of the world. I do not think the West is going in that direction, but if they do so, nobody can tell what is next.

RT: Mr. President, do you blame yourself for anything?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Normally you have to find mistakes you do with every decision, otherwise you are not human.

RT: What is your biggest mistake?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: I do not remember now to be frank. But I always, even before taking the decision, consider that part of it will be wrong but you cannot tell about your mistakes now. Sometimes, especially during crisis, you do not see what is right and what is wrong until you overcome the situation that you are in. I would not be objective to talk about mistakes now because we still in the middle of the crisis.

RT: So, you do not have regrets yet?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Not now. When everything is clear, you can talk about your mistakes, and definitely you have mistakes and that is normal.

RT: If today was March 15, 2011, that is when the protest started to escalate and grow, what would you do differently?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: I would do what I did on March 15.

RT: Exactly the same?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Exactly the same: ask different parties to have dialogue and stand against terrorists because that is how it started. It did not start as marches; the umbrella or cover was the marches, but within those marches you had militants who started shooting civilians and the army at the same time. May be on the tactical level, you could have done something different but as a president you are not tactical, you always take the decision on a strategic level which is something different.

RT: President al-Assad, how do you see yourself in ten-year’ time?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: I see myself through my country; I cannot see myself but my country in ten-year’ time. This is where I can see myself.

RT: Do you see yourself in Syria?

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Definitely, I have to be in Syria. It is not about the position. I do not see myself whether a president or not. This is not my interest. I can see myself in this country as safe country, stable country and more prosperous country.

RT: President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, thank you for talking to RT.

H.E. Bashar Al-Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria, again.



President Bashar Al-Assad's Addounia TV Interview , August 29 , 2012

DAMASCUS, (ST)_ President Bashar Al-Assad gave the following interview to Addounia TV on the local and regional developments:

Dear viewers of Addounia TV… greetings,

We greet you from the People's Palace in the Syrian capital of Damascus. We are honored to meet President Bashar Al-Assad, President of the Syrian Arab Republic. Mr. President, welcome on Addounia TV.

President Al-Assad: Welcome to you and to Addounia TV.

Question: Mr. President, allow me to discuss during today's meeting the most important issues occupying the thoughts of Syrian citizens which they inquire about daily and in which they dwell upon in all issues, whether it pertains to the situation on the ground or the political situation… we start with the situation on the ground… of course, Aleppo… they talked a lot about Aleppo… what is the situation in Aleppo; how do you view it?

President Al-Assad: We cannot separate the situation in Aleppo from the situation in Syria. The difference is that Aleppo and Damascus are the two biggest cities and the two most important cities. One is the political capital and the other is the economic capital. The normal citizen's evaluation of the situation in general – including Aleppo – comes through escalation; when he sees escalation he considers the situation to be worse and when he sees calm he considers the situation to be better… matters aren't measured like this. When there are military or security operations then there could be constant escalation and suddenly the situation ends well or the opposite, a continuing calm ends with escalation. In the end, the issue is a battle of wills in the first degree. They have a will to destroy the country. They started with Daraa, moved to Homs and Damascus and Aleppo and Deir Ezzor and Lattakia; to all provinces. They try to move from one place to another. The importance is in the difference in scale or weight of the city in the Syrian context, but if we take into account the scale of the complex battles waged by the armed forces on the technical, tactical and strategic levels, then they are among the most complex types of battles, yet the armed forces achieve great successes in this regard. Everyone hopes that the achievement or the resolution to be within weeks or days and hours. This is illogical; we're involved in a regional and global battle, so time is needed to resolve it. But I can summarize all this explanation in a sentence: we are moving forward and the situation is practically better but resolution hasn't been achieved and this takes time.

Question: Mr. President, regarding areas or provinces to which problems moved, starting from Daraa to Damascus Countryside, Homs, Lattakia, Aleppo and Idleb. Of course, there are those who broached the issue of neighboring countries. In this case, many ask what is the position of the Syrian state towards neighboring countries, particularly since some countries facilitate, train, finance and arm in all manners which may constitute a violation of the Syrian state, the security of Syria and the safety of Syrian citizens?

President Al-Assad: Some neighboring countries stand by Syria but maybe they're not exactly able to control the smuggling of logistic supplies to terrorists. Some countries overlook or keep their distance, and some countries participate in this matter, but we have to distinguish between what we as Syria and as Syrian people and as a country want from these countries. Do we seek a relation or a dispute with the country or with the people? As for Turkey for example; the position of the Turkish state is known, and it assumes direct responsibility for the blood that bled and was shed in Syria. But when we began developing our relation with Turkey, we didn't look for a relation with individuals or a transient government; rather we looked to a history of tense and turbulent relation for nearly nine decades approximately. We wanted to erase it, then do we go backwards because of the ignorance of some Turkish officials, or do we look at the relation with the Turkish people, particularly since this people practically stood with us during this crisis and didn't drift despite the media and financial pressure to go in the other direction. We must think first of peoples, because governments are transient and we must preserve relations with the peoples because these people are the ones who will practically protect us, as logistic supply will remain weak if the people don’t embrace the issue.

Question: But here we ask about the stances of these peoples towards their governments. Some Syrians expect a movement on the part of these people as their governments polices harm neighboring countries and harm the reputation and dignity of the people.

President Al-Assad: Correct, but this needs time, and we mustn't forget that these peoples themselves are waging battles against these governments. Political battles, of course, and this needs time. We need to be objective, but we must account for winning and losing. Animosity with peoples will not reduce the supply of terrorists; on the contrary, it will make this supply more available. We must improve relations and help these peoples by presenting facts; when these peoples discover the reality of what is happening in Syria and the truth about the position of their officials, they will become stronger in their political battle and the longevity of these governments and these officials will be short in political work., we can withstand this short spell and we can adapt to it while we resolve the battle in Syria.

Question: Mr. President, many talked about Homs; Homes which witnessed since the beginnings strong armed activities and high feelings of all types. Many ask: what is the situation in Homs? Why isn't the situation over in Homs?

President Al-Assad: We cannot separate the situation of Homs from the situation of the rest of the provinces. As for the delay of resolving the situation in the city, it's known that when armed forces wage battles in cities they must take two things into consideration: first, concern for human life, and second, concern for properties. Apart from that, if the armed forces wanted to use all their military capabilities including firepower then they can crush the enemy in a short time, but this is unacceptable and doesn't achieve the desired results. This type of operations needs time. On the other hand, we cannot forget that there's constant supply of gunmen in Homs, specifically because they considered Homs to be the center from which the victory they hope for will move, in addition to its proximity to the Lebanese borders.

Question: Can we call it a buffer zone?

President Al-Assad: Most Syrian provinces are border provinces; Deir Ezzor, Hasaka, Raqqa, Idleb, Lattakia, Daraa, Sweida, and even Homs partly borders Iraq too. This maybe a reason (why some use buffer zones) but I can't analyze on behalf of the planners. This issue isn't important for us, whether they consider them buffer zones or not. A buffer zone is a zone established with the state's approval through specific agreements between two countries, and we as a state never in any day decided to assume that there's an area outside Syrian control. When the army wants to enter an area then it can do that. They considered many areas to be outside the state's control and the army entered most of these areas with ease, which means that they weren't able to create this zone. Therefore, I believe that talking about buffer zones is firstly nonexistent, and secondly unrealistic, even for countries playing a hostile role.

Question: Mr. President, as the Commander-in-chief of the Army and Armed Force and with your knowledge of the situation on the ground and its details; there are those among the opposition who talk and ask why the Syrian forces and the Syrian army are inside Syrian cities, while not a single bullet has been fired in the Golan for nearly forty years. They ask in this regard if tanks' natural place is inside Syrian cities and not on the Golan front.

President Al-Assad: The task of the army and armed forces in all countries of the world is to protect the homeland. Protecting the homeland doesn't only mean protecting it from outside, but from within as well; any enemy that comes from any place. You have to defend your country through relevant institutions, primarily the army and armed forces. This time, the enemy moved from within, not from without, and you may tell me that they're Syrians and I tell you that any Syrian who carries out a foreign and hostile plan becomes an enemy and is no longer Syrian. The proof being that if a Syrian commits espionage then he is sentenced to death by law is execution. In fact, those who implement an enemy's plan are considered an enemy. The enemy moved from within, so the armed forces moved.

Question: So this doesn't contradict the concept of resistance and that Syria adopts the ideas of resistance.

President Al-Assad: Not at all, on the contrary, Syria adopts the ideas of resistance. But the other idea is that if Syria adopts resistance, then why there isn't resistance towards the Golan – this may be the idea you mean – then resistance is emerges when a state abandons its responsibility in reclaiming its land, which didn't happen in Syria like in Lebanon, maybe because of the civil war at the time, and like in Palestine when there's no state in the first place to reclaim rights, so the resistance had to exist. When we abandon, as a creed, policy and armed forces our primary goal of reclaiming land, then there will be a Syrian resistance.

Question: Mr. President, regarding the military operations taking place inside Syria now; there is talk on the Syrian street that Syria received a green light, a Russian green light and Chinese green light, with some going as far as to even say an American green light maybe or a western green light. Does Syria need a green light to carry out what it's doing now?

President Al-Assad: In various stages there was talk of a green light. For example, when Syria entered Lebanon in 1976 there was such talk and it was repeated at other stages. In fact, Syria doesn't need a green light in sovereign issues, in local issues neither and in national issues, from friends nor from enemies nor from opponents. If we didn't possess the green light then there's no need for our existence as a homeland and as a state.

Question: Mr. President, there are those who say that the popular movement in Syria remained peaceful for four or five months and became armed after it was oppressed by the state. Some quote or distort a speech by Your Excellency, the speech before the last in which you said that in Ramadan it became an armed movement and all activities that were out peaceful became armed.

President Al-Assad: No, this explanation is inaccurate for a simple reason; if they were unarmed then what explains that in the first week of turbulence and events there were a number of martyrs among security and police forces? Then how did these people die? Did they die from screams? From the sound waves of protestors? This is illogical. The truth is they died by weapons, but the type of arming and the goal of arming were different. At that time, the main goal was rallying the people by shooting protesters, security men and the police so that the police and security respond and kill more civilians; thereby spreading a state of hostility towards the state. After the failure of this project, they shifted since the last Ramadan to armed action through which they reached rebellious areas that the state cannot enter like Baba Amr and other areas, and of course these areas were entered so the gunmen's tactic changed. Now, after Baba Amr was entered and after the fall of their sites in various other provinces that they had considered to be fortified, they switched to another method that involved more assassinations and more terrorism against citizens and more of punishing citizens by blocking roads, preventing the arrival of flour for bread, and fuel like diesel, gas oil and gas, and other daily necessities. In fact, the gunmen appeared since the first days. The images broadcast by Syrian TV on what happened in Daraa, the shootings by gunmen which they said at the time were fabricated, were real.

Question: It is said on the street that the state delayed the resolution, meaning that after people saw the progress of military operations they said that the state was capable of doing the sort of military and security operations now which are in the framework of resolution, so why did it delay in this regard, which implied to many who thought that the state is weak so they acquired more weapons, were misled more, and moved forward with this project on a larger scale?

President Al-Assad: The state did not delay, and the proof is that when the armed forces sensed a major escalation in Daraa during the beginning of the events in the first months, the army entered Daraa. We never hesitated for a second for the resolution. But with every step the state took, there was a development in their modus operandi, so in turn the state needed more counter steps. Some want us to handle that stage as we handle the stage today. This is illogical. The stage is different, their modus operandi was different, even the public understanding of what is happening was different. Many people were misled in the beginning, thinking that what is happening is a state of excitement a wave of The Arab spring that will affect Syria, that these youths are excitable, that there are no gunmen, that the state is fabricating, all the these things we used to hear. For us as a state, the lack of public understanding was a problem. What helped the state in the resolution in recent months was the clarity of the picture for the larger part of the Syrian population as there's a change in political conditions and in the security in the security conditions themselves.

There's a change in the public mood towards what is happening and towards the gunmen as they discovered that what is happening isn't a revolution nor a spring; they are rather it is terrorist acts in the full meaning of the word, and the clarification of the external factor which wasn't clear at the beginning. When I delivered my first speech at the People's Assembly and talked about a conspiracy and confrontation, many wondered what conspiracy and what confrontation, accusing us of saying that everything is a conspiracy and considering what was happening to be a mere case of excitement as I mentioned before, and that if the President had said a few kind and sentimental words then the problem would have been solved. I told them that the problem didn't begin with sentiments and won't end with sentiments; there's a plan and there are internal tools, so from the beginning we took a decision for resolution because the picture was clear, but the method of resolution differs depending on the different stages of the crisis.

Question: Mr. President, this crisis included and was exacerbated by the presence of some personalities who partook in corruption at this stage and exploited the crisis among officials, whether they were in the army security forces or in the state or businessmen and merchants and many activities who exploited the crisis and even contributed to increase it. What about those?

President Al-Assad: I wish to distinguish between crisis traders who appear in every crisis in any country, whether they are merchants in the economic or material sense or other people who want to exploit the crisis for other private interests, and they could be inside the state or outside the state, and on the other hand, the mistakes that occur within the crisis and have no relation to prolonging the crisis. There were mistakes that happened, there were transgressions that happened, there were violations, thefts, some of which was uncovered but in a limited number and those were referred to the judiciary many months ago. Everyone who made a mistake or wanted to prolong the crisis for different reasons must be held accountable. This issue is final and isn't up for discussion or debate, but the Question is how to identify them. You hold accountable the known not the anonymous; and most lawsuits filed and complaints that come in are against anonymous sides, and in the cases in which the individuals were identified and held accountable the wronged party brought the name and there was scrutiny and investigation and the misdemeanor or crime was proven and referred to the judiciary. The main challenge is how to find out who these people are, particularly since that in the conditions of security work and during chaotic circumstances investigation becomes harder than before. As a matter of principle, these individuals must be held accountable even if it were after overcoming these conditions and restoring calm.

Question: Meaning that if they were in positions of power, then dismissal isn't enough, but also trial?

President Al-Assad: When you don't have proof but rather inconclusive indicators, then you may dismiss that individual for lack of confidence in their performance, but when you have conclusive evidence that this individual did something then he must be referred to the judiciary immediately regardless of the position he occupies.

Question: There are those who say that after nearly a year and a half of the crisis there's still a problem with the matter of appointments, with some wondering why appoint someone who isn't qualified, who doesn't have the ability and qualification needed and who might later cause us problems leading to dismissing and trying them for example. Mr. President, is there a flaw in the appointment mechanism, particularly since the crisis didn't influence in or maybe didn't motivate instruments in a bigger way in this regard?

President Al-Assad: There's an objective side to this proposition and a subjective side. The objective sides is that we don't have in Syria so far human resources management in the scientific sense, and this is a standalone science, and this is what we're doing by putting the final touches on a project related to public employment, which evaluates the person since entering the government employment and until leaving it with a full course that specifies the development of their work. Someone good may come along and the evaluation is correct but after a while they deviate. The mechanism of entry alone isn't enough. As for saying that this person came and didn't prove to be good in the current mechanism in the absence of human resources management then you can only try as you don't know if this person will fail. You must try to know that they will fail, and as long as they failed and you can replace them then where's the problem? Of course, this takes time, but you don't have other options. There are cases where a person is successful in a place and we assume that his success in this place will lead to his success elsewhere, only to discover that this isn't true after trying. In fact, with the absence of human resources in their scientific form, then you have no option except to try, and the important thing in this case is not to keep quiet over someone who makes mistakes or fails, nor keep them in place, and in turn there's someone who fails in a place not because they're bad, but because this place doesn't suit them, when you transfer them elsewhere they might succeed.

Question: Mr. President, many people link everything to the President, saying the President appointed this minister or issued that or discussed this, confusing a presidential decree with a mistake or something the government is in charge of. Your Excellency talked on more than one occasion about a true supervision that the media should perform on government performance. How can the media have the bigger role in supervision?

President Al-Assad: Officials must be monitored from above and monitored form below, which means the public base, but demands so far are to monitor officials from above only, and this isn't enough. It might be enough for certain levels of responsibility; a minister, a general director and the like, but there are lower levels like employees who need popular oversight in which the media plays a main role. The media tried in various stages to play this role, but this isn't only through articles highlighting general issues, as the media's role is to prepare a full case like, in countries that are advanced in what happens this field; the journalist presents a full case containing evidence, and in this case there's no choice for officials but to refer this case as it is to investigation and later to the judiciary. This is what the media lacks. Of course, for the media to succeed in this, we also need more transparency by the state, as those affected will attempt to shut all doors in the face of the media, but the media must remain persistent and determined in this framework. Of course, for the President's role, he's responsible for the entire state and cannot evade or say I'm not responsible for a certain aspect of the state, but there's a certain reality: no-one can see all corners of the country.

Question: From this comes the emphasis on the role of institutions which Your Excellency talked about since the oath speech, that in a state of establishment each point must assume its true role?

President Al-Assad: Exactly. As long as establishments aren't mature, any official's role including the President's will remain a lacking role. The President supervises in a general manner the policies of establishments and intervenes in some cases, but here we're dealing with thousands of cases each day, cases that relate to citizens who cannot be supervised daily unless there are institutions of establishments or participation on the part of citizens in managing the state's affairs.

Question: You Excellency said that the media should persist, but is there a mechanism that organizes work more effectively and thus gives - we don't want to say authority in the literal sense but rather a bigger role for the media? Are we allowed to intervene more in affairs which may be related to oversight?

President Al-Assad: It's more than a question of being allowed or not. For me as an official, when you do your duty, I succeed, and your role is a success for me, and it's in my personal interest that the media succeeds in this regard, and there's national interest too as the homeland succeeds, institutions succeed and citizens succeed and become comfortable. In these matters, we all win when you play your role. The media playing its role isn't a matter of allowing or not, but rather a matter of knowing exactly how to play the role objectively, and for the media not to exploit their role for personal interest. The media, in the end, is one of the authorities that can exploit authority for personal interest, and this relies on the profession's professional ethics of those working in the field.

Question: Meaning that if the issue is within the supervision framework oversight and the framework of serving the country, then the media, as Your Excellency said, has the green light.

President Al-Assad: Exactly, but by overcoming the educational role and playing a more investigative role, and by having the media's role become investigating cases and finding evidence in addition to solutions, thereby assisting the judiciary and the investigating authorities, and at the same time proposing solutions to officials that we can benefit from in our decisions in the future.

Question: Mr. President, the media is being targeted now in Syria, and Your Excellency highlighted this on more than one occasion. In a previous stage we faced a media war from abroad, then it shifted to targeting the Syrian media politically. We saw the decision of the Arab foreign ministers when they decided to block Syrian channels from satellites which is also a precedent, and bloody targeting that manifested itself in al-Ikhbariya bombing, the bombing of the General Establishment of Radio and Television, and the targeting of Addounia TV and journalists with kidnapping and murder. Where do you place the media in this context?

President Al-Assad: The answer lies in the question, and it takes us to an important point which is that we must stop self flagellation, despite the presence of shortcomings in all fields including the media, and we wish things had been better. But if this tool has been a failure, as some claim, then it wouldn't have been targeted. If it were bad, harmful and a failure then they would have provided you, as national media whether public or private, free satellite channels. This affirms that Syrian media managed to expose them and undermine true media empires behind which is not just money but also political decisions in major capitals of the world. This in itself is proof of the success of Syrian media. Of course, we can be stronger and more successful, and this is natural. We haven’t reached our aspirations and you haven't reached your aspirations as media, and this is the course of life. But to those who say that the media is a failure, this is our answer.

Question: Mr. President, the issue of defections is one of the things that concerned Syrian society lately as well. There were those who promoted the defection of figures like Riyad Hijab, Manaf Tlas, some diplomats and some officers of various ranks, and they said that if these people hadn't seen something dark in Syria's future and that the state isn't stable and isn't strong, then they wouldn't have abandoned fortune, power and positions to the unknown.

President Al-Assad: Regardless of the names, and assuming that the future is dark, is this a reason to leave the country? What is this limited proposition, it is an accusation of being unpatriotic. But let us examine the term. First, defection is when one establishment separates from a bigger establishment that presides over it or the defection of a part of an establishment from the main establishment, and at the top of this establishment is an individual or individuals who rebel against the higher levels or the main establishment. This didn't happen. What happened was that individuals who were occupied certain positions fled the country, which is a process of desertion and escape, not defection. The defection is internal, not external. It's a rebellion against the state within the country, which didn't happen. Therefore, these are desertions outside the country, and those who desert or flee are either people who were presented with money and left, and are therefore corrupt and accept bribes, or cowards who were threatened by terrorists or the other side or, as you said, had no hope of a bright future, so they got scared of this future and fled abroad, or maybe it was someone with ambition who believed that he should have gotten gains or benefits or specific ranks but didn't and decided to flee. Of course, there other reasons. In the end, those who flee are practically either weak or bad, because a patriotic and good person doesn't runaway and doesn't flee abroad. Practically, this process is positive and a process of self-cleansing of the state first and the country in general, so we mustn't be upset by this process because it's positive. Many people we didn't know had these qualities and they exposed their truth themselves, which is positive. Add to that that more than one person was said to want to defect before, and what did we do? We told those who proposed that let's facilitate it for him and let him go. It's a positive process. Of course, we weren't sure in all cases, and in return in some cases we were very sure yet we didn't mind, and despite that many people were discussed before and lately and were allegedly to flee Syria under the slogan of defection, did you hear that the state arrested any of those? Of course not, because we view this positively.

Question: Despite knowing and being aware of this.

President Al-Assad: In some cases, we have information and high suspicions. We don't say fully aware. But the question put by relevant authority was what to do, how to act, should we prevent them? There was a call to prevent them but we told them no, prevention isn't right, these people's departure is the right thing. First, they're exposed before the Syrian people. Second, every person who leaves the country is finished. If they have political ambition or goals then they're over for the simple reason which is that the Syrian people don't respect those who run away, and that Syrian people cannot be led by remote control with wireless devices, and they cannot lead them from abroad. This issue has been resolved historically, so I can say that if there's a Syrian citizen who knows that about someone who is hesitant and wants to flee, then they should encourage them.

Question: Within the major campaign targeting Syria, can we expect more desertion? Do you have a problem in this regard?

President Al-Assad: If desertion is by this kind of people then it's a positive case, and it's natural for this sort of people come to the surface during crises, and this a positive thing that we must anticipate and be optimistic about, not pessimistic.

Question: Your Excellency indicated on all occasions the scale of the conspiracy and pressure against Syria and the many things for which all available methods and means have been rallied politically and non-politically, morally and immorally. The Syrians ask: why us? Why are we being targeted with this enormous amount of resources aimed at Syria?

President Al-Assad: this is the history of Syria, conflict on Syria took place even when we were part of the Ottoman Empire, because the Levant is a strategic region, following independence and the French evacuation all the coups were funded from outside and aimed at controlling Syria and the Syrian policy as well as dragging it into axes which were present at that time when Syria started to adopt an independent policy, practically after March 8th Revolution and consolidated after the Corrective Movement when the attack on Syria became more powerful than before. Now, we are paying the price of different stances, some of them related to the principled polices linked to the Syrian rights, our stance on the resistance and our relation with Iran which means with this axes that is not liked by the West.

Some of those are linked to our latest stances, a lot of people aren’t aware that our stance on the shelling of Libya was a lonely stance at the Arab League against the no-fly zone. We objected, and not merely abstained. As we fully understood that the no-fly zone means the start of aggression on Libya and this is what has happened. We pay the price of these stances and the price of the west’s openness towards us in 2008, 2009 and 2010 during which time some have mistakenly believed that it was a real openness stage, but it was a stage through which they aimed to change the way of dealing with Syria , and to reach the needed goals, conspiring against resistance, particularly in Lebanon and targeting relations between Syria and Iran which stands by us and the Arab right, and when they failed during that stage, the Arab Spring was the new justification for them in front of their peoples to conspire once again against Syria. For all these reasons we pay the price.

Question: Mr. President, Was anything were demanded to be done by your side, and you refused to do so during the openness and interest stage which was practiced on Syria between 2008 and 2010, so the ways and means have changed?

President Al-Assad: Yes, they clearly and continuously asked us to move away from Iran, and our answer was clear as much as Iran stands by us, supports us and stands by our rights without any hesitation and even without discussions of the details just as it is a Syrian right or a Syrian opinion. So how could we move away from it. In principle, rejecting or inverting on a side or faithful country, this is unacceptable .In terms of interest, a country which changed the Israeli Embassy into a Palestinian one and stood with the Palestinian right. As Arab states, we don’t talk but with the Palestinian right, do we come and turn the table on this country ?? on the other side, the attempts which were made during that time were related to conspiring on the Iranian nuclear file though we are not part of this file, and Iran didn’t ask assistance in this issue, the issue is proposed on the international arena, not on the regional one, what was needed from Syria was to convince Iran with matters against its interest, we saw that issue as an issue which relates to our future interest, our national security in the future, because what is applied to Iran as a state which seeks to get peaceful nuclear energy will be applied to us in future, particularly as this energy is basic in the future, and the West wanted to monopolize the knowledge and prevent it from the developing countries. There is another side related to the resistance, they also wanted us to conspire against the resistance in Palestine, the resistance in Lebanon through some measures which might be happening in Lebanon to prevent it, we rejected all these issues, they relied on the principle of openness and that the Arabs like honoring, and appreciation, and flattery, this openness and the repeated visits and drumming by the western media against Syria whose president was a criminal a few years ago according to their media in 2005 after al-Hariri issue, and suddenly became a peace maker, this gives you an idea of western hypocrisy, and when they failed during that stage, the Arab spring was the opportunity to terminate the Syrian policy.

Question: Syria has and still encounters all forms of sanctions that targeted some Ministers, companies, among them medical, food ones, so the Syrian people was the target. Those sanctions were seemingly imposed on a number of personalities, but the reality is that they impacted the people as a whole, who could Syria avoid all these sanctions, particularly as they say that through economic pressure, or through making Syria collapse economically they might achieve their political goals?

President Al-Assad: This kind of sanctions will undoubtedly affect Syria, but it will affect with specific degrees. This depends on how we could we adapt with these conditions. Look to Iran, it progresses forwards in light of severe sanctions throughout many decades. We are a nation that has intelligence throughout history, we have a great ability to adapt, we have lived the crises throughout our history. The stages which were calm were limited stages in the Syrian history, undoubtedly we have capability to adapt with them as we are a productive state, we are not an importer country in principle, we are productive state from agriculture, crafts into small industries, but we have to reformulate our economy in a way that suits with this new condition, in this case we can make achievement. The Syrian industry has developed in light of the eighties siege, you remember at that time we had not even the basic materials, that condition was more difficult than this stage, we had no minimum reserve in our banks, even though we could develop industry, today we have bigger capabilities but they need some thinking, a number of practical plans, not theorization, I believe that we will get benefit, these outcomes will occur after the crisis though self-dependence and keeping away from some unimportant consumer- habits which we have adopted mainly because we live years of welfare, so we have the ability to remain and develop, and what we need is to specify what the best formula for our economy.

Question: Mr. President, You called for dialogue, and the state calls for dialogue, some opposition parties talk now about dialogue, they were rejecting dialogue, but now they accept, some reject, other accept, how the State deals with the call for dialogue since the convening of the conference last year?

President Al-Assad: This is a very long story though it lasted a year and a half, but it was very rich and a lot of people don’t know what things were happening and what was the reality of the dialogue, what was the stance of the state and the opposition's. At the beginning of the crisis, we asked to conduct dialogue with all the forces and personalities even those who were novice in politics, we went beyond all the political forces reaching social and cultural personalities, etc, we considered the issue as not a political issue, but a national issue, each person in Syria is engaged in resolving this crisis, at that time, the issue of dialogue was proposed on all levels by different sides, and by the states which came to advise us, with good or bad faith, the same thing by the powers existing in Syria which wanted to exploit the crisis, or those who wanted to take a national and real position. We said that the notion of dialogue is good and we started to work for that purpose, here the sorting out began, particularly regarding the forces of opposition. There was a national opposition which wanted to put aside all its interests and visions which we differ on to put the interest of the Homeland first. Subsequently in the political process, some of them entered elections, others participated in the People's Assembly and the government. On the other side, there was the non-national opposition whom we didn't talk about directly, without specifying who was this opposition, the people will later know who they are, but we have to specify what is happening. In the beginning, that opposition presented a reform process, reforming, amending, changing laws or amending the constitution. It believed that we would reject this logic, of course, this is what has been proposed by it publically, At the same time, it was bargaining with us through hidden channels that it had no interest in all this and that this speech was for the media or popular consumption, but it wanted to take part in the government. Of course, in principle we said we have no problem in the issue of participation in the government. The government is not restricted to one side, the government is for all people. We have always let independent people participate. Other forces could come, we have no problem, but we don’t accept blackmail. The basis in dealing with any side is the moral and principled dealing. We reached dialogue. Those forces were calling for dialogue, we were surprised that they didn’t come, I stress that I talk about part of the opposition, why did those forces refuse to come to dialogue? Because, before dialogue starts, they supposed it to be restricted to the State and those groups, to sit at the dialogue table in the absence of other sides.

Interposition: which means monopolization.

President Al-Assad: Yes, for a simple reason: they wanted to pretend to be defenders of the people and representatives for them, and that we are against the people.

They had no popular base, but they tried to achieve a political position for them in as opportunists in order to negotiate with the State, so we rejected this speech and called on all different powers, on the dialogue table there was more than 100 personalities. They represent different Syrian spectrums, this is from one side. Another side was that some of these powers were continuously contacting the western embassies which were actively working in Syria at that time, they were told not to go for dialogue because the life span of the state, or what they call "regime"- and this word is rejected-, the life span of this state is in weeks or a number of months, so you don’t have to talk to a collapsed side. There were other sides which went to Egypt, received money from Gulf countries at the Arab League or through officials at the Arab League in order not to go to the dialogue. There was another reason, they proposed the issue of reform, I met some groups of them, they talked about the constitution and the 8th Article, before a month of the dialogue, I addressed the people at Damascus University, during which I announced reforms. According to them, what was needed from this dialogue was to propose reforms and put us in front of two options; if we accepted, they would say to the people that they brought the reform through negotiations with the state, and if we rejected, they would say that the State was against reform, so let us fight it. So they monopolize the popular base as defenders of the people's rights. This was clear for us, they are opportunists to a great deal, so we disregarded them, and moved to another stage after dialogue. Of course, they continued their stance through betting on the embassies and the Gulf powers existed at the Arab League and contacted them till they lost hope. Lately, we heard that they started to talk about dialogue. Let us put aside all this opportunism, and suppose good well, let us say to come late is better than not to come, but if you wanted to come late, you have to be true, not to come once more as an opportunist to get on a wave that you see this ship didn't sink, so let us ensure a place in it. You are talking now about rejecting violence and arming from all sides. This is the word which some are ruminating from time to time, if you admitted of the weapon or arming, why did you reject it a year ago? Would you come and say clearly that you were mistaken or in maximum that you have lied to the people. We don’t expect the second, in minimum, the first. Let him say that he didn’t know, let him say that he made a mistake in evaluation. But to come as if nothing has happened, this speech is rejected, this opportunism is rejected, when they believe that they didn't find a place for them on the other ship and that it drowned through councils abroad or through the outside's discovering that the opportunist opposition has no real position in Syria, has no role.

Through betting on the military terrorist act and the failure of this armed terrorist work in Syria to achieve important outcomes, on the contrary it was a retreat and contraction. At that time they began to shift. This speech is unacceptable for us. This is on one side, but on the other, there are other initiatives at work.

Question: Initiatives of the opposition like Rome's. Here we discussed the three stages of dialogue that first they demanded it, second they refrained from it, and now they demand it again, and with the belief that the ship hasn't sunk. The number may expand and new spectrums may come to join them.

President Al-Assad: In addition to what I said in my previous answer on rejecting dealing with opportunism, we have a principled policy and what we said at the beginning of the crisis we say today. We didn't change our positions at all towards the events and all the circumstances surrounding it. We say that our dealing with initiatives is also based on what side is making the initiative? What tools do they possess? What is their weight in Syria? If they're countries like what is happening now when we hear about an initiative to be carried out by Iran and we supported it, first due to Iran's role in the region and its importance and principled nature and other reasons, and because it will be with a group of other countries that aren't necessarily as principled and of the same weight, but they can play a role in one way or another. We ask each side that makes an initiative: what is the weight of this side? Many initiatives came from various sides, some from foreign organizations like the one that sponsored the recent Rome initiative, and I'm surprised that foreign organizations are sponsoring Syrian initiatives by Syrian people. This is disgraceful for us on the national level. We disregarded many of these initiatives that have no value and no weight, as the crisis isn't a place for some people to seek positions. This is part of trading in the crisis.

Question: Those who watched the issue of the ship whether it will sink or not, bet on a time frame. We're talking now about a year and a half. The ship is still strong and it seems that with the determination of this country's people it will remain strong. We ask: who made Syria so far strong and steadfast in the face of all it went through?

President Al-Assad: First, some made a mistake in believing that the ship is the ship of the state or, once again in quotes, a "regime." The ship is the homeland either Syria drowns or Syria makes it. We must be clear on this point; the state cannot sink and the homeland persists for simple reason which is that despite the many mistakes that exist, there's a deep bond between this state's policies and this people's creed. But if we said who made this country steadfast, the fact is it's the people in general, and the popular base not its elite. To be clear for history: the wide base which maybe isn't usually interested in politics.

Interposition: The common people.

President Al-Assad: Yes, the common people who maybe aren't interested in politics, maybe they don't have degrees, maybe they don't live in these atmospheres, but they have a deep natural feeling about the truth of the crisis and its substance and essence. This isn't the first time I discover this or see this scene; we saw it in 2003 after the war on Iraq and its results when some jumped to criticize the Syrian position for opposing major countries and siding with Iraq at the time, and it showed clearly after 2005 when the west conspired against it on the background of the assassination of al-Hariri in Lebanon, and now we see it clearer; it's the same image. This wide base of the people is the one that protects the country, not the elite, to be clear whether this satisfies some or upsets them. Doubtless the most important element of this people which made this country steadfast is the armed forces. This army and armed forces, with their security and police, carry out heroic acts in the full sense of the word. They have readiness for sacrifice which we heard of before and believed to be individual cases, and they're present in any army in the world, individual cases of heroism. But the surprising thing was the general state of readiness for sacrifices, cases of which we saw directly and live on Addounia TV and on the Syrian TV during the battles that showed their bravery and the successes they achieved. Without the successes of the Syrian Arab Army during these complicated circumstances, the country's situation would doubtless be in danger, and the people's embracing of this army is essential. We say the people's army, as this army is part of this people. If we look at society as sectors of doctors, intellectuals, university graduates, vocational workers, farmers, workers, etc., and if we go back to the beginning of the crisis, the crisis began or relied on sectarian propositions. They wanted in the beginning to create a sectarian divide among the Syrian people to open a large hole in Syria in which this plan can pass very easily and quickly. The sectarian proposition is a departure from religion and deviation from religion, because religions, and Islam in particular, cannot be sectarian and separatist. There are many tools for confronting sectarianism, but the most important tool for this is proper religion, and no-one can play this role like religious figures or scholars. Truth is, for history, the role of religious figures in this crisis was very important and vital, and many people don't know that a number of respectable religious figures were tortured and imprisoned in basements and some were assassinated and paid with their lives not for standing by the state, but for saying a word of truth or for speaking of the true principles of religion. The essence of the crisis was primarily creating sectarian strife and religious figures had a primary role in combating it. Here we also talk about the media as we said before; if the role of the media in Syria wasn't important then journalists wouldn't have paid the price with their lives. There are many groups, there are people in various points. I don't exclude groups; all groups have patriotic people and people who paid the price with their lives, but there was a focus by the opponents and enemies on specific direction, and these groups or sectors of the people had to fulfill their duty and they carried out their duty. On the other hand, there were of course deviant religious figures who played a negative role either due to ignorance in creed or due to hidden political reasons for which they exploited religion, but those were encircled by the religious figures of Syria. Therefore, I believe this stage is one that should be recorded for all these groups that protected the homeland.

Question: Of course, we remember the assassination of many activities; doctors, engineers, university professors, scientists in all fields.

President Al-Assad: This is correct. But maybe what was wanted from each individual in these groups was limited compared to the big slogans that were posed at the beginning of the crisis, yet I go back and say that everyone belongs to this people, and when I started by saying that the people were the ones who protected this country, then this encompasses all groups.

Question: Your Excellency, the Syrians want to know where they are heading, Where are we going? What next? What do you say to the Syrians, Your Excellency?

President Al-Assad: We take Syria to the destination we want to as Syrian People and not to any other place. The external factor has an effect as it can speed up a certain process or slow it down or divert the direction, but we can correct the direction. All that is taking place in Syria was never to take place if we had not certain groups: specific groups, but they are influential in pace with the foreign scheme politically or criminally. In the absence of such groups, be sure that a conspiracy led by the entire world against Syria, and in which all the world takes part against Syria is unable to affect the future which we want to draw for ourselves. In short, the fate of Syria is in the hands of the Syrians, NOT in the hands of anybody else; and once we eliminate terrorism, we will have no problem, even the conspirator would return and change.

The Syrians who took part in these events are responsible for encouraging the conspirators to persist in their conspiracies. This is the truth. That is why we need to address the internal situation. The conspiracy is big; but as I said in every speech and every interview, the foundation lies in Syria. When we get rid of those terrorists and return to search later for the causes behind the presence of such criminality which we did not believe existed in our country, then we will be assured. This is the responsibility of society and the entire homeland to eliminate terrorists and search for the real causes and deal with them. Then we should be assured; and then Syria will return as we know it before the crisis and I am certainly confident of this thing.

Question: On more than one occasion, Your Excellency said that Syria is the mother of all her children; and consequently when the state grants an amnesty for those who have been involved in the events, there are those who say that such amnesties might be granted when the state is strong. Some people also empty the amnesty of its significance. The same applies to calls for the armed men to lay down their weapons. Those people say that the state is not in a position which enables it to grant such amnesties.

President Al-Assad: The answer is implied in the Question. You show mercy when you are strong, not when you are weak. It is a sign of strength and self-confidence. It is confidence in ourselves and in the people, because the state represents the people and is part of it. Many people have been misled and misguided. Put aside mistakes: some times, in security work, some people get arrested by mistake and are released individually or collectively. But there are cases which are identified by law as offences, and which we might show some tolerance towards. This approach has produced positive results during the past eighteen months. If amnesty achieves positive results, why shouldn't we pursue it. Solving the crisis is not only through the elimination of terrorism, or through force. We have to use all possible means including tolerance. That is why we continue to embrace this policy.

Question: Part of the Syrian people say – and let us put this between quotation marks – that they no longer believe in pan-Arabism. They say we should put “Syria first” and abandon pan-Arabism after the stances taken by the Arab League and suspending Syria’s membership and the role played by some Arab regimes. Does His Excellency President Bashar Al-Assad still believe in pan-Arabism and what is called “Arab action”?

President Al-Assad: First, I repeat what I said in one of my speeches, that “Syria first” is self-evident. Every homeland, every village to which a human being belongs is “first”. But this does not contradict with what comes second, which is the city, the larger homeland and the Arab world to which we belong. This talk is reductive and comes as a reaction. When we say “Syria first”, or that we don’t want to belong to the Arab nation, it means that we are handing the Arab nation over to those conspiring against us. On the contrary, I say that today I am more committed to pan-Arabism, more convinced of it and more comfortable with it. After more than a decade of working with some – not all - of those Arab officials at different levels – some of them heads of state – I know that they don’t belong to the Arab nation and it doesn’t belong to them. This assures one that the Arab nation is pure despite some people’s endeavours to make it murky with their existence. As to the Arab league, it is not a standard of a criterion for pan-Arabism. Pan-Arabism is not an organization, it is a state of civilization. This region is based on a number of pillars, the biggest among them are pan-Arabism and Islam. Without both of them as two big bases, the region can never exist in its present form. Without believing in these two main pillars, we show that we do not believe in something which exists in reality whether we like it or not. This is a fact. If you don’t believe in it, you need to change it. Can we cancel away pan-Arabism? This is a different issue.

As to the Arab League, let’s be realistic: in the past 10 years, since the outbreak of the Intifada – In the 1990s it only met once, since there was only one Arab summit. Since the year 2000, what are the achievements of the Arab League in the interest of the Arab nation? In fact, through my presence in all Arab Summits, Syria had no ambition to achieve anything. Our utmost ambition was to decrease losses. We always knew that there were traps and landmines which we needed to dismantle. We never believed that in the Arab League there was real work in the interest of the Arab nation. One of his most difficult political activities was to attend an Arab Summit as to dismantle and deter the set-off of traps and mines, citing the lack of a belief in the presence of a genuine work in the League in the interest of the Arab Nation.

Question: A number of Foreign media outlets said they want President Assad to appear on TV screens every day to dispel rumors about him. They wonder where you are: in Lattakia, in Tehran, in Moscow? Even his wife and children: where are they, inside Syria, outside Syria. Mr. President, where are you now?

President Al-Assad: I am with you in the Republican Palace in Damascus. Anyway, such rumors are not entirely negative, as we do not in most cases respond to the rumors which are like 'bubbles' exposing their lies and falsifications, though such rumors might confuse the citizen a little, but they confuse them more and confuse their fighters. They try to improve the morale of their fighters through such rumors, and by so doing offer illusions to their tools. This is a good thing and should not annoy us. This means that these tools will soon fail. We should not pay heed nor get upset by such rumors. I am here on the ground, in reality. They are incapable of making fear creep to my heart or into the hearts of the majority of Syrians. They will never achieve this.

Question: Thank you very much Mr. President.

President Al-Assad: Thank you, and I want you to pass my best wishes to all the staff of Addounia TV, who are carrying on with their national duty, despite the threats they have received, in order to bring out the truth.

President Bashar Al-Assad's German TV (ARD Network) Interview , July , 2012

Jürgen Todenhöfer: Mr. President, members of the opposition and western politicians say, that you are the main obstacle for peace in Syria. Would you be ready to step down as president if this could bring peace to your country and stop the bloodshed?

Bashar Al-Assad: The president shouldn’t run away from challenge and we have a national challenge now in Syria. The president shouldn’t escape the situation, but from the other side you can stay as president, stay in this position only when you have the public support. So, answering this question should be answered by the Syrian people, by the election not by the president. I can nominate myself, I can run for the election or not run, but to leave or not to leave, this is about the Syrian people.

Todenhöfer: You think, you still have a majority behind you in your country?

Assad: If I have – if I don’t have a support in the public, how could I stay in this position? United States is against me, the West is against me, many regional powers and countries and the people against me, so, how could I stay in this position? The answer is, I still have a public support. How much, what the percentage is – this is not the question, I don’t have numbers now. Of course, in this position, in this situation you must have public support.

Todenhöfer: I’ve been to some of the demonstrations, even in Homs, in peaceful demonstrations. Isn’t it legitimate that people demand for more freedom, more democracy and less power in the hands of one family, less power in the hands of secret services?

Assad: Let’s correct the question first to have the correct answer. We don’t have power in the hand of a family. In Syria we have the state, we have institutions, maybe not the ideal institutions, but we don’t have a family to run the country. We have a state. This is first fault.

Now we can answer the first part. Of course they have the right, they have the legitimate right whether they are demonstrators or not. Not only demonstrators ask for freedom. Actually the majority of the people ask for reforms, political reforms, not freedom. We have freedom but not the ideal freedom. But the reform, let’s say, to have more participation in the power, in the government, in everything else in their country. This is legitimate. But the majority is not in the demonstrations. We have people who have demonstrated and who have not, but this is legitimate.

Todenhöfer: A question that everybody is asking in the western countries and in your country: Who has killed the thousands of civilians who died in this conflict? The opposition blames you.

Assad: If you want to know who killed, you first have to know who has been killed. You cannot tell about the criminals without knowing about the victims. Those victims, you are talking about, the majority of them, are government supporters. So, how can you be the criminal and the victim at the same time? The majority are people who support the government and large part of the others are innocent people who have been killed by different groups in Syria.

Todenhöfer: Would you admit that some of these or a certain percentage of these innocents …….. a certain percentage?

Assad: No, we don’t have. We have an investigation committee about all the crime that happened in Syria. From the list that we have, from the names that we have, the highest percentage, are people who are killed by gangs, different kinds of gangs. With the Al Kaida, with the extremists or outlaws, people who escaped the police for years.

Todenhöfer: So, you say that rebels, whom you called terrorists, have killed more civilians than the security forces?

Assad: Not really. They killed more security and soldiers maybe than civilians – I talk about the supporters.

Todenhöfer: But if we only talk about the civilians, did the rebels kill more civilians than the security forces? Or did the security forces kill more civilians?

Assad: That’s what I mean. If you talk about the supporters of the government - the victims from the security and the army - are more than the civilians.

Todenhöfer: You said there are investigations against those members of the security forces who might have killed innocent civilians. Have some of them been punished?

Assad: Of course. They were detained in prisons. They are subjected to trial now, like any other crime.

Todenhöfer: Who has committed the massacre of Hula, in which more than a hundred people were brutally murdered, among them many children?

Assad: Yes. Gangs came in hundreds from outside the city, not from inside the city and they attacked the city and they attacked the law enforcement unit inside the city. And then they killed many families and as you mentioned, children and women and actually those families that’s been killed – they are government supporters, not opposition.

Todenhöfer: I was told by somebody who lives in Hula and who lost members of his family, he told me that the killers wore army uniforms. Why did they wear army uniforms?

Assad: Just to accuse our government. That happened many times. They committed a crime, they published videos, faked videos and they wear soldier uniforms, our army uniforms in order to say “that was the army”.

Todenhöfer: You say, this is the strategy of the rebels?

Assad: From the very beginning. They do it all the time. Not only in Hula, in many places.

Todenhöfer: Who are these rebels whom you call terrorists?

Assad: They are a mixture, an amalgam of Al Kaida. Other extremists, not necessarily Al Kaida and outlaws who escaped the police for years, mainly smuggling drugs from Europe to the Gulf area and others who were sentenced in different sentences. So it’s a mixture of different things.

Todenhöfer: How many rebels are fighting against your government?

Assad: You don’t have numbers, but you can talk about thousands.

Todenhöfer: Twenty? Thirty?

Assad: You cannot tell. I wouldn’t give you any number if it’s not precise.

Todenhöfer: Would you say that all these rebels are terrorists?

Assad: It depends on the act. If the attack people and burn and destroy – of course this is terrorism by the law. But you have people who were implicated without being criminals. For different reasons - financial reasons. They were paid the money, sometimes on the threat and sometimes for certain illusions and delusions. So, not all of them are terrorists. That’s why we absolved many of them when they give up their arms.

Todenhöfer: Did you capture some of the Al Kaida fighters you were talking about?

Assad: Yes, we caught many, tens of them.

Todenhöfer: From which countries?

Assad: From maybe Tunisia and Libya, so I think.

Todenhöfer: Could I meet one of them?

Assad: Yes, you can.

Todenhöfer: With a translator? Alone?

Assad: Of Course.

Todenhöfer: What is the role of the United States in this conflict?

Assad: It’s part of the conflict. They offer the umbrella and political support to those gangs to create destability or to destabilize Syria.

Todenhöfer: You say, the United States is politically supporting the rebels? Is that correct?

Assad: Exactly.

Todenhöfer: And you say, these rebels, whom you call terrorists, kill civilians. This means, you’re accusing the American Government of being at least partly responsible for the killing of innocent Syrian civilians. Is that correct?

Assad: Of course. Exactly. As long as you offer any kind of support to terrorists, you are partner. Whether you send them armament or money or public support, political support in the United Nations, anywhere. Any kind of support, this is implication.

Todenhöfer: You know, that western politicians see the situation differently and they are discussing a military intervention in Syria. How would you react? Would you retaliate against western countries?

Assad: It’s not about retaliation, it’s about defending our country. Our priority is to defend our country not to retaliate to anyone. This is our duty and this is our aim.

Todenhöfer: And you’re prepared for such an attack?

Assad: Whether you’re prepared or not, you’ve got to defend your country, but you have to be prepared.

Todenhöfer: If for you the United States, is part of the problem, why don’t you negotiate with them? Why don’t you invite Mrs. Hillary Clinton to Damascus? Why don’t you make the first step?

Assad: We never close our doors in front of any country in this world and any official as long as they want to help in solving the problem in Syria – providing that they are serious and honest. But they closed their door. So, we don’t have any problem. We always announced publicly that we are ready for any kind of help or dialogue.

Todenhöfer: You would be ready for a dialogue with Mrs. Hillary Clinton? You would be ready to walk with her through these streets of Damascus to show her the hospitals, to show her the situation in the city?

Assad: As I said, we don’t close the door in front of anyone, including Americans or any other one, it’s not particularly Mrs. Clinton or any other American official. Of course we don’t have a problem. We did it many times with others – to walk in the streets – as you mentioned. And we do it again. We don’t have problems, of course.

Todenhöfer: Let’s come to the internal situation. Are negotiations with different opposition groups a realistic option or do you think you have to fight this conflict out ‘till the bitter end?

Assad: Dialogue is a strategic option. Whatever you do, whatever other option you have - you need a dialogue. At least to make sure that you can do something peacefully. But as long as you have terrorism and as long as the dialogue didn’t work, you have to fight the terrorism. You cannot keep just making dialogue while they are killing your people and your army.

Todenhöfer: But you could have a dialogue with those who are not terrorists.

Assad: We had dialogue last summer and we kept inviting them. Some of them accepted the invitation and they made dialogue and the participated in the election in the parliament and they had some seats in the parliament and they have a portfolio in the recent government, last week.

Todenhöfer: But they got only two percent in the last elections.

Assad: Yes, that’s not our fault, we don’t have to offer them the percentage. So, we don’t create the government.

Todenhöfer: Would you be ready to talk also to the opposition in exile?

Assad: Yes, and we announced that. We said we’re ready to talk to anyone.

Todenhöfer: Would you be ready to discuss and negotiate also with rebels if they lay their weapons down?

Assad: Definitely. And we did. And we absolved them and some of them live normal life now. They don’t have any problem.

Todenhöfer: You would be ready to talk to everybody – if he lays his weapons down?

Assad: Of course. And we were talking with them before they lay down their weapons in order to get that result.

Todenhöfer: What about the Kofi-Annan-Plan – has it failed?

Assad: No, it shouldn’t fail and Kofi Annan is doing – so far, difficult - but a good job. We know, he had many obstacles but it shouldn’t fail. It is a very good plan.

Todenhöfer: What is its main obstacle?

Assad: The main obstacle - that many countries don’t want to succeed. So they offer political support and they still send armaments and send money to terrorists in Syria. They want it to fail in this way.

Todenhöfer: Who sends the weapons to your country? Who is the country who is supporting the rebels most?

Assad: If I don’t have evidence, concrete evidence, I tell you what the indication are. Those countries announce publicly that they support those terrorists, mainly the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, and his counterpart in Qatar. They announce publicly that they support them. This is regarding the armaments. Turkey, I think offers logistic support for smuggling.

Todenhöfer: And the United States?

Assad: We know so far that they offer political support.

Todenhöfer: Means of communication, also?

Assad: We have found information about this but I didn’t mention it because we don’t have concrete evidence to show it to you.

Todenhöfer: What about Kofi Annan’s plan for a united government for a government formed by the different groups, opposition groups, also with Bath-Party-members?

Assad: You are talking about the Geneva Conference now.

Todenhöfer: Yes, his plan for a unity government.

Assad: We talked about it in Syria. We have a unity government where you have the opposition that participates in this government. But you should have criteria - how did you define opposition?

We may have tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions – could they participate? This kind of government, the democracy, needs criteria and needs mechanism. For me, the mechanism is the elections. If you represent the people, you go to the election, you run the election and you win seats, you can come to the government. While if You’re only opposition - you don’t have any seat in the parliament – whom do you represent? Yourself?

Todenhöfer: When are the next elections?

Assad: Which elections?

Todenhöfer: About the elections. The next elections of the presidential issue.

Assad: I talk about the parliamentarian. It was only two months ago.

Todenhöfer: But, for example the opposition in exile didn’t participate in this election. Would you accept members of the opposition in exile to participate in an interim government? Let’s call it an interim government.

Assad: If they can comply with our rules, with our laws, they’re not participated in criminal acts or asking the NATO or any other country to attack Syria which is against our law. They have the right to participate. We don’t have a problem. Many of the opposition in Syria, inside Syria participated. Why to ban the opposition outside from this participation? We don’t have any reason as a government.

Todenhöfer: A man like Ghalioun or is the president now of the national council – you would be ready to accept them?

Assad: It’s not about the names or the position, it’s about the principles. We have to go back to the file: does he have to anything legally to ban him from being part of these elections or not. So this implants to everyone, it’s not about names.

Todenhöfer: Mr President, when do you think about what happened to the leaders of Egypt and Libya? When you remember the pictures we all have seen on TV – Aren’t you scared for your family, your wife, your little children?

Assad: I find you describe two different situations you are talking about. Describing what happened to Al Gaddafi, this is savage, this is crime. Whatever he did, whatever he was, nobody in the world can accept what happened to kill somebody like this. What happened to Mubarak is different. It’s a trial. Any citizen, when he watches a trial on TV – he would think that he won’t to be in that position. The answer is: Don’t do like him. Don’t do like him. But to be scared, you have to compare. Do we have something in common? It’s a completely different situation. What’s happening in Egypt is different from what is happening in Syria. The historical context is different, the social fabric is different and our policy was always different. So, what is in common? You cannot compare. You cannot feel scared – maybe feel sorry or a pity whatever.

Todenhöfer: But the nevertheless you have a hard Opposition, you have hard fighting rebels and you know what these rebels want to do. So, my question, I repeat it, aren’t you scared for your family?

Assad: The most important thing that when you do things that should comply with your convictions. This is why you can’t feel scared for your life. Of course the people can disagree with you but at least they trust you are doing something for the interest of your country. When you defend your country – why to be scared, when you do something to protect the people. Why to be scared? You may say that you have thousands of victims but if you have hundreds of thousands of victims- that’s what is supposed to be in Syria.

Todenhöfer: But in the end – what is your solution for this conflict in this country? And I ask again my question: Do you feel or do you think you have to fight this conflict out – ‘till the bitter end? I repeat it.

Assad: We have two axes of a solution: The first one – you have to fight terrorism. There is no question about fighting terrorists. Nowhere in the world. But what you do is somebody kills civilians, kills innocent people, kills children and kills your soldiers and the police and anyone. You have to fight with him if he is not ready for a dialogue. And that’s what we’ve been seeing so far.

The other axe is to make a dialogue with different political components and at the same time to have reform, to participate everyone. And the people will decide who should be our representative or, I mean, the people’s representative through the ballot box.

Todenhöfer: Couldn’t reforms come a little bit faster?

Assad: It’s a subjective thing. You think it’s faster, I think it is slower – but at the end the principle is you do as fast as you can without paying a heavy price or without having a lot of side effects. So, as fast as possible, that is not related to me or to the government or to the state. That is related to the objective circumstances in Syria.

Todenhöfer: Mr. President, our time is running out. Where would you like to see your country in two years – what is your vision for Syria?

Assad: I like to see it in every year in prosperity. Prosperity means a better economy, better in every aspect, culturally and whatever – but that needs security. Without security you cannot dream about prosperity. That’s how I feel.

Todenhöfer: Mr. President, thank you very much for the interview. Good luck for your country and especially peace, freedom and democracy.

Assad: Thank you for coming.

President Bashar al-Assad's Interview with Addounia TV

DAMASCUS- President Bashar al-Assad gave the following interview to Addounia TV on the local and regional developments: 

Dear viewers of Addounia TV… greetings, We greet you from the People's Palace in the Syrian capital of Damascus. We are honored to meet President Bashar al-Assad, President of the Syrian Arab Republic. 

Mr. President, welcome on Addounia TV. President al-Assad: Welcome to you and to Addounia TV. 

Question: Mr. President, allow me to discuss during today's meeting the most important issues occupying the thoughts of Syrian citizens which they inquire about daily and in which they dwell upon in all issues, whether it pertains to the situation on the ground or the political situation… we start with the situation on the ground… of course, Aleppo… they talked a lot about Aleppo… what is the situation in Aleppo; how do you view it?

President al-Assad: We cannot separate the situation in Aleppo from the situation in Syria. The difference is that Aleppo and Damascus are the two biggest cities and the two most important cities. One is the political capital and the other is the economic capital. The normal citizen's evaluation of the situation in general – including Aleppo – comes through escalation; when he sees escalation he considers the situation to be worse and when he sees calm he considers the situation to be better… matters aren't measured like this. When there are military or security operations then there could be constant escalation and suddenly the situation ends well or the opposite, a continuing calm ends with escalation. In the end, the issue is a battle of wills in the first degree. They have a will to destroy the country. They started with Daraa, moved to Homs and Damascus and Aleppo and Deir Ezzor and Lattakia; to all provinces. They try to move from one place to another. The importance is in the difference in scale or weight of the city in the Syrian context, but if we take into account the scale of the complex battles waged by the armed forces on the technical, tactical and strategic levels, then they are among the most complex types of battles, yet the armed forces achieve great successes in this regard. Everyone hopes that the achievement or the resolution to be within weeks or days and hours. This is illogical; we're involved in a regional and global battle, so time is needed to resolve it. But I can summarize all this explanation in a sentence: we are moving forward and the situation is practically better but resolution hasn't been achieved and this takes time.