“Go back to the principles of the French Revolution”
President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview
to the French daily Le Figaro
Syrian Arab News Agency, 3-9-2013
Malbrunot: President Obama has postponed a military strike on Syria, how do you explain this?
President al-Assad:Some have seen Obama as weak because of his decision to withdraw or delay a possible strike by days or weeks; by waging a war on Syria, others have seen him as a strong leader of a powerful country.
From my perspective, power lies in your ability to prevent wars not in igniting them. Power comes from ones ability to stand up and acknowledge their mistakes; if Obama was strong, he would have stood up and said that there is no evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, he would have stood up and said that the right way forward is to wait for the results of the UN investigations and work through the UN Security Council.
However, as I see it, he is weak because he succumbed to internal pressure from small groups and threatened military action. As I said strong leaders are those who prevent wars not those who inflame them.
Malbrunot: What do you say to members of congress whose vote will determine whether or not there will be any military action?
President al-Assad: Before they vote, they should ask themselves a simple question: What have previous wars achieved for America, or even for Europe? What has the world achieved from the war in Libya and the spread of terrorism in its aftermath? What has the world achieved from the wars in Iraq and other places? What will the world achieve from supporting terrorism in Syria?
Members of congress are entrusted to serve in the best interests of their country. Before they vote, they need to weigh up their decision in the interests of their own country. It is not in the interests of the US to perpetuate instability and extremism in the Middle East. It is not in their interests to continue – what George Bush started – spreading wars in the world.
If they think logically and in the interests of their country, they will not find any benefits to these wars. However many of them they have not mastered the art of logic in their political decision-making. …
Malbrunot: How can we stop the war, the crisis in Syria has been on going for more than two-and-half years? You have suggested a National Unity government, the international community has suggested Geneva II, how can we stop the blood bath in Syria?
President al-Assad: Discussing a solution at the beginning of the crisis is very different to discussing it today. From the beginning I have emphasised that a resolution can only be achieved through dialogue, which would lead to solutions that can be implemented through political measures.
The situation today is different; today we are fighting terrorists, 80-90% of them affiliated to Al-Qaeda. These terrorists are not interested in reform, or politics, or legislations.
The only way to deal with the terrorists is to strike them; only then can we talk about political steps.
So in response to your question, the solution today lies in stopping the influx of terrorists into Syria and stopping the financial, military or any other support they receive. …
Malbrunot: French Parliamentarians will meet on Wednesday. There is a big debate in France now, with some believing that Hollande has gone too far on this issue.
What is your message to the French Parliamentarians before they convene and vote on the strike?
President al-Assad: The question really is: will the meeting of the French parliamentarians return the independence of France’s decisions back to the French? We hope that this would be the case. Since they will be working in the interests of France, will the representatives of the French people take the side of extremism and terrorism? Will they support those who perpetrated the September 11 attacks in New York, or those who bombed the Metro in Spain? Will the representatives of the French people support those who killed the innocents in France?
How can France fight terrorism in Mali and support it in Syria? Will France adopt the American model of double standards? How can the parliamentarians convince the French public that their country is secular, yet at the same time it supports extremism and sectarianism in other parts of the world? How can France advocate for democracy but yet one of its closest allies – Saudi Arabia – is still living in medieval times?
My message to the French Parliamentarians is: go back to the principles of the French Revolution that the whole world is proud of: Liberty, Justice, Equality. …
The modern era has unfolded in the shadow of the French Revolution. French society itself underwent an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic, and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from various left-wing political groups, the masses on the streets, and peasants in the countryside. Old ideas about tradition and hierarchy regarding monarchs, aristocrats, and the Catholic Church were abruptly overthrown under the mantra of “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” Globally, the Revolution accelerated the rise of republics and democracies, the spread of liberalism and secularism… (Wikipedia info)
President al-Assad: There is an analogy that can also be asked here: how could France allow the killing of the terrorists who terrified French citizens? How did the British deal with the riots in Britain last year? Why was the army deployed in Los Angeles in the nineties? Why are other countries allowed to fight terrorism and Syria isn’t? Why is it forbidden for Mohammed Merah to stay alive in France and to kill civilians and yet terrorists are allowed to remain alive in Syria and kill innocent people? …
Malbrunot: When your father passed away, you visited France and were received by President Chirac. Everyone viewed you as a youthful and promising president and a successful ophthalmologist. Today, since the crisis, this image has changed. To what extent have you as a person changed?
President al-Assad: The more imperative question is: has the nature of this person changed?
The media can manipulate a person’s image at a whim, yet my reality remains the same. I belong to the Syrian people; I defend their interests and independence and will not succumb to external pressure. I cooperate with others in a way that promotes my country’s interests.
This is what was never properly understood; they assumed that they could easily influence a young president, that if I had studied in the West I would lose my original culture.
This is such a naïve and shallow attitude. I have not changed; they are the ones who wished to identify me differently at the beginning. They need to accept the image of a Syrian president who embraces his country’s independence.