[Watch] Bashar al-Assad interview with NBC – “America enabled ISIS”


 

In reference to Donald Trump’s discrimination against Muslims in the US, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad claimed that nobody should indulge such discrimination.

With regards to contradictory rhetoric from opposing candidates of the presidential election, Assad said he is not concerned with rhetoric but action and that this rhetoric is often temporal; fleeting.

Furthermore, Assad lambasted US presidents as inexperienced.

Finally Assad claims that the US enabled the emergence of ISIS and that Russia’s interventionism made this clear.

Could it be that radical Islamists are working with global powers to delegitimize Islam and to manufacture consent for security initiatives in the Middle East? Since neither stability, democracy or development appear to be the honest objectives of world powers involved in the region, namely the US, such a corroboration isn’t unlikely. It could be that these radicals are mere products of US interventionism in the region to begin with, a sort of religious but also nationalistic retaliation. What is certain is that these forces are unstable, and their origins lies in the realm of foreign occupation.

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Remembering Anthony Shadid (1968-2012)


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On September 1st, 2011, late journalist & NYT foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid came to speak to UCF students about his recent escapades in the Middle East, namely his most recent experiences in Libya, where Shadid recalled being taken hostage with two other associates for three days.

I am grateful to say I had the opportunity to sit in on his speech. I was even able to meet with Shadid shortly after his speech during which I introduced myself. He was quick to smile with news that I am Syrian. I purchased his most recent book, Night Draws Near, in which he left me a little note, perhaps a little naive in hindsight, or just rashly hopeful as all Arabs tend to be. “See you in Damascus,” he uttered.

Anthony Shadid reminded me what it means to be an Arab, aside from the ordinary customs, our cuisine, language music and traditions. Anthony Shadid reminded me that at the heart of being Arab is the nature of resilience; our ability to laugh and chuckle even amidst the darkest of chaos. I vaguely remember a story told to me by close friend of mine, a Palestinian political activist from Ramallah, Tami Rafidi. Rafidi, whose husband was taken captive by Israeli forces never to be returned, embodied this resilience. Despite her frustrations; anger & suffering, Rafidi recalled memories of running wildly along the rugged Palestinian terrain dodging Israel fire while laughing, telling jokes & drinking the famous Arab liquor – ‘arak’.

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In 2006, when Israel began bombing Hezbollah sites in Lebanon, the Lebanese people were seeking refuge by day; clubbing relentlessly by night. Despite all the misery and control, the Arabs found a way; an outlet.

It is Tami’s resilience, the resilience of the Lebanese people, which echoed the sentiments of Anthony Shadid, who did not stop short of asserting during his speech: “At the heart of the Arab struggle is Palestine, a very dear subject for the Arab & Muslim world. This cannot be understated.”

I admire this man for his courage and resolve.

In 2012, during a trip to Syria where he was capturing stories about the ensuing conflict in the region, Shadid suffered what appeared to be a asthma attack. Shortly after Shadid passed. I was shocked by the news. Without any history of medical complications except for minor sensitivities to allergens, Shadid was not on course for any type of health issues.

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I remember having met his daughter at the time of his speech. She was quite young, very polite & beautiful. My prayers and thanks are with her, wherever she may be, for having had such an amazing man as a father. My dream is to honor his legacy and the struggle of the Arab people all over the world, which he represented so well.

I did not want to go into any details or elaborate on the possibility of foul-play regarding Shadid’s death, out of respect for him & his family. I will add, however that with regards to the Middle East, there is without a doubt an unrelenting fear among journalists, dissidents or activists of any sort, of persecution for propagating legitimate news, especially if it poses a threat to the interests of particular political actors. His bodies of work, including the aforementioned book, shows no restraint in exposing the consequences of the US government’s disastrous policies which would usher in violent instability & chaos that has yet to conclude, even a decade after the US initiated the invasion.

I pray that in the case of Shadid, his passing was a matter of fate and nature. Nonetheless, his legacy remains & the struggle for Arab dignity continues.

RIP Anthony Shadid. Thank you. May the children of Iraq see justice one day. Long live the Arab struggle for freedom & may Palestine one day be free!

President Bashar al-Assad delivers speech on January 10th, 2012


The following is my written version of the speech delivered by President Bashar al-Assad on January 10th, 2012.

We try to encourage awareness in the country.

Still, there is some ignorance in the country effecting conditions here…

Internal reforms are clear. Progress and advancement should still carry on.

What is happening in Syria is being planned. It is part of a plan that has been hatched for the last 10 years, the Sykes-Picot plan.

Defeating Syria is not necessarily by military means, but by making us look backwards, by making us ignore the palestinian cause.

Their objective is to show Syria interested in regional issues but not showing its Arab responsibilities, to harm Syrian identity and culture.

They will not succeed to destroy our identity.

The battle against terrorism is not a battle of the state, it is a battle of all of us.

Syria will remain steadfast and strong.

A strong country knows when and how to be tolerant.

As long as we can hit the terrorists we can bring the people who have gone astray back to the straight path.

They were pushed towards crime, but a good state will give people the opportunity to come back to the right path.

We amnestied a number of prisoners.

Some people think this led to more crime, but the reality was opposite, there was positive results.

We asked people to help their sons and bring them to the right path.

We dialogue with all forces except criminals whose hands are stained with blood.

Our people who are affected by intellectual blindness – they really think that they are revolutionaries.

What have they done? How can we describe them?

Can you show me a rebel that steals a car, pillages a house?

For me a revolutionary is positive, is right.

These people have killed people.

Can a revolutionary be described as a coward?

They prevented schools from carrying on education!

The level of education in the country has now dropped to half the percentage.

Lecturers are putting their lives in danger to carry on their work.

At the end of 2011, the number of martyred-lecturers was 30; number of schools pillaged 1,000.

On your behalf I would like to salute all the lecturers and administrators.

Is it possible to have a revolution against knowledge, eduation, national unity?

Is it possible to define a revolutionary who deprives people of gas, food?

This is not a revolution!

Is it possible that a revolutionary should work for an enemy?

Is it possible for a revolutionary to be a traitor?

But the main question that I was asked was: When can this and how can this end?

We cannot give answers. This is a difficult question.

The plot will finish when the Syrian people decided to turn into a weak and submissive people, when we forego our nationalist stance, when we submit our nationalist stance on the Palestinian cause, when we give up our Golan Heights, when we ignore the massacres in our country…whether the Arab League will see into this problem, I don’t think so.

We cannot give up Syrian dignity!

This will end when smuggling of arms and funds stops.

This is linked to the first one – when we give in is when we give up.

The conspiracy stops when we defeat it

The question of when the conspiracy will end is when we defeat it internally, politically.

Our awareness will defeat the plot. When we return to wisdom.

Syria is a very strong country, but strength is not unending.

A strong person declines with age.

Debt and collapse is not inevitable.

We cannot fight off terrorism as long as chaos carries on.

Immunity is weakened when national awareness is weakened.

I would like to tell people there is an international conspiracy, there are arms being smuggled. The situation is now clear. This terrorism cannot happen over night.

The kind of arms they use, the geography they operate on.

People know what is happening.

What is important is that we should stand side by side when this is a national issue. But when the country is threatened, states and countries unite and stand side by side.

There is no such thing as I am in the middle or I am sitting on the fence. We should sit side by side. We should put our differences aside.

Can anybody say that the policy on combatting terrorism is wrong.

When we go back to 70s and 80s, when terrorists used Islam to legitimize terrorism…we put an end to them because the people stood with the State. We don’t want to carry on like that.

This is a race between terrorism and reforms.

Terrorists don’t want reforms.

The issue is that of terrorism.

We stress on respecting the law because we stress on protecting the innocent

The majority of the Syrians who are dying are innocent.

They are killing the Syrian people.

We should Unite. We should be decisive.

But how can the citizen stand with the State?

The army entered a city occupied by terrorists.

The citizens of that city helped protect the army.

We have so many means, we should start today, a direct dialogue between officials and security forces in cities, so that we can establish security over all Syrian land.

My position right now is of National Reconciliation.

At the beginning of the crisis people suggested National Reconciliation.

At the end of the crisis everyone will forgive everyone.

Revenge will not bring positive results. Revenge will not help this country.

It is from this feeling that National Reconciliation comes.

National Reconciliation will be done through awareness not through amnesty.

This is a national situation that should be linked to laws.

All these measures, reforms, confrontations and complex situations, for us to succeed, we should warn those who are being psychologically weakened, if they succeed,

The Syrian people will not sell their dignity and honour for money.

I am not just saying this. We supplied Syrian wheat and grain to four Arab countries when they had nothing.

And it is us who developed its industries in the 80s without any reserves.

And we paid our debts

The young generation – do not let fear enter your heart.

Syrian has gone through a more difficult situation than now, and it came out victorious.

Today, we are capable of turning this all into an asset if we think scientifically and collectively.

We should not allow a minority to abuse a situation.

We should focus on immediate and small term industries and small trade.

We should create employment opportunities and we should not divide the kind of crowd we seek.

We should have social justice and not to affect the small businessman and trader.

Traders should be encouraged and protected.

Despite all these difficulties, farming in Syria has achieved a great deal and the farmers and the workers in the field are continuing their work, but I think more attention should be given to these people.

In the psychological war against Syria, they have failed on the Sectarian issue.

They are now embarking on a economic war.

The criteria is the level of production in Syria. We have become a producing country. We can actually increase our production in this crisis.

The debt in Syria is very small. Our relations with other countries have not stopped.

We are fifth in the world in the production of olives. We are small country but to be 5th in the world is a great thing.

We should organize the economic operation and be able to move forward even now.

For us, the West, we cannot deny that it is important. The West today is not the West a few weeks ago. But the West is not the oxygen we use to breath. It is not our safety net. We can swim alone, and with our brothers. That is why since 2005 we turned to the East. The West remains colonialist.

They use different methods but they are the same.

Relations with most countries with Syria are excellent.

Some European countries still maintain good relation with Syria.

The citizen’s consumption is decreasing.

I call on unity and cooperation from all so that we are faithful to the legacy of the citizen.

Despite all this complex situation, my faith and trust in the future is great. It stems from you, dignity, honor.

You promised me, when there is a challenge against Syria, we are all one.

Our people have proved their dignity and heritage.

Attacking Syria did not harm its dignity.

We’ll not allow a small group who sold their soul to the devil to destroy Syria.

My trust in this stems from you, the men in the armed forces, conscience and bravery of the people.

I extend my salutations while they are protecting the honor of this country, the blood of our martyrs, which are the basis of our country will be the basis of the construction of a new Syria.

We are determined to face up to them!

People of this great nation, I salute you, from all walks of life, unity, friendship, against the hatred leveled against this country.

Honor to the pure people who refuse to submit.