Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has given an interview in which he explained his support for the so-called ‘de-escalation’ zones established in the recent Astana Memorandum.
Assad said that the primary goal of the Syrian government is now as it always has been, the cessation of violence and bloodshed in the country.
This statement echoes remarks by Syrian political commentator Afraa Dagher who defined this widespread Syrian sentiment in a recent interview with The Duran.
Just as he did after the Battle of Aleppo, Assad said that he is absolutely willing and able to engage in a truce with terrorists, so long as they fully embrace a commitment to renounce violence and join a political process. His attitude is similar to the reconciliation efforts engaged in by Nelson Mandela’s 1994 South African government as well as being somewhat reminiscent of the Good Friday Agreement to end violence in Northern Ireland.
“This is a chance for a person with weapons in hand to pause to think. In other words, if they lay down arms, amnesty would follow”.
This is the reiteration of a long held Syrian policy under Assad, a fact the western mainstream media has almost totally ignored.
The Syrian President went on to praise Russian efforts to try and end violence in his country,
“In Astana, the dialogue was with the armed terrorists under Russian sponsorship and based on a Russian initiative…This started to produce results through more than one attempt to achieve ceasefire, the most recent of which is what’s called the de-escalation areas”.
“It is correct in principle, and we supported it from the beginning because the idea is correct. As to whether it will produce results or not, that depends on the implementation”.
Assad warned that if terrorists do not lay down their arms, Syria and its coalition partners including Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, reserve the right to fight those who continue to inflict harm on Syrians.
Assad warned that previous ceasefire agreements failed because of countries like the United States, who interfered in the implimentation of these peace processes.
“Former initiatives failed not because they were wrong. They failed because those countries interfered in order to re-escalate militarily”.
He also said that the Russian Astana Peace Process has thus far been far more effective than the Geneva Peace Talks. He described the latter in the following way,
“As to Geneva, so far it is merely a meeting for the media. There is nothing substantial in all the Geneva meetings. Not even one per million. It is null. The process is aimed in principle at pushing us towards making concessions”.
Bashar al-Assad also spoke of America’s foreign policy being increasingly guided by domestic considerations.
“It (the US attack on Syria from 6 April) was also a cover for the American intervention in Syria, because as you know Trump is facing an internal predicament and internal conflicts within his administration”.
It is important not to allow one’s view of contemporary events to be poisoned by a ridiculous mainstream media narrative.
Early 1990s South Africa was not as violent as parts of Syria are today, but people forget how factionalised and well armed all various ‘sides’ were in the conflict to bring about or else resist change in South Africa. In 1994, Nelson Mandela called for a ‘rainbow nation’ wherein everyone who renounced violence and embraced unity could live as a free citizen in a modern South Africa.
There are also important differences. Prior to 2011, when western and Gulfi proxies began instigating violence in Syria, Syria was a united, peaceful country which was generally free of violent sectarianism. Apartheid South Africa by contrast, was constitutionally sectarian, something which led to a mixture of violence and widespread injustice.
Some, including myself have criticised Bashar al-Assad for his ‘soft line’ on calling a truce with those who wish Syria ill, but if recent history is a guide, Assad may just be remembered as the Nelson Mandela of the Middle East.
The only thing preventing this is continued violence, spread not just by terrorists unwilling to lay down their arms, but by countries like Turkey, the US, UK, France, Qatar and Saudi Arabia who continue to encourage and engage in illegal violent acts of aggression on Syrian territory.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.