"This threatens his political future on the one hand, and his fanatical Islamist ambitions on the other. He believes that he has an Islamist mission in our region. The same applies to Saudi Arabia. The collapse of the terrorists in Syria is a collapse of their policies. I tell you that this process is surely not going to be easy for them, and we will certainly confront it,” Assad said in an interview as cited by Syrian official agency SANA.
Talking about the current situation in Syria and the coverage of the Syrian crisis by Western media, Assad said, "The cause of this suffering is the terrorists, not the Russian shelling, as claimed by Western media, and when one cause for migration is the almost five-year-old embargo against the Syrian people, naturally my, and every Syrian official’s first task, is to fight terrorism essentially using Syrian capabilities, but also using our friends’ support in the fight against terrorism. That’s why I say the problem of Syrian refugees abroad, as well as the problem of hunger inside Syria, as you referred to it, is a problem caused by terrorism, Western policies, and the embargo imposed on the Syrian people."
“If we look at Russian policies and Russian officials in the same way we look at unprincipled Western officials and policies, this is a possibility. But the fact is the exact opposite, for a simple reason: the Russians treat us with great respect. They do not treat us as a superpower dealing with a minor state, but as a sovereign state dealing with a sovereign state. That’s why this issue has not been raised at all in any shape or form.”
Whether Russia and Iran will have permanent military bases in Syria, Bashar al-Assad said, “Having military bases for any country in Syria does not mean that Syria will become a satellite state to these countries. They do not interfere in issues related to the law, the constitution, nor to politics. In any case, the Russian base exists already, while the Iranians have not asked to have one. But in principle, we do not have a problem.”
During the interview Assad was asked if he intends to hold his post as president for life just like his father and if he doesn’t is he in the process of grooming a successor.
“First, the presidency is not a hobby that we enjoy. It is a responsibility, particularly in these circumstances. As to my selecting a successor, this country is neither a farm nor a company. If I want to remain president that should be dependent on two factors: first, my desire to be president, and second, the desire of the people. When the next elections come and I feel that the people don’t want me, I shall not stand. That’s why it’s too early to talk about this. We still have years before the next elections,” Assad said.
Talking about the Syrian army regaining control over Aleppo in the next few days, Assad said that it is not about regaining control over Aleppo, but the task is to cut the road between Aleppo and Turkey.
“Turkey is the main conduit of supplies for the terrorists. The battle has been going on now on more than ten fronts at the same time, from north, to south, to the east, to the Far East too, and to the west in Latakia. It was going on in Homs, and now it’s over. So, all these stages are moving in parallel.”
“Regardless of whether we can do that or not, this is a goal we are seeking to achieve without any hesitation. It makes no sense for us to say that we will give up any part. The timeframe is dependent on two scenarios. Suppose that the problem is purely Syrian, i.e. that Syria is isolated from its surroundings, we can put an end to this problem in less than a year by moving on two fronts: fighting terrorism and political action,” Assad said.
“The second scenario – which is the case now – taking the shape of continuing supplies to terrorists through Turkey, Jordan, and partly from Iraq – because Daesh exists in Iraq with Saudi, Turkish, and Qatari support – naturally means that the solution will take a long time and will incur a heavy price. So, it is difficult to give a precise answer about the timeframe,” the Syrian president told AFP in an exclusive interview.
Regarding how many years it may take for peace to be restored in Syria, Assad said that it depends on how many years Turkey and Saudi Arabia will continue to support terrorism.
“The question is: how much longer will Turkey and Saudi Arabia continue to support terrorism? That is the question. And when will the West put pressure on these countries to stop supporting terrorism?” the president said.