By Tela Wittig
In an intimate interview with Russian media, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spoke about his opinions concerning the refugee crisis that is currently plaguing Europe, and his willingness to work with other states towards ending the terrorism that continues to plague his country.
Asked about the Syrian government’s response to terrorism and the “exodus of Syrians” fleeing to Europe, Assad declared the Syrian government’s desire to collaborate with any other state wanting to join in the fight against terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al-Nusra, the Syrian wing of Al-Qaeda.
Assad’s recent openness to cooperate with other nations shows that, as Syria enters its fifth year of civil war, the current methods of combat have been ineffective.
The president’s response to the refugee crisis, on the other hand, was less embracing. In no uncertain terms, he accused Europe of contributing to the influx of refugees.
“The West now is crying for the refugees with one eye and aiming at them with a machine gun with the second one,” he said.
Assad believes that Western countries are using the war on terrorism to work against the Syrian government by arming insurgents. Terrorism, in the eyes of the Syrian government, is a term used to refer to all armed groups who are working to remove Assad from power.
“Western countries, which provide cover for terrorism like France, the United States, or others, cannot fight terrorism. You cannot be with and against terrorism at the same time,” Assad said.
Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a strategy for handling terrorism in the Middle East. Putin suggested that the U.S. handle threats in Iraq, while Russia handles Syrian terrorists, as the Syrian government has much stronger relations with the Russian government. Over the past month, Russian military power in Syria has built up to now include air to air missiles, which has caused observers to warn against the danger of a Russian military base in the Middle East.