Question 1: Mr. President, if we look back at the events which happened five years ago, how do you describe the situation which existed in Syria in 2015? Did you hope to get outside help then?
President Assad: In order to sum up the position at that time, I can say that it was very dangerous. The terrorists were advancing in different regions of Syria and occupying cities, with direct support from the United States, France, the UK, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia; in addition to the indirect support from other Western countries.
Question 6: Mr. President, let’s talk about those who constantly violate and ignore international law, and you know who I’m talking about. You are the elected President of the Syrian Arab Republic. You led the war on terrorism. The law is on your side, and the people are behind you; nevertheless, we constantly hear some Western leaders making bad statements such as: “Assad must leave.” We remember very well how Barack Obama talked about this. Unfortunately, the same is being repeated now by Donald Trump. Recently, a book was published in the United States, Fear: Trump in the White House, by famous American journalist Bob Woodward, in which he states that in 2017, after the missile attack on Syria, Trump wanted to assassinate you, and I quote: “Let’s kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the lot of them.” How do you comment on that? What did you do? Why do they demonize you?
President Assad: First of all, regarding the statements which always call for the removal of the president: The United States is used to having presidents – let’s say, as American agents, in the sense that it appoints them – and consequently it tells them: now you stay. And when their role comes to an end, it tells them: go. They are used to that. I am not one of those (presidents), and consequently all the statements they make do not concern us at all. They do not bother us, and we do not care about them. This is an American discourse directed at the Americans themselves.
Question 7: Aren’t you vexed by the West’s disregard for its relationship with you, which can sometimes be rude?
President Assad: No, no, because it is less important than warranting one’s concern about it and I’ll tell you why. If we look at Trump’s recent statements quoted in the book you mentioned, they are neither surprising nor new. The American policy since the Cold War, and even since the end of World War II up until today, is a policy of hegemony, of coup d’états, of assassinations and wars. So, this is normal, Trump hasn’t said anything new.
On the contrary, we have to recognize that Trump has an important merit, which is exposing the American regime. For us, it was already exposed, but it was hiding behind some pretty masks – like democracy, human rights, and other similar things. Trump is frank. He says, “this is what we do.” So even if Trump doesn’t say it, we must know that it is part of their policy and part of their thinking. The United States does not accept partners in the world, and consequently does not accept independent states, including in the West. The West is a satellite of the United States, not its partner. They are not independent. The Americans do not accept an independent individual or an independent state. They do not even accept Russia, which is a superpower, to be independent. They do not accept you even in history; they even deny your role in eliminating Nazism, as if Russia had no role in that.
So, if they haven’t accepted Russia in the past, why would they accept it in the present? And if they haven’t accepted the large Russian state as independent, would they accept Syria, a smaller country, as an independent state? This is the problem with the Americans: they do not accept any individual who acts in the best interest of his country, any individual who respects himself, or maintains an independent national decision.
Question 10: Looking at your life today, as president of a state leading the fight against terrorism, is that the life you dreamt of at a certain point in time when you had a different type of life?
President Assad: This terrorism we are experiencing today has been attacking us since the 1950s. At every stage, it developed its techniques. In the 1950s it created chaos but it wasn’t armed, in the 1960s it started to become armed. In the 1970s and 80s it became organized, and today this same terrorism has developed its tactics and gained political support, with backing from countries and banks.
Our fate with terrorism has existed even before I, and most Syrians, were born and therefore it should always remain in our minds. Even if we defeat this terrorism, we should always think that it could come back. For the simple reason that first and foremost, it is not about individuals in as much as it is about ideology; as long as the West continues to take reference from its colonial past and continues to think of hegemony, it is inevitable that it will continue to bring this terrorism back to life in other forms. We must think realistically that even if it was eliminated, it could appear later in different forms. That’s why the battle for us, is against terrorist ideology before it is a battle against terrorists as individuals; when this ideology is eliminated, the West and Syria’s enemies, will no longer have the tools to resurrect it.President Bashar al-Assad’s Interview with Russian Zvezda TV Station