Syrian government army is making great strides. A large nest of rebels was defeated on the outskirts of Damascus, in the Barze area. In the suburbs of the capital, in the East Guta oasis, servicemen continue counter-terrorist operations, clearing meter by meter of blossoming May land ... The plans of the rebels on the Syrian coast failed, in the town of Baniyas - several shelters of militants and their warehouses were destroyed there weapons. The army is advancing in the city of Al-Ksayr in the province of Homs. This is a city located near the border with Lebanon. It is trimmed to 75%. Now it will be much harder for terrorists to get weapons and replenishment from neighboring Lebanon.
Militants respond with their usual method: terror against civilians. Thus, in the quarter of Rukn-ed-Din a terrorist explosion occurred, carried out with the help of a car bomb. The exact death toll is unknown, but eyewitnesses say that there are at least eight. Many wounded. The explosion occurred in the area of the bus station, many people were injured by fragments of broken glass.
NATO countries, unhappy with the successes of the Syrian army, continue to threaten the country and its leader. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan went to Washington to ask for the introduction of a “no-fly zone” over Syria. Washington, as they say, "wants, and prickly." But both of them have so far just repeated the phrase: “Assad must leave” - his record has been “stuck” with his Western political opponents.
Against this background, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad made another breakthrough of the information blockade. This time he addressed mainly to the peoples living in distant Latin America. After all, it was precisely the countries of this corner of the planet that particularly actively supported the struggle of Syria against the United States, NATO and their Middle Eastern puppets.
The head of the Syrian state gave an interview to the Argentine newspaper "Clarin" and the Latin American news agency "Telam". Recalling the situation in the country more than two years ago, when Syria found itself in the maelstrom of the so-called “Arab spring”, Bashar Al-Assad said that the reform demands put forward by many citizens were used by external forces as a cover. The Syrian leadership responded to the aspirations of the people - a new Constitution was created, changes were made to the laws, parliamentary elections were held. But, he pointed out the paradoxical situation, "the level of terrorism increased with each step of the reforms."
He stressed that terror can never be a way to achieve reform. There are militants from 29 countries in Syria, and do they have anything to do with the country's internal problems? - asked the counter question the president.
“No nation in the world talks to terrorists,” he continued. No political solution to the crisis is possible if terrorist activities continue.
According to the Syrian leader, the political conference, about which V.Putin and D.Kerry spoke, will not in itself lead to an end to the terror. Western countries say they want the success of this conference, but in fact their policies contradict such statements. They continue to support and finance the terrorists. “Therefore,” he concluded, “the main aspect that should be considered at an international conference is stopping the flow of money and weapons to Syria and the immediate cessation of sending militants.”
The president added that the terrorists mainly penetrate Syria through Turkey. This is done with the financial support of Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Bashar Al-Asad is not at all inclined to harbor illusions and hope for "kindness" and "sincerity" of the West. “We believe that these countries will not stop, since their main goal is the destruction of the Syrian state. A political settlement in Syria will allow it to develop and flourish, contrary to the wishes of these states, ”he said.
Speaking of the so-called "oppositionists" who are abroad and who are calling for external intervention, he pointed out that they are not able to make independent decisions. In fact, these opposition elements you mentioned are far from independent. “Their policies are developed by the states from which they receive funds. They operate under the auspices of foreign intelligence services and, therefore, say what they are ordered. And most importantly - they do not have a popular base in Syria. If they believed that they had public support, they would act by political methods inside Syria, and not from abroad, ”the president stressed.
At the same time, he noted that there are internal opposition parties in the country, and the Syrian state treats them with understanding and invites to participate in the dialogue: According to him, the dialogue process should include everyone who has a sincere desire to take part in it. But these forces must be able to make independent decisions, respect the sovereignty of the country and not have secret or explicit connections with the external enemy.
When asked if Iranian citizens and members of the Lebanese Hezbollah party are fighting on the side of the army in Syria (this is a topic that the Western media likes to bother), the head of state replied that in his country 23 million citizens “We have an army , security forces and Syrians who are defending their country. Therefore, we have no need for any other forces that would protect us. ”
Prior to that, Bashar Al-Assad often had to talk with obviously unfriendly-minded journalists who did not hide this, almost openly indicating that he would resign (in particular, this was the case during the interview with the British Sunday Times newspaper, which, need to say, he stood very decently). This time the correspondents were more or less neutral and unbiased. But still the question of whether he is going to resign, sounded again.
“If someone says that the Syrian president should resign because the United States, some other countries or terrorists want it, then this is completely unacceptable ... I don’t know that Kerry or someone like him has a mandate from the Syrian people to speak on their behalf, who should stay and who should leave, ”he said in response and added that in any independent state this issue is resolved through presidential elections (which are expected in Syria in 2014).
“When the ship is in the epicenter of the storm, the captain does not run from it. On the contrary, he is obliged to resist the storm and bring the ship to a safe place. Any refusal of my duties now would be an attempt to evade responsibility. And I am not the person who runs away from their duties, ”said Bashar Al-Assad.
It should be noted that those who call on the president of another country to resign, and then accuse them of “the thirst for power”, do not understand the responsibility of the leader for their homeland. And, if such words are said by a person who himself heads the state, then his voters would have to ask him a question: would such a “captain” abandon his “ship” under threats from outside? And if so, why is he needed, such a "captain"?
But back to the interview with the President of Syria - the captain, who does not abandon the helm, despite a strong and long storm.
The Argentine correspondent noted that 15 of millions of people from Syria who do not always receive objective information about what is happening in their homeland live in Latin America and asked Bashar Al-Assad: “What would you like to say to these people?”
The Syrian leader said that Latin American diasporas were always viewed as a cultural bridge between two distant regions.
He stressed that representatives of these diasporas understand the situation in the region better than societies in European countries, which are, it would seem, much closer to the Arab world.
“They have a deep understanding of the nature of our society, they are well aware of colonial policy and the intentions of the West towards our region. They are able to understand and convey accurate information about events in Syria. Especially in light of the fact that Latinos themselves went through large historical changes. The countries of the region cease to be US satellites and become independent, progressive states, ”he said.
But between what is happening in Latin America and the events in the Middle East there is an important difference pointed out by Bashar Al-Assad: “In your region, the revolutions were patriotic. And what happens here is the import of ideologies, resources, and even foreign militants. ”
“When the crisis will end, what will be your place in history?” Another question of the journalist sounded.
“Only time can determine a place in history. ... People can agree or disagree with certain actions. But the story will remember those who acted in the interests of their homeland, and not their own, ”the Syrian president replied.
TEXT OF THE PRESIDENT'S INTERVIEW
1 Question: What caused the Syrian crisis and made it so difficult and lengthy?
Response: First, the Syrian crisis was influenced by numerous factors - both internal and external, the most significant of which is foreign intervention. Secondly, those states that interfered in the affairs of Syria and figured that their plan would succeed in a few weeks or months were miscalculated. This did not happen. The Syrian people resisted and continue to resist and reject all forms of external interference. For us, this is a matter of preserving Syria.
2 Question: What is the total number of victims of the crisis at the moment? Some sources report that the death toll exceeds 70000 people.
Response: The death of any Syrian is a tragic loss, regardless of the number. But you should check the accuracy of these sources. We cannot ignore the fact that many of those who died were foreigners who came to Syria to kill the Syrians. There are also many missing persons who were recorded dead without due reason. This affects the accuracy of the number of dead. How many Syrians? How many foreigners? How many are missing? There is currently no accurate data, but we know that thousands of Syrians died. These numbers are constantly changing. Terrorists kill people and often bury them in mass graves. We can detect and explain these losses only after the Syrian army enters these areas.
3 Question: Has excessive force been used by government forces throughout the conflict?
ResponseA: It is extremely important to determine the meaning of the term "excessive force" to determine whether it was used or not. Without a clear criterion of this concept, it is impossible to objectively discuss this issue.
The reaction of the state as a whole depends on the level of terrorism aimed against it. With the rise in terrorism, our response to this threat is increasing.
At the beginning of the crisis, there was internal terrorism perpetrated by local groups using local weapons. Over time, terrorism came from other countries, and armed groups began to use more sophisticated and destructive weapons, which contributed to the commission of terrorist acts on a much wider scale. Consequently, the army and security forces were forced to respond to this. Response methods in each case differ depending on the form and methods of terror, chosen by the militants. It is necessary to repel terrorist attacks and protect civilians.
Thus, the factors that determine the level of our strength are the types of weapons of militants, the methods of terror with which we are dealing. Our ultimate goal is to protect the lives of civilians and the country as a whole.
4 Question: At the beginning of the crisis, there were few foreign militants. It's been two years since it began. Do you believe that dialogue could prevent foreign intervention and the escalation of the crisis to its current level?
ResponseA: It seems obvious that at the beginning there were demands for reform. But they were used as cover to make the situation look as if it were a matter of political reform. In fact, we pursued a policy of large-scale reforms. We drafted a new constitution, changed many laws, lifted a state of emergency, and announced a dialogue with opposition political forces. But it was surprising that the level of terrorism increased at every step of the reforms.
Ultimately, the question arises: what is the relationship between reform demands and terrorism? Terrorism can never be a tool to achieve reform. How are terrorist groups from Chechnya, Iraq, Lebanon or Afghanistan related to the internal political reform processes in Syria? How are legal reform methods linked to the terrorist activities of radical foreign fighters? The latest figures show that 29 nationalities are involved in terrorist activities in Syria.
We are firmly committed to political reform. We implemented them, we provided an opportunity for a broad political initiative through national dialogue. The foundation of any political decision is the aspirations of the Syrian people, and this will be governed by ballot boxes. No one wants to talk to terrorists.
Terrorism came to the country from the United States and European countries. These states have never negotiated with terrorists. The dialogue was conducted with legitimate organizations, with political opposition, and not with terrorist groups that kill, decapitate people, and create violence, including the use of toxic gases, that is, chemical weapons.
5 Question: Mr. President, can these reforms ensure genuine democracy for the Syrian people, including freedom of speech and the press?
ResponseA: You probably know that there is a new law on the media, that other laws have recently come into force. In the end, we intend to conduct more ambitious reforms: we are preparing a national dialogue in which all political forces will participate. Such a dialogue will lead to the creation of a unified National Charter and a new Constitution, providing for an even wider range of freedoms, including, it will affect media freedom. Of course, these freedoms exist in the current Constitution, but the new Constitution will give even more freedom. It will be submitted to a referendum.
Freedom of the press and political freedom are two inextricably linked concepts that reinforce and complement each other. You can not talk about freedom of the press without political freedoms in general, both concepts are interrelated.
6 Question: You have always said that dialogue is the key to resolving a crisis, and we agree with you. How do you see the conference proposed by the United States and Russia? How do you assess this process, especially in the light of the intervention of France and the UK?
Response: We are ready to work with any party to stop the violence in Syria, we reaffirm our support for all steps that may lead to a political decision. However, stopping violence is paramount to achieve a political settlement.
We welcome the Russian-American rapprochement of positions and hope that it will help resolve the Syrian crisis. But I do not think that many Western countries really want a realistic political resolution in Syria. This skepticism is based on the continued support of terrorist groups. Our goal is political resolution, but there are forces that want it to fail. We have to be realistic: there are forces that seek to prevent any dialogue. There can be no unilateral solution in Syria - this is a bilateral process, and the obligations of all parties are necessary.
7 Question: Are these doubts connected with opposition groups or with certain countries, major international players, who are obstructing a political settlement in Syria?
ResponseA: In practice, these opposition elements that you mentioned are far from independent. They live outside Syria, are connected with external forces and cannot make independent decisions. Their policies are developed by the states from which they receive funds. They live under the auspices of foreign intelligence services and, therefore, say what they are ordered. Therefore, their solutions are not autonomous. And most importantly - they do not have a popular base in Syria. If they believed that they had public support, they would have acted by political methods within Syria, and not from abroad. Currently, we have internal opposition political parties, founded from within, with different levels of popular support. The Syrian state does not intimidate them and is not hostile to these internal political entities.
The question arises: what justifies finding part of the opposition abroad? In addition, they are associated with external forces. We are skeptical of such opposition groups and the countries that support them. They are very closely related. It is important to note that this is not a doubt - this is a well-known fact: they have clearly and repeatedly declared that they reject the political dialogue with the Syrian state. The last time such a statement was made last week.
8 Question: How can a dialogue be conducted if opposition factions are fragmented? When it comes to dialogue, with whom will it take place?
Response: We have always advocated a comprehensive national dialogue, including all those who have a sincere desire to take part in it. Provided that they are able to make independent decisions based on the sovereignty of the country and do not have secret or explicit ties with Israel.
This process, of course, does not include terrorists. There is no state that would ever negotiate with terrorists. Nevertheless, we are pleased to welcome those who lay down their arms and enter into constructive political dialogue. There are many people who took up arms, but subsequently realized that the events in Syria went the wrong way. They laid down their arms and switched to a political dialogue with the Syrian state. They do have legitimate demands and proposals, and the Syrian government is ready to listen to their opinions.
But we are talking about the fact that a peaceful political solution is impossible in conditions when terrorism is supported. Someone thinks that a political conference will stop terrorism on earth. This is unreal.
There is a fundamental contradiction in that they support terrorism and at the same time claim that they want a political conference to succeed. Some countries are assisting terrorists in Syria by financing and arming them. We presume that these countries will stop, as their main goal is to undermine and weaken the Syrian state. A political settlement in Syria will allow it to develop and flourish, contrary to the wishes of these states.
The Syrian people will shape their vision for the future. All political forces will take part in the conference, discuss all issues and reach comprehensive agreements on the Constitution, new laws, the future political structure: will Syria be a parliamentary or presidential republic. Such a process will be able to determine the future and become its foundation.
Terrorism is a separate topic. Even if we succeed in achieving political agreement, this does not mean an end to terrorism. Some countries, such as Qatar, Turkey and others, are not interested in ending the violence in Syria, and they will continue to support terrorism. Therefore, the main aspect that should be considered at the international conference is stopping the flow of money and weapons to Syria and the immediate cessation of sending militants that are sent mainly through Turkey, with financial support from Qatar, as well as other Gulf countries, such as Saudi Arabia.
When the influential world powers begin to act actively to stop financing, training and the infiltration of terrorists, the fight against terrorism in Syria will be much simpler. And then perhaps a fruitful political decision that will bring real results. But if you come with a new constitution, and the Syrian people are killed on the streets, then what is the use of a political decision?
9 Question: Is there a chance for a dialogue with foreign forces?
ResponseA: We would like to engage in dialogue with all political forces, internal or external, without prior conditions. The only condition - the refusal of weapons. This is also true for armed formations that lay down their arms and give up terrorism. Weapons and dialogue are clearly incompatible.
In fact, there are certain groups and organizations that are subject to prosecution. But at this moment we do not initiate legal proceedings against them for the sake of the proposed dialogue. In the end, the Syrian people themselves will decide who is patriotic and who is just a crook. We do not impose a recipe for such a decision, but give the Syrian people the right to decide for themselves.
10 Question: What is the role of Israel in the Syrian crisis, especially after the bombings of the positions in Syria by the Israeli Air Force?
Response: Israel directly supports terrorists in two ways. First, through the provision of material and technical means, which is manifested in the public provision of medical care to wounded terrorists in the Golan. Secondly, they give them instructions and say which targets to attack. For example, terrorists attacked a radar station, which is part of an air defense system to detect and intercept airplanes from outside, especially Israeli ones. Israel ordered militants to attack these air defense systems, which are an important deterrent against any military confrontation between Syria and Israel.
Thus, Israeli support for terrorists is twofold: logistical and navigation assistance.
11 Question: You condemn the presence of foreign fighters in Syria. Some argue that the fighters of Hezbollah and Iran are fighting on the side of the Syrian army. What do you think about this?
Response: This is told in the West when we recorded the presence of foreign jihadists in Syria. They created this myth that Hezbollah and Iran are also fighting in Syria as a counterweight.
The population of Syria is 23 million people. She does not need manpower from any country. We have at our disposal an army, security forces, the Syrian people who are defending their country. Thus, we have no need for any other forces that would fight on our behalf, be it Iran or Hezbollah.
Our relations with Iran and Hezbollah are well known, they last decades. We exchange experiences in many areas.
As for the allegations that their fighters are in Syria - if that were true, it would be almost impossible to hide. First of all, the Syrian people would see them with their own eyes. So where can they be?
If the need ever arises, we will announce it officially. But we do not need fighters from the outside, whether they are Arabs or people from other countries. People from Iran and Hezbollah came to Syria long before the crisis, under contracts they have the right to come to the country and leave it.
12 Question: If there is progress in organizing a dialogue, do you expect the armed opposition to lay down their arms and come to an agreement? Your government would accept a way out of the crisis, in which you would leave your post?
Response: The Syrian people will decide whether I will stay in office or not. As president, I cannot decide whether to stay or go: this is the decision of the voters. It is impossible to stay when you are not supported by the public. This is a question of common sense, which does not require much discussion. In 2014, this will be decided by the people in the presidential election.
As for the armed groups you are talking about, they are not a single entity. We are dealing with hundreds of small groups, not tens, but hundreds. One of the main reasons for Kofi Annan’s resignation was that he did not know which of them to negotiate with.
For our part, there is a single state with one president, one prime minister and a clear political structure. As for terrorist organizations, they are divided into groups headed by, among others, convicted criminals engaged in drug trafficking, and members of fundamentalist movements. Each group has its own local leader. Therefore, we are talking about thousands of such individuals.
A logical question arises: who can unite them? No one can talk to these heterogeneous groups that have no political agenda. Not all of them are extremists. Some of them are thieves, some are deserters, there are just gangsters who are directly interested in delaying the crisis. Building a tangible political process with these groups is a difficult task. If they had the usual design, it would be more appropriate. This in reality means that in each case it is necessary to act individually, in accordance with the circumstances. After the armed person or group puts down their arms, we will automatically cooperate with them and proceed to the dialogue. We recognize that this is not a final comprehensive dialogue, but we don’t believe in an all-or-nothing policy. This strategy has really helped to ease the crisis in some areas of Syria.
13 Question: Mr. President, do you still reject the idea of resignation?
Response: As I said, to leave my position or stay on it is not my individual choice. I am the President elected by the Syrian people, and therefore only he has the right to decide on this issue, based on the dialogue or the upcoming presidential elections, as I said earlier.
But someone says that the Syrian President should resign because the United States, some other countries or terrorists want it. This is completely unacceptable. This issue should be addressed through the ballot box.
14 Question: The United States sends signals through statements by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry that they do not want to interfere in Syria. However, Kerry said that any dialogue should include the possibility of you leaving power. Could this question be one of the cards you can use to reach a resolution to the crisis?
Response: I do not know how Kerry or others like him received a mandate from the Syrian people to speak on his behalf, who remains and who leaves. We have clearly stated, from the very beginning of the crisis, that any decision regarding reforms or any other political activity is internal, Syrian. The United States or any other country does not have a say in this matter. I will say even more briefly and clearly: we are an independent state, we are a people who respect themselves and their right to self-determination. We do not accept any dictates - from the United States or any other state. Therefore, this opportunity will be determined exclusively by the Syrian people. Simply put, you go to the polls and either win or not. This is the mechanism under which the President can leave power. You can not go to the conference and take a dictated decision that the people have not yet taken.
Another aspect: the country is currently in crisis. When the ship is in the center of the storm, the captain does not run. On the contrary, it is his duty to meet face to face with the storm and bring the ship to a safe place. Any refusal of my duties now would be an attempt to evade responsibility. And I'm not the kind of person who runs away from their duties.
15 Question: In addition to this prerequisite of your withdrawal, some countries, in particular France and the United Kingdom, have accused your government of using chemical weapons. Mr. Kerry said there is “convincing evidence” that in March 2013, the Syrian army used sarin in Aleppo. What would you say about this? Do you think that the West’s focus on this issue is a prelude to military intervention in Syria? Does this scenario bother you?
Response: Western statements regarding Syria change almost daily, be it with regard to chemical weapons or the resignation of the President. At first they concluded that they had data on the use of chemical weapons, and the next day they came to the conclusion that there was no such evidence. But a day later, they again say that there is evidence. We will wait for them to stop at one thing.
But we should not waste time on empty rhetoric. Reality is important. Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. They accuse us of using it in populated areas. If, for example, a nuclear bomb is dropped on a city or village, is it possible for it to kill ten or twenty people? The use of chemical weapons in human settlements will lead to the death of thousands or tens of thousands of people within a few minutes. Is it possible to hide it?
Now back to the root of the problem. We need to see at what point in time such statements occurred. And they appeared after the chemical attack of terrorists in the Khan Al-Asal district in Aleppo. We have evidence and evidence, there is a rocket with chemical materials that was used. We sent an official letter to the UN Security Council with a request to formally investigate the incident. This undoubtedly put some countries, such as the United States, France and the United Kingdom, in a difficult position. Soon after, they began to claim that Syria used chemical weapons against terrorists. To avoid an investigation, they instead suggest sending inspectors to other places in Syria, and not to the place where the incident occurred, to give them unconditional and unhindered access to various objects. In fact, a member of the UN Commission, Carla del Ponte, last week stated that there was evidence of the use of nerve gas by terrorists. But neither the UN nor these countries pay attention to this statement.
Using these statements as a pretext for military intervention in Syria is a likely scenario, as it was in Iraq. Then Colin Powell provided the UN Security Council, as we now know, with false proof that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But where was it, weapons of mass destruction? It is well known that the West is constantly lying and lying, faking prepositions for wars.
Any war against Syria will not be an easy walk, and they know it. Here the situation is completely different. Although it is likely that they may consider the idea of war with Syria. We have no evidence to the contrary. We always remember that.
16 Question: Are you currently concerned that there will be military action against Syria? Perhaps not in the form of an ordinary invasion, as in Iraq. Are you afraid of a direct military strike?
Response: This is exactly what Israel did last week. Such a probability is always there. This happens from time to time, especially at those moments when we continue to achieve success throughout the country in the fight against terrorist groups, when the balance of forces on the ground began to change greatly.
Some countries have asked Israel to commit aggression in order to increase the morale of terrorists. They will do everything to prolong violence and bloodshed in Syria in order to significantly weaken the Syrian state. Therefore, military action against us is not an unlikely scenario. This can happen at any time, even on a limited scale.
17 Question: You say the situation in Syria is under control. However, we hear echoes of guns and mortars. How is the crisis developing militarily, especially in recent days?
ResponseA: The term "control" is often used when a war is waged against a foreign army on your own territory. In this case, we can declare that we control a particular region. The situation in Syria is completely different. We are dealing with terrorists who have infiltrated into certain areas. They may occupy a specific building in the area, but this does not mean that they have full control over this particular area. Since they are not an army, they have the possibility of relatively quickly hiding, moving from one place to another.
As for the Syrian army, there was not a single case in which it would have planned to enter a region and would not be able to do so.
There are areas where it is easier for terrorists to move. No army in the world can be present in every corner of a country. Our military activity is aimed at defeating the terrorists, and not at liberating the land. In recent weeks, we have achieved significant results. Most of the terrorists left Syria, others surrendered to the state. Thus, we are not talking about control over a particular region. We are waging a war against terrorism. It is a long battle, but we have achieved significant success.
18 Question: Mr. President, how do you think the extent to which Obama's foreign policy differs from the course of his predecessors?
Response: In the US, government agencies are regulated by the lobby. Any new leader can contribute and leave his mark, but he cannot conduct his own independent policy. So any changes in the US administration can only lead to small differences in foreign policy. This makes it difficult for one president or foreign minister to work.
The most important thing for us in Syria is that the US foreign policy is still biased towards Israel and directed against the legitimate rights of the Arab nation, in particular, the Palestinian people. Over the past 20 years, the United States of America has not taken any serious, real steps to advance the peace process. They occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and still continue the same policy. If you look from a humanitarian point of view, they still have a prison in Guantanamo. So what has changed? Rhetoric? It has no real meaning; action on the ground is important. US governments are very similar, the differences are minimal.
19 Question: George Bush, in a better economic situation, attacked Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama did it with Livia. But he seems to have no real desire to intervene in Syria. Do you think this reflects a shift in American politics or is it connected with a change in the world order? When we met 7 years ago, China was not as powerful as it is today. In the light of all this, do you think American troops will invade Syria?
Response: This question can be viewed from two points of view. The first is that the current US administration is not eager for wars. We must ask ourselves why? Due to the economic situation, changes in the balance of power on the world stage, failures in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries? Or is it really because of the principles? I doubt it is a matter of changing the principles. I believe that circumstances change, not allowing the US to go on new military adventures. Moreover, they turned out to be expensive and could not bring any political benefits to the Americans.
However, if we look from another point of view, we very clearly see - and this has a direct impact on us - that they continue to actively support terrorism in our country logistically and politically, provide it with so-called "non-lethal" assistance. Let me ask you: what happened on September 11 was committed by lethal means? No, quite the opposite. So it is not necessary to support terrorism with weapons. Just by giving them financial, logistical and organizational support, you make the terrorists capable of killing with more brutal methods. Thus, it seems that the vector of American politics has shifted from a direct military invasion to non-traditional methods of warfare.
Another more important question: should we ask ourselves, does current US foreign policy lead to greater international stability? Obviously not. Neither the United States nor the Western governments do anything to strengthen international stability. See what is happening in North Korea, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and many other countries. There is no stability. We should pay attention to this, it’s about the war as an instrument, not about principles. If America refuses to direct military invasion, it does not mean that it has changed its principles. The United States changed its tools - yes, but not principles.
20 Question: When you say that war is a means, do you mean that for the West it is a way to impose a Wahhabi, extremist government in Syria? Is this done to establish domination over gas and oil resources? Or is it a combination of the two? Do you think that America works with Qatar and Saudi Arabia so that extremists can take power in Syria?
Response: The main purpose of the West is to impose "loyal" governments, similar to those that existed previously in Latin America. Such governments facilitate the exploitation of national resources of countries.
As for the desire of the West to establish an extremist government, there are two different points of view. Some in the West seriously fear an extremist government. Therefore, they want a non-extremist government, which, however, would be loyal.
Another view is that the extremist government is not a problem for them, and they can use it now, but fight it later. This policy is ultimately short-sighted. The events in Afghanistan and New York were the result of such a policy pursued by the United States. They supported the Taliban, and September 11 paid a considerable price. Entering Afghanistan, they said they were fighting terrorism. Now terrorism and extremism are much more common than 10 years ago. In essence, having invaded Afghanistan, they made terrorism stronger. At that time it was concentrated in Afghanistan, and today it has become common in many parts of the world.
The West seeks to impose puppet governments loyal to it; any methods are actively used for this. The West is ready to spread extremist, Wahhabi ideas, it is very dangerous. We in Syria oppose this.
Our Islam is very moderate. We do not have extremist organizations or Wahhabi schools. We reject the extremist ideas that they are trying to instill in Syrian society. We fight them both politically and by spreading moderate Islam, which Syria is famous for.
As for gas, this issue has never been discussed with us. Nevertheless, we have planned major regional projects in the field of rail transport, oil and gas transportation, and relations between the countries of the five seas. These projects will contribute to the progress in the region and the prosperity of the economies of all its countries.
A country like Syria will by no means be a satellite of the West. Syria is an independent state, acting for the benefit of its citizens. Naturally, the West does not want us to play such a role, he would prefer instead a puppet government that would carry out projects in the interests of Western companies. The most important thing in this struggle is the strategic place of Syria plus its oil and gas projects.
21 Question: Will there be international observers in the upcoming presidential election in 2014? Will foreign media have free access?
Response: International monitoring is not my own decision. It depends on the results of the national dialogue that we are preparing. We are currently consulting with various domestic political forces in Syria in preparation for the conference. It will be decisions on elections.
Some forces in Syrian society reject the idea of external monitoring, believing that this undermines our national sovereignty. They are skeptical about the intentions of the West and reject any interference by foreign forces. The topic of monitoring largely depends on which countries will observe the elections. Perhaps it should be conducted by historically friendly countries - for example, Russia and China.
I repeat, this is not my own decision. This is a decision that will be made by the Syrian people in the framework of a comprehensive national dialogue with the participation of all Syrian political forces.
22 Question: Regarding the upcoming presidential elections in Iran, do you think there will be any changes in Iranian politics?
ResponseA: Of course, Iran is one of the most important states in the region. This is a big country that plays an integral, key political role. Events in Iran inevitably affect the neighboring countries, positively or negatively, they can affect the stability in the region. From this point of view, Iran is of great importance for Syria.
On the other hand, the relationship between Iran and Syria has lasted for more than three decades. As a friendly state, we are closely watching the internal processes in Iran, which, one way or another, affect the role of Syria in the region.
Like any other state in the Middle East, Iran is constantly evolving. Internal political dynamics are periodically subject to change. The upcoming elections will reflect changes in Iranian society and the country's growing political influence in the region. Iran today is very different from what it was ten years ago. Today it is one of the most important and powerful states in the region. This will certainly be reflected in the election. Of course, the new Iranian president will not meet the aspirations of the United States, will not allow Iran to become a pro-American puppet state. The US should not bet on it. Elections will reflect internal changes in Iran, but not the aspirations of the West.
23 Question: When I interviewed you in Buenos Aires, you condemned the Holocaust and any forms of genocide. This is different from Iranian perception. What are the differences?
Response: The following is fundamentally important: how can the Holocaust be condemned without condemning the massacres of Palestinians that have been committed for many years? Why not talk about killing millions of Iraqis by Americans 1,5? Why not remember the millions of Koreans who died in the 1950 war of the year?
Thus, the concept of the Holocaust is a politicized topic, not a purely historical one. As for its relevance, I am not a historian to be able to accurately separate facts from fiction. Historical events are determined by those who have documented them. They can be easily changed, they can be manipulated in accordance with agendas and political views. If you ask two Syrian historians about the country's history, you will most likely get two different answers. If the Holocaust is a purely historical question, why are countless examples of other well-known genocides against Arab and non-Arab peoples completely ignored?
24 Question: Mr President, during the interview I took from you in Buenos Aires, you spoke about the significant role of Syria in the region. In particular, that you took millions of Iraqi refugees. Now the situation has changed, and many Syrian refugees are abroad. How do you see this crisis in terms of your personal safety and the safety of your family? Do you worry for your life?
Response: My country worries me, Syria. I am part of my country. A president cannot feel comfortable when his country is in crisis. I firmly believe that when everything is fine in Syria, every family will be safe. Including - my own.
In Syria, it cannot be good when there is such a difficult situation, a humanitarian crisis, numerous refugees abroad and even more inside the country. To solve the problems of society, you need to be part of this society.
National interests, national security should always be more important than personal security. Taking this position, you will not feel fear for yourself. The main problem is the security of the Syrian people.
25 Question: Do you have any reasons for self-criticism lately, Mr. President?
ResponseA: Self-criticism must be a continuous process. However, if we are talking about the assessment of a certain period of time or incident, then you need to wait until this event or period passes. Objectively assessing the effectiveness of decisions made during this crisis is possible only in the long term, when all the information is available. Only then can we separate the right from the wrong. What we are doing at the moment is learning from day to day from our own experience in order to increase the effectiveness of our activities in the field.
On the other hand, when a person evaluates himself, he cannot be neutral, it is difficult for him to be objective. I consider more important not self-esteem, but public opinion. Ultimately, it is citizens who can say whether we acted correctly or incorrectly.
26 Question: There are about 15 million citizens of Syrian origin in Latin America. They are concerned about the situation here. Unfortunately, they receive biased information. In this regard, I have two questions: what do you want to say to these people? The second question: when the crisis is over, what will be your place in history?
Response: Only time can determine a place in history. By holding a responsible position, you can make the right or wrong decisions, in accordance with human nature. It is important, however, that all decisions are made on the basis of national interests. Thus, people can agree or disagree with certain actions. But they will understand that you have worked in the interests of the country. History will remember those who acted in the interests of their homeland, and not in their own.
As for the Syrian diaspora in Argentina and Latin America as a whole, we have always viewed it as a cultural bridge between two distant regions. Because of this, diasporas in Latin America have a better understanding of the situation in the region than societies in European countries that are much closer to the Arab world.
In the current situation, with the changes taking place in Syria and in the Middle East as a whole, these communities play a vital role more than ever. They have a deep understanding of the nature of our society, they are well aware of the colonial policies and intentions of the West towards our region. They are able to understand and convey accurate information about events in Syria. Especially in light of the fact that Latin Americans themselves have gone through great historical changes. The countries of the region cease to be US satellite and become independent, progressive states. However, there is an important difference between our regions. In your region, the revolutions were patriotic. And what is happening here is the import of ideologies, resources, and even foreign fighters. It is very important that people understand the situation, what it really is.
27 Question: Mr President, last question. There are two journalists who went missing in Syria. One of them - from Italy, disappeared in March last year, the other was reported missing six months ago. Do you have information about them? I would also like to ask you about the two abducted Syrian clerics.
Response: There were cases when journalists illegally penetrated into Syria without the knowledge of the authorities. They drove into areas where there are terrorists, and disappeared without a trace. We continue to look for them in a war. In some cases, our troops succeeded in freeing the journalists abducted by terrorists. Whenever there is information about journalists who infiltrated into Syria illegally, we are in direct contact with the country concerned. We currently do not have information about the two journalists you mentioned.
As for the two metropolitans, we have preliminary information that they are located in the area of the Turkish-Syrian border. We are closely following this issue and keep in touch with the Orthodox Patriarchate in order to save them.