Highlights from a Russian media interview of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad on September 16, 2015.
On the West’s campaign against ISIS
Since this coalition started to operate, ISIS has been expanding. In other words, the coalition has failed and it has no real impact on the ground.
On why the West is against him
[T]he Western principle followed now in Syria and Russia and other countries is changing presidents, changing states, or what they call bringing regimes down. Why? Because they do not accept partners, and they do not accept independent states. What is their problem with Russia? What is their problem with Syria? What is their problem with Iran? They are all independent countries. They want a certain individual to go and be replaced by someone who acts in their interests and not in the interest of his country. For us, the president comes through the people and through elections, and if he goes, he goes through the people. He doesn’t go as a result of an American decision, a Security Council decision, the Geneva conference or the Geneva communiqué.
On the origins of unrest in Syria
[W]e saw that the war [in Iraq would] turn Iraq into a sectarian country, into a society divided against itself. To the West of Syria there is another sectarian country, Lebanon. We are in the middle. We knew well that we will be affected. Consequently, the beginning of the Syrian crisis, or what happened in the beginning, was the natural result of that war and the sectarian situation in Iraq, part of which moved to Syria, and it was easy for them to incite some Syrian groups on sectarian grounds.
The second point which might be less crucial is that when the West adopted terrorism officially in Afghanistan in the early 1980s and called terrorists at that time “freedom fighters,” and then in 2006 when the Islamic State appeared in Iraq under American sponsorship and they didn’t fight it.
All these things together created the conditions for the unrest with the Western support and Gulf money, particularly from Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and with Turkish logistic support, particularly that [Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip] Erdogan belongs intellectually to the Muslim Brotherhood. Consequently, he believes that if the situation changed in Syria, Egypt, and Iraq, it means the creation of a new sultanate, this time not an Ottoman sultanate, but a sultanate for the Brotherhood extending from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and ruled by Erdogan.
And if … gaps and weak points [in democracy] are the cause [of the unrest], why didn’t they lead to revolutions in the Gulf States, particularly in Saudi Arabia which doesn’t know anything about democracy?