In this posting, I want to take a look at a Dutch TV interview with Syria's Bashar al-Assad, an interview that received very little coverage by the rest of the world. In this interview, al-Assad provides a very succinct analysis about where Syria has been and where it will be heading in the future as well as his opinions on what created the ongoing crisis in the first place.
As we know only too well, the ongoing civil war in Syria has the world's leaders tied up in knots, particularly since the conflict is so complex. At first, Western leaders, including President Obama, blamed Bashar al-Assad as you can see here:
Then we had this from Secretary of State John Kerry...
...who had already found Assad guilty of using chemical weapons on his own people without trial and prior to any evidence gathering.
Now, let's look at what has happened in the past few months:
I like that, Bashar al-Assad is a "magnet for terrorists". I guess it takes one to know one.
So, all of a sudden, in light of the rise of ISIS and the injection of both Turkey and Russia into the conflict, Bashar al-Assad doesn't look quite as bad as was first thought. Apparently, the Obama Administration has found the capability of offering forgiveness for an act (i.e. Assad's alleged use of chemical weapons on his own people) that was once considered unforgivable.
As I noted at the beginning of this posting, in this year-end interview, Bashar al-Assad responds to his detractors:
If you go to the 12 minute mark, you will see what Assad has to say about the flip-flop by the United States. Here's the exchange:
"Interviewer: Internationally, the United States always said that President Assad has to go. Yesterday, Secretary Kerry said "Well, maybe not immediately" and we're not looking for regime change. Even the French are now saying that the President maybe part of the solution. Your luck seems to be changing.
al-Assad: Well, thank you for them to say that. I was packing my luggage because I had to leave....As long as the Syrians want this President or any other President to be in power, he will be there. So, to say that he's leaving now or leaving in six months or six years is not their business."
I also found the exchange at the 10 minute mark interesting when they discuss the influx of foreign fighters from Europe into ISIS. Assad observes that both Turkey and Saudi Arabia are fertile soil for terrorists because their regimes support terrorism. He also notes that Europe's problem with imported terrorism is related two issues; one, its inability to integrate immigrants into its society, leaving them to live in a ghettos where they become vulnerable to extremist philosophies and two, many European leaders have sold their values for "petrodollars", that is, they allowed the Saudi Wahabists to fund terrorists who ended up in Europe.
While Syria's brand of democracy may not be to the liking of the Western world and while Bashar al-Assad was a brutal dictator if you happened to end up on his bad side, there are many other regimes with questionable democracies that are ignored by the United States and Europe. For instance, in Saudi Arabia, women were allowed to vote for the first time in December 2015 but only at the municipal level. Women were allowed to register as candidates, however, they had to campaign from behind a partition or be represented by a male. Saudi women are also not allowed to drive, must be accompanied by a male guardian when they leave their homes or wear clothing that shows off their beauty. Saudi Arabia has one of the highest state execution rates in the world and death sentences can be handed down even if guilt cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Saudi Arabia's recent use of banned cluster weapons in Yemen is another example of their flagrant disregard for human lives. China, America's second largest trade partner, remains a human rights quagmire with the ruling Chinese Communist Party closely guarding its power over the Chinese people. Chinese human rights abuses are rampant; its unwelcome control over the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Tibet are but two examples of China's ongoing record of opposition repression.
As far as getting rid of al-Assad based on his so-called use of chemical weapons back in August 2013, there is some evidence that the sarin used may have passed through Turkey, a NATO member state. Keeping in mind that Turkey is no friend of Syria, such actions could well be possible as Turkey attempts to create a situation that would see the uprooting of the al-Assad regime.
But, I guess that since Syria has a negligible amount of oil and is not an important American trade partner, it is open season on Bashar al-Assad. Keeping in mind how poorly things have gone after regime change occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, one can only imagine the plight of the Syrian people after al-Assad leaves. In all three cases, the political vacuum that the Western world has left behind has proven to be far worse than the non-democratic government that it replaced.