December 12, 2015
Translated from French by Tom Winter
Syria will not negotiate with the terrorists to put an end the conflict on their terms, even if the West tries to present the armed groups as political opponents, said the Syrian president to EFE.
For Bashar Assad, the problem is due to the fact that a large part of armed fighters and terrorist groups in Syria are foreign mercenaries, mercenaries that the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf region are eager to include in the negotiation process.
"Opposition is a political term, not a military one. Thus, the talk about the concept does not mean actuating it, because we have seen that some countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United States, and other Western countries would like certain terrorist groups to participate in negotiations. I.e. they want the Syrian government to negotiate with terrorists. This is something that no country would accept, "said the leader.
At the same time, Assad reaffirmed that his government was still open to negotiations with the real opposition, but stressed that it must first be defined. "An opposition, for every country in the world, does not mean fighters," he said. The President recalled that Damascus was already engaged in dialogue with certain armed groups, not the organizations, to lay down their weapons in exchange for "the government's amnesty" and the chance to take up a "normal life."
"This is the only way to deal with the fighters in Syria. When they want to change their approach, disarm, we are ready, but negotiate with them as a political entity, we categorically refuse to do," clarified the Syrian leader. The agreement on a peaceful resolution to the crisis, according to Assad, can not be achieved, except by "a true patriotic and political opposition," which is bound to Syria, "but not to some other state or regime of the world."
In the government's fight against extremists, including the Islamic state, al Qaeda and its affiliate the Al-Nusra Front, more than 100 nationalities are included.* For the long term, fighting these jihadist groups requires concentration on the fight against the Wahhabi ideology of the fighters, said Assad.
"This ideology has been instilled into the minds of peoples and society in the Muslim world for decades, by the Wahhabi institutions, with money from Saudi Arabia that was spent to support an ideology that is dark and full of resentment," he said. For Assad, it is Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are "most responsible for the Daesh atrocities."
In the short term, efforts to fight Daesh, according to the Syrian president, must be focused on neutralizing the jihadist supply routes and financing along the Turkish border. "Solving the problem means to stop the inflow of terrorists, most notably through Turkey to Syria and Iraq, and of course halting the money transfers and arms ... reaching the terrorists via Turkey," he continued.
In the interview, Assad also confirmed the authenticity of the data provided by Russia on the Daesh oil smuggling, explaining that the illegally operated oil had no other place to go, if not to Turkey. "Most of the Syria oil fields are located in the northern part of the country. If they want to export to Iraq, it would be impossible because everyone in Iraq is fighting Daesh. In Syria, it is the same. In Lebanon, it's too far. Jordan to the south is also very far. Thus, the only lifeline for the Islamic state is Turkey. These trucks carry oil from Syria to Turkey and Turkey sells oil cheap to the rest of the planet, "he replied.
Thus, the Syrian leader concluded that if we continue to put pressure on Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, "the conflict will certainly end in less than a year," seeing as the Syrian army has made impressive progress on the ground. Commenting on the Russian air campaign the terrorists in Syria, Assad attributed the success to the coordination with the Syrian forces on the ground. He also explained why Washington has failed to deliver a similar result. "We must fight Daesh on the ground, and that's why since the Russians came and began participating in the war against terrorism, the successes recorded by the joint Russian and Syrian forces after just a few weeks were more than those of the allies after more than a year of bombing," he said.
*The source text is upside down here, and actually says "More than 100 nationalities are united with the government in their struggle with the extremists, who include the Islamic State, Al-Qaida and its affiliate, the Al-Nusra Front," -- which is nonsensical, and contradicted by the preceding context. See Foreign fighter nationalities