In an interview with Sky News Arabic, an Abu Dhabi-based channel, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressed key issues regarding his country’s relations with the Arab world, Turkey, and the international community. In his discussions, Assad tempered expectations for swift economic gains from rekindled ties with the Arab world, while also ruling out a summit with Turkish President Erdogan due to disagreements over the withdrawal of Turkish troops from rebel-held territories. He denied Syrian state involvement in drug smuggling and provided insights into ongoing talks with the United States amid sanctions. Additionally, Assad highlighted the role of Iran and Russia in stabilizing Syria, discussed the challenges his country faces, and underscored the complexities of normalizing relations amidst a prolonged conflict.
Here’s a report highlighting the major ideas mentioned in the interviews with President Bashar al-Assad:
- Renewed Ties and Expectations:
– Assad tamps down expectations for swift economic gains from renewed ties with the Arab world.
– Reiterated that improved relations with Arab states would not lead to immediate economic results within months.
- Meeting with Erdogan:
– Assad rules out a summit with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan due to differences over the withdrawal of Turkish troops from rebel-held northwest Syria.
– Erdogan’s goal is seen as legitimizing Turkey’s presence, while Assad’s goal is Turkey’s withdrawal from Syrian territory.
- US-Syria Talks and Sanctions:
– Assad claims that his government held secret talks with the US but those talks did not lead to any significant results.
– The Caesar Act of 2020 and other sanctions have hindered Syria’s reconstruction efforts.
– Assad acknowledges the impact of the sanctions but asserts that Syria has managed to bypass them in various ways.
- Drug Trade and Accusations:
– Assad denies Syrian state involvement in drug smuggling, calling it “illogical” to accuse his government.
– Attributes the flourishing drug trade to the chaos caused by war and external factors.
- Support from Iran and Russia:
– Assad credits Iran and Russia’s support for stabilizing Syria during the conflict.
– Asserts that Syria’s close relations with these countries demonstrate its ability to choose its allies.
- Syria’s Current State:
– Acknowledges Syria’s dire economic situation, including currency collapse, sanctions, and loss of oil-producing regions.
– Claims that terrorism, not the government, was responsible for the destruction caused during the conflict.
- Normalization Efforts:
– Despite improved relations with some Arab states and reentry into the Arab League, normalization efforts face challenges due to the ongoing conflict and divisions within the region.
- Turkish Role and Terrorism:
– Accuses Turkey of being responsible for spreading “terrorism” in Syria.
– Denies rumors of a meeting with Erdogan, stating that Erdogan’s aim is to legitimize Turkey’s presence in Syria.
- US Sanctions and Talks:
– Syria engaged in sporadic, behind-the-scenes dialogues with the US over the years, but these talks did not yield significant results.
– Claims that Syria has overcome US sanctions through different means.
- Captagon Trade and Chaos:
– Rejects accusations that Syria is involved in the Captagon drug trade, attributing the trade to the chaos caused by war.
- Challenges and Economic Results:
– Acknowledges that Syria’s economic situation has deterred many displaced Syrians from returning home.
– Reiterates that expectations of economic results from normalization should not be unrealistic within a short time frame.