Assad gives interview, blames US and Al Qaeda for violence
Assad vows to fight on.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has told an interviewer that he is not afraid of meeting the same fate as Egypt's Mubarak or Libya's Gaddafi. Assad gave an interview in English to a German broadcaster. The interview was filmed by state media and broadcast Sunday.
Assad during his interview.
Meanwhile, Assad contends terrorists and criminals including an alliance that involves Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the United States, and Al Qaeda, beset his regime. Assad claims a blend of political, financial and material support are making it difficult for him to protect his people.
Meanwhile, independent investigations suggest that it's Assad's security forces, not the opposition, that are attacking civilians.
The uprising in Syria began 16 months ago as part of the broader Arab Spring movement that saw regimes toppled across the Middle East. The conflict in Syria has been the longest running of all and by far the bloodiest. At least 14,000 people are dead as a result of violence in that country.
So far, the United Nations has not been able to stabilize the situation there despite high-profile efforts by former Secretary General Kofi Annan. Russia, Syria's closest ally, has blocked virtually all efforts by the Security Council to bring sanctions against the regime.
The failure of diplomatic efforts has other leaders warning of escalation. Iran recently warned of catastrophe if the situation is not brought under control. Meanwhile Turkey, Syria's northern neighbor, has sent troops to their border to protect against the possibility of Syrian aggression against refugees fleeing to safety in Turkey.
Assad said in his interview that "the president shouldn't run away from a challenge and we have a national challenge now in Syria." Assad also said that he was ready to work on a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but that he would not stop his crackdown on people he referred to as "terrorists."
"But as long as you have terrorism and as long as the dialogue didn't work, you have to fight terrorism. You cannot keep just making dialogue while they are killing your people and your army," he added.
To show Syria's determination to keep foreign powers out of the conflict, the country's military staged large-scale military exercises over the weekend. However, the technological state of the military, internal difficulties, and the advanced capability of US and other western powers means that any armed conflict with Syria would be short and sharp. But whether such intervention could bring peace is beyond understanding, so for now the UN and the west remains committed to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Assad, Syria, violence, Arab Spring, conflict, Security Council, Kofi Annan, UN
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