In his first interview to an Indian TV channel, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad tells WION that he is confident that the worst is over, referring to recent battlefield gains by his army in the six year long civil war. Looking relaxed, he attributed his staying power to broad popular support and dismissed speculation he was all set to flee the country saying:
“Syria is in the middle of the storm, I cannot say I’m going to give up and leave. This is going to be very selfish and very un-patriotic, let’s say, if we can call it this way. No, in the middle of a storm, you have to do your job as president till the people tell you “go, leave, you cannot help your country.” This is where you have to leave.”
He said Syria was a victim of an international terrorist conspiracy hatched in the neighborhood, blaming Saudi Arabia for promoting Wahhabi ideology and exporting terrorism and extremism to the world. In blunt language he warned:
“You cannot talk about terrorism and Saud family as two entities, I have to be very frank with you. Nearly every “madrasa” in Asia, in Europe, every mosque, has been supported financially and ideologically through books and through every other means by the Wahhabi institution.”
He accused Turkey, Qatar, France and the UK of backing terrorist groups but said their real mentor was the United States. He said Western intelligence agencies working with terrorists triggered the April chemical attack on Khan Sheikhyoun in Idlib province, and used that as a pretext to carry out air strikes on the Shayrat air base. He spoke at length about the American Deep State.
“In the United States, the president cannot deliver, the whole state, the deep state only is the one who can deliver, and this is the problem. This deep state doesn’t accept partners around the world; they only accept puppets, and they only accept followers, they only accept proxies, that’s what they accept, and we’re not any of these.”
The President said his country and India are victims of terrorism, they could learn from each other and work towards building a genuine international coalition against terrorism.
“The reason why we have been facing terrorism could be different, but at the end terrorism is one, and the ideology that we’ve been facing is the same one, and the most important thing is that the terrorism has been used in India for political reasons, for a political agenda, and Syria is the same. To support terrorist organizations for political agenda, this is something very dangerous
He welcomed an Indian role in bringing peace to the region, saying India “has credibility and through history has always been credible”. Although different parties have ruled India in different times, their policies were always based on morality and ethics. He wanted India to help rebuild his country.
“India is welcome to play an economic role in the reconstruction of Syria, something that we already started. We started this project in Damascus, and now we are expanding that project in most of the cities in Syria, of course after the liberation from ISIS and al-Nusra and those terrorist groups. Of course we welcome any Indian company.”
He described India’s stand on the Syrian war as one based on international law, on the UN Charter and independent of those countries that sought to pressurize New Delhi to end all ties with Syria. The President said India would be among the first countries he plans to visit after the war is over.