Most Australian and US viewers will be completely unaware that polls have consistently shown the majority of Syrians supporting their government and opposing armed opposition attacks. British journalist Jonathan Steele wrote in 2012, “Most Syrians back President Assad but you’d never know from Western media. In 2013, a NATO study concluded that Assad was winning the battle for Syrian hearts and minds. In light of this it seems fair to ask: Why are none of these voices included in a documentary about Syria? Why were there no voices from members of the Syrian American Forum or Arab Americans for Syria or from Syrians who actually live in Syria and experience the conflict first hand? Read whole article inside.
This article originally entitled: PBS Frontline Fails the Public with “Obama at War”: A Case Study in Distortion and Bias on Syria, by Rick Sterling and first published on June 4th, 2015 at Dissident Voice.
Frontline is an influential television program which examines important foreign and domestic issues. The shows tend to be technically well done – combining concise writing with compelling video. Many North Americans watch and have their beliefs shaped by Frontline documentaries.
Last week Public Broadcasting System channels across North America broadcast the Frontline special titled “Obama at War”. The 52 minute video portrays the following:
* Origins of the Syrian conflict
* Response of the Obama administration
* Evolution of the conflict
* The run-up and response to alleged chemical attacks in 2013
* Emergence of ISIS, Nusra and other extremist groups
* Where is the conflict headed? Where is US policy headed?
The video is online here. The approximate time stamp of some key moments in the video are noted in text below.
On the positive side, the documentary acknowledges that:
* It is a violation of international law to provide weapons to a non-state actor trying to overthrow a sovereign state.
* The overthrow of the Libyan government led to chaos and increased sectarianism and violence.
* There might not be any easy solutions; escalating US involvement as demanded by the “Syrian opposition” and interventionists might actually make things worse.
In addition, the program shows the inner workings and debate process in the Obama administration.
That said, following are some key problems with the documentary.
(1) Promotes “Syrian Opposition” that is more American than Syrian
Three “Syrian Opposition” members (Ouabi Shahbandar, Murhaf Jouejati, and Amr al Azm) appear 12 times through the documentary, using about 7% of the total time. In reality all of the three are U.S. Citizens; none of them has lived in Syria for many years or decades.
Ouabi Shahbandar is the “Syrian Opposition” member given prominent attention in the video. He came to the US at age 8. At Arizona State University in 2003 he was a young Republican neoconservative on the rampage, strongly supporting GW Bush and the invasion of Iraq, denouncing war protesters as “terrorists” and allying with far right figures such as David Horowitz. In the past decade he has worked for the US Dept of Defense.
Murhaf Jouejati teaches at the National Defense University (US Dept of Defense). A third voice is from Amr Al Azm who is leader of the US funded “Day After Project” intended to plan for development after regime change in Damascus. In short, all three “Syrian Opposition” voices are aligned and committed to US not Syrian national interests.
In light of this it seems fair to ask: Why are none of these voices included in a documentary about Syria? Why were there no voices from members of the Syrian American Forum or Arab Americans for Syria or from Syrians who actually live in Syria and experience the conflict first hand?
(3) Gives biased and contradictory characterization of the conflict
At (2:30) “Syrian opposition” member Murhaf Jouejati claims the Syrian opposition has universal goals and is not sectarian. In contrast, at (3:35) Washington Post journalist David Ignatius describes the uprising as a “Sunni revolution”. How can it be a “Sunni revolution” and non-sectarian at the same time?
In reality, both portrayals are distortions. The Syrian conflict has been often characterized in Western media as “an Alawi regime dictatorship dominating the Sunni majority population.” Although repeated countless times, it is essentially untrue. For example, the powerful Syrian Defense and Information Ministries are both led by Sunni Muslims; the Syrian Army is majority Sunni; the economy is dominated by Sunni businessmen. In reality, Syria is a mix of many religions and the government is predominately nationalist and secular, not religious.
The opposition is driven by sectarian Wahabi ideology but that does not represent Sunni Islam any more than Zionist supremacism represents Judaism or right wing Christian fundamentalists represent Christianity.
(4) Excludes important background information about U.S. Ambassador and US Policy
U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford is ever-present in the documentary. He appears 15 separate times and his perspective uses almost 10% of the entire video. In the opening scenes, Ford talks about going to support a protest march in Hama. He says “We were not backing any particular set of demands that the protesters were putting forward; we were simply supporting their right to demonstrate peacefully.” This is a nice platitude for those who believe in the tooth fairy, but how about the real world?
In fact, U.S. policy has been hostile toward Syria for many years. In 2003-4 the Syria Accountability Act imposed sanctions. It’s widely known that the US and allies Israel and Saudi Arabia seek to break Syria’s alliance with Iran and the Lebanese resistance movement. Israel has attacked Syria numerous times. In 2007, Seymour Hersh wrote:
The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
Robert Ford is very familiar with these “extremist groups” since he was Political Counselor under Ambassador John Negroponte in Baghdad 2004 – 2006 during the time that they were launched. Negroponte is infamous in Latin America where he was US Ambassador to Honduras coordinating the creation of the ‘Contras’ in Nicaragua and death squads in El Salvador and Honduras. Negroponte and Robert Ford implemented the transformation in US strategy in Iraq following the first year of US occupation. Called the “Salvador option” by Newsweek magazine, Robert Ford likely played a pivotal role since he was a top official and fluent in Arabic. But this important background information is missing from the Frontline special.
(5)Falsely claims the Syrian insurgency was predominately secular in 2012/2013
One of the major arguments of Robert Ford and other interventionists is that the Syrian uprising was not sectarian; they claim the Obama Administration did not do enough to support the secular opposition and thereby “allowed” it to be radicalized. Ford says toward the end of the documentary:
Of course there was a window of opportunity. The jihadi elements in Syria were a distinct minority in the Syrian armed opposition in late 2012 and going into 2013.(45:35)
This assertion is contradicted on multiple counts. Observing conditions in Aleppo in September-October 2012, American journalist James Foley wrote:
Many civilians here are losing patience with the increasingly violent and unrecognizable opposition — one that is hampered by infighting and a lack of structure, and deeply infiltrated by both foreign fighters and terrorist groups.
Internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction. The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major force driving the insurgency in Syria.
It appears Ford was deliberately downplaying the sectarian reality of the conflict to justify his call for greater US intervention.
(6)Falsely suggests Obama Administration was preventing opposition forces from receiving weapons
The documentary gives the impression the Obama administration was steadfastly blocking the supplying of weapons to Syrian armed opposition through 2012. In reality, huge quantities of weapons were transferred beginning 2011. Another Defense Intelligence Agency document discloses:
During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the Gaddafi regime, in October 2011 and up until early September 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped …to Syria.
The weapons included “Sniper rifles, RPG’s and 125mm and 150mm howitzer missiles.”
As documented here, beginning November 2012 there was a major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels:
3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan.
The kernel of truth here is that despite the huge shipments of weapons to the armed opposition they were still losing. Unwilling to accept this, Saudi Arabia wanted to escalate the shipments and transfers even more.
(7)Excludes Crucial Information including the Huge Number of Syrian Soldiers Killed
There are many scenes of Syrian victims from “armed opposition” territories and battle zones. Like all wars and conflicts, it is horrible with good and bad people on all sides. However, it is striking that there are no videos or interviews showing the extent of casualties in Syrian government areas.
Three quarters of the Syrian population live in areas under Syrian government control and they are also victims of random or targeted attacks. Nor is there any hint about the huge number of Syrian soldiers, police and national defense forces who have been killed.
Viewers of “Obama at War” will have no idea that between 80 and 120 thousand Syrian soldiers and civil defenders have been killed in the conflict. Many thousands are victims of those “Sniper” rifles shipped under the watchful eye of the CIA. Skeptical readers are urged to look for themselves at the range of estimates from different sources shown here.
What would happen in the USA or Canada if foreign sponsored “rebels” killed tens of thousands of police or military soldiers?
(8) Falsely claims “clear proof” that Syrian government used Sarin in Spring 2013
At (22:15) Frontline intones “With no one to stop him, Assad initiates a new phase in the war: the deployment of chemical weapons.”
Mark Mazetti of NY Times says:
Intelligence community was assessing that the rebels were on the ropes. You have the clear proof in the intelligence community that there had been chemical weapon attacks ….
Mazetti’s assertion ignores the widespread debate and differing opinions among those looking into the sarin issue. For example, UN Inspector Carla Ponte said the evidence pointed toward the rebels being responsible, not the government. She said:
There are strong, concrete suspicions …of the use of sarin gas….on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.
If the “rebels” were “on the ropes”, why would the Assad government use chemical weapons and provoke international outcry and possible intervention? On the other hand, the “rebels” had the motive and the means. Syrian insurgents had even been captured with Sarin in Turkey earlier in the year.
(9)Excludes key research on responsibility for Sarin Use in August 2013
At (26:45) Frontline says “Then, a sarin gas attack on a rebel held suburb of Damascus…..1400 men, women and children are killed according to what the American intelligence agencies tell the President.” John Kerry accuses the Syrian government of using “the world’s most heinous weapons against the most vulnerable people”.
In reality, there was immediate skepticism about the responsibility. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), made of up retired members of the US intelligence community especially the Central Intelligence Agency, issued a statement saying:
Former co-workers are telling us, categorically, that contrary to the claims of your administration, the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21, and that British intelligence officials also know this.
“Obama at War” ignores the critical debate and simply repeats the accusations which have been largely discredited. Over the past 18 months some of the best US investigative journalists have researched what happened on August 21 in Ghouta. Seymour Hersh wrote “The Red Line and the Rat Line” pointing to Turkish and Nusra culpability. Robert Parry wrote “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case” identifying the “junk heap of bad evidence” used to blame the Syrian government. Two months before the gas attacks, Russ Baker predicted the drive toward another US intervention based on false premises. He commented sarcastically: “No one is likely to demand good hard evidence for the use of chemical weapons. After all, the Bush administration and its lies for war was so…very long ago.”
Instead of dealing with the controversy and contrary evidence, Frontline ignored it and echoes the assertions of interventionists.
(10)Largely ignores the lessons from Libya
The situation in Libya is highly relevant to Syria – and recent. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to explore what happened there and the lessons to be learned? At (9:45) there is a passing reference to the chaos in Libya following the overthrow of the Gadaffi government.
Earlier at (5:45) NY Times reporter Mark Mazetti says “We had seen what happened in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya … Popular demonstrations would ultimately bring down the regime.” However, that is inaccurate regarding Libya where the government was overthrown by a seven month US/NATO/GULF bombing campaign – not “popular demonstrations”.
Considering that the attacks on Libya were presented as necessary to “protect civilians” (as is currently argued for Syria), and the eruption of sectarianism and violence which has followed, and the terrible decline in living standards and security for Libyan civilians …. isn’t this worthy of more than five seconds passing reference?
(11)Repeats Dubious Accusations regarding Chlorine Gas Bombs
“Obama at War” repeats accusations based on unreliable evidence that the Syrian government has been using chlorine gas bombs to attack civilians. Logic would suggest that the opposition has a motive for this while the government does not. Some widely publicized writers, such as Dr. Annie Sparrow, are full of moralistic condemnations but curiously short of facts. As reported by Time magazine in Spring 2013, the major chlorine producing factory in Syria (and its stockpiles of chlorine) were under Nusra (Al Queda) control since 2012. It is also curious there are no current videos showing the alleged onslaught of chlorine filled barrel bombs while there are many videos showing the armed opposition launching gas canisters.
(12) Promotes False History of the Expansion of ISIS and Nusra
At this point the documentary does something very misleading: it presents the expansion of ISIS and Nusra as a consequence of the Obama decision not to attack Syria. At 36:25 the documentary intones “Extremists exploited the decision not to attack.” At 36:35 Shahbandar claims that extremists are telling Syrian civilians “Look you’ve been betrayed by the world ….”. At 36:55 Baker (NY Times) suggests that ISIS and Nusra are saying “We’re the only ones who can take down Assad and create a new order here.” The documentary then claims that moderate rebels are joining extremists with ISIS emerging as the strongest. That is soon followed by video showing ISIS surging through Iraq and seizing Mosul.
In reality, the extremists (Nusra, ISIS, etc) were the major armed opposition force long before the August 2013 situation. That was confirmed in the August 2012 DIA report. Nor was the surge of ISIS into Iraq a consequence of the Obama decision. The ISIS seizure of Mosul occurred in June of 2014, ten months after the Obama decision.
If the US had proceeded and attacked Syria in September 2013 it would have further weakened the Syrian government and helped the extremists expand even more. After four years of attacks by tens of thousands of heavily armed insurgents from all over the globe, the Syrian government and military is greatly weakened. That has allowed ISIS to control the lightly populated eastern part of the country. The Syrian army is bogged down fighting thousands of extremists in the major urban areas in the west, north and south which has allowed ISIS to continue in the east.
(13)Suggests that ISIS and Nusra are “helping” and “defending” Syrians
At 37:10 Ford says:
I think it’s human nature to seek help from those who will defend you against the external threat that’s killing you, arresting you, torturing you … It’s no surprise that Syrians seek support of anyone to get rid of the regime that’s inflicting the pain.
Ford’s assertion that the extremists are “defending” Syrians against an “external threat” is bizarre since the “external threat” refers to the Syrian government and “those who will defend you” refers to extremist organizations consisting of huge numbers of sectarian fanatics and mercenaries from across the globe.
While there are some Syrians who want a sectarian wahabi state with strict sharia law, they are vastly outnumbered by Syrians who want to maintain a secular state and inclusive multi-faith society. The suggestion in this documentary that a significant number of Syrians seek “help” from ISIS or Nusra is a grotesque falsehood.
Ford continues his nonchalant description of ISIS at 44:30:
Dropping bombs is not going to destroy the Islamic State and so it seems the Islamic State is going to maintain control over the eastern half of Syria more or less indefinitely.
* “Obama at War” presents a biased and distorted view of the reality in Syria.
* The experience and perspective of the vast majority of Syrians is ignored.
* There is a pressing need for realistic reports which convey the perspectives and experiences of all people in the conflict, not just the “opposition” and their supporters.
A link to the video, embedded below, was posted to a FaceBook discussion started by Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations with the comment, "Sorry Miss Ambassador but I don't see in this recent video taken on February 2014 that people are rejecting Assad".
After March 2011, when the insurgency against the Syrian Government began, the mainstream media and much of the supposed alternate newsmedia have attempted to depict the government of President Bashar al-Assad as a corrupt and brutal regime hated by the people of Syria.
If the Syrian government was as hated by the Syrian people as Samantha Power and the newsmedia have been claiming for most of the last three years, how could it have held on to power for more than a few months? This alone shows the mainstream media foreign 'reporters' to have been lying about Syria as they lied about Libya and, before that, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Since March 2011, there have frequently been public demonstrations by large numbers of Syrians, showing their support for their Government and calling on the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their allies to stop supplying weapons to the foreign insurgents. On such demonstration occurred only 2 days ago. It is shown in the embedded Youtube video below.
At the moment the Syrian Army is winning the war, but they have won at the terrible cost of 130,000 lives lost so far in almost three years. There can be no guarantee that even a people as resilient as the Syrians have shown themselves to be, can continue to fight and sacrifice themselves indefinitely against the hordes of foreign mercenaries and jihadist terrorists being sent to Syria.
Furthermore, if the US-instigated regime change succeeds in Ukraine, Syria's ally Russia will be weakened and less able to support her.
The only guarantee of victory for Syria in the longer term, is for the people of the Western nations, from which the terrorists are being supplied, to hold those governments to account through the Internet, the mass media and public protests and ultimately to throw them from office. A story on PressTV story Greek workers hold anti-austerity demo in Athens (25/2/2014) gives much cause for hope.
One reason for the hostility of the Western Military Alliance is that the Syrian Government, unlike the Greek Government, refused to be dictated to by the likes of Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF which dictated these economically ruinous austerity policies to the Greek Government. (Iceland also defied thedictates of the IMF in September 2013 and found it was able to overcome its economic difficulties far better than other other countries which had accepted IMF loans and the attached conditions.)
One reason for the hostility of the Western Military Alliance is that the Syrian Government, unlike the Greek Government, refused to be dictated to by the likes of Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund which dictated these austerity policies to the Greek Government. Christine Lagarde appeared on ABC Television's Q & A program on Tuesday 18 February in order to defend her policies before a studio and domestic audience. The IMF is still dictated by the arcane Friedmanite dogma that by sacking public servants and slashing government services, the supposedly more efficient private sector will fill the gap left and provide the services far more cost-effectively, thereby increasing prosperity for all.
Christine Lagarde's case fared badly against some well-worded questions from members of the audience. Had the discussion been allowed to proceed to its conclusion in more time than the one hour allowed by Q & A, Lagarde would have been completely demolished.
Despite claims by the Greek Foreign Ministry that the situation was resolved, the plane is still at Athens International Airport and hasn't been allowed to refuel and thus cannot take off.
Speculated reasons for the delay, from local media reports include:
"Ground crew refused the refuel because the pilots had not provided the airport with any flight plans or informed them of their intention to land there." – cited by ITAR-tASS
"It could have been 'sanctions against the Assad regime.'"
Such explanations are simply not believable, given that a peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict at Geneva conference, scheduled to start tomorrow, was at stake. That conflict has lasted nearly three years and has so far cost the lives of 100,000 Syrian citizens according to some estimates.
Almost certainly the real reason for the attempt to ground the Syrian delegation in Athens is a fear by Syria's enemies of the voices of members of Syria's delegation being heard by the people of the world. Given that:
The evidence of the criminality of other participants at the Geneva, including United States Secretary of State John Kerry, on whose hands the blood of many Syrians lies, is overwhelming and conclusive; and
The Syrian Government, particularly President Bashar al-Assad, has shown itself to be very effective at putting its case to the people of the world, through interviews with critical and often hostile journalists and through their media outlets such as the aforementioned SANA and Syria News,
... John Kerry and his allies will be seen for what they are by large numbers of people who are able to witness to the exchanges between them and the Syrian delegation.
Update: 2:40AM +10:00
A report by the Wall Street Journal only 15 minutes ago stated: "Syrian Delegation's Plane Grounded in Athens, Denied Fuel" but that has since changed to "Syrian Delegation's Plane Leaves Athens After Grounding Over Fuel". (Hopefully, the latter report proves to be correct.)
The Geneva Peace Conference 2 had to take place, despite the obstacles strewn by the enemies of Syria.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who had invited Iran Monday night withdrew his invitation Tuesday morning. Indeed, the delegation of the Syrian opposition had responded by canceling its attendance. To justify his retraction, Ban hypocritically evoked Iran’s refusal to endorse the Geneva I communique, which Iran can not do because it wasn't there.
Except for a last minute change, the delegation of the Syrian National Coalition should not include any member of its main component, the National Council. It should not include either any members of the Provisional Government in exile, whose Prime Minister has resigned.
The European Union is trying to delay the arrival of the Syrian delegation. Thus, France has denied the Syrian airplane fly over rights. Now, a small part of the Geneva International Airport is located on French territory. The plane should thus land near Montreux. On the other hand, Greece has refused to provide fuel to the Syrian plane which has been waiting for several hours on the tarmac in Athens. Although the Syrian delegation, whose composition has been known for a long time, is making the trip at the invitation of the UN Secretary-General, France and Greece-which are participating in the conference-argue that they are applying the sanctions of the European Union.
Damascus, (SANA) - Syrian Singer Mayada al-Hinawi affirmed that she wouldn't abandon her national stances whatsoever the price was.
In a statement to SANA, al-Hinawi said that she received an offer to participate in Sola Program, which is presented by Assala Nasri, in return for large amounts of money.
She added that she rejected the offer based on her national stances which oppose any intervention in Syria's sovereignty, moreover, the program presenter is well known for her negative stance towards the crisis in Syria.
Al-Hinawi reiterated her confidence in PresidentBasharal-Assad and the Syrian army's members who are confronting terrorism in Syria.
For more than two years, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been demonised by the Western presstitute newsmedia as a brutal dictator, a mass murderer, corrupt and, most recently, a chemical war criminal.
Unlike the serial liars Barack Obama and John Kerry, who have yet to face real questioning by the western 'journalists', Syrian President President Bashar al-Assad, for a brutal and corrupt dictator, has shown himself remarkably willing and able to face critical and probing interviews.
On 3 September 2013, he was interviewed by the French daily Le Figaro. On 6 Jun , he was interviewed by the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper. On 5 April 2013, he was interviewed by a Turkish television station. On 23 February, he was interviewed by a German television station. In all of these interviews, the claims made against his government were put to him and he was able to convincingly refute them. It is hard to conceive of how President al-Assad could have appeared so calm and credible if there were any factual basis to the allegations made against him.
On 9 September 2013, as the United States was preparing to strike Syria, President Assad was interviewed by Charlie Rose of CBS News, a station which has been presenting lying propaganda as news about the Syrian conflict. Although not a native English Speaker, President al-Assad, calmly and clearly put his case and answered the unsubstantiated claims aginst his government including the claim that his government had used poison gas against Syrian civilians.
CBS News Presenter
CBS Interview Charlie Rose
President Bashar al-Assad calmly putting his case and refuting mainstream media lies.
CBS commentator, who labeled President al-Assad's words 'propaganda'.
Following the interview, viewers were dissuaded from forming their own judgment, when President al-Assad's words were labeled 'propaganda'.
During the interview President al-Assad neither confirmed nor denied that Syria had chemical weapons. He pointed out that Israel, from which his country had faced invasion on a number of occasions, as well as Syria, was not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nevertheless, his government wished to see chemical weapons abolished and had taken initiatives to ensure that they were. This was brushed aside after the interview concluded, when one female commentator asserted that "Syria has a very large stockpiles of chemical weapons according to multiple intelligence communities around the world."
#part1_3455" id="part1_3455">Part 1 (29:27) of the full CBS Interview
Update, 15 August 2015: The full video of length 56:28 minutes can be watched here on YouTube in place of #part1_3455">Part 1 and #part2_3455">Part 2 on this page. - Ed
Charlie Rose: Mr. President thank you very much for this opportunity to talk to you at a very important moment because the President of the United States will address the nation this week and, as you know an important conversation is taking place in Washington and important things are happening here in your country. Do you expect an airstrike?
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">As long as the United States doesn't obey the international law and trample over the Charter of the United Nations we have to worry that any administration -- not only this one -- would do anything. According to the lies that we've been hearing for the last two weeks from high-ranking officials in the US administration we have to expect the worst.
Charlie Rose: Are you prepared?
President al-Assad: We've been living in difficult circumstances for the last two years and a half, and we prepare ourselves for every possibility. But that doesn't mean if you're prepared things will be better; it's going to get worse with any foolish strike or stupid war.
Charlie Rose: What do you mean worse?
President al-Assad: Worse because of the repercussions because nobody can tell you the repercussions of the first strike. We're talking about one region, bigger regions, not only about Syria. This interlinked region, this intermingled, interlocked, whatever you want to call it; if you strike somewhere, you have to expect the repercussions somewhere else in different forms in ways you don't expect.
Charlie Rose: Are you suggesting that if in fact there is a strike; there will be repercussions against the United States from your friends in other countries like Iran or Hezbollah or others?
President al-Assad: As I said, this may take different forms: direct and indirect. Direct when people want to retaliate, or governments. Indirect when you're going to have instability and the spread of terrorism all over the region that will influence the west directly.
Charlie Rose: Have you had conversations with Russia, with Iran or with Hezbollah about how to retaliate?
President al-Assad: We don't discuss this issue as a government, but we discuss the repercussions, which is more important because sometimes repercussions could be more destroying than the strike itself. Any American strike will not destroy as much as the terrorists have already destroyed in Syria; sometimes the repercussions could be many doubles the strike itself.
Charlie Rose: But some have suggested that it might tip the balance in the favor of the rebels and lead to the overthrow of your government.
Any strike will be as direct support to Al-Qaeda
President al-Assad: Exactly. #FFFF00;">Any strike will be as direct support to Al-Qaeda offshoot that's called Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. You're right about this. It's going to be direct support.
Charlie Rose: This is about chemical warfare. Let's talk about that. Do you approve of the use of chemical warfare, the use of deadly chemicals? Do you think that it is an appropriate tool of war, to use chemicals?
President al-Assad: We are against any WMD, any weapons of mass destruction, whether chemical or nuclear.
Charlie Rose: So you're against the use of chemical warfare?
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">Yes, not only me. As a state, as a government, in 2001 we proposed to the United Nations to empty or to get rid of every WMD in the Middle East, and the United States stood against that proposal. This is our conviction and policy.
Charlie Rose: But you're not a signatory to the chemical warfare agreement.
President al-Assad: Not yet.
Charlie Rose: Why not?
President al-Assad: Because Israel has WMD, and it has to sign, and Israel is occupying our land, so that's we talked about the Middle East, not Syria, not Israel; it should be comprehensive.
Charlie Rose: Do you consider chemical warfare equivalent to nuclear warfare?
President al-Assad: I don't know. We haven't tried either.
Charlie Rose: But you know, you're a head of state, and you understand the consequences of weapons that don't discriminate.
President al-Assad: Technically, they're not the same. But morally, it's the same.
Charlie Rose: Morally, they are the same.
President al-Assad: They are the same, but at the end, killing is killing. Massacring is massacring. Sometimes you may kill tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands with very primitive armaments.
Charlie Rose: Then why do you have such a stockpile of chemical weapons?
President al-Assad: We don't discuss this issue in public because we never said that we have it, and we never said that we don't have it. It's a Syrian issue; it's a military issue we never discuss in public with anyone.
Charlie Rose: This is from the New York Times this morning: Syria's leaders amassed one of the world's largest stockpiles of chemical weapons with help from the Soviet Union and Iran as well as Western European suppliers, and even a handful of American companies. According to American diplomatic cables and declassified intelligence records, you have amassed one of the largest supplies of chemical weapons in the world.
President al-Assad: To have or not to have is a possibility, but to depend on what media says is nonsense, or to depend on some of the reports of the intelligence is nonsense and that was proven when they invaded Iraq ten years ago and they said "Iraq has stockpiles of WMD" and it was proven after the invasion that this was false; it was fraud. So, we can't depend on what one magazine wrote. But at the end, I said it's something not to be discussed with anyone.
Charlie Rose: You accept that the world believes that you have a stockpile of chemical weapons?
President al-Assad: Who?
Charlie Rose: The world. The United States and other powers who also said that you have chemical weapons.
President al-Assad: It isn't about what they believe in, it's about the reality that we have, and this reality, we own it, we don't have to discuss it.
Charlie Rose: Speaking of reality, what was the reality on August 21st? What happened in your judgment?
President al-Assad: We're not in the area where the alleged chemical attack happened. I said alleged. We're not sure that anything happened.
Charlie Rose: Even at this date, you're not sure that chemical weapons -- even though you have seen the video tape, even though you've seen the bodies, even though your own officials have been there.
President al-Assad: I haven't finished. #FFFF00;">Our soldiers in another area were attacked chemically. Our soldiers - they went to the hospital as casualties because of chemical weapons, but in the area where they said the government used chemical weapons, we only had video and we only have pictures and allegations. We're not there; our forces, our police, our institutions don't exist there. How can you talk about what happened if you don't have evidence? We're not like the American administration, we're not social media administration or government. We are a government that deals with reality. When we have evidence, we'll announce it.
Charlie Rose: Well, as you know, #FFFF00;">Secretary Kerry has said there is evidence and that they saw rockets that fired from a region controlled by your forces into a region controlled by the rebels. They have evidence from satellite photographs of that. They have evidence of a message that was intercepted about chemical weapons, and soon thereafter there were other intercepted messages, so Secretary Kerry has presented what he views as conclusive evidence.
Kerry reminds about the big lie that Collin Powell said in front of the world on satellites about the WMD in Iraq
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">No, he presented his confidence and his convictions. It's not about confidence, it's about evidence. The Russians have completely opposite evidence that the missiles were thrown from an area where the rebels control. This reminds me - what Kerry said - about the big lie that Collin Powell said in front of the world on satellites about the WMD in Iraq before going to war. He said "this is our evidence." Actually, he gave false evidence. In this case, Kerry didn't even present any evidence. He talked "we have evidence" and he didn't present anything. Not yet, nothing so far; not a single shred of evidence.
Charlie Rose: Do you have some remorse for those bodies, those people, it is said to be up to at least a thousand or perhaps 1400, who were in Eastern Ghouta, who died?
President al-Assad: We feel pain for every Syrian victim.
Charlie Rose: What about the victims of this assault from chemical warfare?
President al-Assad: Dead is dead, killing is killing, crime is crime. When you feel pain, you feel pain about their family, about the loss that you have in your country, whether one person was killed or a hundred or a thousand. It's a loss, it's a crime, it's a moral issue. We have family that we sit with, family that loved their dear ones. It's not about how they are killed, it's about that they are dead now; this is the bad thing.
Charlie Rose: But has there been any remorse or sadness on behalf of the Syrian people for what happened?
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">I think sadness prevails in Syria now. We don't feel anything else but sadness because we have this killing every day, whether with chemical or any other kind. It's not about how. We feel with it every day.
Charlie Rose: But this was indiscriminate, and children were killed, and people who said goodbye to their children in the morning didn't see them and will never see them again, in Ghouta.
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">That is the case every day in Syria, that's why you have to stop the killing. That's why we have to stop the killing. But what do you mean by "indiscriminate" that you are talking about?
Charlie Rose: Well, the fact that chemical warfare is indiscriminate in who it kills, innocents as well as combatants.
President al-Assad: Yeah, but you're not talking about evidence, you're not talking about facts, we are talking about allegations. So, we're not sure that if there's chemical weapon used and who used it. We can't talk about virtual things, we have to talk about facts.
Charlie Rose: It is said that your government delayed the United Nations observers from getting to Ghouta and that you denied and delayed the Red Cross then the Red Crescent from getting there to make observations and to help.
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">The opposite happened, your government delayed because we asked for a delegation in March 2013 when the first attack happened in Aleppo in the north of Syria; they delayed it till just a few days before al-Ghouta when they sent those team, and the team itself said in its report that he did everything as he wanted. There was not a single obstacle.
Charlie Rose: But they said they were delayed in getting there, that they wanted to be there earlier.
President al-Assad: No, no, no; there was a conflict, there was fighting, they were shooting. That's it. We didn't prevent them from going anywhere. We asked them to come; why to delay them? #FFFF00;">Even if you want to take the American story, they say we used chemical weapons the same day the team or the investigation team came to Syria; is it logical? It's not logical. Even if a country or army wanted to use such weapon, they should have waited a few days till the investigation finished its work. It's not logical, the whole story doesn't even hold together.
Charlie Rose: We'll come back to it. If your government did not do it, despite the evidence, who did it?
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">We have to be there to get the evidence like what happened in Aleppo when we had evidence. And because the United States didn't send the team, we sent the evidence to the Russians.
Charlie Rose: But don't you want to know the answer, if you don't accept the evidence so far, as to who did this?
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">The question is who threw chemicals on the same day on our soldiers. That's the same question. Technically, not the soldiers. Soldiers don't throw missiles on themselves. So, either the rebels, the terrorists, or a third party. We don't have any clue yet. We have to be there to collect the evidences then we can give answer.
Charlie Rose: Well, the argument is made that the rebels don't have their capability of using chemical weapons, they do not have the rockets and they do not have the supply of chemical weapons that you have, so therefore they could not have done it.
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">First of all, they have rockets, and they've been throwing rockets on Damascus for months.
Charlie Rose: That carry chemical weapons?
President al-Assad: Rockets in general. They have the means - first. Second, the sarin gas that they've been talking about for the last weeks is a very primitive gas. You can have it done in the backyard of a house; it's a very primitive gas. So, it's not something complicated.
Charlie Rose: But this was not primitive. This was a terrible use of chemical weapons.
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">Third, they used it in Aleppo in the north of Syria. Fourth, there's a video on YouTube where the terrorists clearly make trials on a rabbit and kill the rabbit and said "this is how we're going to kill the Syrian people." Fifth, there's a new video about one of those women who they consider as rebel or fighter who worked with those terrorists and she said "they didn't tell us how to use the chemical weapons" and one of those weapons exploded in one of the tunnels and killed twelve. That's what she said. Those are the evidence that we have. Anyway, the party who accused is the one who has to bring evidences. The United States accused Syria, and because you accused you have to bring evidence, this first of all. We have to find evidences when we are there.#FFFF00;">
Charlie Rose: What evidence would be sufficient for you?
President al-Assad: For example, in Aleppo we had the missile itself, and the material, and the sample from the sand, from the soil, and samples from the blood.
Charlie Rose: But the argument is made that your forces bombarded Ghouta soon thereafter with the intent of covering up evidence.
President al-Assad: How could bombardment cover the evidence? Technically, it doesn't work. How? This is stupid to be frank, this is very stupid.
Charlie Rose: But you acknowledge the bombardment?
President al-Assad: Of course, there was a fight. That happens every day; now you can have it. But, let's talk... we have indications, let me just finish this point, #FFFF00;">because how can use WMD while your troops are only 100 meters away from it? Is it logical? It doesn't happen. It cannot be used like this. Anyone who's not military knows this fact. Why do you use chemical weapons while you're advancing? Last year was much more difficult than this year, and we didn't use it.
Charlie Rose: There is this question too; if it was not you, does that mean that you don't have control of your own chemical weapons and that perhaps they have fallen into the hands of other people who might want to use them?
President al-Assad: That implies that we have chemical weapons, first. That implies that it's being used, second. So we cannot answer this question until we answer the first part and the second part. Third, let's presume that a country or army has this weapon; this kind of armaments cannot be used by infantry for example or by anyone. This kind of armament should be used by specialized units, so it cannot be in the hand of anyone.
Charlie Rose: Well, exactly, that's the point.
President al-Assad: Which is controlled centrally.
Charlie Rose: Ah, so you are saying that if in fact, your government did it, you would know about it and you would have approved it.
President al-Assad: I'm talking about a general case.
Charlie Rose: In general, you say if in fact it happened, I would have known about it and approved it. That's the nature of centralized power.
President al-Assad: Generally, in every country, yes. I'm talking about the general rules, because I cannot discuss this point with you in detail unless I'm telling you what we have and what we don't have, something I'm not going to discuss as I said at the very beginning, because this is a military issue that could not be discussed.
Charlie Rose: Do you question the New York Times article I read to you, saying you had a stockpile of chemical weapons? You're not denying that.
President al-Assad: No, we don't say yes, we don't say no, because as long as this is classified, it shouldn't be discussed.
Charlie Rose: The United States is prepared to launch a strike against your country because they believe chemical weapons are so abhorrent, that anybody who uses them crosses a red line, and that therefore, if they do that, they have to be taught a lesson so that they will not do it again.
President al-Assad: What red line? Who drew it?
Charlie Rose: The President says that it's not just him, that the world has drawn it in their revulsion against the use of chemical weapons, that the world has drawn this red line.
We have our red lines: our sovereignty, our independence
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">Not the world, because Obama drew that line, and Obama can draw lines for himself and his country, not for other countries. We have our red lines, like our sovereignty, our independence, while if you want to talk about world red lines, the United States used depleted uranium in Iraq, Israel used white phosphorus in Gaza, and nobody said anything. What about the red lines? We don't see red lines. It's political red lines.
Charlie Rose: The President is prepared to strike, and perhaps he'll get the authorization of Congress or not. The question then is would you give up chemical weapons if it would prevent the President from authorizing a strike? Is that a deal you would accept?
President al-Assad: Again, you always imply that we have chemical weapons.
Charlie Rose: I have to, because that is the assumption of the President. That is his assumption, and he is the one that will order the strike.
President al-Assad: It's his problem if he has an assumption, but for us in Syria, we have principles. We'd do anything to prevent the region from another crazy war. It's not only Syria because it will start in Syria.
Charlie Rose: You'd do anything to prevent the region from having another crazy war?
President al-Assad: The region, yes.
Charlie Rose: You realize the consequences for you if there is a strike?
President al-Assad: It's not about me. It's about the region.
Charlie Rose: It's about your country, it's about your people.
President al-Assad: Of course, my country and me, we are part of this region, we're not separated. We cannot discuss it as Syria or as me; it should be as part, as a whole, as comprehensive. That's how we have to look at it.
Charlie Rose: Some ask why would you do it? It's a stupid thing to do if you're going to bring a strike down on your head by using chemical weapons. Others say you'd do it because A: you're desperate, or the alternative, you do it because you want other people to fear you, because these are such fearful weapons that if the world knows you have them, and specifically your opponents in Syria, the rebels, then you have gotten away with it and they will live in fear, and that therefore, the President has to do something.
President al-Assad: You cannot be desperate when the army is making advances. That should have happened -- if we take into consideration that this presumption is correct and this is reality -- you use it when you're in a desperate situation. So, our position is much better than before. So, this is not correct.
Charlie Rose: You think you're winning the war.
President al-Assad: "Winning" is a subjective word, but we are making advancement. This is the correct word, because winning for some people is when you finish completely.
Charlie Rose: Then the argument is made that if you're winning, it is because of the recent help you have got from Iran and from Hezbollah and additional supplies that have come to your side. People from outside Syria supporting you in the effort against the rebels.
President al-Assad: Iran doesn't have any soldier in Syria, so how could Iran help me?
Charlie Rose:#FFFF00;">Supplies, weaponry?
President al-Assad: That's all before the crisis. We always have this kind of cooperation.
Charlie Rose: Hezbollah, Hezbollah fighters have been here.
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">Hezbollah fighters are on the borders with Lebanon where the terrorists attacked them. On the borders with Lebanon, this is where Hezbollah retaliated, and this is where we have cooperation, and that's good.
Charlie Rose: Hezbollah forces are in Syria today?
President al-Assad: On the border area with Lebanon where they want to protect themselves and cooperate with us, but they don't exist all over Syria. They cannot exist all over Syria anyway, for many reasons, but they exist on the borders.
Charlie Rose: What advice are you getting from the Russians?
President al-Assad: About?
Charlie Rose: About this war, about how to end this war.
President al-Assad:Every friend of Syria is looking for peaceful solution
President al-Assad: Every friend of Syria is looking for peaceful solution, and we are convinced about that. We have this advice, and without this advice we are convinced about it.
Charlie Rose: Do you have a plan to end the war?
President al-Assad: Of course.
Charlie Rose: Which is?
President al-Assad: At the very beginning, it was fully political. #FFFF00;">When you have these terrorists, the first part of the same plan which is political should start with stopping the smuggling of terrorists coming from abroad, stopping the logistic support, the money, all kinds of support coming to these terrorists. This is the first part. Second, we can have national dialogue where different Syrian parties sit and discuss the future of Syria. Third, you can have interim government or transitional government. Then you have final elections, parliamentary elections, and you're going to have presidential elections.
Charlie Rose: But the question is: would you meet with rebels today to discuss a negotiated settlement?
President al-Assad: In the initiative that we issued at the beginning of this year we said every party with no exceptions as long as they give up their armaments.
Charlie Rose: But you'll meet with the rebels and anybody who's fighting against you if they give up their weapons?
President al-Assad: We don't have a problem.
Charlie Rose: Then they will say "you are not giving up your weapons, why should we give up our weapons?"
President al-Assad: Does a government give up its weapons? Have you heard about that before?
Charlie Rose: No, but rebels don't normally give up their weapons either during the negotiations; they do that after a successful...
President al-Assad: The armament of the government is legal armament. Any other armament is not legal. So how can you compare? It's completely different.
Charlie Rose: There's an intense discussion going on about all the things we're talking about in Washington, where if there's a strike, it will emanate from the United States' decision to do this. What do you want to say, in this very important week, in America, and in Washington, to the American people, the members of Congress, to the President of the United States?
President al-Assad: I think the most important part of this now is, let's say the American people, but the polls show that the majority now don't want a war, anywhere, not only against Syria, but the Congress is going to vote about this in a few days, and I think the Congress is elected by people, it represents the people, and works for their interest. The first question that they should ask themselves: what do wars give America, since Vietnam till now? Nothing. No political gain, no economic gain, no good reputation. #FFFF00;">The United States' credibility is at an all-time low. So, this war is against the interest of the Untied States. Why? First, this war is going to support Al-Qaeda and the same people that killed Americans in the 11th of September. The second thing that we want to tell Congress, that they should ask and that what we expect them to ask this administration about the evidence that they have regarding the chemical story and allegations that they presented.
#FFFF00;">I wouldn't tell the President or any other official, because we are disappointed by their behavior recently, because we expected this administration to be different from Bush's administration. They are adopting the same doctrine with different accessories. That's it. So if we want to expect something from this administration, it is not to be weak, to be strong to say that "we don't have evidence," that "we have to obey the international law", that "we have to go back to the Security Council and the United Nations".
Charlie Rose: The question remains; what can you say to the President who believes chemical weapons were used by your government; that this will not happen again.
President al-Assad: I will tell him very simply: present what you have as evidence to the public, be transparent.
Charlie Rose: And if he does? If he presents that evidence?
President al-Assad: This is where we can discuss the evidence, but he doesn't have it. #FFFF00;">He didn't present it because he doesn't have it, Kerry doesn't have it. No one in your administration has it. If they had it, they would have presented it to you as media from the first day.
Charlie Rose: They have presented it to the Congress.
President al-Assad: Nothing. Nothing was presented.
Charlie Rose: They've shown the Congress what they have, and the evidence they have, from satellite intercepted messages and the like.
President al-Assad: Nothing has been presented so far.
Charlie Rose: They have presented it to the Congress, sir.
President al-Assad: You are a reporter. Get this evidence and show it to the public in your country.
Charlie Rose: They're presenting it to the public representative. You don't show your evidence and what you're doing and your plans to people within your own council. They're showing it to the people's representative who have to vote on an authorization to strike, and if they don't find the evidence sufficient...
President al-Assad: First of all, we have the precedent of Collin Powell ten years ago, when he showed the evidence, it was false, and it was forged. This is first. Second, you want me to believe American evidence and don't want me to believe the indications that we have. We live here, this is our reality.
Charlie Rose: Your indications are what?
President al-Assad: That the rebels or the terrorists used the chemical weapons in northern Aleppo five months ago.
Charlie Rose: And on August 21st?
President al-Assad: No, no, no. That was before. #FFFF00;">On the 21st, again they used it against our soldiers in our area where we control it, and our soldiers went to the hospital, you can see them if you want.
Charlie Rose: But Ghouta is not controlled by your forces, it's controlled by the rebel forces. The area where that attack took place is controlled by rebel forces.
President al-Assad: What if they have stockpiles and they exploded because of the bombardment? What if they used the missile by mistake and attacked themselves by mistake?
Charlie Rose: Let me move to the question of whether a strike happens, and I touched on this before. You have had fair warning. Have you prepared by moving possible targets, are you moving targets within civilian populations, all the things that you might have done if you have time to do that and you have had clear warning that this might be coming?
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">Syria is in a state of war since its land was occupied for more than four decades, and the nature of the frontier in Syria implies that most of the army is in inhabited areas, most of the centers are in inhabited areas. You hardly find any military base in distant areas from the cities unless it's an airport or something like this, but most of the military bases or centers within inhabited areas.
Charlie Rose: Will there be attacks against American bases in the Middle East if there's an airstrike?
President al-Assad: You should expect everything. Not necessarily through the government, the governments are not the only player in this region. You have different parties, different factions, you have different ideologies; you have everything in this region now. So, you have to expect that.
Charlie Rose: Tell me what you mean by "expect everything."
President al-Assad: Expect every action.
Charlie Rose: Including chemical warfare?
President al-Assad: That depends. If the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, this could happen, I don't know. I'm not a fortuneteller to tell you what's going to happen.
Charlie Rose: But we'd like to know more, I think the President would like to know, the American people would like to know. If there is an attack, what might be the repercussions and who might be engaged in those repercussions?
President al-Assad: Okay, before the 11th of September, in my discussions with many officials of the United States, some of them are Congressmen, I used to say that "don't deal with terrorists as playing games." It's a different story. You're going to pay the price if you're not wise in dealing with terrorists. We said you're going to be repercussions of the mistaken way of dealing with it, of treating the terrorism, but nobody expected 11th of September. So, you cannot expect. It is difficult for anyone to tell you what is going to happen. It's an area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything.
Charlie Rose: Let's talk about the war today. A hundred thousand people dead. A million refugees. A country being destroyed. Do you take some responsibility for that?
President al-Assad: That depends on the decision that I took. From the first day I took the decision as President to defend my country. So, who killed? That's another question. Actually, #FFFF00;">the terrorists have been killing our people since the beginning of this crisis two years and a half ago, and the Syrian people wanted the government and the state institutions and the army and the police to defend them, and that's what happened. So we're talking about the responsibility, my responsibility according to the Syrian constitution that said we have to defend ourselves.
Charlie Rose: Mr. President, you constantly say "it's terrorists." Most people look at the rebels and they say that Al-Qaeda and other forces from outside Syria are no more than 15 or 20 percent of the forces on the ground. The other 80% are Syrians, are defectors from your government, and defectors from your military. They are people who are Syrians who believe that their country should not be run by a dictator, should not be run by one family, and that they want a different government in their country. That's 80% of the people fighting against you, not terrorists.
President al-Assad: We didn't say that 80%, for example, or the majority or the vast majority, are foreigners. #FFFF00;">We said the vast majority are Al-Qaeda or Al-Qaeda offshoot organizations in this region. When you talk about Al-Qaeda it doesn't matter if he's Syrian or American or from Europe or from Asia or Africa. Al-Qaeda has one ideology and they go back to the same leadership in Afghanistan or in Syria or in Iraq. That's the question. You have tens of thousands of foreigners, that's definitely correct. We are fighting them on the ground and we know this.
Charlie Rose: But that's 15 or 20% of this. That's a realistic look at how many.
President al-Assad: Nobody knows because when they are dead and they are killed, they don't have any ID. You look at their faces, they look foreigners, but where are they coming from? How precise this estimate is difficult to tell, but definitely the majority are Al-Qaeda. This is what concerns us, not the nationality. If you have Syrian Al-Qaeda, or Pakistani Al-Qaeda or Saudi Al-Qaeda, what's the difference? What does it matter? #FFFF00;">The most important thing is that the majority are Al-Qaeda. We never said that the majority are not Syrians, but we said that the minority is what they call "free Syrian army." That's what we said.
Charlie Rose: Do you believe this is becoming a religious war?
President al-Assad: It started partly as a sectarian war in some areas, but now it's not, because when you talk about sectarian war or religious war, you should have a very clear line between the sects and religions in Syria according to the geography and the demography in Syria, something we don't have. #FFFF00;">So, it's not religious war, but Al-Qaeda always use religions, Islam - actually, as a pretext and as a cover and as a mantle for their war and for their terrorism and for their killing and beheading and so on.
Charlie Rose:#FFFF00;">Why has this war lasted two and a half years?
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">Because of the external interference, because there is an external agenda supported by, or let's say led by the United States, the West, the petrodollar countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, and before was Qatar, and Turkey. That's why it lasted two years and a half.
Charlie Rose: But what are they doing, those countries you cited?
The West wanted to undermine the Syrian positions
President al-Assad: They have different agendas. For the West, they wanted to undermine the Syrian positions. For the petrodollar countries like Saudi Arabia, they're thinking undermining Syria will undermine Iran on sectarian basis. For Turkey, they think that if the Muslim Brotherhood take over the rest of the region, they will be very comfortable, they will be very happy, they will make sure that their political future is guaranteed. So they have different agendas and different goals.
Charlie Rose: But at the same time, as I said, you used Hezbollah and got support from Iran, from Russia. So, what is happening here. Is this a kind of war that exists because of support from outside Syria on both sides?
President al-Assad: This is cooperation, I don't know what you mean by support. We have cooperation with countries for decades. Why talk about this cooperation now?
Charlie Rose: Then you tell me, what are you receiving from Iran?
President al-Assad: Political support. We have agreements with many countries including Iran, including Russia, including other countries that are about different things including armament. It's cooperation like any cooperation between any two countries, which is normal. It's not related to the crisis. You don't call it support, because you pay money for what you get. So, you don't call it support, it's cooperation, call it whatever you want, but the word "support" is not precise. From Russia for example, we have political support, which is different from the cooperation. We have cooperation for 60 years now, but now we have political support.
Charlie Rose: Well, the Russians said they have ongoing support for you, but beyond just political cooperation. I mean they have treaties that existed with Syria.
President al-Assad: Exactly.
Charlie Rose: And they provide all kinds of defensive weapons.
President al-Assad: You said treaties, and a Russian official said; we have not agreement... contracts, that we have to fulfill, and those contracts are like any country; you buy armaments, you buy anything you want.
Charlie Rose: But do you believe this has become a conflict of Sunni vs. Shia'a?
President al-Assad: No, not yet. This is in the mind of the Saudis, and this is in the minds of the Wahabists.
Charlie Rose: And in the minds of the Iranians?
President al-Assad: No, no, actually what they are doing is the opposite. They tried to open channels with the Saudi, with many other Islamic entities in the region in order to talk about Islamic society, not Sunni and Shi'ite societies.
Charlie Rose: Was there a moment for you, when you saw the Arab spring approaching Syria, that you said "I've seen what happened in Libya, I've seen what happened in Tunisia, I've seen what happened in Egypt, it's not gonna happen to Bashar al-al-Assad. I will fight anybody that tries to overthrow my regime with everything I have."
President al-Assad: No, for one reason; because the first question that I ask: do I have public support or not. That is the first question that I asked as President. #FFFF00;">If I don't have the public support, whether there's the so-called "Arab spring" -- it's not spring, anyway -- but whether we have this or we don't, if you don't have public support, you have to quit, you have to leave. If you have public support, in any circumstances you have to stay. That's your mission, you have to help the people, you have to serve the people.
Charlie Rose: When you say "public support" people point to Syria and say a minority sect, Alawites, control a majority Sunni population, and they say "dictatorship" and they do it because it because of the force of their own instruments of power. That's what you have, not public support, for this war against other Syrians.
President al-Assad: Now, it's been two years and a half, ok? Two years and a half and Syria is still withstanding against the United States, the West, Saudi Arabia, the richest countries in this area, including Turkey, and, taking into consideration what your question implies, that even the big part or the bigger part of the Syrian population is against me, how can I withstand till today? Am I the superhuman or Superman, which is not the case!
Charlie Rose: Or you have a powerful army.
President al-Assad: The army is made of the people; it cannot be made of robots. It's made of people.
Charlie Rose: Surely you're not suggesting that this army is not at your will and the will of your family.
President al-Assad: What do you mean by "will of the family?"
Charlie Rose: The will of your family. Your brother is in the military. The military has been... every observer of Syria believes that this is a country controlled by your family and controlled by the Alawites who are your allies. That's the control.
President al-Assad: If that situation was correct - what you're mentioning - we wouldn't have withstood for two years and a half. We would have disintegration of the army, disintegration of the whole institution in the state; we would have disintegration of Syria if that was the case. It can't be tolerated in Syria. I'm talking about the normal reaction of the people. If it's not a national army, it cannot have the support, and if it doesn't have the public support of every sect, it cannot do its job and advance recently. It cannot. The army of the family doesn't make national war.
Charlie Rose: Some will argue that you didn't have this support because in fact the rebels were winning before you got the support of Hezbollah and an enlarged support from the Iranians, that you were losing and then they came in and gave you support so that you were able to at least start winning and produce at least a stalemate.
President al-Assad: No, the context is wrong, because talking about winning and losing is like if you're talking about two armies fighting on two territories, which is not the case. #FFFF00;">Those are gangs, coming from abroad, infiltrate inhabited areas, kill the people, take their houses, and shoot at the army. The army cannot do the same, and the army doesn't exist everywhere.
Charlie Rose: But they control a large part of your country.
President al-Assad: No, they went to every part there's no army in it, and the army went to clean and get rid of them. They don't go to attack the army in an area where the army occupied that area and took it from it. It's completely different, it's not correct, or it's not precise what you're talking about. So, it's completely different. What the army is doing is cleaning those areas, and the indication that the army is strong is that it's making advancement in that area. It never went to one area and couldn't enter to it - that's an indication. How could that army do that if it's a family army or a sect army? What about the rest of the country who support the government? It's not realistic, it doesn't happen. Otherwise, the whole country will collapse.
Charlie Rose: One small point about American involvement here, the President's gotten significant criticism because he has not supported the rebels more. As you know, there was an argument within his own counsels from Secretary of State Clinton, from CIA Director David Petraeus, from the Defense Department, Leon Penetta, Secretary of Defense, and others, that they should have helped the rebels two years ago, and we would be in a very different place, so the President has not given enough support to the rebels in the view of many people, and there's criticism that when he made a recent decision to give support, it has not gotten to the rebels, because they worry about the composition.
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">If the American administration want to support Al-Qaeda - go ahead. That's what we have to tell them, go ahead and support Al-Qaeda, but don't talk about rebels and free Syrian army. The majority of fighters now are Al-Qaeda. If you want to support them, you are supporting Al-Qaeda, you are creating havoc in the region, and if this region is not stable, the whole world cannot be stable.
Charlie Rose: With respect, sir, most people don't believe the majority of forces are Al-Qaeda. Yes, there is a number of people who are Al-Qaeda affiliates and who are here who subscribe to the principles of Al-Qaeda, but that's not the majority of the forces as you know. You know that the composition differs within the regions of Syria as to the forces that are fighting against your regime.
The American officials should learn to deal with reality
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">The American officials should learn to deal with reality. Why did the United States fail in most of its wars? Because it always based its wars on the wrong information. So, whether they believe or not, this is not reality. I have to be very clear and very honest. I'm not asking them to believe if they don't want to believe. This is reality, I'm telling you the reality from our country. We live here, we know what is happening, and they have to listen to people here. They cannot listen only to their media or to their research centers. They don't live here; no one lives here but us. So, this is reality. If they want to believe, that's good, that will help them understand the region and be more successful in their policies.
Charlie Rose: Many people think this is not a sustainable position here; that this war cannot continue, because the cost for Syria is too high. Too many deaths - a hundred thousand and counting, too many refugees, too much destruction; the soul of a country at risk. If it was for the good of the country, would you step down?
President al-Assad: That depends on the relation of me staying in this position and the conflict. We cannot discuss it just to say you have to step down. Step down, why, and what is the expected result? This is first. Second, when you're in the middle of a storm, leaving your country just because you have to leave without any reasonable reason, it means you're quitting your country and this is treason.
Charlie Rose: You say it would be treason for you to step down right now because of your obligation to the country?
President al-Assad: Unless the public wants you to quit.
Charlie Rose: And how will you determine that?
President al-Assad: By the two years and a half withstanding. Without the public support, we cannot withstand two years and a half. Look at the other countries, look what happened in Libya, in Tunisia and in Egypt.
Charlie Rose: You worry about that, what happened to Gaddafi?
President al-Assad: No, we are worried that rebels are taking control in many countries, and look at the results now. Are you satisfied as an American? What are the results? Nothing. Very bad - nothing good.
Charlie Rose: There was a report recently that you had talked about, or someone representing you had talked about some kind of deal in which you and your family would leave the country if you were guaranteed safe passage, if you were guaranteed that there would be no criminal prosecution. You're aware of these reports?
President al-Assad: We had this guarantee from the first day of the crisis.
Charlie Rose: Because of the way you acted?
President al-Assad: No, because of the agenda that I talked about. Some of these agendas wanted me to quit, very simply, so they said "we have all the guarantees if you want to leave, and all the money and everything you want." Of course, you just ignore that.
Charlie Rose: So, you've been offered that opportunity?
President al-Assad: Yeah, but it's not about me, again, #FFFF00;">this fight is not my fight, it's not the fight of the government; it's the fight of the country, of the Syrian people. That's how we look at it. It's not about me.
Charlie Rose: It's not about you?
President al-Assad: It's about every Syrian.
Charlie Rose: How will this war end? I referred to this question earlier. What's the endgame?
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">It's very simple; once the Western countries stop supporting those terrorists and making pressure on their puppet countries and client states like Saudi Arabia and Turkey and others, you'll have no problem in Syria. It will be solved easily, because those fighters, the Syrian part that you're talking about, lost its natural incubators in the Syrian society - they don't have incubators anymore; that's why they have incubators abroad. They need money from abroad, they need moral support and political support from abroad. They don't have any grassroots, any incubator. So, when you stop the smuggling, we don't have problems.
Charlie Rose: Yeah, but at the same time, as I've said before, you have support from abroad. There are those who say you will not be able to survive without the support of Russia and Iran. Your government would not be able to survive.
President al-Assad: No, it's not me, I don't have support. Not me; all Syria. Every agreement is between every class and every sector in Syria; government, people, trade, military, culture, everything; it's like the cooperation between your country and any other country in the world. It's the same cooperation. It's not about me; it's not support for the crisis.
Charlie Rose: I mean about your government. You say that the rebels only survive because they have support from Saudi Arabia and Turkey and the United States, and Qatar perhaps, and I'm saying you only survive because you have the support of Russia and Iran and Hezbollah.
External support can never substitute internal support
President al-Assad: No, the external support can never substitute internal support, it can never, for sure. And the example that we have to look at very well is Egypt and Tunisia; they have all the support from the West and from the Gulf and from most of the countries of the world. When they don't have support within their country, they couldn't continue more than -- how many weeks? - three weeks. So, the only reason we stand here for two years and a half is because we have internal support, public support. So, any external support, if you want to call it support, let's use this world, is... how to say... it's going to be additional, but it's not the base to depend on more than the Syrian support.
Charlie Rose: You and I talked about this before; we remember Hama and your father, Hafez al-Assad. He... ruthlessly... set out to eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood. Are you simply being your father's son here?
President al-Assad: I don't know what you mean by ruthlessly, I've never heard of soft war. Have you heard about soft war? There's no soft war. War is war. Any war is ruthless. When you fight terrorists, you fight them like any other war.
Charlie Rose: So, the lessons you have here are the lessons you learned from your father and what he did in Hama, which, it is said, influenced you greatly in terms of your understanding of what you have to do.
President al-Assad: The question: what would you do as an American if the terrorists are invading your country from different areas and started killing tens of thousands of Americans?
Charlie Rose: You refer to them as terrorists, but in fact it is a popular revolution, people believe, against you, that was part of the Arab spring that influenced some of the other countries.
President al-Assad: Revolution should be Syrian, cannot be revolution imported from abroad.
Charlie Rose: It didn't start from abroad; it started here.
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">These people that started here, they support the government now against those rebels. That's what you don't know. What you don't know as an American you don't know as a reporter. That's why talking about what happened at the very beginning is completely different from what is happening now - it's not the same. There's very high dynamic, things are changing on daily basis. It's a completely different image. #FFFF00;">Those people who wanted revolution, they are cooperating with us.
Charlie Rose: I'm asking you again, is it in fact you're being your father's son and you believe that the only way to drive out people is to eliminate them the same way your father did?
President al-Assad: In being independent? Yes. In fighting terrorists? Yes. In defending the Syrian people and the country? Yes.
Charlie Rose: When I first interviewed you, there was talk of Bashar al-al-Assad... he's the hope, he's the reform. That's not what they're saying anymore.
President al-Assad: Who?
Charlie Rose: People who write about you, people who talk about you, people who analyze Syria and your regime.
President al-Assad: Exactly, the hope for an American is different from the hope of a Syrian. For me, I should be the hope of the Syrian, not any other one, not American, neither French, nor anyone in the world. I'm President to help the Syrian people. So, this question should start from the hope of the Syrian people, and if there is any change regarding that hope, we should ask the Syrian people, not anyone else in the world.
Charlie Rose: But now they say -- their words -- a butcher. Comparisons to the worst dictators that ever walked on the face of the Earth, comparing you to them. Using weapons that go beyond warfare. Everything they could say bad about a dictator, they're now saying about you.
President al-Assad: First of all, when you have a doctor who cut the leg to prevent the patient from the gangrene if you have to, we don't call butcher; you call him a doctor, and thank you for saving the lives. When you have terrorism, you have a war. When you have a war, you always have innocent lives that could be the victim of any war, so, we don't have to discuss what the image in the west before discussing the image in Syria. That's the question.
Charlie Rose: It's not just the West. I mean it's the East, and the Middle East, and, I mean, you know, the eyes of the world have been on Syria. We have seen atrocities on both sides, but on your side as well. They have seen brutality by a dictator that they say put you in a category with the worst.
President al-Assad: So we have to allow the terrorists to come and kill the Syrians and destroy the country much, much more. This is where you can be a good President? That's what you imply.
Charlie Rose: But you can't allow the idea that there's opposition to your government from within Syria. That is not possible for you to imagine.
President al-Assad: To have opposition? We have it, and you can go and meet with them. We have some of them within the government, we have some of them outside the government. They are opposition. We have it.
Charlie Rose: But those are the people who have been fighting against you.
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">Opposition is different from terrorism. Opposition is a political movement. Opposition doesn't mean to take arms and kill people and destroy everything. Do you call the people in Los Angeles in the nineties - do you call them rebels or opposition? What did the British call the rebels less than two years ago in London? Did they call them opposition or rebels? Why should we call them opposition? They are rebels. They are not rebels even, they are beheading. This opposition, opposing country or government, by beheading? By barbecuing heads? By eating the hearts of your victim? Is that opposition? What do you call the people who attacked the two towers on the 11th of September? #fnSubj2" id="txtSubj2">2 Opposition? Even if they're not Americans, I know this, but some of them I think have nationality - I think one of them has American nationality. Do you call him opposition or terrorist? Why should you use a term in the United States and England and maybe other countries and use another term in Syria? This is a double standard that we don't accept.
Charlie Rose: I once asked you what you fear the most and you said the end of Syria as a secular state. Is that end already here?
President al-Assad:#FFFF00;">According to what we've been seeing recently in the area where the terrorists control, where they ban people from going to schools, ban young men from shaving their beards, and women have to be covered from head to toe, and let's say in brief they live the Taliban style in Afghanistan, completely the same style. With the time, yes we can be worried, because the secular state should reflect secular society, and this secular society, with the time, if you don't get rid of those terrorists and these extremists and the Wahabi style, of course it will influence at least the new and the coming generations. So, we don't say that we don't have it, we're still secular in Syria, but with the time, this secularism will be eroded.
Charlie Rose: Mr. President, thank you for allowing us to have this conversation about Syria and the war that is within as well as the future of the country. Thank you.
President al-Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria.
#fnSubj1" id="fnSubj1">1. #txtSubj1">↑ This incorrectly presumes that the rulers of the New World Order would be threatened by terrorism. In fact, terrorism has helped the ruling elites far more than it has threatened them. In the 19th Century, when bombs thrown by police provocateurs at Haymarket in the U.S. the police were given the excuse needed to shoot protesting strikers. In the late 20th Century, terrorist acts by supposedly 'radical', 'left-wing' groups, such as the Italian Red Brigades and the German Baade-Meinhof gang, have provided the respective governments convenient excuses to spy on opposition political groups and to enact legislation to take away citizens' democratic rights.
The only contexts in which terrorism would make any sense at all is in contexts where formal democracy has been abolished These include Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the Latin American dictatorships of the 20th Century. Conceivably, if the current Syrian government were to be overthrown and replaced by the sectarian theocratic dictatorship that the opposition terrorists are fighting to establish, terrorism could be an appropriate form of resistance. But such a future outcome is hardly a reason for the U.S. and its allies to fear the consequences of the overthrow of the Syrian Government.
Sadly, the other additional terrorism, from anti-Western Islamist ideologues, that would result from the defeat of the Syrian government, of which President al-Assad warns, would be a win-win outcome for the NWO.
#fnSubj2" id="fnSubj2">2. #txtSubj2">↑ On 8 September 2011, Russia Today released a video report (since also embedded here on candobetter) which presented much of the evidence that senior figures within the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush, including the President himself, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz had been complicit in the death of 2,977 American residents on 11 September;2011. They did so to contrive an excuse for the United States to wage wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and, now, Syria, in which hundreds of thousands have died, by blaming the crime on 19 alleged hijackers who were allegedly sent to the U.S. by the government of Afghanistan. Whilst it has been known for years that the Official U.S. Government account of 9/11 was a lie, this exposure of the truth about 9/11 by a mainstream news outlet like Russia Today lifts the whole profile of the struggle for truth and the search for justice for the crime of 9/11. President al-Assad should be advised that his case against the U.S. Government war criminals would be made stronger still, if he were tell the world more directly the facts about 9/11.
This is a fascinating video of a huge protest in Sydney on 5 August 2012 and we have put up a video of it with a number of interesting interviews from marchers, with comments from what they think of the Bashar Assad Government to how they don't like the Australian Greens policy on this matter and believe that we are risking World War Three by backing intervention in Syria. There is also some background on how Syria has been the long-term host one of the largest refugee populations in the world, which makes you wonder why it doesn't receive more support from Greens and Refugee activists. It must seem ironic that some candobetter.net EcoMalthusians are more inclined to give Syria that recognition! Please let us know if you have views on the democratic status of the Syrian government; we find it hard to judge. All comments and greetings welcome.
The video of this march also contains commentaries and is the product and published by Truth News with Reporter Hereward Fenton, who interviewed Naja (a Syrian Australian), Tim Anderson, and John Burgess (of the 911 truth movement). Thanks for your work at Truth News.
"On 5 August 2012 a rally was held in Sydney in support of the Syrian government by members of the Syrian community and Australians. Some four thousand people gathered peacefully at The Sydney Town Hall to express solidarity about the tragedy in Syria. A number of speakers, from various sections of the community, addressed the audience concerning the external forces that have invaded Syria and are fighting the [...]government. The people then marched peacefully to The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs in the Sydney city area, where more speakers addressed the people. Appreciation for Russia and China voting against the US proposed UN-NATO involvement were expressed. The meeting then peacefully dispersed." (Source: Commentary under video on Truth News)
Naja, Syrian-Australian protester speaks
Naja, a Syrian-Australian protester said,
"I would just like to say one thing to the Australian Government. The Syrian president - 75% of the people elected him and only the Syrian people can impeach him. I just want to say another thing, that Barack Obama ought to go back home. Hands off Syria! We just need to raise our voice and we're sticking with the President! ... He is a very popular leader, he's a doctor and he studied in England. He doesn't kill his people. We've got militants in Syria. They're terrorists. They're not free Syrian army. They're killing people. I've got my family back home. They're kidnapping people. After they kill them, they amputate their body parts and they send them home to - bodies without heads, without arms - and we've got to put a stop to it. We want him to stay in power. That's my message. "
Tim Anderson spoke powerfully on behalf of the Syrian Government
"People in this country are very ignorant of what's going on in Syria. That's understandable. That's not a crime in itself, but, what is not acceptable is the unethical use of this ignorance. All of those people from Hilary Clinton through the media through all sorts of silly people in this country - those people saying Assad must go - they have no ethical basis to make that sort of claim. They haven't understood that it's the foundation of the post colonial era, it's the foundation of human rights that a people have a right to self-determination and the Syrian Government is only for the Syrian people and no-one else. We see the result across the border in Iraq. What a tragedy in Iraq. What a great tragedy in Iraq! But we can't allow that to happen in your country. So I'm here just to say as a non-Syrian Australian, at least some of us here are in solidarity with you today."
Tim Anderson, author of Take Two, The Criminal Justice System revisited has the remarkable history of having been completely exonerated after erroneous conviction for the Hilton Bombing in 1978 (Fraser Government). The real perpetrators have never been found. Evidence that Australian security forces may have been responsible [in a false flag attack] led to the New South Wales parliament unanimously calling for an inquiry in 1991 and 1995. The Government of Australia vetoed any inquiry. You can read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Hilton_bombing or here in an pdf file at http://www.reasoninrevolt.net.au/pdf/a000803.pdf with an interview of Anderson published in July 1991 that contains some very interesting comments on Asio and Special Branch activities in NSW leading up to this time.
Tony Backhouse on Australian Greens policy on Libya and Syria
Tony was also marching. Interviewed by Truth News, he said that he had originally joined the Greens because of their stance on Iraq and policy of peace and non-violence, which is a platform of the NSW branch constitution, but he has just resigned from them over their support for UN Nato intervention in Syria. He stated, "I see this as akin to starting World War Three in Syria. I find it totally hypocritical and that's why I've left."
Tony said that, to him, it seems this position was taken initially by Bob Brown and then by Christine Milne (NSW) and Adam Bandt (in Victoria) and that perhaps the Federal Greens are falling into line with the European Greens. It was what had been going on in Aleppo that got him to make his mind up. He added that he nearly left the Greens over their position on Libya especially after Gaddafi's house was bombed and his granddaughter and other members of Gaddafi's family were killed. He noticed in the week of this Australians for Syria protest in Sydney that Leon Panetta [23rd and current United States Secretary of Defense] had actually threatened Assad's family: "And I thought, this is just ridiculous. I can't support this. I mean, my party is supporting a military intervention basically in Syria against their own constitution!"
Commentary on Democracy, Refugees and the Australian Greens - Please contribute if you can
The beginning of this article was taken from Truth News and we left out these words,  "elected democratic." Whilst we support non-intervention in Syria and basically support the current government, we disagree that the Bashar Asaad Government was elected democratically, since there was no opposition. Maybe we are wrong. Please educate us. You can read more about the Syrian government here. Nonetheless we agree that Bashar seems to be a very popular president and Syria did recently hold a very well supported referendum in which Syrians voted yes for to have multiparty government recently, to remove the constitutional definition of the B'aath Party as the ruling party of Syria, and to limit the time a person could remain president to 14 years.
Bashar Asaad himself seems to be pretty enlightened in a terrible region where colonial intervention has from the 19th century consistently preferred dictators and continuously reduced the self-organising ability of peoples. Bashar Asaad's father was a more severe dictator but, still, his people were provided for, in an area where there are far worse, far more brutal dictatorships. To illustrate the unbalanced basis of foreign intervention encouraging civil war in Syria, the Western powers currently include Saudi Arabia as their ally against the Syrian Government. This is not just ironic, but it is shocking, because the Saudi Government is incontestably depraved, yet able to get away literally with murder, mutilation, suppression of subjects and shocking, institutionalised, bizarre ill-treatment and disenfranchisement - enslavement really - of women. It is truly unacceptable that the United States and NATO hob-nob with this monarchy. There has to be a better and more globally cooperative way to power down with oil than this.
I am not Syrian, but I have been living in Syria for today almost 20 years. Syria was under a kind of totalitarian regime but not in only a way a repressive way but it was that all the decision would be taken by few persons. But there was security, there was food, education and people were living - of course not in ... kind that they would say their thinking in a loud voice.
Now, this totalitarianism is not good, and it's obsolete, but if the armed insurrection is implementing another totalitarianism which is maybe worse because there is blood, they can behead you, they can cut your - in last week in our village they cut the fingers of a so-called 'collaborator', who is not ev[en] from the village. Then they behead him, they cut him in piece and they left him in the street, where even children would see it.
So this kinds of acts of atrocities cannot help people to really believe that what is happening is a strive for freedom.
The majority of the Syrian population, I say, is taken as hostage, and sometimes as a tool, as [?enemy] by these armed, insurrection armed...armed insurrection people. They come and they take place in the civilian areas.
Australians, particularly Greens and Refugee Action supporters, logically should be speaking out in support of Syria which has taken in and managed to deal fairly with an extraordinary number of refugees and asylum seekers from this tumultuous region where, bizarrely, the Greens have been supporting NATO backing for civil war.
According to the 2012 UNHCR country operations profile on the Syrian Arab Republic,
The Syrian Arab Republic hosts one of the largest urban refugee and asylum-seeker populations in the world. The Government and people of the Syrian Arab Republic continue to maintain a generous open door policy that allows Iraqi refugees to seek asylum and gain access to basic services such as education and primary health care. Moreover, the normalization of relations between Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic in early 2011 has led to a simplification of the visa process for Iraqis wishing to enter the Syrian Arab Republic.
UNHCR, with the support of the international community and in active partnership with the Syrian authorities, was able to maintain the protection space granted to refugees and asylum-seekers. With the assistance of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, it has continued to provide them with essential services and assistance. Source: http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49e486a76.html
If nothing else, the counter-intuitive stance on Syria of the Greens is yet another indication that the people leading the Greens these days are career politicians with ideas and principles a very long way from the original participants and founders of Green Party's in Australia. As to where Bob Brown stands or ever stood... some of us do wonder. For those among us who care about our country and realise that overpopulation will quickly deprive us of ecological conditions and human rights, it is baffling that the Greens, who have so let us down in matters of ecology and population policy, do not stand up for Syria and its generosity to refugees.