Apr 01, 2015 | ASSAD

Assad: Up, Close & Oh So Impersonal

In an interview with Charlie Rose for CBS's 60 Minutes, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad had much to say about the ongoing civil war in his country. No stranger to high profile interviews, he spoke about his noble intentions, the inexhaustible support he receives from the Syrian people and his nefarious foes. But mostly that by popular demand he's not going away anytime soon.

 

On the accusations that his army has been using chlorine gas on civilians, Assad was adamant that they absolutely haven't and called the use of traditional arms “more important than chlorine”. I am more of an old fashion dictator, I'd choose bombing over gassing any time.

 

He also insisted that "there's no such a thing called barrel bombs", we occasionally drop some barrels from the sky that may explode on impact but that's completely different. It is after all "against our interests as government to kill the people", how are they going to unanimously vote for me in the next election if there're dead?

 

On the nature of the civil war that has been raging now for four years, he stressed that "it’s about winning the hearts and minds of the Syrians" and then hanging them on the palace wall as trophies.

 

Assad also reiterated that the legitimacy of his power is due to the "public support of the Syrian people", at least those still alive and wishing to remain alive. Responding on how he manages to measure their support  he said that he has daily contact with them, "I sense. I feel. I'm in contact with them". A lot of them in fact are conveniently located in the basement chambers of several security facilities, just a short walk from the presidential bunker.

 

He also had some strong words to say about his regional foes, accusing Saudi Arabia to be as fanatical as ISIS and Turkish President Erdogan of vying to become "the sultan of the new era of the 21st century" as he is "suffering from political megalomania", a diagnosis nobody can dipute as that is Assad's field of expertise.