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memri
June 11, 2013 No.
5332

Bashar Al-Assad To 'Al-Akhbar': The Western Game In Syria Is About To End; We Have Rejected Attractive Western Proposals To Finance Syria's Reconstruction

Sa'ud Qbeilat, a Jordanian political analyst who is sympathetic to the Syrian regime, published an article in the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, which likewise leans towards Assad, about his visit to Syria that took place at the invitation of the regime. The article included a summary of a conversation he had with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. In this conversation, Al-Assad voiced confidence in his victory, and contended that the agreement between the United States and Russia to convene Geneva II represented de facto American recognition of his regime as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. He claimed further that the West was wooing him in order to guarantee its economic interests in Syria, and that the major reason for his country's current crisis was the liberal economic policy which had created pockets of extremism and poverty. Assad also threatened to mount resistance on the Golan Heights, following Hizbullah's example in South Lebanon.

Below is a translation of Assad's main points, as summarized by Qbeilat: [1]


Sa'ud Qbeilat (image: factjo.com)

The Events In Syria Are A Product Of The Liberal Economic Policy That We Were Forced To Adopt

"… Syria will never forgo its national and pan-Arab principles, its Arab identity, and its commitment to [Arab] unity. It will not cease its support for resistance and will not relinquish an inch of its occupied territory or its independence… He [Assad] is prepared for any type of sacrifice to prevent Syria from falling into American or Zionist hands or into the hands of their puppets in the Gulf and of those who practice takfir [i.e., accuse other Muslims of heresy, meaning the Islamist groups fighting in Syria]…

"Syria is on course to emerge from the bottleneck into which it has been pushed in the last two years. The loathsome game played by the West and its puppets is on the verge of conclusion. Appearances to the contrary, the Western countries are competing among themselves in submitting tempting proposals under the table to guarantee their companies' share in tenders for [Syria's] reconstruction and for oil and gas projects [in Syria], now that huge reserves had been discovered off the Syrian coast. Additionally, the World Bank, which does not make a move without U.S. consent and permission, has submitted a generous proposal for granting [Syria] a $21 billion loan on easy terms, and manifested an avid desire to finance reconstruction ventures… But he [Assad] rejected the proposal out of hand…

"What currently preoccupies President Assad more than anything else is how to handle the post-war period, and in particular how to contend with the vast destruction that has struck many of the country's regions and how to heal the wounds of people who have lost loved ones during the war. Some have fled, and others have lost their homes, their source of livelihood or their money, etc. [But] his greatest concern is related to a different type of destruction in Syria and other Arab countries – namely the spread of the sectarian disease and the fragmentation into [religious] schools that threatens the ummah's existence, and its very essence and future. There is need for serious efforts to contend with this blight and uproot it…

"For Assad the major reasons behind the events in Syria are clear, and they include the liberal economic policy that he says Syria was compelled to adopt due to the tremendous pressure it was under in the wake of the Al-Hariri fabrication against it, i.e. the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al-Hariri [that was attributed to Syria]. This [economic policy] damaged Syria greatly and created many pockets of poverty in the rural areas that quickly became hotbeds of extremism and crime. He [Assad] claims that he has checked this tendency (towards the new liberalism)…"

Syria Is Working To Create An Alternative To The Arab League

"President Assad remembers full well and in minute detail the role of the Gulf [states'] rulers in the war against Syria, [a war] in which they enthusiastically and ignorantly participated… He states that [one] of the reasons they turned the struggle against him into a personal one is their full awareness that he does not hold them in high esteem.

"As for the Arab League, which has in the last two years become a puppet of the Gulf States, who employ it at will against Syria, he said that the League has scant significance in Syrian eyes and the Syrians have decided to establish an association of Arab peoples in its stead [that will] pool their capabilities, provide a framework for their solidarity, and protect their genuine interests. [According to Assad] they [the Syrians] will take steps in the near future on the basis of this concept.

"About Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, [Assad said that] he's an emotional man who displayed a great deal of love towards him (Assad) and towards his children and members of his family. However, he leans towards the Muslim Brotherhood, and the interest of [this movement] take precedence for him over his warm feelings towards [Assad], and even over Turkish and Syrian interests….

"As for the United States and the West – they want to subdue Syria and subordinate her to their conditions. Nothing interests them more than the interests of 'Israel.' According to Assad, had he acceded to the demands of [former U.S. Secretary of State] Colin Powell shortly after the American occupation of Iraq, chiefly [the demand] to expel the Palestinian resistance factions from Syria, they [the U.S. and the West] would not have displayed such hostility towards him and his country."

Planned And Continuous Resistance Will Take Place In The Golan, Following The Hizbullah Model In South Lebanon

"According to Assad, Israel, which during the current crisis relied heavily on the armed groups [in Syria] and attacked Syria to promote its interests, has committed a major mistake, [but] the response to its attacks will be strategic rather than immediate… As to opening a front in the Golan, President Assad said that this is a totally serious matter. [Syria] does not intend a [purely] pro forma and demonstrative resistance, where it will occasionally fire a few primitive shells at random enemy [targets] and leave the initiative and genuine activity in [Israeli] hands, but rather a well-planned, continuous, and effective resistance that will strive to take the initiative and will define the arena of conflict in a manner that will abet its struggle and damage the enemy, just as Hizbullah did in South Lebanon.

"[Assad] said that he has granted a Russian company oil extraction rights off the Syrian coast, and emphasized his full confidence that the Russians will not alter their position towards his country, because, in practice, they are defending their own strategic security and national interests that could be jeopardized if the West and its supporters assume control of Syria. Additionally, [Assad] made it clear that the Russians, at every stage of the conflict, have never attempted to impose any position on his country; even when they made some proposals regarding certain aspects of the conflict, they contented themselves with expressing their opinion and allowed Syria to act as it saw fit.

"Regarding [Syria's post-war] reconstruction, [Assad] said that Chinese companies are prepared to play a role in this area and that [Syria] has reached understandings with them on the issue…"

Assad Is Not Optimistic About The Results Of Geneva II

"Assad did not display great optimism about the results of Geneva II, because, [according to him,] those sitting on the opposite side of the negotiating table cannot take decisions in the name of the armed groups in the field. Likewise, many disputes exist amongst the opposition elements within [Syria] and outside it. In view of this reality, all that the Syrians and Russians seek to attain via this [conference] is to avoid closing the door to negotiations and dialogue. They have managed to score some important points in advance, merely in that the Russians and the Americans have agreed to hold the conference. [Moreover,] despite all the attempts by the Gulf states in the recent Doha Conference and at the UN General Assembly to steal Syria's right of representation and award it to the armed groups subordinate to them, the 'Syrian regime'… has been invited to participate in the Geneva II conference as the legitimate Syrian representative in these negotiations. And as for the other [elements,] they will participate exclusively as an opposition…"

Endnote:

[1] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), June 10, 2013.