Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that the al-Qaeda terrorist war being waged in his nation was created by the deliberate policies of the American government and is militarily and logistically supported by Israel as part of a larger plan to create greater instability in the Middle East.
Speaking in an interview with the Russian Izvestia newspaper, which was republished in English on the official Syrian state broadcaster’s channel, al-Assad also said that the US government could never justify a physical intervention in Syria to its people because it would have to admit that it was directly supporting terrorism.
Asked by the interviewer why the Syrian government claimed a strong link between Israel and the terrorists when it is “commonly perceived that the extremist Islamists loathe Israel and become hysterical upon hearing its name,” al-Assad replied as follows:
“If this was the case, why is it then that when we strike the terrorists at the frontier, Israel strikes at our forces to alleviate the pressure off of them?
“Why, when we blockade them into an area does Israel let them through their barricades so they can come round and re-attack from another direction?
“Why has Israel carried out direct strikes against the Syrian Army on more than one occasion in recent months?
“So clearly this perception is inaccurate. It is Israel who has publically declared its cooperation with these terrorists and treated them in Israeli hospitals.
“If these terrorist groups were indeed hostile to Israel and hysterical even on the mention of the word as you mention, why have they fought the Soviet Union, Syria and Egypt, whilst never carrying out a single strike against Israel?” he said, posing the question:
“Who originally created these terrorist groups? These groups were initially created in the early 80s by the United States and the West, with Saudi funding, to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. So logically speaking, how could such groups manufactured by the US and the West ever strike Israel!”
Asked by Izvestia what he would say to world leaders, “some who may currently be working against” the Syrian government, al-Assad’s answer was as follows:
“Today there are many Western politicians, but very few statesmen. Some of these politicians do not read history or even learn from it, whilst others do not even remember recent events.
“Have these politicians learned any lessons from the past 50 years at least? Have they not realised that since the Vietnam War, all the wars their predecessors have waged have failed?
“Have they not learned that they have gained nothing from these wars but the destruction of the countries they fought, which has had a destabilising effect on the Middle East and other parts of the world?
“Have they not comprehended that all of these wars have not made people in the region appreciate them or believe in their policies?
“From another perspective, these politicians should know that terrorism is not a winning card you play when it suits you and keep it in your pocket when it doesn’t.
“Terrorism is like a scorpion; it can unexpectedly sting you at any time. Therefore, you cannot support terrorism in Syria whilst fighting it in Mali; you cannot support terrorism in Chechnya and fight it in Afghanistan.
“To be very precise, I am referring to the West and not all world leaders, if these western leaders are looking to achieve their interests, they need to listen to their own constituents and to the people in this region rather than seeking to install ‘puppet’ leaders, in the hope that they would be able to deliver their objectives. In doing so, western policy may become more realistic in the region.
“Our message to the world is straightforward: Syria will never become a Western ‘puppet’ state. We are an independent country; we will fight terrorism and we will freely build relationships with countries in a way that best serves the interests of the Syrian people.”
Al-Assad went on to point out that the terrorist movement in Syria was aggravated by the “influx of large amounts of terrorists from other countries—estimated in the tens of thousands at the very least.”
He added that as “long as they [the terrorists] continue to receive financial and military aid, we will continue to strike them”—a reference to the fact that the US government in particular has been arming and financing these al-Qaeda linked fighters for over a year.
Al-Assad also dealt with a number of other pertinent issues, including the claim that the terrorists “control large parts of Syria.”
In answer to this he said that “it’s not a matter of labelling areas as controlled by terrorists or by the government; we are not dealing with a conventional occupation to allow us to contextualise it in this manner.
“We are fighting terrorists infiltrating particular regions, towns or peripheral city areas. They wreak havoc, vandalise, destroy infrastructure and kill innocent civilians simply because they denounce them. The army mobilises into these areas with the security forces and law enforcement agencies to eradicate the terrorists, those who survive relocate to other areas. Therefore, the essence of our action is striking terrorism.
“Our challenge, which has protracted the situation, is I can confirm that there has not been any instance where the Syrian Army has planned to enter a particular location and has not succeeded in eliminating the terrorists within it.
“There isn’t an army in the world that can be present with its armament in every corner of any given country. The terrorists exploit this, and violate areas where the army is not present. They escape from one area to another, and we continue to eradicate them from these areas with great success. Therefore, I reiterate, the issue is not the size of the territories they infiltrate but the large influx of terrorists coming from abroad.
“The more significant criterion to evaluate success is—has the Syrian Army been able to enter any area infiltrated by terrorists and defeat them? Most certainly the answer is yes; the army has always succeeded in this and continues to do so. However, this takes time because these types of wars do not end suddenly, they protract for prolonged periods and as such carry a heavy price. Even when we have eradicated all the terrorists, we will have paid a hefty price.”
Asked by the interviewer who exactly these terrorists are, al-Assad said that the “majority of those we are fighting are Takfiris, who adopt the al-Qaeda doctrine, combined with a coherent major force that seeks to destroy the security and stability in Syria and the whole Middle East.
“They have both traits. They are similar in that they all share the same extremist Takfiri doctrine of certain individuals such as Zawahiri; they also have similar or identical financial backing and military support. They differ on the ground in that they are incoherent and scattered with each group adhering to a separate leader and pursuing different agendas. Of course it is well known that countries, such as Saudi Arabia, who hold the purse strings can shape and manipulate them to suit their own interests.
“Ideologically, these countries mobilise them through direct or indirect means as extremist tools. If they declare that Muslims must pursue Jihad in Syria, thousands of fighters will respond. Financially, those who finance and arm such groups can instruct them to carry out acts of terrorism and spread anarchy. The influence over them is synergised when a country such as Saudi Arabia directs them through both the Wahhabi ideology and their financial means.”
Saudi Arabia is, under its current leadership, a firm ally of the US government.
“It is now crystal clear to everybody that what is happening in Syria is not a popular revolution pushing for political reform, but targeted terrorism aimed at destroying the Syrian state. What will they say to their people when pushing for military intervention: we are intervening in Syria to support terrorism against the state?” al-Assad added.