The AP phone lines and Press Freedom
Previous National security and the death of Litvinenko
Al Assad said in an interview to the Argentinian newspaper Clarín, he will not step down now because of the pressures from outside, but he will wait to see what the Syrian people decide in the presidential elections in 2014.
The problem is that the elections are very far away and there is too much time for violence in Syria without a political agreement to stop it before. Other problem would be how to conduct elections in Syria if the violence doesn’t stop, because now it seems impossible to organize nothing of the like, with the Country in fact divided in areas in hands of the opposition groups and others in hands of the Government fighting against each other, without freedom of movements for the civilians; with more than 1.2 million refugees out of the borders and more than 4.5 million internal displaced people according to the UN agencies. This is now. Nobody can predict what would be the situation in 2014.
“I won’t resign. The people will say who will stay and who will have to go, not the US”, under this headline, Clarín published the first part of the interview with Al Assad by Marcelo Cantelmi, in which the Syrian leader denied the death toll of more than 80,000 people the UN is estimating in this war, denied the use of chemical weapons from his part and explained he is fighting terrorist groups. “We shouldn’t ignore that many of the dead that they talk about are foreigners who have come to kill the Syrian people,” he said. He questioned the credibility of the sources who estimate the death toll, said that the number of dead people “changes constantly” and many times terrorists kill people who are now in “mass graves”, blaming “local terrorism and that coming from abroad” for the violence.
“To resign would be to fly”, he said to Cantelmi “I don’t know if (US Secretary of State) Kerry or another one have received some power from the Syrian people to talk in their behalf about who has to go and who has to stay. That will be decided by the Syrian people in the presidential elections 2014”, he insisted. Asked about the possible presence of international observers in this elections if they take place, he said that this is a “national decision” and explained that Syrian people don’t trust the West. He said that if there has to be international observers would come from friendly Countries like China or Russia”.
About the International Conference of Peace that are pushing US and Russia after an agreement earlier this month, Al Assad said that the idea is welcomed, but he doesn’t think would have results. “We have received the Russian-US approach well and we hope that there will be an international conference to help Syrians overcome the crisis, but we don’t believe many western countries want a solution in Syria. And we don’t believe many of the parties that support the terrorists want a solution to the crisis”, Clarín quoted. “We must be clear … there is confusion in the world over a political solution and terrorism. They think that a political conference will stop terrorism on the ground. This is unrealistic.”
Al Assad said also that he fears an invasion as a possibility after the latest wins of his forces on the ground that can change the outcome of the war, and after the Israeli’s bombings near Damascus. He admitted there are Hezbollah fighters in Syria but said they were there before going in and out the Country and this is nothing new.