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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Assad: "Syria doesn't need a green light!"

Finally we have heard from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad!
Yesterday he gave his first broadcast interview to since a massive explosion in Damascus on 18 July took out four members of his command staff and started rumors about Assad's own health and well being.

I raised that speculation here in a number of diaries, beginning with BREAKING: Is Syria's Bashar al-Assad dead or dying? on the day of the explosion. The interviewer from Al-Donia TV sounded like he was responding to this speculation when he suggested to Assad:
The president should appear everyday on TV so we don't hear rumors, where are you now Mr. president? [00:53]
The full interview is promised to be aired today at 9:00PM on Al-Donia TV. Four minutes of excerpts from the interview have been released earlier today. The YouTube video of those excerpts, together with English sub-titles, appears below. The time marks after the quotes refers to that video.

Al Jazeera English
got my attention early this morning when they used the following quote from Assad to introduce their report on his interview:
The truth is that Syria doesn't need a green light when dealing with it's internal affairs, neither from our allies or our enemies. [03:42]
I feel like my dairy, UPDATED: #Obama "green lights" #Assad's slaughter in #Syria, has just received its 33rd donut, and this one from Bashar al-Assad himself!

I published that diary only a few hours after US President Obama made his statement that Assad's use of chemical weapons would be a "red line." I said that Obama was giving Assad a "green light" to use everything but chemical weapons.

While that notion was largely condemned by Kossacks, who awarded it 32 donuts, the diary has been shared, tweeted or liked more that 270 times. The idea and the phrase have been given wide currency by many closer to the Syrian struggle and continues to reverberate, as exampled by the tweet above from yesterday and the article below, new today.

Parts of President Assad's interview on 28.8.2012

In other news, I am sorry to report that George Galloway in joining the Assad propaganda team for £80k. Yesterday Galloway himself favored one of my tweets commenting on this:

From the Pocono Record today:
Assad could take Obama's message as green light

August 29, 2012

WASHINGTON — Faced with a rapidly deteriorating situation in Syria, President Obama stepped into the White House briefing room on Monday and outlined the conditions under which he might "change my calculus" and ramp up U.S. military involvement in the country. His red line, he explained, is Syria's store of chemical weapons — and not only if they are used, but if there is evidence that they are being moved around and positioned for potential use.

On its surface, this sounds like good news for those watching with despair the horrors that the Syrian people are experiencing. Tens of thousands of Syrians are flowing across the border to Turkey. Refugee camps are being built to accommodate them, but the Turkish government says they cannot handle more than 100,000 people. Some 70,000 people displaced from Syria are already living in Turkish camps.

Obama issued what is essentially a threat to Syrian President Assad. If the embattled Assad indicates that he is prepared to use chemical weapons on his own people to put down the rebellion, he can expect U.S. military force to come raining down on him. The last time the leader of a country resorted to chemical weapons was in the1990's when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein used them against the Kurds in northern Iraq.

Assad may well be thinking that Syria could be the next Iraq with "shock and awe" from U.S. weapons and U.S. forces, and if he had any inclination toward unleashing his country's stockpile of chemical weapons, he realizes that would be like entering into a suicide pact. If he wants to remain in power, he better make sure those weapons remain carefully contained and there is no hint that they might be deployed.

On the other hand, Assad may well look on Obama's words as a green light to crack down on the uprising in his country with any means possible short of chemical weapons. That is not the message Obama wanted to send, but it is the risk Obama runs by spelling out so explicitly what he regards as the tipping point for more aggressive U.S. military involvement.

If Assad refrains from introducing chemical weapons, he can be fairly confident that every other brutality of war will be met by strong words of condemnation from the White House, but American military power will remain leashed. More ...
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

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