President Assad: We have to differentiate between the internal symptoms and the external. The internal symptoms, we have problems like any other society in our region, we are part of this region, and we always discuss these problems. Maybe we were short of solving the problem that we could have solved before the war, maybe not; this is subjective to every Syrian, could say from his different point of view. While if you want to talk about the external factor, which is very important in creating this war, because no other country in this region has a similar war, although we have the same societies and you have worse problems, like in the Gulf states, where you have no freedom at all, either to women or to people, to anything.
So, if that’s the reason, for example – because that was the slogan at the very beginning – why didn’t it start in those countries? So, actually what happened wasn’t internal, because the same problems have been there for decades now, some of them for centuries. So, actually this is where the external factor, that it wasn’t clear, because we didn’t see it, actually because the plan hasn’t been made in Syria; it was made in some Western countries like US, France, and UK mainly. Some other satellite states like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, they were planning and they were sending money at the very beginning, after they failed in creating, let’s say, a spontaneous revolution, this is where they started sending money, and this is where the problem started. That was clear for us from the very beginning, but maybe we couldn’t control it.
Journalist: But why didn’t you see – for example, when I came to Eastern Ghouta months ago, I’ve seen the tunnels everywhere, which were constructed by the engineers, by huge machines, by bulldozers – how you could miss it? Do you have an explanation now, how they managed to do these underground cities?
President Assad: Of course, they could have used the tools that they already had in that area, whether stolen from the government, from private companies, and so on, and they had support coming from Jordan through the desert directly to al-Ghouta, where the desert is empty, and no-one can control it or observe it, and we don’t have, of course, the means like satellites and so on to see all this. At the same time, when they started digging, they started digging under the cities, something you cannot see.
Journalist: When I came to Eastern Ghouta, I met people who could prove by themselves that they’ve seen how al-Nusra shot the chemical weapons to their areas. I’ve seen all these chemical suits in rooms where were the headquarters of al-Nusra, and so on. But, the West tells that you poisoned your own people with chemical weapons. Why is that, why nobody is listening to the people, and why the West is so insistent in that?
President Assad: Because the chemical narrative is part of their main narrative against the government in Syria, but they use it only when their troops, their proxies the terrorists, have been defeated in Syria in certain areas. They use this story or this narrative in order to have a pretext to intervene directly, militarily, and to attack the Syrian Army. That’s what happened many times, and every time they use this story, it’s only when their proxies the terrorists have been defeated. It should be – I mean, logically, let alone the reality that we don’t have any chemical weapons anyway, we gave them up…
Journalist: You don’t have at all?
President Assad: We don’t have, no. Since 2013, we don’t have. But put this aside, even if you have it, you should be using these weapons at least if you are being defeated, not when you win the war. And actually, every time we are winning, they use it, so this is against logic, but this is used as pretext in order to support the terrorists in Syria.
Journalist: Is there any way to prevent all these provocations, because the Russian Ministry of Defense tells that one of these provocations is to be prepared in Deir Ezzor, and they told it recently. How to stop this?
President Assad: You cannot, because this is not a result of our reality; this is the result of their imagination, of their media, this is something created in their own media and their own countries, and then spread all over the world on the Internet or in different media outlets. So, you cannot prevent the provocation. The Americans only tell lies, and they attack right away. When you don’t have international law to be respected, when you don’t have effective United Nations institutions, you cannot talk about preventing provocations, because this is a jungle now, all over the world.
Journalist: You are winning, you control most parts of the country already, but so many players are in Syria, so many parts, they have interests. America is making negotiations with Turkey about Manbij, Israel is making negotiations somewhere, the Iranians make negotiations, the Kurds they have their own interests. How to solve it all, how to keep Syria united? Because nowadays it seems like Syria is torn apart. How to stop this? Because you told your main logo is like “one Syria for one nation.”
President Assad: If you want to talk about Syria being torn about, this is about, let’s say, the geography, not about the society; the society is unified, so we don’t have a problem regarding this. So, we can look at Syria as unified as long as the people are unified. Being torn apart, this is occupation; different parts of Syria being occupied by the terrorists with the support of the West, mainly the United States and their allies. So, if you want to talk about the future of Syria, we don’t take them into account. Talk about the political process, this is going to be an only-Syrian political process. We don’t take into account the interests of any other country regarding something which is internal. If you talk about the war, it’s becoming now an international war, because that’s how it started. Actually, it wasn’t only about the government in Syria; the government in Syria is independent, we have good relations with Russia, with China, and other countries, and the United States wanted to re-draw the map of the world politically, and maybe militarily, so Syria was one of the main battlefields to re-draw this map, at least in the Middle East. That’s why when you talk about those interests, this is a fight between these powers: the main power: the United States and their allies supporting the terrorists, and the goal is to have hegemony, and the other power is Russia with its allies, their aim is to fight the terrorism and to restore the international law.
Journalist: But why Syria was selected for this game?
President Assad: For many different reasons. Syria is part of the group of countries that are considered as independent: Syria, Iran, North Korea, and now Russia as an independent country. So, the West doesn’t accept any independent position. America doesn’t accept any European independent position. And that’s why you have a problem in Russia with the US, because you wanted to be independent, and they don’t accept you, even if you are a great power or not, you cannot be independent.
This is one reason. And we are a small country, how can we say no and yes? We have to say only yes. This is one reason.
Second, the geopolitics of Syria, the historic role of the Syrian society, although it is very small, but this is a fault line, social fault line between the different sects and ethnicities, and when you control this area, you could have control the rest of the Middle East. That’s why the struggle on Syria started during the age of the Pharaohs, and the first treaty in the world was 12 centuries before Christ, it was between the Pharaohs and the Hittites, coming from north and south, they fought on Syria, and they signed the first treaty in history. So, the geopolitics of Syria are very important, so controlling Syria was a goal to the great powers since that time till this moment. So, it doesn’t matter whether Syria is big or small, or bigger or smaller, it’s important.