A Conversation With Bashar al-Assad
By Jonathan Tepperman
The civil war in Syria will soon enter its fifth year, with no end in sight. On January 20, Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus to discuss the conflict in an exclusive interview.
All wars anywhere in the world have ended with a political solution, because war itself is not the solution; war is one of the instruments of politics. So you end with a political solution. That’s how we see it. That is the headline.
You don’t think that this war will end militarily?
No. Any war ends with a political solution. . .
If you were able to deliver a message to President Obama today, what would it be?
I think the normal thing that you ask any official in the world is to work for the interests of his people. And the question I would ask any American is, what do you get from supporting terrorists in our country, in our region?. . .
One of the officials from your country asked me seven years ago in Syria at the end of a meeting, “How do you think we can solve the problem in Afghanistan?” I told him, “You have to be able to deal with officials who are not puppets, who can tell you no.” So for the United States, only looking for puppet officials and client states is not how you can serve the interests of your country.
You are the greatest power in the world now; you have too many things to disseminate around the world: knowledge, innovation, IT, with its positive repercussions. How can you be the best in these fields yet the worst in the political field? This is a contradiction. That is what I think the American people should analyze and question.
Why do you fail in every war? You can create war, you can create problems, but you cannot solve any problem. Twenty years of the peace process in Palestine and Israel, and you cannot do anything with this, in spite of the fact that you are a great country.
But in the context of Syria, what would a better policy look like?
One that preserves stability in the Middle East. Syria is the heart of the Middle East. Everybody knows that. If the Middle East is sick, the whole world will be unstable. In 1991, when we started the peace process, we had a lot of hope. Now, after more than 20 years, things are not at square one; they’re much below that square.
So the policy should be to help peace in the region, to fight terrorism, to promote secularism, to support this area economically, to help upgrade the mind and society, like you did in your country. That is the supposed mission of the United States, not to launch wars.
Launching war doesn’t make you a great power.
Read the entire excellent interview: