They Were ‘Grilled Alive’: US Government Exposed Running Nazi-Like Torture Program in Yemen

The US is once again facing allegations of torture, this time during the interrogation of detainees in more than a dozen secret prisons in Yemen.

Global Research, June 24, 2017
Free Thought Project 22 June 2017

An unprecedented report from the corporate press claims U.S. forces have participated in extreme torture and abuse of detainees accused of affiliation with Al Qaeda in Yemen — including “the ‘grill,’ in which the victim is tied to a spit like a roast and spun in a circle of fire,” the Associated Press finds.

A network of secretive prisons in southern Yemen provide the backdrop for the alleged barbaric acts allegedly carried out by forces from the U.S. and United Arab Emirates — many of those detention facilities remain hidden in plain sight.

That some of the covert prisons sit inside military bases might not be much of a shock, but others are located in ports, an airport, private villas, and even a nightclub — and all, according to the AP, remain untouchable by the embattled Yemeni government.

Whistleblower Edward Snowden weighed in on the new revelations, tweeting,

American officials unsurprisingly balked at the accusation troops have participated in the astonishingly heinous behavior described in the AP’s report.

Reports the AP:

“Senior American defense officials acknowledged Wednesday that U.S. forces have been involved in interrogations of detainees in Yemen but denied any participation in or knowledge of human rights abuses. Interrogating detainees who have been abused could violate international law, which prohibits complicity in torture.

“The AP documented at least 18 clandestine lockups across southern Yemen run by the United Arab Emirates or by Yemeni forces created and trained by the Gulf nation, drawing on accounts from former detainees, families of prisoners, civil rights lawyers and Yemeni military officials. All are either hidden or off limits to Yemen’s government, which has been getting Emirati help in its civil war with rebels over the last two years.”

Notably, this is the first ‘official’ acknowledgment the United States participates in interrogations inside the borders of Yemen.

Forces transported some detainees to an Emirati base in Eritrea, according to Yemen Interior Minister Hussein Arab.

Unnamed and unverifiable U.S. defense officials told the Associated Press ‘senior U.S. military leaders’ have been aware of alleged torture taking place in Yemen for some time — but have investigated the charges, and apparently found nothing amiss, as U.S. troops, they claim, were never present during detainee torture.

Perhaps beyond tellingly, neither the AP nor the anonymous officials elucidated on whether the lack of U.S. troop presence during the alleged grilling alive of detainees meant senior military leaders indeed discovered forces from other nations roasting people alive and said nothing, or that the torture allegations were completely baseless.

Those defense officials further

“told AP that American forces do participate in interrogations of detainees at locations in Yemen, provide questions for others to ask, and receive transcripts of interrogations from Emirati allies.”

Torture this horrific, if proven true, harkens immediately back to Bush-era implementation of barbaric human rights violations by the CIA — which included waterboarding and other acts the agency, itself, knew to be utterly inefficacious — which temporarily halted adherence to the law and all semblance of ethics under the premise of extracting information from detainees following the attacks of 9/11.

“We always adhere to the highest standards of personal and professional conduct,” chief Defense Department spokeswoman, Dana White, told the AP on perusal of its report. “We would not turn a blind eye, because we are obligated to report any violations of human rights.”

In a statement, the UAE government also balked, insisting,

“There are no secret detention centers and no torture of prisoners is done during interrogations.”

“The UAE was one of the countries involved in the CIA’s torture and rendition program,” reminds New York University Professor of Law Ryan Goodman. “These reports are hauntingly familiar and potentially devastating in their legal and policy implications.”

To repeat, the U.S. Department of Defense must report violations of human rights — yet the vagueness of the claim senior military brass investigated allegations of excruciating torture, but would only offer that U.S. troops had not been present. Without further explanation, that detail could indicate a troubling sin of omission — in short, a failure to report violations of human rights.

UAE runs ‘secret torture prisons’ in Yemen as US Interrogating

Source: Middle East Press

Not one of the dozens interviewed by the AP accused U.S. troops of witnessing torture, but the malicious, degrading, deplorable, torturous abuses described by former inmates of the secret prisons would seem impossible to have taken place without their cognizance.

AP continues:

“At one main detention complex at Riyan airport in the southern city of Mukalla, former inmates described being crammed into shipping containers smeared with feces and blindfolded for weeks on end. They said they were beaten, trussed up on the ‘grill,’ and sexually assaulted. According to a member of the Hadramawt Elite, a Yemeni security force set up by the UAE, American forces were at times only yards away. He requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.

“‘We could hear the screams,’ said a former detainee held for six months at Riyan airport. ‘The entire place is gripped by fear. Almost everyone is sick, the rest are near death. Anyone who complains heads directly to the torture chamber.’ He was flogged with wires, part of the frequent beatings inflicted by guards against all the detainees. He also said he was inside a metal shipping container when the guards lit a fire underneath to fill it with smoke.”

As in the first revelations on the renewed use of the gross physical and psychological abuses comprising torture, human rights advocates admonished such practices cannot be carried out without the broad knowledge of military and intelligence officials at the scene — particularly not for the duration described.

“It would be a stretch to believe the US did not know or could not have known that there was a real risk of torture,” Amnesty International Director of Research in the Middle East, Lynn Maalouf, told the Associated Press. Amnesty called for a swift investigation by the United Nations into the torture allegations against the UAE and other possible participants or knowledgeable parties.

Torture has been championed as acceptable by the president and other U.S. officials, despite its illegality internationally — almost exclusively as a tool of the War on Terror to extract information from prisoners — but torture has been proven repeatedly to be ineffective for that very purpose.

At least 2,000 people have vanished in Yemen — their families left agonizing over their fate, tragically wondering whether a torturous interrogation took their lives.

“Wives, mothers, and daughters in the north and south of Yemen want to know whether their husbands, sons, and brothers are all right, if they are even alive,” noted Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, after issuance of a similar report on torture in Yemen by her organization, on Thursday.

“Yemen, the UAE, Houthi-Saleh forces, and any other party disappearing people should immediately inform families of where their loved ones are and release those held arbitrarily.”

Despite denial of allegations by the United States military and government of the United Arab Emirates, the report from the Associated Press most likely will be remembered as the beginning of yet another torture scandal embroiling perpetually-ethicless entities during a complex and violent conflict — one, again, involving the U.S., which fights for freedom and against terror by, apparently, eviscerating freedom and waging terror.

Featured image: Free Thought Project

You Only Hate Assad Because Your TV Told You To

By Caitlin Johnstone

“Whame paintt we’ve been undergoing to a large extent is a form of psychological abuse, actually, by very narcissistic, hegemonic governments and officials for a very long time. It’s a form of gas lighting where actually our own faith in our ability to judge a situation, and to some extent even our own identity, has been eroded and damaged to the point where we’re effectively accepting their version of reality.” ~ Vanessa Beeley

May 27, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – The only thing keeping westerners from seeing through the lies that they’ve been told about Syria is the unquestioned assumption that their own government could not possibly be that evil. They have no trouble believing that a foreigner from a Muslim-majority country could be gratuitously using chemical weapons on children at the most strategically disastrous time possible and bombing his own civilians for no discernible reason other than perhaps sheer sexual sadism, but the possibility that their government is making those things up in order to manufacture consent for regime change is ruled out before any critical analysis of the situation even begins.

Despite the evil and unforgivable invasion of Iraq having happened a mere fourteen years ago, sold to the public based on nothing but lies and mass media propaganda, mainstream America is unwilling to consider the possibility that this is happening again. Unwilling to turn and face the implications of what this would mean for their worldview, their self-image, and the entire system they’ve developed for examining and interpreting their experience of their lives up until this point.

Independent investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley has emerged from her latest trip to Syria burning with a new kind of fire. There’s something in her voice and the posture she now takes which conveys a new kind of authority, a sense that she has now seen enough and gathered enough evidence to observe unmasked the full picture of this monster of deceit she’s been fighting.

In her recent phenomenal interview on The Sane Progressive, Beeley shreds the entire work of fiction we’re being fed, from small details which show that the “White Helmets” are literally nothing other than Al-Qaeda members wearing special hats, to a breakdown of the way NGOs are used by government foundations and plutocrats to help construct propaganda narratives, all the way up to a big-picture analysis of the general unwholesome dynamic that gave rise to these despicable manipulations in the first place.

If you can set aside one hour of free time in the next few days, please give it to this important interview. If you have more time, watch it again, take notes, pause frequently, and research what she’s saying. You’ll never find such a densely-packed arsenal of weaponry for use in our media war against America’s unelected power establishment.

Beeley’s statements about the White Helmets (who, despite their ubiquitous image in the west, nobody in East Aleppo had even heard of during her time there last year) have now been backed by none other than award-winning journalist John Pilger, who called them “a complete propaganda construct” in a recent interview.

I have lost all patience with people who involve themselves in the conversation about the current Syrian administration by acknowledging the existence of western lies and propaganda about Syria and yet still maintaining that Assad is an evil dictator who needs to be deposed somehow.

This is an astonishingly common perspective in online discourse about Syria even among people who are relatively woke to what’s going on; they see it as the more moderate and well-reasoned position to simultaneously acknowledge that the US power establishment is known to use lies, propaganda and false flags to manufacture public consent for devastating acts of military violence, and also that Assad is horrible and evil.

There’s this odd, unquestioned assumption that the most honest position to espouse when two narratives contradict each other is to stand right in between them. This is a logic fail; it is a result of bad thinking. The midway point between two positions is not always the most truthful ground; when slavery was being debated, the correct position between “slavery is great” and “slavery is evil” was not “slavery is okay sometimes”. The correct position between “kill all Jews” and “don’t kill any Jews” is not “kill some of the Jews”. The correct position between “Our leaders are lying to us about Syria to manufacture consent for a regime change invasion” and “Assad is an evil dictator who needs to be deposed” is not “Well they’re both kinda true, it’s complicated.”

In reality, we cannot know with any degree of certainty how good or bad a leader Assad is. There’s too much smoke in the air, too much propaganda and deliberate deceit clouding our vision to get a clear picture of the complete political dynamic of an entire government. No reasonable, clear-thinking person can justifiably say with any degree of confidence that Assad is an evil dictator. There is no way to know.

What we can know with absolute certainty is that we are being lied to about Syria by western governments and the mass media propaganda machines which promote their oligarchic agendas. The mountains of evidence that are coming out against the White Helmets, the fact that Amnesty International is the same organization that promoted the false Nayirah testimony which was used to manufacture consent for the Gulf War, the fact that CNN recently staged a fake interview featuring a seven year-old girl who can’t speak English reading scripted anti-Assad propaganda to an unsuspecting audience; there is enough there to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the same power establishment that lied to us about Iraq is now lying to us about its neighbor Syria.

The only question is whether or not you have the emotional and intellectual integrity to face this reality.

We can also know that Assad is neither stupid nor insane. If you haven’t seen the interview he gave last month, check out the above video in which he tells his side of the story in perfect English. This is not the slobbering madman we’re asked to believe launched a sarin gas attack on his own civilians for no reason at the most inopportune time possible. Nor is he the strategic brute who gasses children to keep his citizenry fearing that there’s no limit to the savagery he’ll inflict upon them as in the narrative being promulgated by corporate media, since he tells them that he’d ever do such a thing in the interview.

It is possible that he is corrupt, it is possible that he has been needlessly oppressive in some ways; there’s no way to know in the current environment. But he is definitely neither stupid nor insane, as he would have needed to have been to have launched the Idlib gas attacks when he is alleged to have.

As the interviewer Debbie Lusignan said to Beeley

“Even if people are having a hard time because there is such a bombardment of disinformation and it’s very hard to sort it out and the alternative media is being suppressed and censored, basic common sense says that these are the same media outlets and the same political establishment structures that have been lying to us for all these other atrocities that we always find out after the fact were based on disinformation and manipulation and false information,” said Debbie. “So at this point, the American people themselves need to take some responsibility in terms of understanding that we have had such a history of this being the status quo, the way that the United States justifies and launches wars.”

“Our premise should be — they’re going to lie to us. And our burden of real proof should be through the roof.”

Is it possible that there is a power establishment governing your country which is so evil that it would engineer the deaths of children in a false flag attack to manufacture consent for a strategically valuable regime change it’s been seeking for decades? It’s uncomfortable to consider this possibility.

Much easier to believe there’s a depraved nutcase foreigner hurling chemical weapons and barrel bombs at civilians willy nilly who needs to be taken out by Good Guys. Much more difficult to do the rigorous intellectual and emotional work needed to escape from the institutional brainwashing Vanessa Beeley describes in her article “Gaslighting: State Mind Control and Abusive Narcissism” and do the necessary research to get a clear picture of what is going on. But you undeniably have the ability to make that choice, here and now as you finish this article.

Are you the sort of person who can face uncomfortable truths and revise their worldview accordingly, or the type who compartmentalizes and avoids them for the sake of cognitive comfort?

Step into the light.

This article was first published by 21wire

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Click for Spanish, German, Dutch, Danish, French, translation- Note- Translation may take a moment to load.

Related video

 

Something is Not Adding Up In Idlib Chemical Weapons Attack

By Paul Antonopoulos

April 04, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – At least 58 people were killed in an alleged horrific gas attack in the Idlib Governorate this morning“. However, even before investigations could be conducted and for evidence to emerge, Federica Mogherini, the Italian politician High Representative of the European Union (EU) for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, condemned the Syrian government stating that the “Assad regime bears responsibility for ‘awful’ Syria ‘chemical’ attack.

The immediate accusation from a high ranking EU official serves as a dangerous precedent where public outcry can be made even before the truth surrounding the tragedy can emerge

Israeli President, Benjamin Netanyahu, joined in on the condemnation, as did Amnesty International.

Merely hours after the alleged chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhun, supposedly by the Syrian government, holes are beginning to emerge from opposition sources, discrediting the Al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets claims.

For one, seen in the above picture, the White Helmets are handling the corpses of people without sufficient safety gear, most particularly with the masks mostly used , as well as no gloves. Although this may seem insignificant, understanding the nature of sarin gas that the opposition claim was used, only opens questions.

Within seconds of exposure to sarin, the affects of the gas begins to target the muscle and nervous system. There is an almost immediate release of the bowels and the bladder, and vomiting is induced. When sarin is used in a concentrated area, it has the likelihood of killing thousands of people. Yet, such a dangerous gas, and the White Helmets are treating bodies with little concern to their exposed skin. This has to raise questions.

It also raises the question why a doctor in a hospital full of victims of sarin gas has the time to tweet and make video calls. This will probably be dismissed and forgotten however.

View image on Twitter

It is also worth mentioning that Dr Shajul Islam has been struck off the medical register in the UK.

It is known that about 250 people from Majdal and Khattab were kidnapped by Al-Qaeda terrorists last week. Local sources have claimed that many of those dead from the chemical weapons were those from Majdal and Khattab. This would suggest that on the eve of upcoming peace negotiations, terrorist forces have once again created a false flag scenario. This bears resemblance to the Ghouta chemical weapons attack in August 2013 where the Syrian Army was accused of using the weapons of mass destruction on the day that United Nations Weapon’s Inspectors arrived in Damascus.

Later, Carla del Ponte, a UN weapons inspector said that there was no evidence that the government had committed the atrocity. This had however not stopped the calls for intervention against the Syrian government, a hope that the militant forces wished to eventuate from their use of chemical weapons against civilians in Ghouta.

Therefore, it is completely unsurprising that Orient TV has already prepared a “media campaign” to cover the Russian and Syrian airstrikes in neighbouring Hama countryside against terrorist forces, with the allegations that the airforces have been using chemical weapons. And most telling, their announcement of covering the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, hours before this allegation even emerged…….. Seems like someone forgot to tell him that it would not occur for a few more hours before his tweet.

Orient TV reporter :
“tomorrow we are launching a media campaign to cover the airstrikes on Hama country side including the usage of CW”

Meanwhile, pick up  trucks have been photographed around bodies of those killed. Again, it must be questioned why there are people around sarin gas without any protective gear, and not affected at all when it can begin attacking the body within seconds? Also, the pick up trucks remain consistent to what local sources have said were used to transport many of the victims identified as kidnapped by Al-Qaeda terrorists from pro-government towns in rural Hama.

Idlib attacks

Also, what is brought into question is where the location of the hose is coming from in the below picture, a dugout carved into the rock. This also suggests that the location is at a White Helmets base where there are dug out hiding spots carved into the mountainside and where they have easy access to equipment, as highlighted by Twitter user Ian Grant.

idlib 2

In response to the allegations, the Syrian Arab Army soldiers in neighbouring northern Hama denied the use of any chemicals weapons today. This is consistent with the Russian Ministry of Defense who denied any involvement in the attack.

The army “has not and does not use them, not in the past and not in the future, because it does not have them in the first place,” a military source said.

And this of course begs the question. With the Syrian Army and its allies in a comfortable position in Syria, making advances across the country, and recovering lost points in rural Hama, why would they now resort to using chemical weapons in Nusra Front occupied Idlib? It is a very simple question with no clear answer. It defies any logic that on the eve of a Syria conference in Brussels and a week before peace negotiations are to resume, that the Syrian government would blatantly use the non-existent stock of chemical weapons.

All evidence suggests this is another false chemical attack allegation made against the government as seen in the Ghouta 2013 attack where the terrorist groups hoped that former President Obama’s “red-line” would be crossed leading to US-intervention in Syria against the government.

Most telling however, is that most recent report shows that the government does not deny striking Khan Sheikhun. Al-Masdar’s Yusha Yuseef was informed by the Syrian Army that the air force targeted a missile factory in Khan Sheikoun, using a Russian-manufactured Su-22 fighter jet to carry out the attack. Most importantly, the Su-22’s bombs are unique and cannot be filled with any chemical substances, which is different to the bombs dropped from attack helicopters.

Yuseef was then told that the Syrian Air Force did not know if there were any chemical substances being stored inside the missile factory in Khan Sheikhoun. It remains to be known whether there actually were chemicals in the missile factory targeted by the airstrikes, or whether the terrorist forces used gas on the kidnapped civilians from the pro-government towns and brought them in the lorry trucks to the site of the airstrikes. Whether they were gassed by the militant forces, or the airstrikes caused a terrorist controlled chemical weapon factory to explode, the gruesome deaths of children, seen foaming in the mouth because of the gas, lays in the hands of the terrorists.

Therefore, it becomes evident that the area targeted was definitely a terrorist location, where it is known that the White Helmets share operation rooms with terrorist forces like Al-Qaeda as seen after the liberation of eastern Aleppo. Civilians and fighting forces, including Kurdish militias, have all claimed that militant groups that operate in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo countrysides, have used chemical weapons in the past.

Therefore, before the war cries begin and the denouncement of the government from high officials in power positions begin, time must be given so that all evidence can emerge. However, this is an important factor that has never existed in the Syrian War, and the terrorist forces continue to hope that Western-intervention against the government will occur, at the cost of the lives of innocent civilians.

Paul Antonopoulos, Deputy-Editor at Al-Masdar News, Lecturer at Charles Sturt University and Researcher at Western Sydney University. MA in International Relations. You can follow on Twitter: oulosP

This article was first published at Al Masdar News

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

See also

Dozens killed in suspected gas attack on Syrian rebel area: An alleged Syrian government chemical attack killed at least 58 people, including 11 children, in the northwestern province of Idlib on Tuesday, a pro-rebel monitor, medics and rescue workers in the rebel-held area said.

Lest we forget: Seymour M. Hersh: Whose sarin? The U.S. intelligence agencies produced evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity.

Assad to Belgian Media: Europeans Only Follow US Master

A comment on this video from Uprooted Palestinians reads: “More sense from Assad in 3 minutes than from the West in 6 years.” I would have to concur, and I would add that Assad’s “following-the-US-master” comment would probably equally apply to Western so-called “human rights” organizations as well.

Last week I commented on a report by Amnesty International accusing the Syrian government of operating a “human slaughterhouse” at a prison near Damascus. Now comes a Human Rights Watch report alleging that the Syrians used chemical weapons in their liberation of Aleppo from terrorist control. The report, which can be found here, also implicates Russia, but relies upon information given by “journalists” from the Aleppo Media Center, the organization that produced the “boy in the ambulance” photo last year–a photo believed by some to have been staged.

The Amnesty report, published on February 7, and the HRW report, released February 13, would seem to be a one-two punch aimed at the Syrian government and coming as the Pentagon is now reportedly considering recommending that the US send “conventional ground combat forces” for the first time into Syria.

The Syrian government has responded to the HRW report in an article just published today at SANA.

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Syria Dismisses HRW Chemical Weapons Report as Unprofessional and Non-Credible

Damascus, SANA – The Syrian government denies categorically the false allegations brought up in the report of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the Syrian forces and their allies used toxic substances in the operation to liberate Aleppo, an official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said on Wednesday.

“The fact that the Human Rights Watch organization relied on the terrorists’ media sources and on absolutely non-credible false witnesses proves the lack of credibility of the report,” the source said in a statement to SANA.

“This report comes to justify the terrorists’ defeat and the victories of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies,” the source added.

It dismissed the HRW report as “unprofessional” and “non-scientific” and based on distorting facts, stressing that the report will definitely lose ground when faced with any scientific study or legal evidence.

“The Syrian Arab Republic, which has met all its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, strongly condemns this misleading report that came out in implementation of Western agendas before the convening of meetings in Astana and Geneva and any other meetings that might be held later on the Syrian file,” the Foreign Ministry source said.

The source reiterated Syria’s condemnation of the use of toxic chemical weapons by any part, in any place and for any reason, stressing that all these allegations will not discourage it from continuing its war against the terrorist organizations and their backers.

H. Said

HOW WE WERE MISLED ABOUT SYRIA: CHANNEL 4 NEWS

Reblogged from Prof. Tim Hayward. Also strongly recommend his:

Amnesty International on Syria – at it again!

Writing recently about how we were misled by Amnesty International’s reports on Syria, I was criticised – for using the past tense.

This week Amnesty International has published a ‘new’ report – Syria: The Human Slaughterhouse – that presents no new evidence of the deaths it purports to be documenting. Even the BBC’s take on it makes clear: ‘it does not have evidence of executions taking place since December 2015’. The publication repeats previous claims about the years 2011-2015, and extrapolates.[1]

Such grave allegations need to be taken very seriously, but that starts with being scrupulous about their basis.

Previously I showed how Amnesty International did not follow its own prescribed research guidelines for earlier reports; it did not do so this time either.[2]

Those guidelines were those set out by Secretary General, Salil Shetty, and I think he could give a clearer steer on the need to observe them. In an interview, it was put to Shetty that accusations of bias are sometimes levelled at Amnesty International. His reply was that, since the organisation is criticised from all sides, ‘it must be doing something right’. This facile reply is fallacious. I can think of one controversial Amnesty representative, for instance, who has been accused of making unjustified claims against the governments of both Israel and Syria. I suspect many people who check will think he is wrong in one of those cases, although not necessarily the same one, without thereby assuming either he must be right in the other. I myself would simply regard him as simply insufficiently reliable.

Even if it is in fact true that the organisation is doing ‘something’ right, I do not think Amnesty should be content that this is good enough. I would want to insist that Amnesty needs to be tenacious in ensuring not to get it wrong. Its practice in Syria of extrapolating on the basis of conjectures made following conversations with representatives of the opposition is not guaranteed to ensure that.

What I think the grassroots supporters of Amnesty International need above all to be concerned about is what the organisation is trying to achieve with this new publication. With more constructive possibilities of international involvement following the end of the siege of Aleppo, what is the reason for reviving attempts to demonise the Syrian government?

Whatever excesses any parties need eventually to be held to account for, the concern of Amnesty International is supposed to be with human beings, and their interest lies overwhelmingly in achieving peace – not in stoking the embers of the war.

[1] A critical discussion of this is available at http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/02/amnesty-report-hearsay.html

[2] For the 2012 report, which covers the first year of the five referred to in the new publication, I showed, point by point, that the report admits failing to fulfil some of the research criteria and fails to show it has met any of them. Substantially the same verdict applies to what is said here for 2012-2015; regarding the period 2015-2016, which many readers will understandably, but mistakenly, assume the ‘new’ evidence relates to, no evidence at all is even claimed to be presented.

 

How We Were Misled About Syria: Amnesty International

 

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13,000 People Hanged? Amnesty Report on Syria Offers Little Evidence

Posted on February 9, 2017

 photo syrelec_zpsd33a1d58.jpg

In the presidential election of 2014, Syrians voted overwhelmingly in favor of President Bashar Assad

[ Ed. note – Amnesty International has released a report alleging that as many as 13,000 people were murdered by Syrian government authorities at a prison near Damascus since 2011. Among the charges are that large numbers of people were “hanged” in the middle of the night and that people also were “repeatedly tortured and systematically deprived of food, water, medicine and medical care.” Additionally we are told that bodies were “taken away by the truckload and buried in mass graves.”

An analysis of the report by Tony Cartalucci, however, points to a scarcity of any solid evidence to back up the rather lurid claims, and the writer describes the report as “fabricated entirely in the United Kingdom.”  Russia has also denounced the report, with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova calling it “a fake” and dismissing it as “yet another targeted act of provocation aimed at pouring oil on the fire of the dying-down conflict within Syria.”

Worth considering also is that this is not by any means the first time Amnesty International has issued a report fulminating against the Syrian government. You can go here to read an analysis of two earlier Amnesty reports (one issued in 2011 and the other in 2012) in which questions are raised about accuracy and veracity–and there is also an article here discussing Amnesty’s highlighting of the Syrian conflict in a fundraising appeal last year.

Validating the mainstream media narrative on Syria seems, then, to be an Amnesty métier. ]

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Amnesty International Admits Syrian ‘Saydnaya’ Report Fabricated Entirely in the UK

By Tony Cartalucci

February 9, 2017 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – Amnesty International’s 48 page report titled, “Syria: Human Slaughterhouse: Mass Hangings and Extermination at Saydnaya Prison, Syria,” boasts bold claims, concluding:

…the Syrian authorities’ violations at Saydnaya amount to crimes against humanity. Amnesty International urgently calls for an independent and impartial investigation into crimes committed at Saydnaya.

However, even at a cursory glance, before even reading the full body of the report, under a section  titled, “Methodology,” Amnesty International admits it has no physical evidence whatsoever to substantiate what are admittedly only the testimony of alleged inmates and former workers at the prison, as well as figures within Syria’s opposition.

Continued here

President Assad: US Only Way to Defeat Terrorism in Syria is through Cooperation with Syrian Government

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

February 10, 2017

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave interview to Yahoo News in which he stressed that the US needs to be genuine regarding the fight against terrorism if it wants to really defeat terrorism in Syria, adding that this aim requires a clear political position on the part of the US towards the sovereignty and unity of Syria and cooperation with its government and people.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, thanks for giving us the opportunity. This is your first interview with American media since President Trump has taken office. Have you had any communications with President Trump directly or indirectly, or anybody in his administration?

President Assad:  No, not yet.

Question 2: This is an opportunity for you to convey a message to President Trump, if you have one. What would you like to say to him?

President Assad:  wouldn’t convey the message through the media, I would send it through a different channel, maybe diplomatic channels. But any message for us is the public one, we don’t have two messages; we have one stand, one position toward what’s happening in Syria, and it’s about fighting terrorism.

Question 3: You said yesterday, I believe, that what you have heard from the new administration is promising. Explain what you meant.

President Assad: The position of President Trump since he started his campaign for presidency till this moment is that the priority is to fight terrorism, and we agree about this priority, that’s our position in Syria, the priority is to fight terrorism, and that’s what I meant by promising.

Question 4: You indicated that you thought there was some way for cooperation between the United States and Syria, but you didn’t explain what that would be. What sort of cooperation can you envision?

 President Assad:  Against terrorists, and against terrorism. That’s self-evident for us. This is beside having cooperation between any two nations, but in the meantime, in these circumstances, the priority is to have cooperation in fighting terrorism between the different nations, including Russia, Iran and Syria, of course.

Question 5: The President has tasked his Secretary of Defense with developing plans for defeating ISIS or Daesh. Among the proposals they are reportedly considering is using more special forces and even military assets such as Apache helicopters inside Syria, and arming Kurdish fighters who are fighting Daesh in the north. If such moves would defeat ISIS, would you welcome them?

President Assad:  Could the American prowess defeat the terrorists in Afghanistan or in other places? No, you cannot… it’s not enough to have this Apache or F-16 or F-35, whatever you want to label it, to defeat terrorists. There has to be a more comprehensive way of dealing with that complicated issue. So, if you want to start genuinely, as United States, to do so, it must be through the Syrian government. We are here, we are the Syrians, we own this country as Syrians, nobody else, nobody would understand it like us. So, you cannot defeat the terrorism without cooperation with the people and the government of any country.

Question 6: But you have welcomed Russian troops into your country. Would you welcome American troops into your country?

President Assad:  We invited the Russians, and the Russians were genuine regarding this issue. If the Americans are genuine, of course they are welcome, like any other country that wants to defeat and to fight with the terrorists. Of course, with no hesitation we can say that.

Question 7: So, you want American troops to come into Syria to help fight ISIS?

President Assad: Troops is part of the cooperation. Again, let’s go back to the comprehensive, you cannot talk about sending troops if you’re not genuine, if you don’t have a clear political position toward not only the terrorism; toward the sovereignty of Syria, toward the unity of Syria. All these factors would lead to trust, where you can send your troops. That’s what happened with the Russians; they didn’t only send their troops. First of all, there’s a clear political position regarding those factors. This is where the Russians could come and succeed in fighting the terrorists in Syria.

Question 8: Do you see cooperation between the United States and Russia to attack ISIS in Syria?

President Assad:  It is essential. Any cooperation in any conflict around the world, it needs the, let’s say, the rapprochement, between the Russians and the Americans. It’s very essential, not only for Syria.

Question 9: Well, you talk to the Russians all the time, don’t you?

President Assad:  Of course.

Question 10: Yeah? When’s the last time you spoke to President Putin.

President Assad:  A few weeks ago.

Question 11: What’d you talk about?

President Assad:  About the problem in Syria, about the advancement of the Syrian Army in Syria.

Question 12: Right. Are you going to try to broker some sort of arrangement between the United States and Russia in this fight?

President Assad: There’s direct contact between them, and President Putin had a telephone call with President Trump a week or so, and they talked about different issues including Syria, so they don’t need my role to do so, and we don’t have any contact with the Americans to help the Russians make contact or improve their relation. We’re not in that position.

Question 13: President Trump recently said he absolutely wants to create “safe zones” inside Syria to protect refugees, and possibly allow many of them to return. If such a move would help protect your country’s endangered citizens, would you support that?

President Assad:  But actually, it won’t. It won’t. Safe zones for the Syrians could only happen when you have stability and security, where you don’t have terrorists, where you don’t have flow and support of those terrorists by the neighboring countries or by Western countries. This is where you can have a natural safe zone, which is our country. They don’t need safe zones at all. It’s much more viable, much more practical and less costly to have stability than to create safe zones. It’s not a realistic idea at all.

Question 14: Upwards of half of your country’s population has been displaced. How can you say that safe zones to protect them from bombardment would not be helpful?

President Assad:  The first thing you have to ask: why were they displaced? If you don’t answer that question, you cannot answer the rest. They were displaced for two reasons: first of all, the terrorist acts and the support from the outside. Second, the embargo on Syria. Many people didn’t only leave Syria because of the security issues. As you see, Damascus is safe today, it’s nearly normal life, not completely. But they don’t find a way for life in Syria, so they have to travel abroad in order to find their living. So, if you lift the embargo, and if you stop supporting the terrorists – I’m not talking about the United States, I’m talking about everyone who supported terrorists including the United States during Obama’s administration – if you stop all these acts, most of those people will go back to their country.

Question 15: There are, what, 4.8 million Syrian refugees since this crisis began. Just as way of comparison, that is more than 4 times the total number of Palestinian refugees from the events of 1947 and 48. Do you accept that this is a humanitarian disaster?

President Assad:  It is a humanitarian disaster created by the Western support of those terrorists, of course, and the regional support by Turkey and Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It didn’t happen just like this.

Question 16: And you bear any responsibility at all for this disaster?

President Assad: As president?

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad:  Regarding the policies that I undertake since the beginning of the crisis, they were supporting the dialogue between the Syrians, fighting terrorists, and supporting reconciliation, and they succeeded. So, no, regarding these policies, I think we were correct, and we are continuing on these pillars for the future of Syria regarding this crisis.

Question 17: As you know, President Trump has signed a very controversial executive order barring refugees, immigrants, from predominantly Muslim countries, but specifically all Syrian refugees, saying that their entry into the country would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. The premise is that some of them are terrorists.

President Assad:  Yeah.

Journalist: Do you agree with President Trump on this?

President Assad:  This question has two aspects: the first one is American, this is an American issue and it’s related to the sovereignty of the American nation. Every country has the right to put any regulations to enter their country. We can disagree or agree, but if you ask me as president, as official in the Syrian state, my responsibility is not to go and ask any president to allow the Syrians to go there and to have refuge in that country. My responsibility is to restore the stability, in order to bring them back to Syria and find refuge in their country. So, I’m not going to discuss that this is right or wrong; this is American issue.

Question 18: But the question was: are some of these refugees, in your view, aligned with terrorists?

President Assad:  Oh, definitely.

Journalist: Definitely?

President Assad:  Definitely. You can find it on the net; the same picture that you saw them – in some cases, of course – in some instances, those terrorists in Syria, holding the machinegun or killing people, they are peaceful refugees in Europe or in the West in general. Yeah, that’s true.

Question 19: So, how many terrorists do you believe are among the 4.8 million Syrian refugees?

President Assad: No one has any number, nobody knows, because nobody knows all the terrorists to give a percentage, no one at all.

Question 20: Do you believe it’s a significant number?

President Assad:  It’s not about significant, because you don’t need a significant number to commit atrocities. 11th of September, it happened by only 15 terrorists out of maybe millions of immigrants in the United States, so it’s not about the number; it’s about the quality, it’s about the intentions.

Question 21: So, if what you’re saying is correct, then President Trump would be justified in keeping them out of the United States?

President Assad:  I’m not American to justify it; only American people would say this is against the interests of the United States or with the interests. From the outside, we can discuss it as value; this is with the values of the humanitarian situation in the world or not, that’s how we can discuss it. But again, I can only speak as president; for me the priority is to bring those citizens to their country, not to help them immigrate. That’s the natural duty according to the constitution and to the law.

Question 22: Would you welcome all of Syria’s refugees back into your country?

President Assad: Definitely, definitely.

Journalist: Definitely? Even the terrorists?

President Assad: I don’t have to welcome them as president; I don’t own the country, it’s not my house, it’s not my company, it’s not my farm. This is country to every Syrian.

Question 23: But if you believe that some of them are terrorists, what would you do with them when they return to Syria?

President Assad:  It doesn’t matter what I believe, what matters is what the law would say about every person who committed any act against his country, taking into consideration that we gave amnesty in Syria to thousands of people who committed actions or acts against their country as part of the reconciliation.

Question 24: How do you expect them to return? What is your vision or plan for bringing Syria’s refugees back into Syria?

President Assad: Already many of them, not a huge number, but many of them came back to Syria, many of them, in spite of the security issues and the embargo. So, the majority of Syrians would like to come back to their country. This is natural for every citizen. They will come back when there’s security and when there’s no embargo.

Question 25: Your military, just last month, drove the rebels from eastern Aleppo. Do you see this as a turning point in Syria’s civil war, and do you believe you’ve now won this war?

President Assad: No, it’s not a turning point. The turning point was when we took the decision to fight terrorism in spite all the propaganda against us abroad, especially in the West, and against every pressure. That was the turning point. Aleppo is an important step against terrorists, in the fight against terrorism, but I cannot say it is a turning point, because we’re still going in the same way, in the same direction, we haven’t changed our direction. Maybe for the terrorists it’s a turning point? They better answer. Maybe for their masters in the West and in the region, it could be, but they have to answer, I cannot answer on their behalf.

Question 26: I was asking you before about potential cooperation between the United States and Syria, but the problem that many would have with that is the continued allegations of human rights abuses by your government. Now, just today, we have a new report from Amnesty International about Sednaya prison, “human slaughterhouse” they call it, 5,000 to 13,000 detainees hanged in mass hangings there, horrific conditions, trials of blindfolded prisoners, one to three minutes in length, no lawyers, secret, all in secret. This would, on its face, be contrary to every aspect of international law. What do you know about what’s going on in that prison?

President Assad:  Let’s first of all talk about the first part of your question, which is the problem how to – for the United States – to open relations with Syria, regarding the human rights. I will ask you: how could you have this close, very close relation, intimate relation, with Saudi Arabia? Do you consider beheading as human right criteria?

Journalist: But I’m not interviewing the King of Saudi Arabia right, I’m interviewing you.

President Assad: Yeah, I know. Yeah, of course.

Journalist: I’m asking you about reports of human rights abuses in your prison, in your country.

President Assad: You own the question, I own the answers, so that’s my answer. So, when you answer about Saudi Arabia and your relation, you can put yourself in that position. Second, the United States is in no position to talk about human rights; since Vietnam war till this moment, they killed millions of civilians, if you don’t want to talk about 1.5 million in Iraq, without any assignment by the Security Council. So, the United States is in no position to say “I don’t open relations because of human rights,” and they have to use one standard. This is first.

The second part now. Now I can move to the other part, that report, like many other reports published by Amnesty International, put into question the credibility of Amnesty International, and we never look at it as unbiased. It’s always biased and politicized, and it’s a shame for such an organization to publish a report without a shred of evidence. They said it’s based on interviews, on interviews.

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad: What about the documents? What about the concrete evidence? Not a single concrete…

Journalist: Interviews with four former prison officials and guards, three former Syrian judges, three doctors…

President Assad: It means nothing.

Journalist: It means nothing?

President Assad:  It’s interview… no, no, when you need to make a report, you need co st year. They paid money for such a report, and they brought their own witnesses, and they ncrete evidence. You can make any report, you can pay money to anyone like Qatar did la made a report.

Question 27: I wanna just read you something from the report… “the process of hanging is authorized by officials at the highest levels of the government. Death sentences are approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria, and by either the Minister of Defense or the Chief of Staff of the Army, who are deputized to act on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad.”

President Assad: First of all, what’s the evidence? This is first. Second…

Journalist: Is it true or not?

President Assad: No, no, it’s not true, definitely not true.

Journalist: How do you know? Do you know what goes on in that prison? Have you been there?

President Assad: No, I haven’t been, I’ve been in the Presidential Palace, not in the prison.

Journalist: So here you have a very disturbing report about something going on in one of your prisons, are you going to investigate?

President Assad: So, Amnesty International knows more about Syria than me, according to you. No, that’s not true. No, they haven’t been to Syria, they only base their reports on allegation, they can bring anyone, doesn’t matter what’s his title, you can forge anything these days, and we’re living in a fake news era, as you know, everybody knows this. So, we don’t have to depend on this. Second, you have to talk about the reality, they said in their report that we made serial executions, is that correct?

Journalist: Yes. Mass hangings.

President Assad:  First of all, execution is part of the Syrian law. If the Syrian government or institution wants to do it, they can make it legally, because it’s been there for decades.

Journalist: Secret trials, no lawyers?

President Assad: Why do they need it, if they can make it legally? They don’t need anything secret.

Journalist: Is that legal, in your country?

President Assad: Yeah, yeah, of course, it’s legal, for decades, since the independence. The execution, according to the law, after trial, is a legal action, like any other court in many countries in this region.

Question 28: Will you allow international monitors to visit that prison and inspect and investigate these reports?

President Assad:  It depends on the credibility of that organization, not anyone, because they’re going to use this visit just to demonize the Syrian government more and more and more, like what’s happening.

Question 29: This is not the first time that very serious human rights allegations have been made. Just last week, a woman in Spain, Syrian, filed a lawsuit accusing nine of your senior government intelligence and security officials of human rights abuses. Her brother had disappeared in one of your prisons. You asked about documents, the lawyers who have filed this, accusing your government of human rights abuses, have collected 3,000 pages of evidence and over 50,000 photographs taken by one of your former government’s photographers showing emaciated, tortured bodies in your prisons.

President Assad: Who verified the pictures? Who verified that they’re not edited and photoshopped and so on?

Journalist: Have you seen the photos?

President Assad: No, I didn’t.

Journalist: Have you seen the photos?

President Assad:  No, no, I saw some photos in previous reports. But it’s not about the photo. How can you verify the photo?

Journalist: You have said that the…

President Assad: Do you have a photo?

Journalist: I do have the photos.

President Assad: Can you show it to me?

Journalist: Yes, I’ll be happy to. here.

President Assad: This photo… have you verified who are those?

Journalist: I… can tell you…

President Assad: Because you have it, and because you mention it in front of your audience…

Journalist: There’s a number of photos…

President Assad:  You have to convince your audiences, you cannot mention such a picture without verifying who are those and where and everything about, just to put it in front of the audience, tell them “they’ve been killed by the Syrian soldiers.”

Journalist: The woman who filed the lawsuit, the Syrian woman who filed the lawsuit said she saw her brother in those photographs.

President Assad: At the end, these are allegations. We have to talk about concrete evidence, at the end. That’s how you can base your judgment. Anyone can say whatever he wants.

Question 30: The US State Department gave these photos to the American FBI crime lab, digital lab. They examined these photos, and said the bodies and scenes depicted – these are 242 of these images – the bodies and scenes depicted exhibit no artifacts or inconsistencies that would indicate they have manipulated. As a result of the above observations, all of these 242 images appear to depict real people and events.

President Assad: Who said that?

Journalist: The FBI. Have you seen their report?

President Assad: No. When was that?

Journalist: That was 2015.

President Assad: The question is when your institutions were honest about what’s happening in Syria? That’s the question. Never. For us, never, so we don’t have to rely on what they say, if the FBI say something, it’s not evidence for anyone, especially for us. The most important thing: if you take these photos to any court in your country, could they convict any criminal regarding this? Could they tell you what this crime is, who committed it? If you don’t have this full picture, you cannot make judgement, it’s just propaganda, it’s just fake news, they want to demonize the Syrian government. In every war, you can have any individual crime, it happened here, all over the world, anywhere, but it’s not a policy.

Question 31: But let me just… If I hear what you’re saying, the FBI is just forwarding… propagating propaganda, Amnesty International is propagating propaganda, everybody is conspiring against the Syrian government. Why?

President Assad: Ask them, we’re not…

Journalist: You’re the one making the allegation.

President Assad: No, no, I’m not making an allegation, they supported the terrorists, and you go back to what they said… John Kerry, a few months ago, said and by his voice that “we were watching ISIS advancing, and we expected the Syrian president to make concessions.” What does it mean? Obama said it in one of his speeches, that the war on Iraq created ISIS. So, who supported ISIS? We didn’t create it, you created it, the United States created all this mess. Who supported the rebels and called them “moderate rebels” while they became ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria? We didn’t. So, it’s not a conspiracy, these are facts, this is reality. We didn’t give money, we didn’t support these terrorists. Your country supported them, UK, France, publicly, and they said they sent armaments, we didn’t. So, it’s not my allegation, it’s your official allegation, including Joe Biden, the Vice President of Obama. He said, about Saudi Arabia and other countries supporting the extremists…

Journalist: That’s Saudi Arabia, but the United States…

President Assad: So, this allegation is their allegation, it’s American allegation before it’s been Syrian allegation.

Question 32: The United States and its coalition partners have been bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it’s supporting the Iraqi army in its efforts to liberate Mosul from ISIS. How can you say that the United States is supporting ISIS?

President Assad: Can you explain to me how could they defeat ISIS in Iraq, and ISIS was expanding since the American coalition started attacking in Syria?

Journalist: Is it expanding now?

President Assad:  It’s been expanding, no, it’s…

Journalist: Is it expanding now?

President Assad:  It started shrinking after the Russian intervention, not the American one. How could they use our oil fields and export with thousands of barrel trucks to Turkey without being seen by your drones and by your satellites while the Russians could be able to do so and attack them and destroy them. destroy all their facilities? How? This is cosmetic campaign against ISIS.

Question 33: Just to be clear; I have shown you the FBI report, I have shown the photographs, I have shown you the Amnesty International report. Will you cooperate in investigations to determine if these very serious reports are in fact true?

 

President Assad:  You showed me many things, but you didn’t show me a single evidence.

Journalist: I showed you an FBI report.

President Assad: No, no, it’s not evidence at all. It’s actually the contrary; any American institution for us during the Syrian crisis was against the reality, it was the opposite of the truth. That’s how we look at it. So, it’s not a Syrian institution, we don’t care about what they say. For me, what I care about is what reports I have from Syrian people, and we had investigations, because we have many claims regarding not mass crimes, actually, more individual acts and we’ve been investigating many, and many people were punished, but that happened in every war.

Question 34: Do you… are you disturbed enough about any of this to try to determine the truth yourself?

President Assad:  I think you should show it to Western officials to ask them that question: are they disturbed to see what’s happening since they started supporting the terrorists in Syria? This killing and this destruction? That’s the question. Of course I’m disturbed; I am Syrian.

Journalist: You are disturbed about this? About these reports?

President Assad:  About what’s happening in Syria. No, no, not about the report. I don’t care about the report.

Journalist: Not about this.

President Assad: No, no, I’m disturbed about what’s happening in Syria. It’s my country, it’s being destroyed by proxy terrorists, of course.

Question 35: You have acknowledged that your troops in this war have committed mistakes in its prosecution against the rebels, and that anyone could be punished. So, how many mistakes are we talking about?

President Assad:  No, I didn’t say that. I never said that. I said there are always mistakes in any action; that’s a human…

Journalist: How many mistakes are we talking about? How many innocent civilians have been killed by your government’s mistakes?

President Assad:  Nobody knows, because thousands and thousands of those are missing people; nobody knows anything about their fate, nobody at all. So, you cannot tell till the end of this war.

Question 36: Was it a mistake to bomb hospitals in Aleppo?

President Assad: We never bombed hospitals in Aleppo. Why to bomb a hospital? Can you convince your audience that we have interest in bombing hospitals? Actually, this is against our interest. This is against our interest to bomb a hospital if it’s used as hospital, and the proof that it was a lie, every time they talk about bombing hospitals, every time they say this is the last hospital in eastern part of Aleppo, and the second time they talk about another hospital and they say the same; “they bombed the last hospital.” So, it’s lies and lies and lies. We can spend the whole interview talking about lies, and we can talk about the truth and reality. I have to talk about the reality.

Question 37: Is it a mistake to use barrel bombs and chlorine gas?

President Assad: You have to choose which part of the narrative is correct. Once they said we are using indiscriminate bombs and they called it barrel bombs. The other day, they said we targeted hospitals and schools and convoys. We either have precise armaments or we have indiscriminate armaments. So, which one do you choose?

Question 38: Well, you do acknowledge though that innocent civilians… there have been civilian casualties in this war?

President Assad: Of course, every war is a bad war, every war is a bad war. You cannot talk about good war. Let’s agree about this. Every war has causalities; every war has innocent people to pay the price. This is the bad thing about war. That’s why we need to end that war, but having casualties doesn’t mean not to defend our country against the terrorists and against the invasion from abroad through those proxies by foreign countries like the Western countries and the regional ones. This is self-evident.

Question 39: President Obama gave a speech in 2013 about US counter-terrorism efforts, including drone strikes, and he says while defending those strikes, nevertheless it is a hard fact that US strikes have resulted in civilian casualties from me and those in my chain of command, those deaths will haunt us as long as we live. Are you haunted by the deaths of innocent civilians caused by your government’s military actions?

President Assad: That’s an important example about the armament, it’s not about what bomb do you use, whether you call it barrel or any other name; it’s not about that. It’s about the way you use and your intentions. That’s why the state of the art drones with their missiles, the American ones, killed much more civilians than terrorists. So, it’s not about the drone, it’s not about the armaments; it’s about your intentions. In our case in Syria, of course we have to avoid the civilians, not only because they are our people and this is a moral issue; it’s actually because it’s going to play into the hands of the terrorists. If we kill the civilians intentionally, it means we are helping the terrorists. So, why would we do it, why we are defending the civilians and killing the civilians? It doesn’t work; this is contradiction. If we are killing the civilians, who are we defending in Syria? Against who and for who?

Question 40: You were asked just yesterday: are all means justified in this war, and you said, your answer was yes, it’s a duty. So, you can use every mean in order to defend the Syrian people.

President Assad: Exactly.

Journalist: Every mean?

President Assad: Every mean.

Journalist: Including torture?

President Assad: No, it’s not a defense; torture is not a defense. Why to use torture? What’s the relation between torture and defending your country?

Journalist: So, where you draw the line?

President Assad: You have rules, you have very clear rules like any army; when you want to defend your country, you use your armaments against the terrorists. This is the only rule that I’m talking about. This is all the means that you can use in order to defend your country militarily, if I’m talking about military. Of course, you have to defend it politically, economically, in every sense of the word. But if you talk militarily, torture is not part of defending your country.

Question 41: Last question: can you just give us your vision of a settlement of this conflict, and can it… under any circumstances, will you be willing to step aside if it can end this disaster of a war for the Syrian people?

President Assad: Definitely, for me, whenever the Syrian people don’t want me to be in that position, I will leave right away, this is a very simple answer for me and I don’t have to think about it, and I’m not worried about this. What I would worry about is if I’m in that position and I don’t have the public support; this is going to be a big problem for me and I can’t bear it, and I cannot produce anyway. Regarding the first part, how would I see the solution, two pillars: the first one is fighting terrorism; without fighting terrorism and defeating the terrorists, no other solution would be fruitful at all, at all, any kind of solution. In parallel, dialogue between the Syrians about the future of Syria, that will include anything, everything, regarding the whole political system, the whole Syria in every sense of the word, then when we can get elections, and you can have national unity government, then you can have parliamentarian elections, then if the Syrian people think about early presidential elections or any kind of presidential elections, that will be viable.

Journalist: So, earlier than the completion of your term, which I believe, is in 2021?

President Assad:  If there is public consensus about this.

Question 42: How would you determine whether there’s public consensus or not?

President Assad: We can discuss it at that time; it’s still early to talk about it. We haven’t finished any of the stages that I’m talking about. So, we never thought about how because we don’t know what circumstances are we going to face that time. But at the end, when you live in a country, you can sense; Syria is not a continent, it’s a small country, we can deal with each other, we can know each other as society. You can sense, you can feel if there is public consensus, and then if you want to do something documented, you can have referendum, that’s very clear.

Question 43: Do you have any cause for optimism?

President Assad: Of course, without that optimism we wouldn’t fight for six years. The only… the main optimism that we’ve had is that we’re going to defeat those terrorists and their masters, and we’re going to restore stability in Syria, and more important than my optimism is the determination of the Syrian people; this is very important source for optimism. Without that determination, you wouldn’t see Syria in these very difficult and exceptional circumstances still living the minimum life, let’s say, if not the normal life, but the minimum life, to survive, and for the government to offer different services and subsidies, and so on.

Journalist: Thank you Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you very much.

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