Mainstream Media are Suffering From Moral Decay
By President al-Assad
- Video and Transcript
Youíre most welcome in Damascus.
Question 1: We
start with Aleppo, of course. Aleppo is now seeing what
is perhaps the most fierce fighting since the war
started almost six years ago here in Syria, but the
Western politicians and Western media have been largely
negative about your armyís advance. Why you think this
is happening? Do they take it as their own defeat?
Actually, after they failed in Damascus, because the
whole narrative was about ďliberating Damascus from the
stateĒ during the first three years. When they failed,
they moved to Homs, when they failed in Homs, they moved
to Aleppo, they focused on Aleppo during the last three
years, and for them this is the last most important card
they could have played on the Syrian battlefield. Of
course, they still have terrorists in different areas in
Syria, but itís not like talking about Aleppo as the
second largest city which has the political, military,
economic, and even moral sense when their terrorists are
defeated. So, for them the defeat of the terrorists is
the defeating of their proxies, to talk bluntly. These
are their proxies, and for them the defeat of these
terrorists is the defeat of the countries that
supervised them, whether regional countries or Western
countries like United States, first of all United
States, and France, and UK.
Question 2: So,
you think they take it as their own defeat, right?
Assad: Exactly, thatís what I mean. The defeat of the
terrorists, this is their own defeat because these are
their real army on the ground. They didnít interfere in
Syria, or intervened, directly; they have intervened
through these proxies. So, thatís how we have to look at
it if we want to be realistic, regardless of their
statements, of course.
Palmyra is another troubled region now, and itís now
taken by ISIS or ISIL, but we donít hear a lot of
condemnation about it. Is that because of the same
Assad: Exactly, because if it was captured by the
government, they will be worried about the heritage. If
we liberate Aleppo from the terrorists, they would be Ė
I mean, the Western officials and the mainstream media Ė
theyíre going to be worried about the civilians. Theyíre
not worried when the opposite happens, when the
terrorists are killing those civilians or attacking
Palmyra and started destroying the human heritage, not
only the Syrian heritage. Exactly, you are right,
because ISIS, if you look at the timing of the attack,
itís related to whatís happening in Aleppo. This is the
response to whatís happening in Aleppo, the advancement
of the Syrian Arab Army, and they wanted to make thisÖ
or letís say, to undermine the victory in Aleppo, and at
the same time to distract the Syrian Army from Aleppo,
to make it move toward Palmyra and stop the advancement,
but of course it didnít work.
Question 4: We
also hear reports that Palmyra siege was not only
related to Aleppo battle, but also to what was happening
in Iraq, and there are reports that the US-led coalition
Ė which is almost 70 countries Ė allowed ISIL fighters
in Mosul in Iraq to leave, and that strengthened ISIL
here in Syria. Do you think it could be the case?
Assad: It could be, but this is only to wash the hand of
the American politicians from their responsibility on
the attack, when they say ďjust because of Mosul, of
course, the Iraqi army attacked Mosul, and ISIS left
Mosul to Syria.Ē Thatís not the case. Why? Because they
came with different and huge manpower and firepower that
ISIS never had before during this attack, and they
attacked on a huge front, tens of kilometers that could
be a front of armies. ISIS could only have done that
with the support of states. Not state; states. They came
with different machineguns, cannons, artillery,
everything is different. So, it could only happen when
they come in this desert with the supervision of the
American alliance thatís supposed to attack them in
al-Raqqa and Mosul and Deir Ezzor, but it didnít happen;
they either turned a blind eye on what ISIS is going to
do, and, or Ė and thatís what I believe Ė they pushed
toward Palmyra. So, itís not about Mosul. We donít have
to fall in that trap. Itís about al-Raqqa and Deir
Ezzor. They are very close, only a few hundred
kilometers, they could come under the supervision of the
American satellites and the American drones and the
Question 5: How
strong ISIS is today?
Assad: As strong as the support that they get from the
West and regional powers. Actually, theyíre not strong
forÖ if you talk isolated case, ISIS as isolated case,
theyíre not strong, because they donít have the natural
social incubator. Without it, terrorists cannot be
strong enough. But the real support they have, the
money, the oil field investment, the support of the
American alliesí aircrafts, thatís why they are strong.
So, they are as strong as their supporters, or as their
Question 6: In Aleppo, we heard that you allowed some of
these terrorists to leave freely the battleground. Why
would you do that? Itís clear that they can go back to,
letís say, Idleb, and get arms and get ready for further
attacks, then maybe attack those liberating Aleppo.
Assad: Exactly, exactly, thatís correct, and thatís been
happening for the last few years, but you always have
things to lose and things to gain, and when the gain is
more than what you lose, you go for that gain. In that
case, our priority is to protect the area from being
destroyed because of the war, to protect the civilians
who live there, to give the chance for those civilians
to leave through the open gates, to leave that area to
the areas under the control of the government, and to
give the chance to those terrorists to change their
minds, to join the government, to go back to their
normal life, and to get amnesty. When they donít, they
can leave with their armaments, with the disadvantage
that you mentioned, but this is not our priority,
because if you fight them in any other area outside the
city, youíre going to have less destruction and less
civilian casualties, thatís why.
Question 7: I
feel that you call them terrorists, but at the same time
you treat them as human beings, you tell them ďyou have
a chance to go back to your normal life.Ē
Assad: Exactly. They are terrorists because they are
holding machineguns, they kill, they destroy, they
commit vandalism, and so on, and thatís natural,
everywhere in the world thatís called as terrorism. But
at the same time, they are humans who committed
terrorism. They could be something else. They joined the
terrorists for different reasons, either out of fear,
for the money, sometimes for the ideology. So, if you
can bring them back to their normal life, to be natural
citizens, thatís your job as a government. Itís not
enough to say ďweíre going to fight terrorists.Ē
Fighting terrorists is like a videogame; you can destroy
your enemy in the videogame, but the videogame will
generate and regenerate thousands of enemies, so you
cannot deal with it on the American way: just killing,
just killing! This is not our goal; this is the last
option you have. If you can change, this is a good
option, and it succeeded. It succeeded because many of
those terrorists, when you change their position, some
of them living normal lives, and some of them joined the
Syrian Army, they fought with the Syrian Army against
the other terrorists. This is success, from our point of
Qestion 8: Mr.
President, you just said that you gain and you lose. Do
you feel youíve done enough to minimize civilian
casualties during this conflict?
Assad: We do our utmost. Whatís enough, this is
subjective; each one could look at it in his own way. At
the end, whatís enough is what you can do; my ability as
a person, the ability of the government, the ability of
Syria as a small country to face a war thatís been
supported by tens of countries, mainstream mediaís
hundreds of channels, and other machines working against
you. So, it depends on the definition of ďenough,Ē so
this is, as I said, very subjective, but Iím sure that
we are doing our best. Nothing is enough at the end, and
the human practice is always full of correct and flows,
or mistakes, letís say, and thatís the natural thing.
Question 9: We
hear Western powers asking Russia and Iran repeatedly to
put pressure on you to, as they put it, ďstop the
violence,Ē and just recently, six Western nations, in an
unprecedented message, they asked Russia and Iran again
to put pressure on you, asking for a ceasefire in
Will you go for it? At the time when your army was
progressing, they were asking for a ceasefire.
Assad: Exactly. Itís always important in politics to
read between the lines, not to be literal. It doesnít
matter what they ask; the translation of their statement
is for Russia: ďplease stop the advancement of the
Syrian Army against the terrorists.Ē Thatís the meaning
of that statement, forget about the rest. ďYou went too
far in defeating the terrorists, that shouldnít happen.
You should tell the Syrians to stop this, we have to
keep the terrorists and to save them.Ē This is in brief.
never Ė these days, I mean, during this war, before that
war, during the Soviet Union Ė never tried to interfere
in our decision. Whenever they had opinion or advice,
doesnít matter how we can look at it, they say at the
end ďthis is your country, you know what the best
decision you want to take. This is how we see it, but if
you see it in a different way, you know, you are the
Syrian.Ē They are realistic, and they respect our
sovereignty, and they always defend the sovereignty
thatís based on the international law and the Charter of
the United Nations. So, it never happened that they made
any pressure, and they will never do it. This is not
How strong is the Syrian Army today?
Assad: Itís about the comparison, to two things: first
of all, the war itself; second, to the size of Syria.
Syria is not a great country, so it cannot have a great
army in the numerical sense. The support of our allies
was very important; mainly Russia, and Iran. After six
years, or nearly six years of the war, which is longer
than the first World War and the second World War, itís
definitely and self-evident that the Syrian Army is not
to be as strong as it was before that. But what we have
is determination to defend our country. This is the most
important thing. We lost so many lives in our army, we
have so many martyrs, so many disabled soldiers.
Numerically, we lost a lot, but we still have this
determination, and I can tell you this determination is
much stronger than before the war. But of course, we
cannot ignore the support from Russia, we cannot ignore
the support from Iran, that make this determination more
effective and efficient.
President Obama has lifted a ban on arming some Syrian
rebels just recently. What impact you think could it
have on the situation on the ground, and could it
directly or indirectly provide a boost to terrorists?
Assad: Weíre not sure that he lifted that embargo when
he announced it. Maybe he lifted it before, but
announced it later just to give it the political
legitimacy, letís say. This is first. The second point,
which is very important: the timing of the announcement
and the timing of attacking Palmyra. Thereís a direct
link between these two, so the question is to whom those
armaments are going to? In the hands of who? In the
hands of ISIS and al-Nusra, and thereís coordination
between ISIS and al-Nusra. So, the announcement of this
lifting of that embargo is related directly to the
attack on Palmyra and to the support of other terrorists
outside Aleppo, because when they are defeated in
Aleppo, the United States and the West, they need to
support their proxies somewhere else, because they donít
have any interest in solving the conflict in Syria. So,
the crux of that announcement is to create more chaos,
because the United States creates chaos in order to
manage this chaos, and when they manage it, they want to
use the different factors in that chaos in order to
exploit the different parties of the conflict, whether
they are internal parties or external parties.
Mr. President, how do you feel about being a small
country in the middle of this tornado of countries not
interested in ending the war here?
Assad: Exactly. Itís something weíve always felt before
this war, but we felt it more of course today, because
small countries feel safer when thereís international
balance, and we felt the same, what you just mentioned,
after the collapse of the Soviet Union when there was
only American hegemony, and they wanted to implement
whatever they want and to dictate all their policies on
everyone. Small countries suffer the most. So, we feel
it today, but at the same time, today thereís more
balance with the Russian role. Thatís why I think we
always believe the more Russia is stronger Ė Iím not
only talking about Syria, Iím talking about every small
country in the world Ė whenever the stronger Russia,
more rising China, we feel more secure. Itís painful, I
would say itís very painful, this situation that weíve
been living, on every level; humanitarian level, the
feeling, the loss, everything. But at the end, itís not
about losing and winning; itís about either winning or
losing your country. Itís existential threat for Syria.
Itís not about government losing against other
government or army against army; either the country will
win, or the country will disappear. Thatís how we look
at it. Thatís why you donít have time to feel that pain;
you only have time to fight and defend and do something
on the ground.
Letís talk about mediaís role in this conflict.
sides during this war have been accused of civilian
casualties, but the Western media has been almost
completely silent about the atrocities committed by the
rebelsÖ what role is the media playing here?
Assad: First of all, the mainstream media with their
fellow politicians, they are suffering during the last
few decades from moral decay. So, they have no morals.
Whatever they talk about, whatever they mention or they
use as mask, human rights, civilians, children; they use
all these just for their own political agenda in order
to provoke the feelings of their public opinion to
support them in their intervention in this region,
whether militarily or politically. So, they donít have
any credibility regarding this. If you want to look at
whatís happening in the United States is rebellion
against the mainstream media, because theyíve been lying
and they kept lying on their audiences. We can tell
that, those, letís say, the public opinion or the people
in the West doesnít know the real story in our region,
but at least they know that the mainstream media and
their politicians were laying to them for their own
vested interests agenda and vested interests
politicians. Thatís why I donít think the mainstream
media could sell their stories anymore and thatís why
they are fighting for their existence in the West,
although they have huge experience and huge support and
money and resources, but they donít have something very
important for them to survive, which is the credibility.
They donít have it, they lost it. They donít have the
transparency, thatís why they donít have credibility.
Thatís why they are very coward today, they are afraid
from your channel, from any statement that could tell
the truth because itís going to debunk their talks.
Reuters news agency have been quoting Amaq, ISILís
mouthpiece, regarding the siege of Palmyra. Do you think
they give legitimacy to extremists in such a way?
Theyíre quoting their media.
Assad: Even if they donít mention their news agencies,
they adopt their narrative anyway. But if you look at
the technical side of the way ISIS presented itself from
the very beginning through the videos and the news and
the media in general and the PR, they use Western
technique. Look at it, itís very sophisticated. How
could somebody whoís under siege, whoís despised all
over the world, whoís under attack from the airplanes,
who the whole world wants to liberate every city from
him, could be that sophisticated unless he is not
relaxed and has all the support? So, I donít think it is
about Amaq; itís about the West adopting their stories,
sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly.
Donald Trump takes over as US President in a few weeks.
You mentioned America many times today. What do you
expect from Americaís new administration?
Assad: His rhetoric during the campaign were positive
regarding the terrorism, which is our priority today.
Anything else is not priority, so, I wouldnít focus on
anything else, the rest is American, letís say, internal
matters, I wouldnít worry about. But the question
whether Trump have the will or the ability to implement
what he just mentioned. You know that most of the
mainstream media and big corporate, the lobbies, the
congress, even some in his party were against him; they
want to have more hegemony, more conflict with Russia,
more interference in different countries, toppling
governments, and so on. He said something in the other
direction. Could he sustain against all those after he
started next month? Thatís the question. If he could, I
think the world will be in a different place, because
the most important thing is the relation between Russia
and the Unites States. If he goes towards that relation,
most of the tension around the world will be pacified.
Thatís very important for us in Syria, but I donít think
anyone has the answer to that. He wasnít a politician,
so, we donít have any reference to judge him, first.
Second, nobody can tell what kind of pattern is it going
to be next month and after.
The humanitarian situation in Syria is a disaster, and
we hear from EU foreign policy chief, Madam Mogherini,
that EU is the only entity to deliver humanitarian aid
to Syria. Is that true?
Assad: Actually, all the aid that any Western country
sent was to the terrorists, to be very clear, blunt and
very transparent. They never cared about a single Syrian
human life. We have so many cities in Syria till today
surrounded by and besieged by the terrorists; they
prevented anything to reach them, food, water, anything,
all the basic needs of life. Of course, they attack them
on daily basis by mortars and try to kill them. What did
the EU send to those? If they are worried about the
human life, if they talk about the humanitarian aspect,
because when you talk about the humanitarian aspect or
issue, you donít discriminate. All the Syrians are
humans, all the people are humans. They donít do that.
So, this is the double standard, this is the lie that
they keep telling, and itís becoming a disgusting lie,
no-one is selling their stories anymore. Thatís not
true, what she mentioned, not true.
Some suggestions say that for Syria, the best solution
would to split into separate countries governed by
Sunni, Shiía, Kurds. Is it any way possible?
Assad: This is the Western Ė with some regional
countriesí Ė hope or dream, and this is not new, not
related to this war; that was before the war, and you
have maps for this division and disintegration. But
actually, if you look at the society today, the Syrian
society is more unified than before the war. This is
reality. Iím not saying anything to raise the morale of
anyone, Iím not talking to Syrian audience anyway now,
Iím talking about the reality. Because of the lessons of
the war, the society became more realistic and pragmatic
and many Syrians knew that being fanatic doesnít help,
being extreme in any idea, Iím not only talking about
extremism in the religious meaning; politically,
socially, culturally, doesnít help Syria. Only when we
accept each other, when we respect each other, we can
live with each other and we can have one country. So,
regarding the disintegration of Syria, if you donít have
this real disintegration among the society and different
shades and spectrum of the Syrian society, Syrian
fabric, you cannot have division. Itís not a map you
draw, I mean, even if you have one country while the
people are divided, you have disintegration. Look at
Iraq, itís one country, but it is disintegrated in
reality. So, no, Iím not worried about this. Thereís no
way that Syrians will accept that. Iím talking now about
the vast majority of the Syrians, because this is not
new, this is not the subject of the last few weeks or
the last few months. This is the subject of this war.
So, after nearly six years, I can tell you the majority
of the Syrians wouldnít accept anything related to
disintegration, they are going to live as one Syria.
Question 18: As
a mother, I feel the pain of all Syrian mothers. Iím
speaking about children in Syria, what does the future
hold for them?
Assad: This is the most dangerous aspect of our problem,
not only in Syria; wherever you talk about this dark
Wahhabi ideology, because many of those children who
became young during the last decade, or more than one
decade, who joined the terrorists on ideological basis,
not for the like of money or anything else, or hope,
letís say, they came from open-minded families, educated
families, intellectual families. So, you can imagine how
strong the terrorism is.
that happened because of their propaganda?
Assad: Exactly, because the ideology is very dangerous;
it knows no borders, no political borders, and the
network, the worldwide web has helped those terrorists
using fast and inexpensive tools in order to promote
their ideology, and they could infiltrate any family
anywhere in the world, whether in Europe, in your
country, in my country, anywhere. You have secular
society, I have secular society, but it didnít protect
the society from being infiltrated.
Question 19: Do
you have any counter ideology for this?
Exactly, because they built their ideology on the Islam,
you have to use the same ideology, using the real Islam,
the real moderate Islam, in order to counter their
ideology. This is the fast way. If we want to talk about
the mid-term and long-term, itís about how much can you
upgrade the society, the way the people analyze and
think, because this ideology can only work when you
cannot analyze, when you donít think properly. So, itís
about the algorithm of the mind, if you have natural or
healthy operating system, if you want to draw an analogy
to the IT, if you have good operating systems in our
mind, they cannot infiltrate it like a virus. So, itís
about the education, media and policy because sometimes
when you have a cause, a national cause, and people lose
hope, you can push those people towards being
extremists, and this is one of the influences in our
region since the seventies, after the war between the
Arabs and the Israelis, and the peace failed in every
aspect to recapture the land, to give the land and the
rights to its people, you have more desperation, and
that played into the hand of the extremists, and this is
where the Wahhabi find fertile soil to promote its
President, thank you very much for your time, and I wish
your country peace and prosperity, and as soon as
Thank you very much for coming.
This time has been very tough for you, so I wish itís
going to end soon.
Thank you very much for coming to Syria. Iím very glad
to receive you.
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