SNC says Syrian president “isolated from reality”
The external Coalition said Assad’s interview with Syrian state television “revealed his isolation from reality and blindness to the corruption and devastation and bloodshed that he has wreaked.”
Assad’s “approach is like that of tyrants before him,” it said, pointing to “his claims of control and denial of the other and the absence of reality and proposal of solutions that bear no relation to the crises.”
On Wednesday Al-Ikhbariya news channel broadcast an interview with Assad in which he warned that the West would pay a heavy price for what he called its support of Al-Qaeda.
He also predicted the conflict could spill over into Jordan, saying, “we would wish that our Jordanian neighbours realise that… the fire will not stop at our borders.”
In Amman, Information Minister Mohammad Momani said the United States plans to deploy 200 troops in Jordan, 50 more than those already there.
Speaking on the anniversary of Syria’s independence day from France, Assad said, “We are facing a new war, a new method” with fighters, “some of whom are Arabs, not Syrians,” adding that “from the first day, what is happening in Syria is dictated from abroad.”
“There is an attempt at cultural colonisation, meaning ideological invasion, in Syria, leading in one of two directions,” the president said in the hour-long interview.
“Either Syria becomes subservient and submissive to the big powers and the West, or it becomes subservient to obscurantist, extremist forces. We need to hold on ever more strongly to the meaning of independence.”
Assad warned that a defeat of his government would spell the demise of Syria. Vowing he will not surrender, he said the Syrian people would decide whether he should stay or go.
“There is no option but victory. Otherwise it will be the end of Syria, and I don’t think that the Syrian people will accept such an option,” he said, adding that “the position (of president) has no value without popular backing.”
In response, the Coalition insisted it was “a representative body for all Syrians, emerging from their revolution and their sacrifices and their will.”
During the interview, Assad had asked, “How can you be patriotic if you’ve fled” Syria, in reference to exiled leaders of the main opposition National Coalition, insisting that there would be no dialogue with the exiled opposition.
Last week, the jihadist rebel group Al-Nusra Front pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, who had previously urged rebels to establish an Islamic state in Syria.
The UN says more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria over the past two years in a conflict that broke out after the regime unleashed a brutal crackdown on a popular uprising that later morphed into an insurgency.