Assad says West is fueling Syria war, hoping to topple him

A man sits near a poster of Syrian President Bashar al Assad during the re-opening of the road between Homs and Hama in Talbisi, Syria June 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 10 June 2018

Assad says West is fueling Syria war, hoping to topple him

  • Assad reiterated his position that the uprising against his rule was part of a conspiracy to remove him from power.
  • Assad also dismissed reports that Israel has conducted recent airstrikes in Syria with tacit Russian cooperation.

BEIRUT: Syrian President Bashar Assad said in an interview published Sunday that the West is fueling the devastating war in his country, now in its eighth year, with the aim of toppling him.
Assad told the Mail on Sunday that Western nations have lied about chemical attacks in Syria and supported terrorist groups there, while Russia has supported his government against the foreign “invasion.”
Assad reiterated his long-held position that the uprising against his rule was part of a conspiracy to remove a leader that did not go along with Western policies in the region. Syria is allied with Iran and Russia, and has had turbulent relations with the West. Syria is technically at war with Israel, which occupies the Syrian Golan Heights, but a cease-fire has largely held since the 1970s.

“The whole approach toward Syria in the West is, ‘we have to change this government, we have to demonize this president, because they don’t suit our policies anymore.’” Assad said. They tell lies, they talk about chemical weapons, they talk about the bad president killing the good people, freedom, peaceful demonstration.”
Syria’s conflict began in 2011 with peaceful protests against the Assad family’s decades-long rule. The government’s violent response to the protests, and the eventual rise of an armed insurgency, tipped the country into a civil war that has claimed nearly half a million lives.
Since then, Western nations and independent experts have accused the government of carrying out several chemical weapons attacks, most recently in April, in an attack near Damascus that reportedly killed dozens of people and prompted Western airstrikes. The government has denied ever using chemical weapons.

Assad also dismissed reports that Israel has conducted recent airstrikes in Syria with tacit Russian cooperation. Russia has provided crucial military support to Assad’s forces, waging an air campaign since 2015 that turned the tide of the war in Assad’s favor. Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah group have also provided extensive military support.
“Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily,” Assad said. “How could they help the Syrian Army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?“

Israel carried out a wave of airstrikes against Iranian forces in Syria last month. The lack of any Russian response, despite the heavy Russian presence in the skies over Syria, suggested that Moscow might have been notified ahead of time.

On Sunday, airstrikes killed at least nine people in the town of Taftanaz and another two people in nearby towns in the northern Idlib province, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory and an activist-run media center in Taftanaz said a local pediatric hospital was struck, putting it out of order.

 


Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

Updated 22 min 36 sec ago

Israeli attack aimed to get Netanyahu out of the jam

AMMAN: Pundits and politicians appear to agree that the assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa Abu Al-Atta and his wife in Gaza, as well as the failed attack in Damascus against Akram Ajoury was committed to assuage domestic Israeli political tensions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing a corruption indictment and possibly about to lose power to opponent Benny Gantz, apparently acted in his own self-interest, disrupting political talks and potentially destabilizing Gantz’ support from the Arab Joint List.

Jafar Farah, director of the Haifa-based Mossawa Center, told Arab News the Israeli attack in Gaza had all but ended the possibility of the Joint List supporting any Israeli government.

“Before the attack, 10 out of the 13 elected members of the Knesset were on board with the idea of supporting, externally, a minority government. Now the number of those supporting this has been reduced, as the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality are opposed to supporting any government,” he said.

Gantz, who apparently was briefed before the attack, has come out publicly in support of Israel’s actions, which killed over 20 Palestinians including women and children.

Michel Oun, Middle East professor at Haifa University, told Arab News that a major reason behind the Israeli attack was internal politics. “If we can use football terms, we were in the last minutes of the game, time was running out on Netanyahu, he had to do something,” Oun said, adding that the attack had ended any possibility of an Israeli minority government with the Arab Joint List supporting it.

“I was always skeptical about this issue even before the attacks on Gaza, because of the paternalistic and racist way Israelis were talking about it in which the very idea of having Arab members of the Knesset supporting a government, even from the outside, was seen as unacceptable and treasonous.”

Merav Michaeli, a member of the Knesset from the Israeli Labor Party, told Arab News that the way Netanyahu used the attack in Gaza was suspicious. 

“I saw the chief of staff and head of the secret service standing and talking about the necessity and opportunity that was provided to them. I believe that the Israeli civil service officials are telling the truth, although the attack was greatly exploited and abused politically. The very fact that Netanyahu had to bring these military officials to the press conference shows that half of Israel does not trust him and he had to have them confirm their position,” she said.

Pundits had opposing views as to who would benefit from the stretch of the cycle of attacks with Gaza. “Regardless of politics I hope that the violence ends as soon as possible,” Michaeli told Arab News.