Bashar al-Assad Coldly Asks: ‘What Red Line?’

Syrian President Bashar Assad leaves the Elysee Palace following his meeting with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, in Paris, Friday Nov. 13, 2009. Assad says that Mideast peace will be the main issue in his talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy and that "France must act." (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Brian Resnick
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Brian Resnick
Sept. 9, 2013, 7:02 p.m.

It’s strange to watch a lead­er of a coun­try an­swer ques­tions for an Amer­ic­an audi­ence, know­ing that the United States is mulling over a de­cision to send rock­ets his way. What did Syr­i­an Pres­id­ent Bashar al-As­sad think he could get out of Monday night’s in­ter­view with Charlie Rose — a chance to warm Amer­ic­ans to his per­spect­ive, a chance to scare them away from con­flict in the coun­try with talk of re­tri­bu­tion? 

Dur­ing the in­ter­view, Rose, stoned-faced as ever, asked a per­son whom many con­sider to be a ruth­less dic­tat­or with the blood of a hun­dred thou­sand cit­izens on his hands, point blank: “Why do you have such a stock­pile of chem­ic­al weapons?”

For the re­cord, As­sad denied re­spons­ib­il­ity for the Aug. 21 chem­ic­al strike that re­portedly killed some 1,400 people. He wouldn’t com­ment on wheth­er Syr­ia had a stock­pile of chem­ic­al weapons. He said he “didn’t know” if chem­ic­al war­fare is com­par­able to a nuc­le­ar at­tack be­cause “we haven’t tried either (laugh).” He thinks those U.S. in­tel­li­gence re­ports that say he did, in­deed, try chem­ic­al weapons are “non­sense.” Of the Aug. 21 at­tack, here’s his ex­change with Rose:

BASHAR al-AS­SAD: We — we’re not in the area where the al — where the — where the al­leged chem­ic­al at­tack was happened, as it al­leged. We’re not sure that any­thing happened be­cause —

CHARLIE ROSE: Even at this date, you are not sure that chem­ic­al weapons, even though you have seen the video­tape, even though you’ve seen the bod­ies, even though —

AS­SAD: No, I have —

ROSE: — your own of­fi­cials have been there.

AS­SAD: I haven’t fin­ished. Our sol­diers in an­oth­er area were at­tacked chem­ic­ally. Our sol­diers. They went to the hos­pit­al — as cas­u­al­ties be­cause of chem­ic­al weapons. But in the area where they said the gov­ern­ment used chem­ic­al weapons, we only had video and we only have pic­tures and al­leg­a­tions. We’re not there. Our forces — our po­lice, our in­sti­tu­tions don’t ex­ist. How can you talk about what happened if you don’t have evid­ences?

But per­haps the scene-stop­per of the in­ter­view came when Rose asked As­sad what he thought about Obama’s red line, or the world’s red line, on chem­ic­al weapons. Without pause or af­fect, As­sad replied, “What red line?”

What We're Following See More »
SEPTEMBER 12
Trump to Welcome Malaysia Prime Minister
1 hours ago
THE LATEST
FIRST LETTER OF PARAGRAPHS SPELL OUT “IMPEACH”
Science Advisor Resigns from Administration
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
PRESIDENT SISI TO STILL MEET
Egypt Cancels Kushner Meeting with Minister
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Egypt called off a scheduled meeting between its foreign minister and top U.S. presidential adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday after the United States decided to withhold millions of dollars in aid. But President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi would meet the U.S. delegation led by Kushner later in the day as scheduled, Sisi's office said." Washington decided to deny Egypt $95.7 million in aid and delay $195 million.

Source:
“DISTURBING”
Clapper Questions Trump’s Fitness for Office
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last night questioned President Trump's fitness for office, following the president's angry speech in Arizona. Calling the president's performance "disturbing," Clapper said, "I really question his ability to be -- his fitness to be -- in this office, and I also am beginning to wonder about his motivation for it," Clapper said on CNN. "How much longer does the country have to, to borrow a phrase, endure this nightmare?"

Source:
“PRE-9/11 MOMENT”
U.S. Not Prepared for a Widespread Cyber Attack, Says Advisory Panel
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The National Infrastructure Advisory Council has warned "that the U.S. in not ready to cope with a catastrophic attack aimed at the U.S. power grid, communications systems and other critical infrastructure." The panel "voted up a report recommending that the U.S. establish separate communications networks to support critical systems and take steps to rapidly declassify cybersecurity threat information." According to council member Mike Wallace, the country is "in a pre-9/11 moment" with respect to its vulnerabilities.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login