The Syrian First Lady / CNN Interview

 “The Israeli barbaric assault on innocent Palestinian civilians has been horrific,” said Her Excellency Mrs. Asma Al-Assad, the First Lady of Syria, echoing the call as “Again, give peace a chance”.

 Mrs. AL-ASSAD:  “Three hundred million people live in the Middle East, of which 60 percent are under 25.  So, we have an opportunity, and we have a challenge.  The opportunity is to make sure that they believe in the future, that they see it as an exciting opportunity, that they feel that they’re able to contribute, to get involved ….  The reality on the ground is increasingly going further and further away from that, and it’s not just the Palestinians in Gaza.  It’s increasingly affecting all of us.  And, for us to see people suffering is, if anything, weakening the voice of the moderates and empowering the voice of the extremists.”

 Mrs. AL-ASSAD:  “The Israeli barbaric assault on innocent civilians - innocent Palestinian civilians - has been horrific.  … Gaza is a prison.  It’s been a prison for three years.  The embargo that has affected people’s lives has almost devastated the Palestinian community.  Eighty-percent of the Palestinians in Gaza rely on food aid.  They rely on humanitarian aid not just to live, but to survive.  One million people in Gaza - Palestinian people - are without electricity.  …  This is the twenty-first century.  Where in the world could this happen?  … As a mother and as a human being, we need to make sure that these atrocities stop.”

 Mrs. AL-ASSAD:  Just imagine your children living in Gaza.  How could that reality be?  Let's talk through the scenario.

 You wake up in the morning, you feed -- you give your children a glass of milk.  Mothers in Gaza can't do that.  But why?  Because no milk gets through.

 You send your children off to school knowing that they'll be safe, knowing that they're going to get a good education.  Mothers in Gaza don't do that.  Children don't go to school because it's not safe, because -- it's just beyond belief, to be honest.

 You cook a meal.  Mothers in Gaza can't cook.  Why can't they cook? 

 Because they don't have access to fuel.  They don't even have access to the basic food stuff (ph) that is required to get a meal together.  So children don't eat.

 Mothers -- think about when you put your children to bed at night.  This is something I think on a daily basis.  You put your children to bed at night and you expect to see them in the morning.  That's a luxury that people in Gaza just do not have.

 So what would it have been like for you having -- living under those circumstances?  That is something that we just cannot survive and wait for it to stop.

 CAL PERRY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Let me ask you this, are you sad?  Are you frustrated?  Are you angry?  I mean, you have to go to these meetings, you have to go to these dinners.  Is it difficult with what's going on?

 Mrs. AL-ASSAD:  It's been difficult to smile, and that's not just me, it's a lot of people that I'm meeting, it's a lot of people that I'm talking to.  It's the U.N. agencies on the ground that are seeing some really horrific things.

 The stories of the psychological trauma that we're not hearing on our TVs, we're not seeing on our TVs and we're not reading in our newspapers.  It's something that's going to have a long-term effect on life not just in the region, but actually in the global community that we all live in, because when you see people suffering like this, it doesn't give you a sense of optimism, it doesn't give you a sense of hope.  If anything, it pushes you to become more desperate, and when you are desperate, you have nothing to live for.

 PERRY:  Now, the Israelis say they're protecting themselves, right to self-defense, they're under bombardment of missiles, their children are under threat.

 What's your response to that?

 Mrs. AL-ASSAD:  Lift the embargo.  Lift the embargo.  It will -- lift the embargo and engage in a peace process, a real process.

 As you said, talk is cheap.  It's not enough to say that we want peace. 

 What are you going to do to achieve peace?  What we're seeing on our TV is not a step in the right direction.

 PERRY:  Do you have any optimism for the future, in the near future?

 Mrs. AL-ASSAD:  You have to remain optimistic.  You have to remain -- you have to try and keep working towards your goals and objectives, otherwise you get sucked in with everything else that's going on.  So, yes, you have to.

 It's difficult, especially at times like this, that you have to keep looking in the direction that you want to go.  You have to keep not just looking, you need to keep working towards it, to be honest.  And you need to grab every opportunity, every platform, every exchange, every experience to work towards the agenda that is set, and that is peace.

 Again, give peace a chance

 The Source: CNN