Assad: Syria's loss means chaos in the Middle East

Assad: Syria's loss means chaos in the Middle East
Mon Jan 20, 2014 14:46:40

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad says the upcoming peace talks on Syria should focus on ‘war on terrorism’ while maintaining that if public opinion favors his candidacy he will run for another term.

Speaking in an interview with AFP on Sunday at his presidential palace in Damascus, Assad said he expected Syria's war to grind on.

"I see no reason why I shouldn't stand," he said of presidential elections in June. If there is "public opinion in favor of my candidacy, I will not hesitate for a second to run for election".

"In short, we can say that the chances for my candidacy are significant."

Assad, 48, came to power in 2000 after the death of his father Hafez, who ruled for nearly 30 years.

He was elected in a referendum after his father's death and won another seven-year term in July 2007.

Assad dismissed the opposition, which says it will attend the peace talks, as having been "created" by foreign backers.

"It is clear to everyone that some of the groups which might attend the conference didn't exist until very recently," he said.

"They were created during the crisis by foreign intelligence agencies whether in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, the United States or other countries."

"When we sit down with these groups, we are in fact negotiating with those countries," Assad said.

Opposition representation in government would mean "the participation of each of those states in the Syrian government," he added.

Speaking about leaders of the opposition who are based in foreign countries he said, "Last year, they claimed that they had control of 70 percent of Syria, yet they didn't even dare to come to the areas that they had supposed control of," he said.

They "come to the border for a 30-minute photo opportunity and then they flee. How can they be ministers in the government?” he added.

Assad warned of the consequences if the national army lost the war to the militant groups.

"Should Syria lose this battle, that would mean the spread of chaos throughout the Middle East."

He rejected any distinction between what some media call the rebel side and radical extremists, saying that "Regardless of the labels you read in the Western media, we are now fighting one extremist terrorist group comprising various factions," he said.

Assad said this should be the primary focus of the peace talks.

"The Geneva conference should produce clear results with regard to the fight against terrorism in Syria," he said.

"This is the most important decision or result that the Geneva conference could produce. Any political solution that is reached without fighting terrorism has no value."


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