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tv   Charlie Rose  Bloomberg  March 31, 2015 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT

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>> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: the syrian civil war has been going on for four years. in march, 2011, protests against president bashar al-assad have been met with violence. jordan, lebanon, and turkey have almost 4 million refugees in their countries. the conflict also led to the rise of isis.
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almost half of the country is in the hands of isis or other groups fighting the regime. the war has also become a proxy battlefield for regional actors. john kerry suggested what others have suggested. there has to be a political solution. he included negotiations with syria. i spoke to bashar al-assad last week for 60 minutes. here is the full conversation. thank you for allowing us to come here. we asked for this interview because your country has been at war for four years. it is a humanitarian crisis. perhaps the worst on the crisis. -- planet. 10 million have left their homes. life expectancy is down. 50% of your country is occupied by hostile forces. it has he come a battleground for outside forces. what is next?
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we have seen, since i last visited, they rise of isis. hezbollah. the united states becoming increasingly concerned about isis so much so that the president and the secretary of state have said there is a need for a negotiated settlement. president assad: the meaning of your question is exaggerating the numbers of it. -- a bit. families who lost their dear ones, it is a tragedy that has been going -- every family has lost something and their livelihood. a few thousands or hundreds of thousands, it is a tragedy. every conflict should end up
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with dialogue. article solutions between different parties. that is what we have been doing in syria. dealing directly with the militants. we have succeeded in making reconciliations. regarding the rise of isis in the context of events in syria in the last four years did not rise suddenly. it is not possible. it could not appear suddenly with all the resources financial and humanitarian resources, without support from the outside. the rise of isis did not happen suddenly. it was a result of events that happened at the beginning of the
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conflict that we mentioned many times, but not in the west. i want to mention the statement of kerry regarding the dialogue. what we have in so far is only a statement read nothing concrete. no approach towards the situation or problem in syria. in syria, we could say, every dialogue is a positive thing. we will be open to any dialogue with anyone, including the united states, regarding anything based on mutual respect. i would say this approach of the united states, toward syria or others to make dialogue, is a
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positive thing but we have to wait for the reality. charlie: what is the communication between your government and the u.s.? president assad: there is no dialogue. nothing yet. charlie: would you like to have that? president assad: any dialogue is positive in principle. especially regarding the fighting of terrorism. charlie: what are you prepared to do in terms of negotiations? if part of that is to see a transition government, would you see that? president assad: anything regarding syrian politics should the related to the syrian people. we will not discuss with the americans or anyone about our constitution, our laws.
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we can cooperate about fighting terrorism and putting pressure on countries like saudi arabia and turkey. countries that support terrorists politically. charlie: this cannot and militarily. you agree? president assad: every war every conflict, should end with a political solution. charlie: dormy a roadmap for a political solution. what does it look like? president assad: different levels. regional, international. the most important part in the local, it should have two things. the dialogue between syrians about everything. the political system. other details beyond this. the future of the country. second direct dialogue with the militants as we did to give them amnesty. they give up armament and go
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back to their normal life. charlie: when you say militants who do you mean? president assad: some are terrorists, some were implicated by events for different reasons. whoever carries guns and tries to destroy the public infrastructure or tax people -- attacks people that is a militants. charlie: so much of the power is in your hands to engage in the process. if they demanded you step down before you negotiate, that is on exit the ball to you? president assad: by the militants? charlie: i mean by the united states and parties to the conversation. president assad: no external party has anything to do with the future of syria. we will not discuss it with them.
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whenever the syrian people want to change their president, it should be changed. it must be through political parties and constitutional processes. that is how we change presidents. not through terrorism and external intervention. charlie: some said isis was the best thing that happened to you and some of the things you have done have benefited them? president assad: let's go back to what president obama said in one of his interviews. he said the moderate opposition in syria -- we always said, there is no moderate opposition. the rise of isis was not seven. -- suddden. that amputation, eating the heart of the victims, beheading come of that started from the beginning of the conflict.
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it started with what they call the moderate opposition. what is happening with all of them, they attacked military bases. they killed our soldiers. they destroyed our economy. how could that be the best thing that happened to me? in what logic? to destroy the country? to kill your supporters and others? in what sense could that be the best thing that happened to me or the government? that is he logical -- illogical. charlie: with the new reality of isis, what changes do you see an attitude toward you in staying in the syrian government? president assad: regarding the west? i think the west has changed their regulations after the rise of isis. that didn't mean they change their approach to conflict in
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syria and iraq. i don't they have learned the lesson. the very beginning of the problem, from the western perspective, is to change the system or the president or the government they do not like. they are still moving in the same direction. that is why nothing concrete has changed. their priority is to fight isis but that does not mean their priority is to get writ of isis. charlie: how can you see the u.s. cooperating with syria? president assad: there is no direct cooperation. in the future, there must be direct dialogue to fight terrorism because it is on our ground, in our soil. they cannot defeat it without our cooperation. we know the reality.
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charlie: most people believe there is unofficial cooperation and it goes through iraq. how does that work? american airstrikes, so it can coordinate with what you are doing? president assad: through a third party. it was very clear they were attacking isis not the u.s.. -- not the syrian army. charlie: which third-party? president assad: iraqi officials, russian officials. charlie: what is the level of that information? just about airstrikes? other activities on the ground that are taking place? president assad: no details only the headlines. the principle that they are going to attack isis in syria
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and iraq. cahrlie: -- charlie: when you shut down an american drone, did you know it was american? president assad: it will not tell you it is american. when you have foreign aircraft, you should it. that is military rules. charlie: how much 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. 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.
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and iraq, they are expanding in libya and many other al qaeda affiliate organizations have announced their allegiance to isis. charlie: how much territory do they control in syria? president assad: yeah, it's not regular war. you don't have criteria. it's not an army that makes incursion. 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: 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: they've lost a lot? president assad: they have lost. except the very ideological people who have wahhabi state of mind and ideology.
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charlie: explain to me why people are fleeing to go to refugee camps in jordan and turkey. what their -- are they fleeing from? president assad: those camps
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started being built before there was real conflict in syria. to be used as humanitarian headlines, to be used against syria. a pretext for military intervention. they started giving incentive for people to flee. now, the majority of those fled because of terrorism. i will give you an example. during the presidential elections even in jordan, they voted for the president. that is a concrete indication. charlie: i have interviewed some of them, and they were fearful of the syrian army and repercussions in syria people knew they were being interviewed. president assad: you have different kind of people and for kinds of perceptions. you cannot say everybody fled
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just because of the terrorists. some because of the situation. they want to go to a safer place. they have different reasons for the refugees. 90% of the civilian casualties 90% come from the syrian army. president assad: how did you get that result? charlie: 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
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government is to kill the people. what do we get? charlie: 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. 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: 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: then why doesn't somebody come in and inspect it and see whether it's been used or not?
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you'd be 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. this is not realistic. no army uses bombs that don't aim. the state of the art. the precision missiles have killed more civilians than terrorists. it is not about a on that doesn't aim. it is about the way you use it. charlie: you do use barrel
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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: you have often spoken -- charlie: most people understand what a barrel bomb is. they understand how it is dropped from eight -- a heleicopter. president assad: we have good military in syria. we don't have to make bombs from barrels. this is only used to demonize the syrian army. ppresident assad: if they were used by the syrian army, would you order them to stop? --president assad: again, what is a barrel bomb. terrell -- charlie: it is a bomb that
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inflicts civilian casualties. president assad: every bomb is made to kill. it is not about the bomb. let's talk about casualties. every war is malignant, bad. you don't have the nine wars. that's why wars are bad because you always have casualties. it is not related to a certain kind of bomb or bullet. that is another issue. charlie: are you denying barrel bombs are used inflicting civilian casualties? president assad: as i say, we use bombs. you don't describe what we used by the shape. you don't describe it this way. you use armament. if you have casualties, it is a mistake that could happen in every war. your aim is to kill terrorists, not to to your people.
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charlie: you are acknowledging they come from helicopters. president assad: this is a technical issue. you can throw them from an airplane or missile. you don't have to use helicopters. charlie: if i hear you correctly, you would knowledge they are being used but they are like other bombs and are not necessarily different than any other weapon. president assad: we don't have a bomb called a barrel bomb. the name came through the media or from the media. we don't have it. when you call our bombs, that is related to the media and adopted by the west in order to demonize the syrian army. we don't have something called barrel bombs that kills indiscriminately. you can call it whatever you want. we have regular, traditional armaments. charlie: you have often spoken
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about the danger of a wider war in the middle east. president assad: yeah. charlie: 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 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: and what is their connection to isis? president assad: the same ideology. the same background. charlie: so isis and saudi arabia are one and the same? president assad: the same ideology. charlie: same ideology. president assad: it's wahhabi ideology. their ideology is based on the books of the wahhabi and saudi arabia. charlie: 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
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indoctrinate the people. charlie: what about turkey? president assad: turkey let's say it's about erdogan. his muslim brotherhood fanatics. it doesn't mean that he is a member. but he's a fanatic. charlie: president erdogan is -- president assad: is a muslim brotherhood fanatic. and he's somebody who's suffering from political megalomania. and he thinks that he is becoming the sultan of the new era of the 21st century. charlie: 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 supports them, logistically and militarily. directly. on a daily basis. and if you take the example of the city where the kurds were fighting isis and the military campaign started, it took them four months to liberate that small city.
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not only because the airstrikes happened but because of the direct support of turks for isis. charlie: they were supporting them directly? president assad: directly. charlie: you were quoted as saying the syrian army could have a limited them in three weeks? president assad: they were liberated in a few weeks without using airstrikes. cahrlie: -- charlie: why did you spend more time attacking aleppo? president assad: we were getting ready of terrorists. -- rid of terrorists. there are no moderates and aleppo. charlie: the definition of a terrorist is what? president assad: whenever you
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hold a gun and destroy public buildings and private property. charlie: anybody who opposes your government in syria? president assad: the word opposition is political opposition. do you have military opposition? would you excepted? you would not. nobody except military opposition. charlie: it is one thing to say there is military opposition. it is another thing to call them terrorism. president assad: military opposition is terrorism. whenever you hold a gun and try to kill, that is terrorism. it is not my definition. whenever you want to make opposition, it is going to be political opposition. like your country. you have the same criteria. we do not have different criteria. charlie: if there is a negotiation, would you accept as part of your negotiation, to
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share power, whether they are moderates or terrorist, if they lay down their arms and say, we want to be part of a future transition government in syria? president assad: whenever they lay down their arms, they are not terrorists anymore. charlie: isis? president assad: isis will not. this is, how do you say, virtual? they want to fight and be killed and go to paradise. they will not negotiate. we cannot answer something which is virtual, not realistic. many of the militants lay down their arms and they are working with the government now. that is reality. it is happening and part of reconciliation. people are interested in politics. some are interested only going
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back to their normal life. not being part of politics. of course we are open. whenever there is political opposition, we are open to deal with it. charlie: secretary kerry has called you a brutal dictator. does that bother you? president assad: you want the rest of the world to know the reality. this kind of description to hear it from an official, would not be important unless the syrians citizens said this word. because the syrian people still support you, it is impossible to be a dictator killing your people and have the support of the people. charlie: he said there was a point several years ago in which you were in a difficult lace. so -- place. some people thought the government would fall, even
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suggestions you were planning to leave. and then the iranians and has bullock came in and the tide to turn -- and hezbollah came in and the tight begin to turn. if that is true, it means the syrian people were not supporting you. before foreign forces came, you are losing. president assad: iranian forces never came. cahrlieharlie: he is always here. president assad: he is in the same place -- you have cooperation. that is different than sending troops. sending troops is different than having cooperation. charlie: it doesn't matter whether they -- where they came
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from, if you are under their command. you are giving direction to has bullock. -- hezbollah. president assad: your question implies iranians are fighting in syria. we have the right to bring them to fight with us. at the same time, we did not deny hezbollah -- charlie: why, when the so-called arab spring came were you about to lose power? until outside forces came in? president assad: if you have the arab spring today, nobody can help you. it is a different situation you
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mentioned earlier. between the beginning of the crisis and stay. -- today. we are getting more support from the syrian people. they discovered the truth. we have support even from many people in the opposition against terrorism. the situation has changed. not iran or hezbollah. the syrian population has changed. hezbollah is not a big army. it cannot play that role all over syria. charlie: big game on the ground it not change until they came. president assad: that is not true. charlie: you did not need them? president assad: they play an important part. you talk about 23 million in syria. you have arab spring, a few thousand fighters from has below will not change the -- from
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hezbollah will not change the balance. ♪
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w. charlie: even though secretary
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kerry has suggested you are part of the problem or solution they don't want you in power. president assad: they did not try to do negotiations or dialogues of they do not know what we want. charlie: that is why i am here. tell me what you want. president assad: tell we want whatever the syrian people one. . -- want. we want dialogue. sharing. sharing of power. by any political entity that represents syrian people. not one forced by the u.s., cia, or friends. by paycheck -- or france. by patriotic people that
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represent the syrians. charlie: what do you mean by sharing power? president assad: they can share in the parliamentary and local administration. everything. be part of the decision of the government like any country. charlie: you and your father have held power in syria for how many years? become a nation of you and your father? president assad: a calculation of years? or public support? his doesn't matter. charlie: it doesn't matter. president assad: we don't say, george w. bush is the son of george bush. it is different. he's president, i'm president, he has support from that generation, i have support from this generation now. doesn't matter how many. it's not the family rule, as you want to imply. charlie: it's not? president assad: no.
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it has nothing to do with me being president. i was just in the army. i was not a high-ranking official. charlie: the conventional wisdom is your older brother wanted you to come back. he wanted you to be able to assume power when he left. president assad: the melody is the opposite. he wanted me to go to london and i refused. charlie: he wanted -- didn't want you to? president assad: he didn't want me to be in politics. charlie: then why did you? president assad: we live in a political family. charlie: because he was a significant political figure in the middle east would he have done things differently?
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president assad: that is a virtual question. nobody knows. charlie: do you think he would agree with what you did? president assad: he would not allow the terrorists to come over or submit to external intervention. he would have defended his country. the same thing happened in the same -- in the 1970's and early 80's. the muslim brotherhood started assassinating and killing. that was his mission as a president. he fought them to read that is what he had to do. to relieve the terrorist killing of people. charlie: is it a fair appraisal of what you believe that everything must be done, and the and justifies the means, to stop terrorism -- ends justify
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the means, to stop terrorism? president assad: no, it is not the end justifies the means. you have principles. you you have to defend your country. for your interests, you have to get writ of terrorism. that is how we think. not only nokia million way. -- the macchia villean weight. charlie: talk about what the russians want. president assad: definitely they want to have balance in the world. it's not only about syria. and small country. it's not about having a huge interest in syria, they could have it anywhere else. so, it's about the future of the world. they want to be a great power that has their own say in the future of this world. charlie: and what do they want for syria? president assad: stability.
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stability, and political solution. charlie: and what does iran want? president assad: the same. the same. syria, and iran, and russia, see eye-to-eye regarding these conflicts. charlie: and what is your obligation to both of them? president assad: what do you mean obligation? charlie: what is your -- what do you owe them? president assad: yeah, i know. but, they didn't ask me for anything. nothing at all. that's why what i said -- they don't do that for syria. they do it for the region, and for the world. because stability is very important for them. if you have conflict here, it will burn somebody else there. it sees no political borders. when you have ideology, it crosses everywhere. it could reach russia or anywhere else. they have the same interest as
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russia and iran, countries that support syria. it is not because they support the president or government. they want stability in the region. cahrlie: let me present an alternative argument. they support you because they have a long-standing relationship. they support you because they want access to lebanon. they support you because it is part of a larger conflict between sunni and shia. president assad: this is the most detrimental thing that could happen to iran. charlie: that is the most detrimental thing. president assad: anything related to sunni and shia conflict. they want to have
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reconciliation. unification between muslims because that is good for iran. they don't look at the issue of syria as part. they know saudi arabia, they want to instigate the conflict to bring more muslims to their side. charlie: there are people who look at the middle east beyond israel and say, within the islamic world, it is about a conflict between saudi arabia and iran. they are mortal enemies fighting for influence in the middle east. president assad: it looks like if iran wants to attack, it x-rays started with saudi arabia after the iranian revolution. and never started from iran. they never interfered in any other nations internal affairs.
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including syria. we had good relations with them. saudi propaganda. the issue of the sunni shia conflict is saudi propaganda. it is a reality that because of the saudis. charlie: in syria -- president assad: that is what's saudi arabia and isis and on nusra -- al nusra want to promote. his charlie: what talking about the region you the rise of isis here. and affiliated groups in iraq. when you look at iraq, the iranians are supporting shia melissa there -- militia there. the u.s. is engaged in airstrikes. they just had an airstrike yesterday in tikrit.
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which iranian militias helped capture. president assad: not everything is correct. it is not only shia militia. others joined. charlie: what is the possibility of iranian american cooperation? president assad: i don't think anyone trusts or believes the americans really want to fight this kind of terrorism. if you look at the airstrikes, the 60 countryies launch fewer airstrikes than the syrian army on a daily basis. they are not serious. they only attacked the northern part of iraq. not the rest of iraq. why do they join us?
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they want part of the cake to say they helped defeat isis? where were they during the last two months? 'suddenl they want to attacky. charlie: what do you think iraq once? president assad: to get writ of the terrorist. charlie: how long will it take? president assad: nobody knows. how long that support will continue, we cannot tell. when you look at the future, and you look at the battle ahead how much of the conflict here today can the syrian government withstand? the syrian country -- civilian loss. will there be anything left in syria?
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president assad: of course. syria is still here. it is that the first crisis we have faced. president assad: is about the syrian population. they are determined to survive and protect their country and rebuild it. the syrian people proved -- we don't have any other options. what other options do we have? pay a price. but to -- human only options we have are to defend our country and fight terrorism. charlie: i asked the question because many wonder what the cost is for syria. how will you put the pieces back together?
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how will he put the pieces back together when there is an end to this and who will do it? president assad: there is a misconception in the west that what is happening is a civil war. what is happening in syria is not civil war. when you have some war, -- civil war, you would have clear lines separated between different cities. that is not what we have. we have terrorist infiltrated areas and people are suffering from the fight. and from the terrorism of the terrorists. you don't have division in the society. you don't have the sectarian issue. you would be surprised if i told you the sectarian situation is better than it was before the crisis. people are more unified now. regarding the conflict, the unity of the state. so on. we cannot talk about how can you
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rebuild the society? the society suffering from the humanitarian aspect of the problem. it is not divided anymore. that is why even this conflict, as you say, every cloud must have a silver lining. the population is more unified now. you don't have problems as long as the society is unified. regardless of some dark part of society ideological corners in our society that support what hobbies -- wahabis and isis. that is not the general situation in our society. charlie: what you think people in the west question your legitimacy? president assad: i don't care
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about it, to be frank. as long as i have the support of the syrian people. my legitimacy comes from inside. but why, i will tie you why. because you want to have puppets. they demonize putin because he can say no, and he wants to be independent. because the west, and especially the united states, don't accept partners. they only accept followers. even europe is not partner of the united states. that's to be very frank with you. so, this is their problem with syria. they need somebody to keep saying yes. yes. a puppet. marionette. and so on. charlie: some have argued to me the majority of syrian support neither the government nor isis? president assad: this is like saying isis is like the government. even people who oppose isis up
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-- oppose the government, oppose isis. charlie: the question is, how do you bring the two together? what are you prepared to do? how to get those people, like the russians and iranians and americans -- president assad: they cannot put the government and isis on the same level. not to support the government doesn't mean to support isis. it is opposition, you have a point of view. but it is not time for division. charlie: can you destroy isis without coming together with the u.s. s with a united plan question mark -- coming together with united plan? president assad: you cannot
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destroy isis unless you are unified as a society. isis is not just an syria. it is not enough to be unified on a local level. it is a regional and international problem. that is why defeating terrorism will be difficult. charlie: that is the question. you do not have it yet. how do you get it? that is the future. president assad: you are talking about more than one party. international parties. the united states. the local party. we would like to see this cohesion in fighting terrorism. but how can we convince them? we tried, maybe not directly because we do not have direct channels. if they could see the reality and the future in clearer views,
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they would see it differently. they would make country with -- i with every country including syria. we don't need their support internally. it is about fighting terrorism. you need to make dialogue. you cannot kill and defeat them from the air. charlie: it is true in iraq or here. president assad: anywhere. charlie: do you want to see another conference like the geneva conference? that is it? what might happen there? president assad: that depends on different parties. i cannot talk on the part of every party. you should have principles like the unification of syria. denouncing terrorism. something like this. charlie: sharing power? president assad: that is based on the constitution, how much
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grassroots you have. how many syrians you represent. you don't share power just because you want to share our -- power. charlie: you have to be forced to share power. president assad: exactly. maybe if we reach a conclusion reach an agreement, it could be a preparation for going to geneva. it is too soon to tell. charlie: i came here after secretary kerry made his remarks. my impression after i got here is, once you heard the remarks you were optimistic. the state department said they still think they need a new government. but you were optimistic after you heard that. you believed there was a way for your government and the american government to cooperate. in coordinating -- and coordinate. president assad: is that the
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main point regarding that statement. the main point, we could have the feeling that the american administration started to abandon this policy of isolation. which is very harmful to them and us. if you isolate yourself from being influential and effective unless you are talking about negative influence launching war our impression is we are optimistic, more optimistic. it doesn't matter what kind of dialogue with the content of the dialogue. the real intention. the word dialogue is something we haven't heard from the united states on the global level for a long time. charlie: but you just did, from the secretary of state. we need to negotiate. president assad: exactly, that's
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-- charlie: that's a dialogue. president assad: that's what i said. i mean, that's why i said it's positive. that's what i said, we are more optimistic. i mean, when they abandoned this policy of isolation, things should be better. i mean, when you start the dialogue things will be better. charlie: why don't you reach out to secretary kerry and say "let's talk.” president assad: are they ready to talk? charlie: let's talk. president assad: we are always open. we never close our doors. they should be ready for the talk, they should be ready for the negotiation. we didn't make an embargo on the united states. we didn't attack the american population. we didn't support terrorists who did anything in united states. actually, the united states did. we were always -- we always wanted to have good relation with the united states. we never thought in the other direction. it's a great power. nobody -- not a wise person think of having bad relation with united states. charlie: yeah, but can you have good relationship with a country that thinks you shouldn't be in power? president assad: no, that's not going to be part of the dialogue that i mentioned earlier. this is not their business. we have syrian citizens, who can decide this.
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no one else. whether they want to talk about it or not. this is not something we're going to discuss with anyone. charlie: mr. president, thank you. president assad: thank you. ♪
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john: i'm john heilemann. mark: i'm mark halperin. "with all due respect" to hillary clinton, when you're choosing between baskets and containers, bill bradley will tell you always go with the baskets. john: right. ♪ mark: on the show tonight, the tablet, the barrel and the dollar bill. first, governor mike pence of indiana is struggling to make his religious freedom law not to look like an anti-gay law. he has gotten hot tamale criticism from ceos and others. it is enough to make someone go through reflection leading up to a news conference earlier today. gov. p

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