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Assad: Erdogan is Suffering from Political Megalomania

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad talked to Charlie Rose of CBS NEWS regarding the current situation in Syria and the region. Assad said for Turkish President Erdogan that he is a Muslim Brotherhood fanatic and somebody who's suffering from political megalomania.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad talked to Charlie Rose of CBS NEWS regarding the current situation in Syria and the region. Assad said for Turkish President Erdogan that he is a Muslim Brotherhood fanatic and somebody who's suffering from political megalomania.

(CBS) The following is a script from "Bashar al-Assad" which aired on March 29, 2015. Charlie Rose is the correspondent.

Four years ago, the Obama administration declared that Syria's Bashar al-Assad must go. Today, President Assad is still there, but much of the country has gone. Assad's Syrian government has lost control over significant amounts of its territory -- to either ISIS or Syrian rebel groups. Four million Syrian refugees have fled the country. More than 200,000 have died -- most from Syrian military bombing of territory controlled by his opponents.

With the rise of ISIS in Syria, toppling Assad is no longer the highest priority there for the United States. And last month, Secretary of State John Kerry told CBS News, the U.S. is open to negotiating with Syria, something, we discovered, Assad wants.

We traveled to Damascus this past week and met with Assad for an interview, under the conditions that we use Syrian TV technicians and cameras. We begin by asking him about American airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.

Charlie Rose: How much of a benefit are you getting from American airstrikes in Syria reducing the power of ISIS?

President Assad: Sometimes you could have local benefit but in general if you want to talk in terms of ISIS actually ISIS has expanded since the beginning of the strikes. Not like some-- American-- wants to sugar coat the situation as the-- to say that it's getting better. As-- ISIS is being defeated and so on. Actually, no, you have more recruits. Some estimates that they have 1,000 recruits every month in Syria. And Iraq-- they are expanding in Libya and many other al Qaeda affiliate organizations have announced their allegiance to ISIS. So that's the situation.

Charlie Rose: How much territory do they control in Syria?

President Assad: Sorry?

Charlie Rose: ISIS. Controls how much territory. 50 percent?

President Assad: Yeah, it's not regular war. We cannot-- you don't have criteria. It's not an army that makes-- it make the incursion. They go to infidels. They try to infiltrate any area when there is no army and we have-- inhibitance. The question, how much incubator they have, that's the question. How much heart and minds they won so far.

Charlie Rose: And how much of that? How do you measure that--

President Assad: You cannot measure it but you can tell that the majority of the people who suffered from ISIS, they are supporting the government and, of course, the rest of the Syrian people are afraid from ISIS and I don't think they would-- I think they lost a lot of hearts and minds.

Charlie Rose: They've lost a lot?

President Assad: They have lost. Except the very ideological people who have Wahhabi state of mind and ideology.

Charlie Rose: There is another number that is alarming to me. It is that 90 percent of the civilian casualties, 90 percent come from the Syrian army.

President Assad: How did you get that result?

Charlie Rose: That was a report that was issued in the last six months.

President Assad: OK. As I said earlier, the war, it's not about-- it's not traditional war. It's not about capturing land and gaining land. It's about winning the hearts and minds of the Syrians. We cannot win the heart and minds of the Syrians while we are killing Syrians. We cannot sustain four years in that position as a government. And me as president, while the rest of the world, most of the world, the great powers, the regional power, are against me and my people are against me. That's impossible. I mean this logic has no leg to stand on. So this is not realistic and this is against our interests as government is to kill the people. What do we get? What the benefit of killing the people?

Charlie Rose: Well, the argument is that you-- there are weapons of war that have been used that most people look down on with great-- one is chlorine gas. They believe that has been used here. They said there is evidence of that and they would like to have the right to inspect to see where it's coming from. As you know, barrel bombs have been used. And they come from helicopters. And the only people who have helicopters is the Syrian army. And so those two acts of war, which has-- society looks down on as--

President Assad: Let me fully answer this.

Charlie Rose: --barbaric acts.

President Assad: It's very important. This is part of the malicious propaganda against Syria. First of all, the chlorine gas is not military gas. You can buy it anywhere.

Charlie Rose: But it can be weaponized--

President Assad: No, because it's not very effective it's not used as military gas. That's very self-evident. Traditional arms is more important than chlorine. And if it was very effective the terrorists would have used this on a larger scale. Because it's not effective, it's not used very much.

Charlie Rose: Then why doesn't somebody come in and inspect it and see whether it's been used or not?

President Assad: Well, we-- well, we-- we--

Charlie Rose: You'd be--

President Assad: --we-- we would--

Charlie Rose: --you're happy for that?

President Assad: Of course. We all--we always ask a delegation, impartial delegation to come and investigate. But I mean logically and realistically it cannot be used as a military. This is part of the propaganda because, as you know, in the media when it bleeds it leads. And they always look for something that bleeds, which is the chlorine gas and the barrel bombs.

Charlie Rose: You do use barrel bombs? You're just saying--

President Assad: No, no. There's no such a thing called barrel bombs. We have bombs. And any bomb is about killing.

Charlie Rose: You have often spoken about the danger of a wider war in the Middle East.

President Assad: Yeah.

Charlie Rose: Can you talk about the parties involved? And characterize how you see them. Let me begin with Saudi Arabia.

President Assad: Saudi Arabia is--an (unintel) autocracy. Medieval system that's based on the Wahhabi dark ideology. Actually, say it's a marriage between the Wahhabi and the political system for 200 years now. That's how we look at it.

Charlie Rose: And what is their connection to ISIS?

President Assad: The same ideology. The same background.

Charlie Rose: So ISIS and Saudi Arabia are one and the same?

President Assad: The same ideology. Yes.

Charlie Rose: Same ideology.

President Assad: I don't-- it's Wahhabi ideology. They base the--their ideology is based on the books of the Wahhabi and Saudi Arabia.

Charlie Rose: So you believe that all Wahhabis have the same ideology as ISIS--

President Assad: Exactly. Definitely. And that's by ISIS, by al Qaeda, by al Nusra. It's not something we discover or we try to promote. It's very-- I mean their book-- they use the same books to indoctrinate the people. The Wahhabi books-

Charlie Rose: What about Turkey?

President Assad: Turkey-- let's say it's about Erdogan. His Muslim Brotherhood fanatics.

Charlie Rose: And you--

President Assad: It doesn't mean that he is a member. But he's a fanatic.

Charlie Rose: President Erdogan is--

President Assad: Is a Muslim Brotherhood fanatic. And he's somebody who's suffering from political megalomania. And that he thinks that he is becoming the sultan of the new era of the 21st century.

Charlie Rose: You think he could stop the border if he wanted to?

President Assad: Yeah, of course. Definitely. He doesn't only ignore the terrorists from coming to Syria. He support them, logistically and militarily. Directly. On daily basis.



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