On Thursday, Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Western countries of turning Ukraine into a puppet state, same thing as he said was done to his own country, all in order to weaken Russia.
Speaking to Russian government-run newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta he said: “I keep coming back to the fact that there is a connection between the Syrian crisis and what is happening in Ukraine.” He also said that his and his country’s goal is to resist foreign interference in the country.
“Firstly because both countries are important for Russia, and secondly because the goal in both cases is to weaken Russia and create a puppet state,” he added.
“It is clear that the duty of any state is to protect the interests of the people and the country. And, of course, the role of the government is to implement these interests,” Assad expressed his opinion.
“We welcome any widening of the Russian presence”
Furthermore, Bashar Assad told Russian news channels he would welcome Russian military presence at Syrian territory.
“I can say with complete confidence that we welcome any widening of the Russian presence in the Middle East, including the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea,” he said.
Russia has a naval base with its warships, barracks and warehouses in the port of Tartus along Syria’s shores. As Assad put it, Syrian government will not “oppose” the expansion of this Russian facility in Tartus if the Kremlin is willing to do it, adding that: “For us [Syria], the larger this presence in our neighbourhood, the better it is for stability in this region.”
Established in 1971 with a security agreement, Russia has called its Tartus presence “a supply and technical point for the Russian navy” in the Mediterranean.
When asked about a second round of peace talks hosted by Russia, which Assad is not likely to attend, Syrian President said that although both parties should not forget about restoring peace, they must not be influenced by external players.
“For the success of these talks, the negotiating parties must be independent and must reflect what the Syrian people, with all of their different political views, want,” Assad said.
A second round of meetings are announced to take place in Moscow April 6-9, which the Western-backed opposition National Coalition will boycott.
“A solution to the Syrian crisis is not impossible – if the Syrian people sit with each other and discuss, then we’ll get results,” he added.
The first round of peace talks held In Moscow in January bore little fruit. Many Syrian opposition members rejected the offer to attend the January talks, saying they would only attend meetings that led to Assad regime change.
“The west is hypocritical”
In Assad’s opinion, the West, including the US, UK, France and Germany, “don’t want a political solution” in his country and were being “hypocritical”.
“To them, a political solution means changing the state, the fall of the state and replacing it with a state that works for them,” he said.
Bashar Assad also expressed his hope for strengthening relations between Syria and Egypt. “We hope we will soon see a Syrian-Egyptian rapprochement,” he said.
Assad’s comments come just a few days after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem called for strengthening ties between Egypt, Iraq and Syria after the talks with his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari in Damascus.
But a Syrian-Egyptian alliance seems very complicated at this point as Egypt has been strengthening the relations with Saudi Arabia in an attempt to battle the increasing influence of Iran in the region. Iran, in turn, has been supporting Assad’s regime.
Although it’s important to note that Egypt sealed a massive military deal with Russia in 2014. That fact might bring Syria and Egypt closer together thanks to their love toward Russia.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, over 215,000 people have been killed with 2014 being the deadliest year yet in Syria’s four-year conflict, with over 76,000 killed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Egypt on February 9-10 made it crystal clear that Russia seeks recognition, support and closer relations with countries other than Europe.
Although Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is not willing to abandon his country’s time-honored ties with the United States, the prospect of having Russian weapons and aid could prove a useful addition to US’s support.
Assad Says He Is ‘Open’ To Dialogue With US
In his interview with CBS News, Bashar Assad has dismissed allegations that his country’s army used barrel bombs or chlorine gas against the areas held by opposition.
“This is part of the malicious propaganda against Syria,” he said.
The Syrian opposition and activists claim Assad regime’s helicopters dropped bombs with chlorine gas on the town of Sarmin in northwestern Syria’s Idlib province on March 16, killing six people.
“It’s not used as military gas. That’s very self-evident. Traditional arms is more important than chlorine, and if it was very effective, the terrorists would have used it on a larger scale,” he said. Note: Syrian government refers to its opponents as “terrorists.”
Furthermore, Syrian President said he would be open to a dialogue with the US, adding that it must be “based on mutual respect.”
He addressed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statement that Washington must have a dialogue with Damascus in order to negotiate an end to Syria’s civil war.
“Every dialogue is a positive thing, and we are going to be open to any dialogue with anyone, including the United States,” Assad said, adding that there is no direct communication with the US so far.