President Assad: My message to Hollande and Fabius…be serious when you talk about fighting terrorists
President al-Assad added in an interview with the French Magazine Valeurs Actuelles Thursday that you cannot fight terrorism while you follow or pursue the wrong policies that support terrorism directly or indirectly.
Question: I want to have your comment on this: when our President Mr. Hollande, said that President Assad couldn’t be the solution because he was part of the problem. Does this represent a general view for you, and how you see this? What’s your reaction?
President Assad: First, the first part of my reaction is: was Hollande assigned by the Syrian population to speak on their behalf? That is the first question. Would you as a French citizen accept a similar comment from any other politician in this world, to say that President Hollande shouldn’t be the French President? Isn’t it a humiliation to the French people? We look at it the same way. It’s a humiliation to the Syrian people when he says such a thing. Doesn’t it mean that he doesn’t recognize them?
Second, for France as a country that’s always proud of its traditions and the principles of the French Revolution and maybe democracy and human rights, the first principle of that democracy is that peoples have the right to decide who leads them. So, it’s a shame on him, for somebody who represents the French population, to do and say something which is against the principles of the French republic and the French people. Second, it’s a shame on him to try to humiliate a population with a civilized, long, deep history for thousands of years like the Syrian people. So, that’s my reaction, and I think it will not affect the facts in Syria, because the facts will not be affected by certain statements.
“My message to Hollande and Fabius … be serious when you talk about fighting terrorists”
Question : If you had a message, one message, for Mr. Hollande and Mr. Fabius, especially after what happened yesterday in Paris? Is it “please cut your relations urgently with Qatar and Saudi Arabia?”
President Assad: First of all, this message has many aspects. The first part of this message is a question: are they independent to send them a message they can implement? Actually, the French policy these days is not independent of the American one. This is first. So, sending a message will lead nowhere. In spite of that, if I have a hope that there will be some political change in France, the first one is go back to the real, independent, friendly politics of France toward the Middle East and toward Syria. Second, be away from the American, how to say, methodology, of double standards. So, if you want to support the Syrian people – allegedly – regarding democracy and freedom, it’s better to support the Saudi people first.
If you have a problem about democracy with the Syrian state, how could you have good relations and friendship with the worst states in the world, the most underdeveloped states in the world which are the Saudi and Qatari states? So, this contradiction doesn’t give credibility.
Third, it’s natural for any official to work for the sake and interest of his people. The question that I ask in any message is: did the French policy during the past five years bring any good to the French people? What is the benefit? I’m sure the answer is no, and the proof of that answer is what I said a few years ago, that messing with the fault line in Syria is messing with an earthquake that will reverberate in the rest of the world, first of all in Europe because we are the backyard of Europe, geographically and geopolitically, so that time they said “are you threatening?” I didn’t, and Charlie Hebdo happened at the beginning of this year, and I said after that incident that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and what happened yesterday is another proof. So, they need to change their policy toward the interests of their people, and this is where we’re going to have the same interests with the French population, mainly fighting terrorism. So, the final message is: be serious when you talk about fighting terrorists. That’s my message.
Question: French experts say that terrorists are certainly being trained in the Middle East, and we have a lack of information. What would be necessary to have that kind of cooperation between Paris and Damascus?
President Assad: You need first of all seriousness. If the French government is not serious about fighting terrorism, we wouldn’t waste our time cooperating with a country, or a government, let’s say, with an institution that is supporting terrorism. First of all, you need to change your policy, to have one standard regarding this and not multiple standards, and to have that country be part of an alliance with countries that only fight terrorism, not countries that support terrorism and are fighting terrorism. This is a contradiction. So, these are the first basics of having any cooperation. We would like to have this kind of cooperation, not only with France, but with any country, but this cooperation needs an atmosphere. It needs certain criteria, and needs certain conditions.
Question: And in the future, if the government changes, would it be possible?
President Assad: In politics you don’t have friendship and emotions, you have interests. That’s my role as a politician, and that’s their role as politicians in your country. It’s not whether they like Assad or don’t like him, it’s not whether I like Hollande or not. It’s not about that. My job is about what is best for the Syrians, and what is best for the French, that’s our job. So, in the future we don’t have a problem. The problem is the policies, not the emotions.
Question 5: You just met President Putin. I mean, I don’t want to ask you what he said to you, but I want to ask you; when somebody said that Putin is the last guy who defends the West, would you say that? That Putin is the last head of state who defends the Christian-Western civilization?
President Assad: So he defends Western Europe?
“Turkey is playing the worst part of our crisis”
Question: We talked about Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but we didn’t talk about Turkey, and they let go in Europe hundreds of thousands of refugees, and it seems that they let go in Syria jihadists. So, what is the role of Turkey?
President Assad: The most dangerous role, in the whole situation, because Turkey offered all kinds of support to those terrorists, and all the spectrums of the terrorists. Some countries support al-Nusra Front, which is Al Qaeda, some other countries support ISIS, while Turkey supports both, and other groups at the same time. They support them with, how to say, human resources, they recruit. They support them with money, logistics, armaments, surveillance, information, and even the maneuvers of their military through their borders during the fights in Syria. Even the money that’s being collected from the rest of the world passes through Turkey, and the oil that ISIS sells is through Turkey, so Turkey is playing the worst part of our crisis.
Second, that’s related directly to Erdogan himself and Davutoglu, because they both reflect the real ideology that they carry in their hearts, which is the Muslim Brotherhood ideology.
Journalists: Thank you very much, Mr. President, for this interview.
President Assad: Thank you for coming.