Question: What has that raid on the flotilla done to the atmosphere in the region?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: Destroyed any chance for peace in the near future .Very simply, in a very simple way, mainly because it proved that this government is another pyromaniac government, and we cannot achieve peace with such government. Second because they attacked a Turkish aid. The Turks never attacked Israel; never smuggled weapons; never did anything harmful to Israel. They only work for peace, especially during the last few years, and they were the only mediator in the meantime and the relation between Turkey and Israel has deteriorated because of this raid.

 Question: The Turks are mediating between Syria and Israel, Are you saying now there is no chance of that to happen?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: In the near future, I don't think there is any chance unless they change their behavior.

 Question: Change the government?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: The Israeli government behavior.

 Question: Do you believe you have a partner you can do business with?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: No, no Definitely, We don't have a partner; we know this even when we went to peace; we never believed we have a partner. We have to try. In peace we keep trying. But with this government, it is something different from any previous Israeli government.

 Question: You talked in the past about the danger of no- peace- no -war and suggesting that if you don’t have peace, you might have war, so are you saying that, because of the flotilla and what happened in the raid the risks of war have increased in the region?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: Definitely, definitely before the raid, the raid, it showed this danger; but realistically we have this danger before the raid, because we have many other evidences about the intentions of this government, about the intentions towards peace, about the intentions towards the Palestinians, the intentions to kill Palestinians; this is enough to talk about danger of having war in the region.

 Question: Now every year about this time of the year, and in the last few years anyway; there have been talks about war in the region, do you think that it is serious?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: It is more serious. As I said previously, if you don’t have peace, you will have war someday, when? Nobody knows. But when you will have war, it will start suddenly. We cannot expect or read exactly when and how. So, when you don’t have peace you have to expect war everyday and this is very dangerous.   

 Question: Why not have a Sadat's style visit to Jerusalem?  Why don't take matters into Iran's hands and say I want peace in this region, and I'm prepared to come to your capita or the city you call your capital to make that peace to try to make it happen?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: Because peace is not about visits; is not about protocol or official visits. It is about the will; when you don't have a partner, you don't waste your time with these  actions. So we have to be realistic. It is about the land; it is about Israel withdrawing from our occupied land.

 Question: Recently an American senior official, in testimony in Washington, described Syria as a regional hub for Iranian support for terrorist groups; and that -they said- raises a major obstacle to peace in the region! I mean do you recognize that is a portrayal of your own country and your actions?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: We are not under the patronage of any country in this world; even the United States can't force Syria to do what is against our convictions and against our interests. When we support resistance they call them terrorist organizations; we call them resistance. They have occupied land; they have the right to resist till they have their own country.

 Question: Including Hezbollah?

President Bashar Al-Assad: We support the issue; we support the cause.  We don't support the organization; and when you support the cause, you support anyone who supports that cause, whether it is an organization, it is a country or a person. So, we support the cause and they support the same cause. This is where we meet; but it is not about how to say a supervising organization paying money, sending arms. It is about the political cause; that is how we support.

 Question: You say don't send weapons?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: No, we don't.

   Question: There have been a lot of reports: Israel has made an accusation you send scud missiles; and the Americans…much backed that up, and Britain as well as saying that you have been sending bigger and better and more accurate weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon?

President Bashar Al-Assad: Some American officials talked about this with me; I told them do you have any evidence? They said we have our evidence; I told them we can discuss it when you bring it on the table; but we can't discuss claims, we can't discuss reports or rumours. It is about evidence; if you talk about smuggling, how did you know about it? Did you have photographs? Did you see? Did you catch any of them? If you have them, show them to me. Stop talking about reports. Nobody will care. So we don't waste our time with these claims, or false pretences, or imitation statements by the Israelis or by the Americans.

 Question:  So how then do you think Hezbollah is getting their weapons? Because Hassan NasrAllah, the leader of the organization, has said that they rearmed after the 2006 Lebanon war, meaning that if they are not coming through Syria how are they getting them? They are not coming from Israel?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: The same question for Gaza. Gaza is under embargo, and they can get what they want. I mean if you want something you can get it. Nobody can seal a country. Nobody can seal the borders. Nobody can seal the sea.

 Question: Can we talk a little bit about your strategic alliance with Iran, which is something, which is very well established between your two countries; and I think you've always said that it's in Syria's national interest to have that alliance. What if things changed? What if Iran is attacked, perhaps by Israel? People have been talking about that; would it be in your interest to get dragged into that war because it might happen?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: We don't need any war. Whoever starts that war? This is first. Second, I don't believe that Iran wants war. We have alliance: it means we have dialogue; it means we know each other. So you don't have alliance with somebody that you don't know about his intentions. We know about the intentions. They have the same intentions. When we started the peace negotiations in Turkey; they supported these negotiations. They were not against it. So, they support peace; they don't support war.

 Question: The United States, as well, is using the strong language about Syria calling your country a regional hub for Iran's terrorist groups; is also saying they would like to have rapprochement. They have been attempting to get an ambassador here; but the confirmation in Washington DC. The Americans would like you to drop old friends like Iran in return to their friendship. Do you think that something you might consider.

 President Bashar Al-Assad: They are contradicting themselves, when they talk about stability in the region, and they want to reach the stability through having bad relations between the countries! How? They don't have. This is void of logic.

 Question: You say you could have good relations with Iran and good relations with the US and the West?

President Bashar Al-Assad: Of course, I should have good relation with everyone. It isn't about the relation between Iran and the United States.  It doesn't matter if they have good relation or bad relation. It is my relation. I can very simply have good relation with everyone, if they don't work against my interest, of course. So, there is no contradiction; there is no relation at all.

 Question: Just looking across the region, you have a turbulent place in terms of instability. How do you see it at the moment? Do you see this as a positive time, or a very negative time as many people would say?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: I say this is a critical time. This is time of momentous change that could happen during the next year. We have things going in both directions: the positive and the negative; and there is like race between who is going to reach the goal first.

 Question: What's the most positive thing?

 President Bashar Al-Assad: The most positive is that we have learned our lessons, as countries, as governments, and as people. So, we think that we have to take things into our own hands. This is very important. In the past we used to depend on others: who is going to solve our problems; the United Nations, Security Council, great powers, the USA. Now, we are solving our problems. This is the most important and positive thing.

 

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