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tv   Charlie Rose  PBS  September 10, 2013 12:00am-1:01am PDT

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>> charlie: welcome to the program. tonight a world exclusive. a conversation with the president of syria, bashar al-assad recorded for this program on sunday morning in damascus. >> president is prepared to strike and perhaps we'll get authorization of congress or not. the question then is, would you give up chemical weapons if it would prevent the president from authorizing a strike? if that is a deal you would accept? >> to imply that we have chemical. >> charlie: i have to. that's the assumption of the president that is his assumption and he's the one who will order the strike. >> it's his problem, but for us in syria we have principle. we do anything to prevent the region from another crazy war. it will start in syria. >> charlie: to prevent -- you recognize the consequence for you if there is a strike. >> it's not about me.
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it's about the region. >> charlie: as the congress returns to washington to vote on the possibility of authorizing a military strike against syria and the president prepares an address to the nation on tuesday night. a conversation with the president of syria, next.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications >> charlie: mr. president, thank you very much for this opportunity to talk to you at a very important moment. because the president of the united states will address the nation this week and as you know important conversation is taking place in washington and important things are happening here in your country. do you expect an airstrike? >> as long as the united states doesn't obey the international law and trample over the charter of other nations we have to worry that any administration not only this one would do anything.
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but according to the lies that we have been hearing from high ranking officials in this administration we have to expect the worse. >> charlie: are you prepared? >> we've been living difficult circumstance for the last two years and a half and we're prepare ourselves for every possibility. but that doesn't mean prepared for things would be better it's going to get worse with any foolish strike or stupid war. >> charlie: what do you mean worse? >> worse, nobody can tell the repercussions of the first strike or talking about one region, not only about serious, the intermingled whatever you want to call it if you strike somewhere you have to expect the repercussions somewhere else in different forms, in ways that you don't -- >> charlie: are you suggesting that in fact if there is a strike that would be repercussions against the united
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states from your friends in other countries like iran or hezbollah or others? >> as i said, may take different forms. direct and indirect. direct when people want to retaliate government. and direct when you are going to have instability and spread of terrorism all over the region that will influence the worst. >> charlie: have you had conversation with russia, with iran, with hezbollah about how to retaliate? >> we don't discuss this issue with government but we discuss repercussions which is more important because sometimes repercussions could be more destroying than the strike itself. any american strike will not destroy as much as the terrorists have destroyed in syria. could be many double the strike itself. >> charlie: some have suggested that it might tip the balance in the favor of the rebels and lead to the overthrow of your government. >> exactly.
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any strike will be as direct support to al qaeda and iraq and syria, you're right about this. it's going to be direct support. >> charlie: this is about chemical warfare. let's talk about that. do you approve of the use of chemical warfare? >> what do you mean? >> charlie: the use of chemicals, deadly -- >> i think that we have to -- >> charlie: do you think it is an appropriate tool of war to use chemicals? >> the chemical. we are against any wmd, women weapons of mass destruction whether chemical or nuclear. >> charlie: you are against the use of chemical warfare. >> not only me as a government and me in 2001 we proposed in the united nations proposal to empty or to get rid of every wmd in the middle east and united states was against that.
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>> charlie: you're not a signatory to the chemical warfare? >> not yet. >> charlie: why not. >> israel has wmd it has to sign and israel occupy our land that's where we talked about middle east, it should be comprehensive. >> charlie: do you consider chemical warfare equivalent to nuclear warfare. >> i don't know. we haven't tried. >> charlie: you are head of state, you understand the consequences of don't discriminate -- >> technically they are not the same. but morally it's the same. >> charlie: morally they are the same. >> but killing is killing. massacring is massacring. you may kill tens of thousands or hundreds much thousands with very primitive -- >> charlie: why do you have such a stockpile of chemical weapons? >> we don't discuss that in public. we don't say that we have it. we didn't say that we don't have it. it's syrian issue. it's a middle east issue we never discuss in public with anyone.
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the "new york times" this morning. syria's leaders amassed one of the stockpiles of chemical weapons with help from the soviet union and iran as well as western european suppliers and even a handful of american companies according to america diplomatic cables and declassified intelligence records. you have amassed one of the largest supplies of the chemical weapon in the world. >> to have or not to have to a possibility. that depends on what the media say is nonsense or to depend on some of the reports of intelligence is nonsense that has proven when they invaded iraq ten years ago and they said iraq has stockpile of wmd and it was proven after the invasion that was false. it was false. we cannot stand on what one magazine wrote. but at the end it's something not to be discussed with anyone. >> charlie: you accept that the world believes you do have chemical, stockpile of chemical weapons. >> who? >> charlie: the world. united states and other powers
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who also have chemical weapons. >> not about what they believe in it's about what the reality that we have. this reality we own it woe -- >> charlie: speaking of preat reality what was the reality on august 21st? what happened in your judgment? >> we are not in the area where the -- chemical attack was happen. we are not sure that anything happened. >> charlie: you are not sure that chemical weapons even though you have seen the videotape, even though you've seen the bodies, even though your own officials have been there. >> i haven't finished. our soldiers in another area were attacked chemically our soldiers. they went to the hospital as casualties because of chemical weapon. but in the area where they said the government used chemical weapons we only had video and we only have pictures, and allegations. we're not there. our forces, our police, our
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situations don't exist. how can you talk about what happened. if you don't have evidence. we're not like american administration we're not social media administration. or government. we are the government that reality -- >> charlie: well as you know secretary kerry has said there's evidence that they rockets fired from a region controlled by your forces in to a region controlled by the rebels. they have evidence from satellite photographs of that, they have evidence of message that was intercepted about chemical weapons and other intercepted weapons. secretary kerry has presented what he says conclusive evidence. >> he presented his confidence and he presented his conviction. it's about evidence. the russians have completely opposite evidence that the missiles were thrown from area where rebels controlled.
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that reminds me about what kerry said about big lie that colin powell said in front of the world on satellite about wmd in iran, he said this is our evidence. actually he gave false evidence. in this case kerry didn't even present any evidence. he talk we have evidence, he didn't present anything. nothing so far. not single -- >> do you have some remorse for those bodies, those people that is said to be up to at least a thousand or perhaps 1400 who were in eastern guta who died. >> every syrian victim. >> charlie: what about victims of this assault from chemical warfare. dead is dead. kill is killing. crime is crime. when you feel pain, you feel pain about their family, about the loss that you have. whether one person kill or
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hundred or thousand it's a lot. it's a crime. it's a moral issue we have family that we sit with. family that they love their dear ones not about how -- it's about they are dead now. >> charlie: have there been any remorse or sadness on behalf of the syrian people for what happened. >> i think sadless prevail in syria, we don't feel anything else because of sadness because we have killing every day, whether it's chemical or any kind it's not about how, we feel it every day. >> charlie: this was indiscriminate and children. children were killed and people said goodbye to the children that morning didn't see them and will never see them again. in guta. >> that's the case every day in syria. that's why we have to stop the killing.ç the fact that chemical warfare is indiscriminate. >> you have evidence that -- >> charlie: as well as combatants. >> you are not talking about
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evidence and facts. you are talking about allegation. we are not sure that chemical weapon used, and who used it. we cannot talk about virtual things. we have to talk about facts. ..$e united nations observers from getting to guta that you deny and delayed red cross from and red crescent from getting there to make observations and to help. >> your government delay we asked for delegation in marchç 2012 when the first attack happened in the north of syria. they delayed it until just two days before they september those team. he said in his report that did everything as he wanted. there was not a single obstacle. >> charlie: they said they were delayed in getting there they wanted to be there earlier.
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>> no, no. there wasç conflict. there was fighting. there was shooting. didn't prevent them from going anywhere. we asked them to come, why delay it? if you want to say the american story, we use chemical weapons the same day the team, investigation team came to syria. is it logical? it's not logical. if the army wanted to use suchç weapon should have waited three days until the investigation finished. it's not logical. the whole story doesn't even hold together. >> charlie: we'll come back to it. if your government did not, despite the evidence, who did it? >> we have to be there to get evidence it's like what happened elsewhere. we have evidence, the united states they didn't send a team, didn't send evidence to the russians. >> charlie: don't you know
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the answer if you don't accept the evidence so far as to who did this? >> the question who threw chemical missile the same day on our soldiers, the same question. soldiers doesn't throw it on themselves. either the rebels, the terrorists or third party. we don't have any clue yet. we have to be fair to collect evidence then you can get answer. >> charlie: the argument is made that the rebels don't have the capability of using chemical weapons much they do not have the rock he or the supply of chemical weapons there for they could not have done it. >> they have been throwing rockets on damascus. >> that carry chemical women snobs. >> they have the means. second, the been talking about the last week is very primitive you can have it -- >> charlie: sharon gas.
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this was not primitive. this was a terrible use of chemical weapons. >> third, they used it in the north of syria, the video and youtube where the terrorist clearly make trial on rabbit and kill the rabbit and said this is how we're going to kill the syrian people. there's a new video about one of the -- one of those women who they consider rebel fighter or whatever, work with those terrorists and he said they didn't -- the chemical weapons and one of those weapons excluded in one and -- that's what she said. those are evidence that you have. anyway, the party who accused -- he is the one that has to bring evidence. the united states accused syria and you have to bring evidence. we have to find evidence when we are -- >> charlie: what would be sufficient for you? >> what evidence --
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>> charlie: what evidence would be efficient. >> for example, we had the material and sample from the sand, from the soil. sample from the blood. >> charlie: argument is made that you bombarded, your forces bombarded guta soon thereafter with the intent of covering up evidence. >> how could bombardment cover evidence? that evidence every day. now you can have it. but let's talk -- indications just to this point because how can you use wmd while only one hupped meters away from it. it cannot be used like this. anyone who is not military knows this. why do you use chemical weapons
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while you're advancing. last year was much more difficult than this year. and we didn't use it. >> charlie: there's this question, too, if it was not you, does that mean that you don't have control of your own chemical weapons and that perhaps they are falling in to the hands of other people who might want to use them? >> that implies that we have chemical weapons, first. that implies that it's being used second. we cannot answer this question until we answer the first part and the second part. third, let's preview that country or army have these weapons, these kind of armment cannot be used by -- for example, over anyone. these kind of marm meant should be used by specialized units. >> charlie: exactly. >> which is controlled. >> charlie: you are saying if in fact your government did it, you would know about it and
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would have approved it. >> i'm talking about generally -- >> charlie: if in fact it happened i would have known about it and approved it. >> generally. >> charlie: that's the nature. >> in every country, yes. i'm talking about general rule. because i cannot discuss with this point to you unless i'm telling you what we have and what we don't have. something i'm not going to discuss as i said at the very beginning. >> charlie: do you question the "new york times" article i read to you? saying that you had a stockpile of chemical weapons? you're not denying that. >> we don't say yes, we don't say no. as long as it's classified it shouldn't be discussed. >> charlie: the united states is prepared to launch a strike against your country because they believe chemical women ons are so apparent that anybody who uses them crosses a red line. they have for taught a lesson so
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they will not do it again. >> what's red line? >> a red line of the use of chemical weapons. >> who drew it? >> charlie: the president says the world has drawn it in their revulsion against the use of chemical weapons. >> it's not the world. obama can draw it for himself not for other countries we have our readily like orasone tee. but if you want to talk red lines united states used -- isreal used -- nobody said anything, what about the red lines? we don't see red lines. it's political red line. >> charlie: president is prepared to strike. perhaps we'll get authorization of congress or not. the question then is, would you give up chemical weapons it if it would prevent the president from authorizing a strike? if that is a deal you would
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accept? >> again, you are implying that we have chemical weapons. >> i have to that's the assumption of the president that is his assumption and he is the one who will order the strike. >> it's his problem. but for us in syria we have principles. we do anything to prevent the region from another crazy war. it's not only syria. it will start in syria -- >> charlie: anything to prevent the region from having another crazy war. >> yes. >> charlie: you recognize the consequences for you if there is a strike. >> it's not about me. it's about the region. >> charlie: abut your country and people. >> of course. we are part of the decision. we're not -- cannot discuss it as syria. or as me. it should be as a whole as comprehensive. >> charlie: some asked it's a stupid thing to do if you're go to bring a strike down on your head by using women call weapons. you do it because you're desperate or in the alternative you do it because you want other people to fear you. because these are such fearful weapons that if the world knows
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you have them and specifically your opponents in syria, the rebels, then you have gotten away with it and they will live in fear. and that therefore, the president has to do something. >> cannot be desperate when the army is making advances. that should have happened if -- if we take in to consideration that this presumption is correct and this is reality. you use it in desperate situation. our position is much better than before. this is not correct. >> charlie: you think you're winning the war? >> i don't know what to -- winning is subjective word. but we are making advancement because some people when you finish completely, when you -- >> charlie: argument if you are winning because of the recent help you've gotten from iran and from hezbollah and additional supplies that have come. people from outside of syria supporting you in the effort
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against the rebels. >> iran doesn't have any soldiers in syria. how could iran help me. >> charlie: supplies, weaponry. >> we always have this kind of of -- >> charlie: hezbollah fighters have been here. >> in the border -- only on the border where the terrorist attacked them on the border with lebanon. this is where hezbollah retaliated. this is where you have cooperation. that's good. >> charlie: hezbollah forces are in syria today? >> on the border area of lebanon where they want to protect and serve and cooperate with us. but they don't exist all overseer i can't. they cannot exist all overseer i can't. from any region that they exist on the border. >> charlie: what advice are you getting from the russians? >> about? >> charlie: this war. how to end this war. >> looking for a solution, we have this advice and we are
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convinced about it. >> charlie: do you have plan to end the war? >> of course. >> charlie: which is -- at very beginning it was fullly political when you have these terrorists the first part of the same plan which is political should start with the stopping, the smuggling of terrorists coming from -- stopping logistic support, the money, all kind of support. second, you can have national dialogue where the different syrian parties sit and discuss the future of syria. third, you can have interim government or -- >> charlie: you would be -- then you have the final elections, parliamentary elections. and you are going to have the presidential election. >> charlie: would you meet with rebels today to discuss a negotiated settlement? >> in the initiative that we issued at the beginning of this
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year. as long as they give up their armament. >> charlie: you'll meet with the rebels and anybody who is fighting against you to give up their weapons. >> we don't have problem -- >> charlie: they will say you're not giving up your weapons why should we give up our weapons? >> does the government give up its weapons? have you heard about that before? >> charlie: no. but rebels don't during the negotiation after a successful -- >> the armament of the government is legal. any other is not legal. how can you compare, completely different. >> charlie: there is intense discussion going on all the things we're talking about in washington. there is a strike, united states decision to do this, what do you want to say in this very important week in america and in washington to the american people, to members of congress, to the president of the united states. >> i think most important part of this now is they say american
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people but the majority now don't want war anywhere, not only against syria. but the congress is going to vote in a few days i think the congress is directed by the people to present the people. first question that they should ask of themselves, what do wars give america? nothing. no political gain. no economy gain. no good reputation. united states is -- this war is against the interest of the united states. why? this is the war that is going to support al qaeda and the same people that kill americans on the 11th of september. the second thing that we want to
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tell to the congress that they should ask and expect -- expect them to ask this administration about the evidence that they have regarding the chemical story. the allegation that they presented. i would tell the president, because we're disappointed by their behavior recently because we expected this administration different from bush's administration. they have the same doctrine. we expect if we're to expect something from this administration is not to be -- to say that we don't have evidence, that we have to obey the international law that we have to go back to the security council and the united nations. >> charlie: question remains what can you say to the president who believes chemicals weapons were used by your government that this will not happen again.
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>> very simply, present what you have as evidence to the public. be transparent. >> charlie: if he does? if he presents that evidence? >> this is where we can discuss the evidence, that he doesn't have. he didn't present it because he doesn't have it. no one has. if they had it they would have presented it to you and media. >> charlie: they have presented it to the congress. >> nothing. >> charlie: the evidence they have from satellite, intercepted evidence and the like. >> nothing is presented. nothing has been presented so far. >> charlie: they have prepared to the congress, sir. >> you are a reporter. get this evidence show it to the public in your country. >> charlie: they are presenting it to the public representatives you don't show your evidence and what you are doing and your plans to people within your own council. they are showing it to the people's representative who have to vote on authorization to strike. if they don't find the evidence sufficient -- >> first of all we have the
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president of colin powell ten years ago when he showed the evidence, it was false and it was forced. second, you want me to believe american evidence and don't believe indication that we have, we live this, this is our -- >> charlie: indications are that what? >> sorry? >> charlie: what your indications are that -- >> the rebels or the terrorists used the chemical weapons in alipo five months ago. >> charlie: and august 21? >> that was before. on the 21st in this they used it against our soldiers in our area where we controlled it. and our soldiers went to the hospital and you can see that if you want. >> charlie: the area where that attack was controlled by rebel forces. >> that you're talking about the chemical attack. >> yes. >> charlie: they have stockpiles they exploded because of the bob bartment.
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they attacked themselves by -- >> charlie: move to the question of whether a strike happens i touched on this before. you have had fair warning, have you prepared by moving possible targets, are you moving target within civilian populations all the things that you might have done if you have time to do that and you have had clear warning that this might be coming. >> its land was occupied more than four decades. and the nature of the frontier in syria implies that the most of the centers are inhabited areas. you find find military base in distant area from the cities unless it's airport or something like this.
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they are within inhibited areas. >> charlie: will the attacks against american bases in middle east. >> should expect everything. not necessarily through the government, it's not -- the governments are not only player in this region you have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology. you have everything in this region. you have to expect that. >> charlie: expect -- tell me what you mean by expect everything. >> expect every action. >> charlie: including chemical warfare. >> that depends. if the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, it could happen, i don't know. i'm not fortune teller to tell what you is going to happen. >> charlie: we'd like to know more, the president would like to know, american people if there is an attack, what might
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be the repercussions and who might be engaged in those. >> before the 11th of september, some of the -- i used to say that don't deal with terrorists as playing game. it's a different story. you are going to pay the price if you are not wise in dealing -- going to be repercussions of the way of dealing it of treating terrorism. nobody expected the 11th of september. you cannot expect -- difficult for anyone to tell what you is going to happen. it's area where everything is on the blink of exposure. close let's talk about the war today. 100,000 people dead. a million refugees. a country being destroyed. do you take some responsibility
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for that? >> the decision that i took on the first day i took the decision as president to defend my country. who killed, that's another question. actually the terrorists have been killing our people since the beginning of this crisis two years ago, two years ago and a half. the syrian people wanted the government and the state institutions and army and police to defend, that's what happened. talking about responsibility i took my responsibility according to the syrian constitution, that say we have to defend ourselves. >> charlie: mr. president, you constantly say it's terrorists. most people look at the rebels and they say that al qaeda and other forces from outside syria are no more than 15 or 20% of
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the forces on the ground. the other 80% are syrians, are defecators from your government and defecators from your military. they are people who are syrians who believe that their country should not be run by dictator, should not be run by one family and this they want a different government in their country. that's 80% of the people fighting against you. not terrorists. >> we didn't say 80%, for example, or majority or vast majority, we said majority are al qaeda or organizations in this region. when you talk about al qaeda doesn't matter if you're syrian or american other from europe or from asia or africa. al qaeda have one ideology they go back to the same leadership
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in afghanistan or syria or -- that's the question. you have thousands of foreigners technically correct. we are fighting them on the ground and we know this. >> charlie: that's 15 or 20% of this. that's realistic look at how many. >> nobody knows because when they are dead and when they are killed they don't have any i.d. look at their faces, they look foreign but where are they coming from. outside of this estimate it's difficult to tell. technically, this is al qaeda. not the nationality. if you have syrian al qaeda or pakistani al qaeda or saudi al qaeda that's different. the most important thing that the majority are alki d. we never said that the majority are not syrian. but we said minority are --
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that's what we said. >> charlie: do you believe this is becoming a religious war? >> it started, first we have sectarian war. some areas because if you talk about sectarian or religious war you should have very clear line between the sect and religions in syria, according to the geography and kelp grieve. it's not religious war but al qaeda always use religious, islam actually, as pretext as a cover as mantle for their terrorism and for their killing and behaving and so on. >> charlie: why is this war lasted two and a half years? >> because of the external interference. external agenda. supported by, let's say led by
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united states, the west, the countries mainly saudi arabia. and turkey. that's why it's lasted two years and a half. >> charlie: what are they doing? those countries you cited? >> they have different agendas. they want to undermine the syrian position. for the countries like saudi arabia undermining syria will undermine iran, sectarian basis. for turkey they think that if the muslim brotherhood take over the rest of the region they will be very comfortable and happy and make sure that their political future is guaranteed. they have different agendas. and different goals. >> charlie: at the same time you've used hezbollah and you've gotten support from iran, from russia, what's happening here? is this a kind of war that
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exists outside syria on both sides? >> i don't know what you mean by support. we have cooperation with those countries for -- >> charlie: you tell me what are you receiving from iran? >> political support. >> charlie: that's it? weapons? >> no. we have agreement iss with many countries including iran, including russia including other countries. that it's about different things including armament it's cooperation like any cooperation between any two countries. which is -- not related to the crisis. you don't call it support, you pay money for it, you don't call it support. it's cooperation but the word support is not precise.
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from russia, for example, we have political support. which is different from the cooperation we have cooperation for six years now but now we have political support. >> charlie: russians say they have ongoing short beyond political cooperation they have treaties that existed with syria. they provided all kinds of defensive weapons. >> you said treaties and you said -- the not agreements, contracts that we have to forfeit. those contracts like any country, anything you want. >> charlie: but do you believe this is has become a conflict of sunni versus shia? >> not yet. in the mind of saudi it is. in the. >> charlie: in the minds. iranians? >> no. what they are doing is opposite. they tried to open channels with
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the saudi, many other islamic entities in this region in order to talk about islamic society not -- >> charlie: their moment for you as you saw the -- approaching syria, that you said i've seen what happened in libya. i've seen what happened in tunisia i've seen what happened in egypt it's not going to happen to bashar al-assad. i will fight anybody who tries to overthrow my ra gene with everything i have. >> for one reason because first question that i ask, do i have public support or not. but the first question to ask as president, if i don't have the public support, whether there is so-called -- whether we have
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this or we don't, if you don't have public support you have to quit. you have to leave. if you have public support you have to think that your mission, you have to have people, you have to serve the people. i never said -- >> charlie: go ahead. when you say public support, people will point to syria they say a minority sect, controlling the majority sunni population and it's a dictatorship and they do it because of force of their own instruments of power. that's what you have. not public support for this war against -- >> it's been two years and a half, okay, two years and a half and syria is still withstanding against the united states, saudi
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arabia, the richest country in this area including turkey. and take in to consideration what your question implies that even the big part or bigger part of the syrian population against me. how can i stand today. i'm either super human or -- which is not the case. >> charlie: or you have a powerful paper. >> the army made of the people. cannot be made of -- it's made of -- >> charlie: you're not suggesting that this army is not at your will and will of your family. >> what do you mean by the will of the family. >> charlie: the will of your family. your brother is in the military. the military has been at every observer of syria believe that this is a country controlled by your family and controlled by the allalite that is the
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control. >> if that situation is correct what you're mentioning we wouldn't withstand for two years and a half. we'd have disintegration of the army and of the whole institution in the states. kiss integration of syria. i'm talking about normal rational people. ifs not national army it cannot have the support if it does have the public support of every sect it cannot do its job in advance recently. it cannot be -- the army of the family doesn't make national war. >> charlie: because in fact the rebels were winning before you got the support of hezbollah and in large support from the iranians, that you were losing they came in and gave you support so that you were able to at least start winning and produce at least a stalemate. >> the context is wrong. because talking about winning
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and losing is -- if are talking about two armies fighting on two territory which is not correct. that's not the case. those are gangs coming from -- infiltrated inhibited area, killed the people, tack their houses and shoot at the army. the army doesn't -- >> charlie: a large part of your country. >> no. they took -- went to every part -- the army go to clean, to get rid of them. they don't go and attack the army in area where the army occupied that area and took it from them. it's completely different. it's not correct. not precise what you're talking about. it's completely different. the army is doing is a clean those areas and indication that the army is making advancement in that area. never went one area -- how could that army do that if it's a family army. what about the rest of the country.
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>> charlie: one small point about american involvement. the president has significant criticism there was an argument in his on council, secretary of state clinton, from the defense department, and others that they should have helped the rebels two years ago and we would be in a very different place. so the president has not given enough support to the rebels in the view of many people. and there's criticism that when he made a recent decision to give support it has not gotten to the rebels. because they worry about the competition. >> american administration wanted to support al qaeda, go ahead. but for that we have to -- support al qaeda but don't talk
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about rebels and syria. the majority of fighters now are al qaeda. if you are supporting al qaeda, you are creating -- this region is not stable the whole world cannot be -- >> charlie: with respect, sir, most people don't believe that the majority of the forces are al qaeda. yes, there is a number of people who are al qaeda affiliates and who are here who subscribe to the principles of al qaeda. but that's not majority. as you know, you nona the composition differs within the regions of syria as to the forces that are fighting against your regime. >> the americans should learn to deal with reality. why do the united states fail in most of its wars? it has wrong information. whether they believe or not this is not reality. i have to be very clear and very honest. i'm not asking them to believe this if they don't want to believe. this is reality. i'm telling you the reality. reality from our country, we live here we know what is
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happening they have to listen to people -- they cannot listen only to their media or to their centers they don't live here. no one live here but us. this is reality. if they want to believe, that's good, that will help them and being more successful in their policy. >> charlie: many people think this is not a sustainable position here, that this war it cannot continue because the cost for syria is too high. too many deaths, 100,000 and counting. too many refugees, too much destruction. the soul of a country at risk. if it was for the good of the country would you step down? >> that depends on the relation between me staying in this position and the conflict. i cannot discuss just to say, you have to step down, why?
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what the expected result. this is second when you're in the middle of a storm leaving your country just because you have to leave without any reasonable region it means you are quitting your country and this is treason. >> charlie: you are saying it would be treason for you to step down right now because of your obligation. >> unless the public wants me to quit. >> charlie: how will you determine that? >> by the two and a half years standing without the public support we cannot withstand two years and a half. look at the other countries, libya and tunisia. >> charlie: do you worry about what happened to gadhafi? >> the rebels are taking control in many countries. and look at the results now. what the results, nothing. very bad. nothing good.
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>> charlie: there was a report recently that you had talked about or someone representing you had talked about some kind of deal and would you and your family would leave the country if you were guaranteed safe passage, if you were guaranteed there would be no criminal prosecution, you are aware of these reports? >> we have this guarantee from the first day of the crisis. [ laughter ] >> charlie: because of the way you backed it. >> no. because -- talk about some of these agendas wanted me to quit. very simply. they said we have all the guarantees if you want to leave. and all the money and everything you want. just ignore that. >> charlie: you've been offered that opportunity? >> i'm not -- it's not my fight. it's not the fight of the government. it's the fight of the country, of the syrian people.
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that's how it is. it's not about me. >> charlie: it's not about you? >> every syrian. >> charlie: what in the end, what is the end game? >> of this war? >> charlie: yes. >> very simple. when the western countries stop supporting those terrorists and making pressure on their country like saudi arabia, and turkey and others you will have no problems. it will be -- because those fighters, the syrian fighters lost its natural incubators in the syrian society. they don't have incubators any more. that's why they have incubators abroad. they need money from abroad. they need the moral support and plate political support. they don't have any grass roots incubator. within you stop this, we don't have -- >> charlie: at the same time, as i've said before, you have support from abroad. there are those who say you
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would not be able to survive without the support of russia and iran. >> it's not me. i don't have support. >> charlie: would not be able to -- >> every agreement is between every class and every sector in syria. government people, trade, military culture, everything. it's like cooperation between your country and any other country in the world. the same cooperation. it's not about me. it's not support for -- >> charlie: i mean about your government. you say that the rebels only survive because there is support from you'd rain and turkey and the united states and qatar. i'm saying that you only survive because you have the support of russia and iran and hezbollah. >> external support can never substitute internal support. can never. for sure. example that you have to look at
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very well is egypt and tunisia they have all the support from the west and from the gulf and from most of the countries where they don't have support within their country they couldn't continue more than how many weeks? three weeks. only reason we have internal support, public support. any external support if you want to call it support, you use this word, it's going to be additional. but it's not to depend on the syrian support. >> charlie: you and i have talked about this before. we remember your father, he ruthlessly set out to eliminate the muslim brotherhood. are you simply being your father's son here? >> i don't know what you mean by ruthless. >> charlie: because of what
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happenedama. >> have you heard about soft war? war is war. when you fight terrorists you fight like any other war. >> charlie: the message you have here are lessons you learned from your father what he did in hama which it is said influenced you greatly. >> said what, sorry? >> charlie: it is said that what your father did at hama influenced you greatly in terms of your understanding of what you have to do. >> the question, what would you do as america if the terrorists invading your country from different areas started killing tens of thousands -- >> charlie: you keep saying terrorists, it is a popular revolution people believe against that you was part of the arab spring that influenced some of the other countries. >> revolution should be syrian, cannot be revolution imported from abroad. >> charlie: it started here.
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>> those people that started here they support the government now. that's what you don't know. you don't know -- you do not have -- that's why talking about what happened at the very beginning is completely different from what is happening now. it's not the same there. is very high dynamic things are changing on daily basis. it's completely different image. those people who wanted revolution they are cooperating with us. >> charlie: i'm asking you again, is in fact being your father's son you believe that the only way to drive out people is to eliminate them the same way your father did. >> in being independent, yes. in fighting terrorism, yes. in defending the syrian people and the country, yes. >> charlie: when i first interviewed you, there was talk of bashar al-assad, he's the hope. he's the reformer.
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that's not what they say any more. >> who? >> charlie: people who write about you, people who talk about you. people who analyze syria and your regime. >> exactly. the hope for america is different from the hope of syria. for me i am the hope -- i should be the hope of syrian not any other, not american, neither french or anyone else. i'm president to help syrian people. this question should start from the hope of the syrian people. and if there is any change regarding that hope we should ask the syrian people. not anyone else in the world. >> charlie: but now they say, their words, a butcher. comparisons to worst dictators ever to walk on the face of the earth comparing you to them. using weapons that go beyond
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warfare. everything they could say bad about a dictator they're now saying about you. >> first of all, when you have a doctor who cut the leg to prevent the patient from the gangrene, if you have to, we don't call him butcher we call him a doctor. you thank you for saving the life. when you have terrorism, you have war, when you have war, you always have innocent life that could be the victim of any war. you cannot talk about -- we don't have to discuss what the image in the west before discussing the image within syria. >> charlie: not just the west. it's the east, it's the middle east and eyes of the world have been on syria. we have seen atrocities on both
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sides. but on your side as well. they have seen brutality by dictator that they say -- put you in category with the worst. >> we have to now the terrorists who come and kill syrians and destroy the country much, much more, this is where we can be a good president. what you imply. >> charlie: you can't allowed why the idea that there is opposition to your government from within syria, that is not possible for you to imagine? >> to imagine that we have opposition? we have it, you go you can go meet with them. we have some of them in the government, we have some of them outside the government. they are opposition. we have it. >> charlie: those are the people have been fighting against you. >> opposition is different from terrorism. opposition is a political movement. opposition doesn't mean to take armament and kill people and detroy everything. do you call people in los angeles in the '90s, do
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you call them rebels or opposition? what would the british call the rebels? less than two years ago in london, did they call them opposition or rebels? why should we call them opposition, they are rebels. they are not rebels, they are -- they are behaving, this opposition opposing country or government by behaving, by barbecuing hate, is that opposition? what do you call the people who attacked the september 11? opposition. they are not american, i know this. one of them has american nationality. do you call him opposition or terrorist? why should you use a term in the united states anding gland and maybe other countries and use another term in syria. this is double standard that we don't accept. >> charlie: i once asked you what you feared the most and you said the end of syria as a secular state.
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is that end already here? >> according to what we've been seeing recently in the area where the terrorist controlled, where they band people from going to schools then young man from shaving their beards and women have to wear -- to be covered from top to toe from, head to toe. let's say the taliban in afghanistan, secular state should reflect this society if you don't get freed of those terrorists of course it will influence at least the new and coming generations.
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this will be eroding. >> charlie: mr. president. thank you for allowing us to have a conversation about syria and a war that is within as well as the future of the country. thank you. >> thank you for coming to syria. an, hovnan
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>> this is nightly business report, with tyler matheson and suesie garing. >> you get close to iconic landmarks, to local life, to cultural treasures. vikings river cruises. stocks soar on deals here at home, and worry that a strike against syria is imminent. >> and lawmakers back, making key decisions on everything from syria to the budget. and issues that will impact your money. >> changing benefits in a growing trend, ibm and time warner plan to move their employees to insurance exge