Syria’s President al-Assad: Interview with Russia 24.
An exclusive interview of the Syrian President was published by Rossiya-24 (Vesti.ru) on yesterday evening. The interview was conducted by Yevgeny Poddubny, who is otherwise only known from his posing in front of tanks and sniper positions.
The contents of the conversation is mainly the Russian initiative for the “partial-disarming” of Syria, as it was designated by somebody here.
The following is the interview with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Mr. President, thank you very much for giving the TV channel Rossiya-24 the opportunity for this interview. The most important question at the beginning: Why has Syria agreed with the initiative of Russia to put the chemical weapons under an international control, and why came this agreement so quickly?
Syria has already presented such a proposal to the UN (United Nations) over ten years ago – to free the Middle Eastern region of weapons of mass destruction, in particular, as the region is characterized by instability and wars have lasted for decades. This all began many centuries ago.
A removal of weapons of mass destruction from the region will thus have a direct impact on the stability of the region. The only ones who have opposed our former attempt were the United States. We do not appreciate it that there are even weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Our concern has always been the stability and peace of the region.
This is one of the sides. The other relates to the current situation. Undoubtedly, the Syrian state is trying every effort that our country and other countries of the region will not be drawn into another insane war, which some proponents of a war in the United States want to unleash in the Middle East.
To this day, we pay the price for the wars that America has unleashed, for example, in Afghanistan – although this country is very far from Syria – or in Iraq – this is now again in our immediate neighbourhood.
I have the opinion that any war against Syria will be a war that will badly affect the entire region, so that the Middle East will enter a period of instability and problems for decades. This means that also the future generations will have to do with it.
The third and most important reason is the fact of the Russian proposal by itself. Would there be no initiative, it would be very difficult for Syria to move around into this direction. Our relations with Russia are based on a mutual trust, and that trust has only increased during the time of the Syrian crisis, so within the last two and a half years. Russia has confirmed through its actions that it understands very well what is happening in our region, Russia gave a proof of its reliability and it confirmed that it is a serious power, on which one can count on.
All these reasons have induced Syria to sign the Convention on the prohibition of chemical weapons.
The President of the United States, Mr. Obama, and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry are of the opinion that Syria has decided to put its chemical weapons under an international control only for the reason of the immediate threat of a missile attack. Is that really so?
If we think about the events in relation to the U.S. threats, which existed in the past weeks, these threats had certainly not the aim of the securing of the chemical weapons. These threats were based on a provocation, carried out by the use of chemical weapons in a suburb of Damascus, Al-Ghouta.
This provocation was organized by the U.S. leadership. In other words, no one has threatened us in order to force the surrender of the chemical weapons. So that’s not true. The Americans have only begun after the G20 summit in Russia to speak about such a turn. What has us actually now caused to make this a step, so it is really only the Russian initiative and the related negotiations we have had with the Russian side.
I would like to underline it again that, if there would not be this Russian initiative, we would even not discuss this issue with any other side. So, this is a kind of American propaganda, as Kerry and his leadership, including Obama, always want to come out as the winners, who have achieved the results by the use of threats. But that does not interest us.
Yesterday, it was to hear that Russia has submitted a stage plan for the handover of the chemical weapons under international supervision to the United States. What mechanisms are envisaged for the realization of this process?
Of course, Syria will turn to the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the coming days. Included in this are then documents of a technical nature which are necessary for the signing of the agreement. The work begins afterwards and should ultimately lead to the signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
This convention includes a plurality of points. One of them concerns the prohibition of the production of chemical weapons, and there is also a ban on the storage and use. Thereafter, the Convention shall enter into force. In my view, the validity of the agreement begins one month after signing, and Syria will begin to transmit data on its holdings of chemical weapons to the international organization. These are standard processes, which are provided, and we will also stick to it.
I want to express myself clearly for everyone: these mechanisms will not function one-sided. It just does not mean that Syria signs the documents, fulfils the conditions of the process, and that`s it. It is a two-way process, which aims primarily on the situation that the United States stops its policy of threats against Syria, just as it also depends on the extent to which the Russian proposal is implemented.
As soon as we have convinced ourselves that the United States are really interested in a stability in our region and stops its threats and efforts for a raid of Syria, likewise cease the arms supplies to the terrorists, then we will assume that the necessary processes to the end can be pursued, that it is effective and acceptable for Syria.
But these are, as I said, no mechanisms that are only to use from one side. Russia has a very important role to play in this, because we have no confidence and also no connections to the United States. Russia is the only country that could take on this role.
Let’s move on with the topic of the implementation of this Russian initiative: what for an international organization should be the structure in the Syrian Arab Republic that takes over the control above the Syrian chemical weapons? We have not to handle a standard situation here.
We think that a logical structure appropriate for this role is the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, because this organization is the only with the appropriate specialists in this area and also monitors the compliance of the Chemical Weapons Convention in all countries of the world.
We all know that Israel has signed the Chemical Weapons Convention but not yet ratified. Syria will demand it and insist that Israel will finally implement its signing of the Convention.
When we formerly had introduced a project about the abolition of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, the United States had impeded this project. One of the reasons for this was that Israel should be further allowed to be in possess of such weapons. If we wish stability for the Middle East, all countries must adhere to the Convention.
And the first of the countries, which has to adhere it, is Israel, because Israel has nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and generally any kind of mass destruction. We must continue to ensure that no country has such weapons. This alone protects us against possible upcoming, devastating and costly wars – not only in the Middle East but throughout the world.
Syria hands over its chemical weapons to an international control. Although we already do know for sure: Russian experts have proven it that chemical weapons were used by rebels from a radical group – therefore, by terrorists – in a suburb of Aleppo.
What has to be done in your opinion in order to protect both the people of Syria and the people in the neighbouring countries against the extremists who do not shy away from the use of chemical warfare agents?
The incident, which you mean, occurred last March, when the residents of the territory of Khan al-Assal near Aleppo were shelled by terrorists with rockets filled with chemical toxins. As a result of this attack, there were dozens of victims.
We turned to the UN for this reason, so that a commission of experts will be dispatched to clarify the details of this incident and to determine which of the parties is responsible for this attack.
Here, the situation is clear for us: it was the work of terrorists. At that time, the United States have opposed the secondment of experts to Syria. Consequently, we have worked together with Russian experts and gave them all the evidence that were available for us. From this evidence, it became clear that the terrorists, who are operating in northern Syria, are responsible for this attack.
What is necessary now is the return of the delegation of chemical weapons experts who were already in Syria about a week ago. They should return to Syria in order to meet an agreement that were made between us during their last stay. In this agreement, it is about investigations in several provinces, primarily in Khan al-Assal.
We need to carefully examine this matter to determine, for example, the composition of the chemical substances and thereby the country behind the application. It is equally important to also find out which countries have given these chemical substances into the hands of terrorists, so that these countries can finally be brought to justice.
Mr. President, a clarification is still necessary: it is even realistic to seize all the existing chemical warfare agents in the hands of the terrorists?
That depends on whether those countries, which maintain relations with the terrorists, will become known. Although all countries speak about that they do not support terrorists, but we know for sure that the West provides them with logistical support – and it is allegedly thereby just about “non-lethal” things or even “humanitarian aid”.
But in the end, the West and some countries of the region – such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, formerly also Qatar – have a direct contact to the terrorists, who they do support with all kinds of weapons. We have the opinion that it was one of these countries that has provided chemical weapons for the terrorists. Of course, these countries could cease to support the terrorists with such weapons or others arms.
But there are even the terrorists who do not listen to any side, and when they get into the possession of arms and therefore have the possibility to destroy, they do no more feel obliged to anybody to do anything, also not to those, who funded and armed them.
Some American media reported that alleged your officers – so officers of the Syrian Arab Army – have asked you for the approval to use chemical weapons in the fight against the armed opposition gangs. You, Mr. President, are said to have denied this permission. Nonetheless, these officers are said to have used chemical weapons on their own, especially in East Ghouta. Is this representation correct, are such operations even possible in Syria?
This is nothing but a facet of American propaganda. Such propaganda always uses all kinds of lies to justify their own wars. This alleged conversation is reminiscent of what Colin Powell, under the lead of George Bush Jr., has done to justify the war against Iraq a little more than 10 years ago.
They brought evidence and have claimed that it would confirm that Saddam Hussein produces weapons of mass destruction. It later turned out that it was a lie. Today they lie in different ways, a variant is the one you have just mentioned.
The truth is, however, that such a conversation between anyone in Syria could have never taken place. This type of weapons is centrally managed (administered) in different countries and armies of the world – there are no such weapons directly in the hands of the armed forces – in other words, there are no regular troops that carry along such type of weapons – neither the land forces, nor the armoured divisions or others. It is a special type of weapons that would be used by Special Forces. So this is a completely illogical lie that no one can really believe.
Recently, evidence were presented to the U.S. Congress, which were described as “convincing” and “indubitably” – video recordings, which should imply that the chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta had been used by the Syrian Army. What can you say about this American version?
They have neither the Congress nor the press and therefore not their own people even shown one single evidence, as well as not to other country in the world, not even Russia, which has participated in the negotiation process. Everything that has happened, were nothing but words, and even that is a facet of American propaganda.
The logic, however, says that one cannot use weapons of mass destruction only hundreds of meters away from its own armed forces. One cannot use weapons of mass destruction in places of residence, because this would lead to tens of thousands of victims.
Similarly, weapons of mass destruction are not used in the time of (military) advances or if the success will not fail even with ordinary types of weapons. Their logic is not convincing. Therefore, the U.S. leadership is currently in a difficult position. They lie a lot less professional than it was yet done by the George Bush administration.
The previous U.S. administration has lied, but in their lies, they knew how they could convince a part of the world of their lies – in contrast to the current U.S. government, which is not even able to convince its allies about their lies. All the talk has no meaning. It lacks any logic and is completely implausible.
The last question I just have to ask, since it concerns the security of the entire region. Russian media has recently reported that the armed opposition gangs possibly plan another provocation in which they could use chemical weapons against Israel, namely from a territory controlled by the Syrian Arab Army. Have you such an information in your capacity as commander in chief?
It was already confirmed that the terrorist groups have chemical weapons and they have already been applied in Syria against our soldiers and civilians. So there are these substances. Furthermore, we know that these terrorist gangs and those, by which they are controlled, want to provoke a military attack by the United States.
Previously, they have tried to implicate Israel in the Syrian crisis. It cannot be ruled out that this information are true and are intended to serve the mentioned objectives.
If there is war in a region, so the chaos is increasing, but when the chaos is increasing, it is essential that the territories for terrorist gangs become more permeable and thus they can cause more damage and destruction. Such threats are a real challenge, because the terrorists have chemical weapons, and there are countries that supply them with these agents.
Thank you for answering our questions!