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The United—sorry, the Russians have completely opposite evidence that the missiles were thrown from area where the rebels controlled. That reminds me, about what Kerry said, about the big lie that Colin Powell said in front of the world on satellites about the W.M.D. in Iran before going to war when he said, “this is our evidence.”
Bashar Al-Assad, President of Syria
CBS This Morning
Air Date: September 09, 2013
Assad Hits Every Political Hot Button For US Audience
[TRANSCRIPT PART 1
CHARLIE ROSE: What was the reality on August 21? What happened, in your judgment?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: We’re not in the area where the alleged chemical attack was happened, as it alleged. We’re not sure that anything happened because—
CHARLIE ROSE: Even at this date, you are not sure that chemical weapons, even though you have seen the video tape, even though you’ve seen the bodies, even though—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: No, I have—
CHARLIE ROSE: Your own officials have been there.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: I haven’t finished. 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. How can you talk about what happened if you don’t have evidences? We’re not like the American administration. We’re not social media administration or government. We are the government that deal with reality—
CHARLIE ROSE: Well—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: When we have evidence (UNINTEL).
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, as you know, Secretary Kerry has said there is evidence 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 that soon thereafter, there were other intercepted messages. So Secretary Kerry has presented what he concludes is conclusive evidence.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: No. He presented his confidence and he presented his convictions. It’s not about confidence, it’s about evidence. The United—sorry, the Russians have completely opposite evidence that the missiles were thrown from area where the rebels controlled. That reminds me, about what Kerry said, about the big lie that Colin Powell said in front of the world on satellites about the W.M.D. in Iran before going to war when he said, “this is our evidence.” Actually, he give false evidence. In this case, Kerry didn’t even present any evidence. He talk, “we have evidence.” And he didn’t present anything, not yet. Nothing so far.
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, the United—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Not a single shred of evidence.
[TRANSCRIPT PART 2
CHARLIE ROSE: There is an intense discussion going on about all the things we’re talking about in Washington. Where 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, to members of Congress, to the President of the United States?
BASHAR 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 the people and represent the people and work for their interests.
The first question that they should ask themselves, what do wars give America? Things we have (UNINTEL) till now, nothing. No political gain, no economic gain, no good reputation. United States is at all-time, credibility is at all-time low. So this war is against the interests of the United States. Why?
First of all, because this is the war that is going to support al Qaeda and the same people that kill Americans in the 11th of September. The second thing that we all want to tell to the Congress, that they should ask and that what we expect, we expect them to ask this administration about the evidence that they have regarding the chemical story and the allegations that they presented.
I would then tell the President when he have the option, because we were disappointed by their behavior recently because we expected this administration different from Bush’s administration. They are operating the same doctrine with different accessories. That’s it. So we expect if we want to expect something from this administration, it’s 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 at the United Nations.
CHARLIE ROSE: Question remains, what can you say to the President who believes chemical weapons were used and were used by your government, that this will not happen again, that this—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: I will tell him very simply, “Present what you have as evidence to the public. Be transparent when you—”
CHARLIE ROSE: And if he does?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: If he does?
CHARLIE ROSE: If he presents that evidence?
BASHAR ASSAD: This is where you can discuss the evidence, because he doesn’t have. He didn’t present it because he doesn’t have—Kerry doesn’t have. No one in your administration have. If they had it, they would have presented it to you as media from the first day—
CHARLIE ROSE: They have—they have presented it to Congress.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Nothing. Nothing was presented—
CHARLIE ROSE: They have shown the Congress what they have and the evidence they have from satellites, intercepted messages, and the like.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Nothing presented.
CHARLIE ROSE: And—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Nothing has been presented so far.
CHARLIE ROSE: They have presented it to the Congress, sir.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: You are a reporter. Get the evidence, and show it to the public in your country.
CHARLIE ROSE: They’re presenting it to—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: We’d tell them—
CHARLIE ROSE: They’re presenting it to the public’s representative. You don’t show your evidence and what you’re doing and your plans to the people within your own counsel. They’re showing it to the people’s representative—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: So you are—
CHARLIE ROSE: —Who have to vote on authorization to strike. And if they don’t find the evidence sufficient—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: First of all, we have the precedent of Colin Powell 10 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 believe the indication that we have. We live here.
[TRANSCRIPT PART 3:
CHARLIE ROSE: Will there be attacks against American bases in the Middle East if there is an airstrike?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: You should expect everything. You should expect everything—not necessarily from the government. The governments are not the only players in this region. You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology. You have everything in this region now. So you have to expect that.
CHARLIE ROSE: Tell me what you mean by “expect everything”?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Expect every action.
CHARLIE ROSE: Including chemical warfare?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: That depends if the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, it could happen, I don’t know. I am not fortune teller to tell you what’s going to happen.
CHARLIE ROSE: But we’d like to know and I think the President… the American people like to know, you know, if there’s an attack, what might be the repercussions, and who might be engaged in those repercussions?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Before the 11th of September, in my discussions with many officials in the United States—some of them are congressmen—I used to say that don’t deal with the terrorists in as playing games. It’s different story. You are going to pay the price, if you are not wise with dealing with terrorists. So nobody expect…we said there were going to be repercussions of the mistaken way of dealing with it… of treating the terrorism. But nobody expected the 11th of September. So you could not expect… it’s difficult for anyone to tell you what is going to happen. It’s area where everything is on the brink of explosion. You have to expect everything.
[TRANSCRIPT PART 4:
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you expect an air strike?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: 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. But according to the lies that we’ve been hearing for the last two weeks from high-ranking officials in this administration, we have to expect the worst.
CHARLIE ROSE: Are you prepared?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: We’ve been living in different circumstances for the last two years and a half. And we’re prepared ourselves for every possibility. But that doesn’t mean if you’re prepared, some things would be better. It’s going to get worse with any foolish strike or stupid war.
CHARLIE ROSE: What do you mean worse?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Worse because of the repercussions. Because nobody can tell what the repercussion of the first strike. When you talk about one region, bigger regions. It’s not only about Syria, it’s interlinked—region, it’s intermingled, interlocked, whatever you want to call. If you strike somewhere, you have to expect the repercussions somewhere else in different forms in a way that you don’t expect—
CHARLIE ROSE: Are you suggesting that if in fact there’s a strike, there would be repercussions against the United States from your friends in other countries like Iran or Hezbollah or others?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Yeah. As I said, it may take different forms, direct and indirect. Direct when people wants to retaliate or governments. Indirect when we’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—with Hezbollah about how to retaliate?
BASHAR 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 has destroyed in Syria. So sometimes 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.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Exactly. Any strike will be as direct support to al Qaeda offshoot that’s called al-Nusra, 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. And let’s talk about that. Do you approve of the use of chemical warfare?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: What do you mean?
CHARLIE ROSE: The use of chemicals, deadly chemicals?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Do I think that we have to use—
CHARLIE ROSE: No. Do you think that it is an appropriate tool of war to use chemicals?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: The chemical?
CHARLIE ROSE: Yes.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: We are against any W.M.D., any weapons of mass destruction whether chemical or nuclear. And that—
CHARLIE ROSE: So you’re against the use of chemical warfare?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Yeah. It’s 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 W.M.D. in the Middle East and the United States stood against that proposal.
CHARLIE ROSE: But—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: So this is our conviction and policy.
CHARLIE ROSE: But you’re not a signator to the chemical warfare—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Not yet.
CHARLIE ROSE: —agreement.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Not yet—
CHARLIE ROSE: Why not?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Because Israel has W.M.D. and it has to sign. And Israel occupying our land. So that’s why we talked about Middle East, not Syria, not Israel. It should be comprehensive.
CHARLIE ROSE: Do you consider chemical warfare equivalent to nuclear warfare?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: I don’t know. We haven’t tried either. (LAUGH)
CHARLIE ROSE: Yeah, but you know, you’re a head of state and you understand the consequences of weapons that don’t discriminate—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: You mean that—technically, they’re not—
CHARLIE ROSE: That are beyond—
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Yeah, technically, they’re not the same. But—
CHARLIE ROSE: But.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Morally, they’re the same.
CHARLIE ROSE: Morally, they’re the same.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: They have the same. But at the end, killing is killing.
[TRANSCRIPT PART 5:
CHARLIE ROSE: When I first interviewed you, there was talk of “Bashar al-Assad, he’s the hope. He’s the reformer.” That’s not what they say anymore.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Who?
CHARLIE ROSE: People who write about you, people who talk about you, people who analyze Syria and your regime.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Exactly. So the hope for American is different from the hope of Syrian. For me, I’m the hope of—I should be the hope of the Syrian, not any other one. Not American, not—no American, neither French, or anyone in the world. I’m president to help Syrian people. So this question should start from the hope of the Syrian people. And if there’s 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 ever to walk 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.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: First, the following have—doctor who cut the leg to prevent the patient from the gangrene, if you have to, we don’t call him butcher, we call him doctor. And you—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.
Source: CBS News
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