President Bashar Assad on Sunday shared an Iftar banquet with Syrian social figures including political party representatives, officials , independent figures, Muslim and Christian religious figures, representatives of unions and syndicates, and civil society figures.
The president expressed his pleasure in meeting "this great national gathering…where we meet to renew the vow to defend the homeland and face the challenges no matter how big with more resolve and determination."
"We meet today to remember that there are men who sacrificed their lives to keep the homeland proud and the word of right high…We meet in solidarity with their families who lost those who are most precious to them…and with the needy people who are facing the accumulative burdens of life with patience and faith," the president said.
He pointed out that the meeting aims to stress that "the homeland doesn't abandon its sons during misfortunes, but rather stands by them with all moral and material support."
The president highlighted the elevated meanings of Ramadan, saying it is "a month of forgiveness, mercy, communication, sacrifice, redemption and jihad in its correct meaning; that is jihad of work, accomplishing, creating and amity. To sum up, it's a month of reforming the man as soul and body."
He likened the soul and body to the "individual" and the "society" as neither of them can be reformed without the other.
"In order for us to reform the society, we must have dialogue among its individuals and spectra, and in order for this dialogue to be useful and fruitful with a meaning and an essence, it must be an honest and transparent dialogue," Assad said.
He reiterated the need for an open and transparent dialogue without conditions if one wants to talk about what is happening in the homeland; the reasons and the proposed solutions.
"As far as the society is concerned, compliments in these circumstances would be like an ostrich burying its head in the sand in order not to see what is going on around it."
"Burying the head in the sand for the society now means burying the homeland in the sand," Assad said.
He noted that talking openly now is easier than it was two years ago when many of the Syrians were deceived and fell in the trap of trying to understand what was going on.
He however said that the most pressing question that has been raised since the first days or probably the first hours of the crisis is "when does the crisis end?"
"We however can't determine when it ends if we are unable to first determine who ends it. This means that we have to know who is the one responsible for ending it and how, and then comes the question why," the president added.
He stressed that it is only the Syrians themselves who can end the crisis.
"Although the external factors are strong and influential- and we all know this truth- but the external role, no matter how strong, has a helping or hindering effect; it could either accelerate the solution or prolong the crisis. As we repeatedly said, this external role is contingent on the external gaps we have in Syria."
"When we put all external factors aside and we say that there are terrorists, thieves and mercenaries who are killing for money and there are Syrian extremists …is this then an external produce?" the President asked, only to answer that this is the production of the Syrian society, citing it as one of those gaps.
He also cited "the in-between nationalism" among these gaps, stressing that one can be in-between when it comes to politics as he can choose any of many political categories. "However, when it comes to the homeland, there is only white when you are with the homeland and black when you are against the homeland."
The President went on saying that this "in-between nationalism", despite being the output of lack of knowledge and awareness, has created an incubator of chaos and terrorism "which has unleashed beasts into the field…and those beasts have in turn created their own incubators…and started to multiply and unleash other beasts and import their brethren form across the homeland's border."
Assad highlighted the importance of being one hand; the white against the black, stressing that then "I'm sure without any hesitation and without exaggeration that we will be easily able…despite this high price and all the blood that has been shed, to come out of this crisis."
He affirmed that there can be no exclusion of any means when the goal is to emerge from a domestic crisis that negatively affects everybody, adding that this is the approach that Syria has followed since the start of the crisis.
The President also noted that all the suggestions and proposals made at the beginning of the crisis to change certain laws and amend certain articles in the constitution have been met despite the fact that some of those suggestions were put forth in bad faith and with malice.
"Yet, we went ahead with the solution based on this idea that as a state we can't say that we will not walk the path of a solution if there are people in Syria who believe that this would lead to improving the situation," he added.
Assad also stressed that Syria has positively responded to all external initiatives, always taking into consideration the Syrian sovereignty, despite knowing in advance "the real intentions" behind those initiatives.
He highlighted how all of those initiatives starting with the Arab initiative and going through that of Kofi Annan and Geneva initiative with Lakhdar Brahimi were intentionally foiled by those same sides.
The President lashed at those who claim to be representatives of the Syrian people while they are calling for foreign intervention at the same time, stressing that those do not even represent themselves but only the countries which have funded and created them and give them orders on what to do and what not to do.
"When I have the support of the people, I don't need the support of anyone else, because the people are the strongest," said Assad, also lashing out at those who call for foreign support claiming that the army is killing the people.
He noted that any army in the world, when it tries to attack or kill the people, would immediately fall down because the army is made of the society and can never be exported or manufactured in a factory.
The president stressed that Syria's belief in the political work was what made it deal with the external initiatives despite being aware of the "real intentions" behind them.
He however noted that the political work should have honest intentions behind its, which is the second reason for which Syria found it necessary to be flexible towards those initiatives in order "to unveil the truth that has been absent from the mind and vision of some of the Syrians who believed that political work is equivalent to political solution."
"The political work is different from the solution," said the president, adding that the solution is more inclusive and the political work might be helpful to the solution.
He highlighted that the Syrian flexibility has helped Syria's friends in any place in the world, whether they are individuals, parties or countries, to have the ability to defend Syria in the various forums.
The President pointed out that as far as those initiatives were concerned, the tangible facts and information did not indicate chances for success "because the other site, the hostile side, did not want a political solution."
Therefore, he said, Syria's response to the external initiatives led to unmasking those countries, particularly some known Arab states, which would feel frustrated and hysterical whenever Syria responded to any initiative or proposal.
The president said that "consequently, it became obvious that those who used to say that the Syrian state had adopted the security solution were the ones who have adopted the terrorist approach only for the sake of destroying Syria."
"I don't believe that any reasonable man believes that terrorism can be handled by means of politics. Politics may play a role in dealing with terrorism before it emerges…However, when terrorism emerges and sabotage, killing and destruction start and spread, there can be no solution when dealing with terrorism except that of striking with an iron fist."
"Terrorism should be hit in order for politics to move well…This doesn’t mean that there can't be a parallel track…If we are striking terrorism and there is a political track running parallel, then there is no problem as long as this is not used as an excuse to stop combating terrorism," he added.
Assad referred to the international situation where he said there are countries that are sincere and firm on their stand based on their principles that go in line with their interests, and there are antagonistic imperialistic countries that have gone astray because they miscalculated things having relied on agents that gave them wrong information.
He stressed that any solution should be based on the facts on the ground, noting that most of the regional and Arab countries and others however have changed their view towards the reality on the ground after two and a half hours, with things becoming clearer to them, with the exception of those few countries with the Wahhabi thinking that are going on with the shedding of the Syrian blood.
On the political level, Assad said there is in Syria a national opposition which has hurled itself since the first days into the political and national element and a non-national opposition that has had no goal but that of making gains.
He also referred to a third form of opposition that tried "to blackmail us at the start of the crisis under the title that "we stop the demonstrations and you giving us positions in the state and at the government."
That opposition, the president added, had no real relationship with the demonstrations, with some of them having directly or indirectly received money from Gulf states and later started to favor the gunmen and express different views whenever the internal security and military situation on the ground or the international situation would change.
Despite all the Syrian flexibility towards all what has been proposed internally and externally, the president said, things were in continuous escalation and massacres started to claim the Syrians' lives, with the main issue was that "for Syria to be or not to be."
He stressed that the titles have become obvious with the confrontation being that between the homeland and its enemies, between the army and the terrorists and between the state and the outlaws, adding that any other title was not acceptable.
"All means were experimented and only one choice was left which is to defend ourselves and our country with our own hands," said the president, adding that in this case everybody would naturally look towards the armed forces and hope that this institution could completely end this situation and wish that every Syrian soldier was a mighty person that can crush the terrorists.
The president confirmed that what the armed forces have done is "next to impossible", noting that this institution designed its combat structure, tactics, strategies and armament in a way to fight a certain type of battle with the Israeli enemy.
He added that the military institution has suddenly found itself face to face with something completely different to anything known by it or any country or army in the modern world.
"Therefore, [the military institution] had to do a swift adjustment process…yet, the armed forces succeeded in doing so with great dexterity and brilliant success and have been able to make great achievements in this regard," Assad said.
He added that the armed forces have achieved over the past two years a high rate of feats that is almost difficult to believe whether in terms of heroes, courageous acts and the level of sacrifice.
He went on to say that "If we want to assess the achievements on the Syrian map, it is natural to see a disparity between one region and another as many factors play their role in the battle."
He referred to the factors related to the quality of the soldiers and officers in a certain formation and those related to the environment regarding the place, in addition to the technical military factors.
The President however cited the popular factor as the most important among all other factors which affect any achievement.
"Before the crisis, it was said that the resistance in Lebanon achieved victory, and they were talking about the arms and the tactic and all these things, but I was saying to them that the resistance achieved victory because of its people…Now we see this fact in Syria," the president said.
The president pointed out that the popular embracement of the armed forces has been there since the very first days and is on the increase, highlighting the great role this kind of moral support for the fighter plays in any battle.
He however noted that the fact that there have been better achievements in some areas over others is because practical support was added to the moral support in these areas, which enabled the armed forces personnel to accomplish their tasks more distinctively.
The president clarified that the war which the Syrian army is facing is a guerrilla war which is known to be among the most difficult and dangerous of wars.
"However, there is one war that outdoes the guerilla war and that is the popular war, and this popular war is that of having the army alongside the citizens. And this is what has happed and what we have succeeded in so far," he added.
The President pointed out that although it is true that the war on Syria is being waged in the media and the social websites and even in the society, but settling the crisis can only be done in the field. He added that the economic suffering and the deteriorated services and all the daily affairs which the Syrians are suffering from are connected with the security situation, and the only solution to that is fighting terrorism.
"Therefore, if we succeed in this popular war, and if there will be greater contribution in the rest of the areas, then I can say that the solution will be easier and Syria will be in months able to get out of the crisis and eliminate terrorism," said President Assad.
He affirmed that this popular war started on the more than a year to which the Syrian people have contributed being self-motivated and not responding to any calls.
The President reiterated that unifying the army and the people to eliminate the terrorists is the only way "end the battle, turn the table on the others and restore security and stability to Syria which was an example of security and stability not only on the Arab level or the Middle East level, but on the level of the world."
President Assad said that while talking in the month of tolerance, Syria will continue with this approach of tolerance along with striking terrorism. He made it clear, however, that tolerance will be with those who were misled and not those who committed acts of killing, shedding blood and other terrorist acts, adding that the Syrian state has proved itself to be embracing all the Syrians regardless of their political affiliations, and that its credibility was further confirmed with increasing numbers of people turning themselves in to the authorities and having their situation settled.
"We are in the month of good things…and if we want good things we should seek it…and when we seek it we should know where and how to do this and not seek in the wrong place," said President Assad, noting that good things will not come to the Syrians from the Arab and regional countries which claim "deep concern for each city and small village in Syria while they are very assured with the situation of Jerusalem and its people's future in the Israeli laps."
The President added that good things will neither come from "those countries which are very zealous about democracy…and want to help us in this regard while they deny their peoples the minimum of human rights."
He stressed that those countries will indeed go down in history as they want, but they will do so under the title of killing, destruction and backwardness because "this is what these countries have had throughout their history and this is the only thing they can offer humanity."
"We will not get goodness from the people with obscurantist thinking which was established by the Wahhabis with blood and killing and politicized by the Muslim Brotherhood by means of hypocrisy, lying and deception," the President said.
He added that this kind of thinking was the first that drove the wedge between Arabism and Islam and between the Muslim and the Muslim and the Muslim and the Christian, and it was what shifted the conflict from an Arabic-Israeli one to an Arab-Arab one.
The President called those people with this thinking as the "neo-Islamists" whom the West is using to serve Israel.
He stressed that Syria will get good things from all honest people who has stood by it in various areas in the world, those who raised the Syrian flag and supported the Syrian army in its battle against terrorism.
"We will get good things from you the Syrians who are committed to your homeland and religion…We will get good things from those heroes who are defending their homeland and people…and form our martyrs," the president said.
He concluded by wishing that by next Ramadan, Syria will have recovered and security and stability will have been restored to it.
Translated by SANA, edited by The Syrian Observer