tv Charlie Rose PBS March 31, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT
>> rose: welcome to the program. last week i went to damascus syria reporting for cbs new's of 0-- "60 minutes" for a conversation with bashar al-assad the president of syria. >> military opposition is te a opinion gun and try to destroy and kill in the streets, this is terrorism by every definition in the world. >> rose: the president of syria for the hour next. funding for charlie rose is provided by the following: >> rose: funding for "charlie rose" has been provided by: >> rose: additional funding provided by: >> and by bloomberg, a provider of multimedia news and information services worldwide.
captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: the syrian civil war has been going on now for four years. in march of 2011 pro tests against president bashar al-assad's rule were metway violent response from his regime. the conflict has since become one of the deadliest in the region. more than 200,000 syrians have been killed and 11 million lost their homes. jordan lebanon and turkey have almost four million refugees in their countries. the conflict also lead to the rise of isis which established its de facto capital in northern syria. almost half of the country is now in the hands of isis or other groups fighting the regime. the war has also become a proxy battlefield for regional ackers. earlier this month secretary of state john kerry suggested what many others have suggested that there has to be a political
solution and he included negotiations with syria. i spoke to bash orr al-assad last week for cbs "60 minutes" which aired an edited version of the interview on sunday. here is the full conversation. >> mr. president, thank you for allowing us to come here. we ask for this interview because your country has been at war for four years. it is a humanitarian crisis perhaps the worst on the planet right now. 200,000 syrians have died. four million refugees. millions have left their homes life expectancy is down. 50% of your country is occupied by hostile forces. it's become a battleground for outside forces. what is next? because we have seen since our i last visited you the rise of isis. we have seen hezbollah in here. we have seen the united states become increasingly concerned about isis so
much so that the president and especiallied secretary of state have said there is a need for a negotiated settlement. >> the beginning of your question exaggerating the numbers a little bit. but we always invite the media and the officials to deal with those numbers. bereaved families without lost their dear ones it's a tragedy that has been going through every syrian family lost someone lost their livelihood and so on. whether it's a few thousand or hundreds of thousands it's a tragedy. what's next? actually every conflict should end up with dialogue with political solution between the different parties. an that's what we have been doing in syria during the last few years. dealing directly with the militants and we've succeeded in making some
reconciliations. regarding the rise of isis the context of events in syria during the last four years isis didn't rise suddenly. it's not-- it's impossible for such bigger than what we call organization and smaller than a state to -- without support from the outside and without being prepared gradually or incrementally for a long time before the sudden rise during last summer. so the rise of isis is not precise word because it didn't happen suddenly. it was a result of events that happened at the beginsing of the conflict that we mentioned in our-- pain times but no one in the west had listened to. i want to mention the statement of regarding the
dialogue. i would say what we have in syria so far is only a statement. fog con treat-- concrete no fact no new reality regarding the political approach or the united states toward our situation, our problem our conflict in-- conflict in syria. but aspirins pal, in syria we could say that every dialogue is a positive thing. an we're going to be open to any dialogue with anyone including the united states regarding anything based on mutual respect. without preaching the solvency of syria and in principles, i would say that this approach new approach of the united states to not only syria with anyone regarding dialogue is a positive thing but we have to wait for the reality. >> rose: what kind of communication is there between your government and the american government? >> there's no direct communication. >> rose: none at all. >> nothing yet. >> rose: nothing yet. >> nothing yet. till this moment no.
>> rose: would you like to have that happen? >> any dialogue is positive as i said in principles, of course. without breaching the sovereignty of syria especially regarding the fighting of terrorism. the way we defeat terrorism is a very important issue for us at this moment. >> rose: what are you prepared it do in terms of negotiation if part of that is to see a transition government of which you would give up power would you be willing to do that? >> anything regarding-- the syria's internal politics should be related to the syrian people not to anyone else. we're to the going to discuss with the americans or with anyone what are we going to do regarding our political system our constitution or our laws or our procedures. we can cooperate with them regarding fighting the terrorism and making pressure on different countries like turkey and saudi arabia and qatar on and some areas of europe that support the terrorists politically financially and
militarily. >> rose: this cannot end militarily, do you agree with that? >> yeah definitely. every conflict, even if it's a war should end with a political solution. >> rose: but then draw me a road map that you have for a political solution. >> yeah. >> rose: what does it look like? >> you have different levels. you have the internal levels regional, you have international. and you have different means at the same time. the most important part is the local the local part should have two things. a dialogue between the syrians about everything the political system and any other details that could be beyond it. about the future of the country, of course. second make direct dialogue with the militants as we did during the last two years in order to give them amnesty and give us their armaments and go back to their normal life. >> rose: when you say militants, without dow mean? >> some of them are terrorists. some of them are people who were implicated by the events for different reasons. so whoever carry guns and
try to destroy the public infrastructure or attack people or kill any or breach the law in syria that's the militants. >> rose: but so much of the power is in your hands. to engage in the process. i mean if they demand that you step down before they negotiate that is unacceptable to you. >> by the militants you mean? >> no i mean by the united states and russia around parties to the conversation. >> rose: no external party has anything to do with the future of syria with the constitution or president or anything like that. we're to the going to discuss it with them. when ever the syrian people want to change their president, it should be changed by-- in the same day. of course it must be true political parties through constitutional process. that's how we change presidents. not through terrorism and
external intervention. >> some say that isis was the best thing that happened to you. and that even some of the things that you have done have benefitted isis. >> let's go back to what president obama said in one of his interviews recently. when he said that the moderate opposition in syria is elusive. that's very clear by president obama. and we always said there's no moderate opposition. so the rise of isis wasn't sudden, again. the evisceration the amptation, the eating the heart of the victims started from the very beginning and even beheading statted from the very beginning of the conflict. it started what they called pod rate opposition. that means it continued through el nusra then with isis, so what happened with those three, including isis they attack military basis-- bases. they kill our soldiers and destroy our economy. how could, according to this logic how could that be the
best thing happened to me? in what logic. to lose? to destroy the country? to kill your supporters, and to kill others and to kill civilians, in what sense could that be the best thing that happened to me and to the government? that's illogical. that's unpolitical. >> how now would the new reality of isis what new changes do you see in attitude towards you and staying and the syrian government? >> regarding the west. >> yes. >> i think the west has changed its calculations after the rise of isis. but that doesn't mean they changed their approach to the conflict in syria and in iraq and in our region. i don't think they have learned the lison-- lesson well. and as a result that will not change the course of the events. because the very beginning of the problem from the western perspective is to
change the system or the president or the government that they don't like and they're still moving in the same direction. that's why nothing concrete has changed it. only the experience and the priorities. their priority is to fight isis, but that doesn't mean their priority is to get rid of isis. >> rose: how can you see the united states cooperate with syria regarding isis? >> there's no direct cooperation. >> rose: but how do you see the future. >> oh the future. in the future there must be direct dialogue in order to fight terrorism because the terrorism is on our ground on our soil. they can to the defeat it without our cooperation. without having our information. because we live with this. and we know the reality. >> rose: most people believe there's cooperation unofficially and it goes through iraq. >> from another third party not only iraq more than one country. >> rose: how does that work? >> about an american air strikes and so that it can
coordinate with what you are doing. >> through third party. and it was very clear that the aim is to attack isis not the syrian army. and that is what happened before. >> rose: a third party meaning iraq and who else. >> iraq another country russian officials. >> rose: iraqi officials. >> iraqi officials. >> rose: communicate to you the american intension. >> exactly. and. >> rose: what is the level of that information? is it just about air strikes? is it about other activities on the ground that are taking place? >> no details. only the headlines and the principleses that they're going to attack. isis syria and iraq-- nothing else. >> when you shot down an american drone did you know it was an american drone? >> no because any drone any airplane any-- were
not-- american so whenever you have foreign aircraft you only shoot it. this is the military rules. >> rose: how much of a benefit are you getting from american air strikes in syria reducing the power of isis? >> sometimes you could have local benefit but in general in terms of isis actually isis has expanded since the beginning of the strikes. not like some american wants to sugarcoat the situation to say that it is getting better. ice i -- isis has been defeated, actually no. you have more recruits. some estimate that you have $-- 1,000 recruits every month in syria. and iraq, they are expanding in libya an many other al qaeda affiliate organizations have announced their allegiance to isis. >> rose: how much territory do they control in syria? >> yeah it's not regular war.
you cannot you don't have criteria. it's not an army that made incursion. they go to-- they try to create any area when they there is no army. and when you have in-- the question is how much incubator, how much heart and mind they won so far. >> rose: how do you measure that. >> you cannot measure but you can tell that the majority of the people who have 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-- i think they lost a lot of hearts and minds. >> rose: they have lost a lot. >> they've lost-- except the very ideology of people who have wahhabi state of mind and ideology. >> rose: explain to me why people are fleeing to go to refugee camps in jordan and turkey? what are they pleaing from-- fleeing from? >> actually those-- . >> rose: the syrian army? >> no those camps started
being built before having any real conflict in syria. they were extremely educated. >> rose: over $3 million people. >> the humanitarian headline to-- against syria to be the pretext for military intervention, that's how it started. then later they started giving incentive to people to fit them. now the majority of those they say because of the terrorism. i will give example during the presidential elections most of the refugees in lebanon, for example and even in jordan they voted for the president up against the president. that's in concrete indication, i can to the ignore it. >> i have interviewed some of them in the jordanian refugee camps and they were fearful of the army and fearful of repercussions in syria if people knew they were being interviewed. >> that could happen. of course you have different kind of people. you have different perceptions. you have that. we don't say that everybody
fled just because of the terrorists. some people they fled just because of the situation. not from the syrian army nor from the terrorists. they want to go to safer place. so they have different reasons for the refugees. >> 90% of the civilian casualties 90% come from the syrian army. >> how did you get that result? >> there was a report that was issued in the last six months. >> okay as i said earlier the war is to the about it's not traditional war. its a's not about capturing land and gaining land. it's about winning the hearts and minds of the syrian. we cannot win the hearts and minds of the syrians while we are killing civilians. 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 to create powers regional power against me and by people 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 government is to kill the people. what do we get? >> rose: the weapons of car that have been used that most people look down on with grace one is chlorine gas. they believe it 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 helicopter. the only people who use helicopters is the syrian army. >> very important. this is part of the malicious propaganda against syria. first of all chlorine gas is not military grade. >> rose: but it can be weaponized. >> no, because it's not very effective. it's not used as military gas. there is evidence. traditional is more important than color already even. fanned it was very effective the terrorists would have used it on a larger scale. because it's not effective it's not-- . >> rose: why not let somebody come in and inspect
it and see whether it's been used or not. >> we want-- . >> rose: you would be happy for that. >> of course. we always ask the delegation to come in and investigate. but i mean logically and realistically t cannot be used as a military this is part of the prop gandar because as you know in the media when it bleeds it pleased. and they always look for something that bleeds. which is the chlorine gas. this is very important. the barrel bomb what say barrel bomb. they say barrel bomb is a bomb that kills people indiscriminately. this is not realistic for one reason because no army uses bombs that doesn't aim. you don't talk about the shape of a bomb to call it barrel bomb sill end rickal or whatever. the state of the art american drones stand up-- with the state of the art precision missiles has killed more civilians and innocent than killing terrorism so it's to the about this bomb that doesn't aim that kills indiscriminately. it's about the way you use it.
>> rose: but you are acknowledging that you do use it. you do use barrel bombs. you are saying that reasons with there is no such thing called barrel bomb. you have bomb. and any bomb is about killing. >> rose: most people understand what i a barrel bomb is. they understand how it's put together what is inside of the barrel and they understand how it's dropped from helicopters. >> we have very good military industry for years. we don't have to make bombs very primitive ones very malicious ones. this bomb, this term was used only to demonize the syrian army that's it it's part of the propaganda. >> rose: if barrel bombs were used by the syrian army would you order the syrian army to stop using barrel bombs. >> again what is erm it what is a barrel bomb? i mean you describe the missile that you have-- . >> rose: a bomb that inflicts terrible civilian casualties. >> any bomb is made and even bullet is made to make casualtiesment but not civilian. there is no military means
was made in order not to kill. but how you use it is again about how the way you use it. it's not about the bombs. you want to talk about casualties that's not the issue. every war every war is malignant. every war is bad. you don't have benign wars that is why wars are bad. because you always have casualties. but that's not related to a certain kind of bombs or bullets or whatever. this is another completely another issue. >> rose: so are you denying that there's barrel bombs being used and inflicting great casualties. >> as i always say-- . >> rose: . >> we use bombs we use missiles. we use bullets. you don't describe what we use by the shape whether it's called barrel you don't describe it this way. you use armament. if you have casualties it's a mistake that could happen in every war. but your aim is always to kilter rests not to kill your people because you have support by your people. >> rose: but are you
acknowledging that they come from helicopters barrel bombs. >> this is technical. >> but only one-- only one-- you can throw bombs by any airplane, you can throw them by missiles. you don't have to use helicopters. you can use them the way you want. >> if i hear you correctly is that you acknowledge that barrel bombs are being used but they're like other bombs in your judgement. and they're not necessarily any different than other weapons, that is what we seem to be saying. >> we don't have a bomb that is called barrel bombs. this name came through the media or from the media. >> rose: . >> we don't have it. >> what do you call it what you call our bombs that's related to the media. that is used by the militants adopted by the west in order to demonize the syrian army. we don't have something called barrel bombs that kill indiscriminately. if you have a strong bomb or weak bomb or good bomb whatever, you can call it whatever you want. we have regular bombs. traditional or-- that is what we have.
>> you have often spoken about the danger of a wider war in the middle east. >> yeah. >> can you talk about the parties involved. and characterize how you see them. and begin with saudi arabia. >> saudi arabia is an-- meddive el system based on the wahhabi dark ideology. it is a marriage between the what habit -- wahhabi an political system for 200 years,. >> what is their connection to isis. >> same ideology same background. >> rose: so isis and saudi arabia are one and the same. >> same ideology. >> they basically their ideology is based on the ideology of wahhabi and saudi arabia. >> so you believe all wahhabi have the same ideology as isis. >> definitely by al-nusra it is not something we discover or we try to promote.
they use the same books to indoctrine ate the people. >> rose: how about turkey. >> turkey let's say is muslim brotherhood fanatics. doesn't mean that he's a member but he's a fanatic. >> rose: president erdogan. >> muslim brotherhood fanatic. and he's somebody who is suffering from political megalomania and thinks he is becoming the sultan of the newera of the 21st century. >> rose: you think he could stop the border if he wanted to? >> yeah, of course definitely. he doesn't only ignore the terrorists from coming to syria he supports them logistically and militarily directly. on daily basis. and if you take the example of kobani the city where the kurds were fighting isis and where the campaign started the military campaign, the american military campaign started there, it took them four months to liberate that
small city not only because the air strikes were coming but because of the direct support of the turks to isis. >> rose: they were supporting them directly? >> directly. directly. >> rose: you are saying the syrian army could have eliminated isis and qobani in three weeks. >> actually similar cities with the same scale and size were liberated in a few weeks, yeah without even using the air strikes. >> rose: why you have spent more time attacking aleppo than raka. >> we didn't attack aleppo. we tried to get rid of the terrorists everywhere. but-- . >> rose: were the terrorists in a legalo or were they moderates. >> in aleppo, no we don't have any moderate militants in syria. >> rose: no moderate militants. >> no moderates. again, go back-- . >> rose: everybody, so the definition of a terrorist is what? >> whenever you hold a gun and kill people and destroy
public buildings destroy private properties that is terrorism. >> rose: so anyone who opposed your government in syria -- >> the word opposition everywhere in the world including your country say political opposition. do you have military opposition of in the united states. would you accept it. no one accepts military opposition. >> rose: it's one thing to say there is military opposition. it's another thing to call them terrorists. >> military opposition is terrorists, whenever you hold a gun a machine gun and try to destroy and kill in the streets this is terrorism by every definition in the world. it's not my definition. whenever you want to make opposition it's going to be political opposition. like your country. you have the same criteria. we don't have different criteria than the ones that you have in the unites states or in europe or anywhere else. >> rose: if there is a negotiation would you accept as part of the negotiation and share power
in syria with anyone who is in opposition to you now whether they are moderates whether they are a terrorist but if, in fact they lay down their arms and say we want to be part of a future government a transition government in syria. >> whenever they lay down their arms they're not terrorists any more. >> isis? >> isis is not. i mean this is how do he with say virtual. for isis to lay down their arms their ideology if they want to fight and to be killed and to go to heaven, to go to paradise that is how we look at it. they want negotiations, so we don't have to answer something which is virtual not realistic. the realistic one that many of the militants lay down their arms, they are working with the government now this is reality. i'm not talking about what is going to happen in the future. that's happening and that's part of the reconciliation. some people are interested in politics. they can take that track. and some people are
interested only in going back to their normal life. not being part of the politics. of course we are-- whenever there's political opposition we are fully opened to deal with that. >> rose: secretary kerry has called you a brutal dictator. does that bother you? is that an accurate description of you? >> you wanted the rest of the world to know the reelts. of course you won't be happy to hear-- this kind of description to officials wouldn't be really important unless the syrians-- to the syrian people who still support you it's impossible to be dictator killing your people and have the support of the people. >> rose: it is said that there was a time several years ago in which you were in a very difficult place. and some people thought the government might fall even suggestions that you were planning to leave.
and then the iranians came in and hezbollah came in. and the tide began to turn is that a fair appraisal of the circumstances? >> because if it's true it means that the syrian people were not supporting you because before for enforces came in you were about to lose. >> for-- never came during the conflict. >> rose: general -- >> no, no. >> rose: the general was here in damascus. >> he's always here like you say no we have-- . >> rose: he was here for the same reason he is in iraq right now. >> yeah yeah. >> rose: he is size-- he is advising hezbollah and -- >> you have cooperation in america with different countries that is different from sending troops. is that correct? different. sending troops is different from having cooperation. >> rose: but you're able to-- it doesn't matter where they came from if they are
under your command so to speak. if you are giving direction to hezbollah but the central point i want to -- >> what you mentioned your question implies that iranians are fighting syria. that is definitely not correct. if they come here we would if he. we don't have problem. we have the right to bring our-- fight with us. at the same time we know that hezbollah is in syria. we didn't deny this. why to deny iran-- . >> rose: if the syrian people supported you why when the so-called arab spring came were you almost about about to lose power until outside forces came in. >> the evidence of syria people were not supporting you if you were facing that kind of -- >> if you have arab spring today neither iran nor russia, not even hezbollah can help you the different
situation that you mentioned earlier between the beginning of the is crisis and today that we are gaining more support by the syrian people because they discover the truth, at the very beginning many people weren't. now that is very clear. and we have support even from many people in the opposition against the terrorism so the main factor why the situation has changed, not iran or hezbollah if the syrian incute irir-- in-- that is what is different. hezbollah is not a big army. it cannot lay that all over syria. >> the game on the ground didn't change until they came here. >> so you didn't meet them. >> no, we needed them, of course. we need them. they play important part. that is what has changed. when you talk about 23 million in syria when you have arab spring let's take -- what has changedded
balance is the incubator that move toward the government. this is what has happened. >> even though secretary kerre has suggested you are part of the problem or part of the solution and they want you to be part of the solution, they don't want you in power. >> first of all they didn't try to make the negotiations with us so they don't know what they want. >> that's why i'm here. that's why i'm here. to have you tell me what you want. >> okay. >> rose: that's why i'm here. tell me what you want. >> what we want is whatever the syrian people want. as i say as a president. >> but they are hearing people supporting you. you know what they want. >> yeah. >> so what do you want? >> now we want in circumstances, first of all dialogue. second sharing. sharing of power. right, any political entity that represents syrian people not political entities being forced in the united states cia or in france. by patriotic syrian
opposition, that represents the syrians. and we have it. we have -- >> what dow mean by sharing power. >> i mean if you want to go back to constitutional procedures they should go to elections they can share in the parliament and the local administration in the government and everything. and to be part of the decision in the government like any country. >> you and your father have held power in syria for how many years? the combination of you and your father how many years? >> in a calculation of years or public support. >> years. >> it doesn't matter how many years. >> it does matter. >> what matters for us do the syrians support these two presidents. it doesn't mat ferr they are father and son. we don't say george w. bush is the son of gorge bush. it's different. he's president i'm president. he has support from that generation. i have support from this
generation. that's the question. it doesn't matter how many it's not a family rule. >> it's not? >> no, no it's not it's not family rule it has nothing to do with me being president, when he died i was nothing. i was just-- i wasn't official. i was wasn't a high ranking officer. >> but the conventional wisdom is that after your older brother died your father wanted you to come back because he wanted you to be able to assume power when he left. >> actually the reality is the opposite. he wanted me to stay to go back and i refused. that's the reality. >> he didn't want to you come back. >> no never he didn't want me to become part of the policy. >> why did you become political. >> we live in a political family. the army the army during the history in syria has made the history and reelted in this country. >> because he was such a
significant political figure in the middle east would he have done things differently sm. >> i cannot answer on his behalf. that is a virtual question nobody knows. >> do you think he would agree with what you have done? >> i definitely he wouldn't allow the terrorists to take over. he wouldn't submit to external intervention. >> rose: and isis is external. >> we have defended his country like he did during-- the same happened on a smaller scale in the '80s, late '70s early 80s when the muslim brotherhood start add sass naturing and killing and destroying and burning. and he fought them. but his mission as a president, that's what you had to do to relieve terrorists killing of people that's your mission. >> rose: is it a fair appraisal of what you believe that that everything must be done and the ends
justify the means to stop terrorism in syria as you define it? >> no it's not ends justify the means. this is machiavellian principles. you should have values and principleses. you have constitutions and you have interests. so according to your values you have to defend your people the syrian citizens, you have to defend your country. for your interests you have to get rid of terrorists. so that's how we think. not only -- >> tell us what the russians want. >> sorry. >> the strong allies of you. >> yeah. >> what do they want? >> definitely they want to have balance in the world. it's not only about syria. and small countries. it's to the about having a huge interest in syria that could have it anywhere else. so it's about the future of
the world they want to be great power that have their own state in the future of this world. >> what do they want for syria. >> they want stability and political solutions. >> and what does iran want? >> the same. the same. syria and iran and russia see eye-to-eye regarding this conflict. >> and what is your obligation to both of them. >> what dow mean obligation. >> what is your-- what dow owe them. >> yeah, i know. they didn't ask for anything. nothing at all. >> that's 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. if you want to talk about terrorism, terrorism has no boundaries. they see, it sees no borders no political borders. it's much more difficult to take any procedure to face it than do it-- do it toward the internet which is different control. when you have ideology it
could reach russia it could reach turkey anywhere else. they have the same interest. russia an iran an many other countries who support syria not because they support the president, not because they support the government because they want to have them-- established in the region. >> let me present an alternative argument. >> yeah. >> which the united states may very well believe. that they support you because they have had a long-standing relationship. they support you because they want access to lebanon. they support you because it is part of the larger conflict between sunni and shi'a. >> financial. >> the iran want-- iranian looks at the shi'a sunni issue or conflict is that this is the most detrimental thing that could happen to iraq. because it is the most detrimental-- to iran. >> rose: to iran. this conflict is the most debt ri mmental thing. >> anything rehe-- related
to sunni shi'a conflict is detrimental to i ran. that is their point of view and that is how we see it. we a prewith that. actually they are going the other way. they want always to have reconciliation unification between the muslim because that is very good for iran. they don't want-- they don't look at the issue in syria as past. they know that the-- they wanted wahhabi wanted to instigate this conflict in order to bring more of the muslim -- >> as you know there are many people who look at the middle east today beyond israel and say within the islamic world it is all about conflict between saudi arabia and iran. those two are mortal enemies fighting for influence in the middle east. >> that's not reseis. base it is like if iran wants to attack the sunnies and-- wants to attack the shi'a it actually started with saudi arabia after the
revolution in iran. it didn't start from iran. iran never interfered in any other nation's internal issues including syria. we have a good relation with them. they never decide to interfere. actually saudi propaganda and in the whole issue of sunni and shi'a conflict is saudi initiative and propaganda. it's reality but because of the saudi not because of -- >> in syria they are on option sides. >> they try -- >> saudi arabia and -- >> that's what saudi arabia wants to promote and that's what isis wants to promote and that's what al-nusra wants to promote in their political discourse they issue the sectarian issue. >> and they're talking about how you see here the region and what is happening now. one is the rise of isis here in syria the rise of isis and affiliated groups in iraq. >> yeah. >> when you look at iraq, the iranians are supporting shi'a militia in iraq. and they've been a very
effective fighting force. the united states is engaged in air strikes. they just had an air strike yesterday in tikirit in which the iranian militias had helped capture correct? >> not everything is correct. >> what's not correct. >> it's not only shi'a militia who are fighting. many others joined. >> what's the possibilities of iranians americans cooperation? >> regarding fighting isis. >> yes. >> i don't think anyone trusts that or believe that the american administration wants to really fight this kind of terrorism. because if you look at the air strikes in syria and iraq the whole 60 countries launch much less air strikes than only the syrian army do. on daily basis. so they're not serious secretary they only attack the northern part of iraq.
i mean the terrorists in the northern part of iraq. not the rest of iraq. why did they join them. they want to get part of the cake there is a victory just to say that we fought terrorists and defeated isis where were they during the last few months. suddenly you wanted to attack. >> so what do you think iran wants in iraq. >> they want to get rid of the terrorists definitely. and to -- >> how long do you think that will take? >> nobody has any idea. because we had support from the outside. we had support of the-- of isis and many extremists in iraq and syria. so how long that will-- that support will continue we cannot say. >> when you look at the future, and you look at the battle ahead, how much of the conflict that is here today can the syrian government withstand? how much the syrian country
the civilian law. >> ? will there be anything left in syria? >> of course syria is still here. it's not the first kind of crisis that you are facing. >> but nothing like this. >> during the history you had many crisis damascus and aleppo has been destroyed many times but it's about the population. the syrian population are determined to survival and protect their country. and to rebuild it. >> how much is part of the power that every population has. and the syrian people proved they have strong potential. anyway we don't have any other option. what option do we have. whether we pay high price or less price. well what options do we have but to defend our country, but to fight terrorism. we don't have any. >> rose: i ask the question because many asks what is
the cost to syria what it's going through. and how would you put the pieces back together? whenever there is finally an end to this how will you put the pieces back together and who will put the pieces back together. >> there's misconception in the west that what's happening in syria is a civil war. this is where you ask that question, what is happening in syria is not-- when you have civil war you should have, how do you say clear lines separated between different ethnicities or different components that is not what we have. what we have are terrorist infiltrated areas an people are suffering from the fight those terrorists. and from the terrorism of those terrorists. so you don't have division in the society now. you don't have the sectarian issue now. actually, you would be surprised if i tell you that the sectarian situation in syria today is better than the sectarian situation let's say before the crisis.
people are more unified now regarding the conflict regarding the religions and so on. so we cannot talk about how can you rebuild the society. the society suffering from humanitarian aspects of the problem. but it's not divided any more. that's very important. and that's why we are assured. even this conflict which very bad conflict, as you say every must have a silver lining this is the silver lining in this conflict. but the population are mohr unified now. so you don't have problems as long as the society is unified and homogenous. regardless of some dark part of this society idea logical corners in our society that support the wahhabi support isis and support the extremists but it is not the general situation.
>> why do you think that they, the people in the west question your legitimacy? >> this intervention is a syrian matter. i don't care about it to be frank. i never cared about it. as long as it is the public support of the syrian people. but why i i will tell you why. because the west used to have puppets. not independent leaders or officials. the problem with putin demonized putin because you can't say no and he wants to be independent because the west especially the united states don't accept partners. they only accept followers. even europe is not partners with the united states 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 onson somebody who can control by remote control. >> rose: there are those who argue that you feel now that you are militarily stronger that the hezbollah and
iranian advisors and american air strikes and coalition air strikes that you feel militarily stronger and therefore you are less willing to negotiate. >> can you plead the strongest power even to the united states when you go to war you will be depleted in every sense of the word. and we are a small country. we will be depleted more than great countries. you cannot say that you are militarily-- you can say that are you politically power because when you win the heart and mind of the people the most important part of the situation this is where you become more powerful. so what we achieve militarily, not because we are stronger militarily because we have more support. >> rose: and how much dow bleach you may have some opportunity to win the hearts of the minds and hrts of the syrian people because they fear isis more than anybody? >> we cannot ignore that factor. we cannot ignore it. we don't say no. this is a fact when you are
transparent with the citizens, with the people when you are patriotic you work for the interests they will support you even if they disagree with you politically. so we don't have support now from the traditional supporters. we don't have support because they don't oppose us. we have opposition who oppose our government in many aspects economy politics and so on. but they know that we are looking for this country. and when you have a war, it's time for unity not time for division or recrimination and so on. that's why i said we can have more support and we have already had it. >> rose: what circumstances would cause you to give up power? >> when i don't have the public support. when i don't represent the syrian interests and values.
>> rose: and how do you determine that? >> with the people. >> rose: you determine whether they support you. >> no, no no. i don't determine. irsense. i feel i'm in contact with them. i'm a human. how can a human make that expedition with the population. the war was very important lab for this support. i mean they could have-- they don't support this he could go and support the other side. they didn't why. >> that's very clear. that's very concrete. >> some have argued for me that the majority of syrian support neither the government nor isis. >> this is like saying isis is-- i don't think this is realistic. even people who oppose the government, they oppose isis that's how we say it look at it. >> that's the question. even those who oppose the government oppose isis. and the question is how do you bring those two together? what are you prepared to do
and what are they prepared to do and how do you get those people as a vested interest like the and the americans to agree. >> because very simply they cannot put the government and isis on the same level. they didn't choose i mean not to support the government doesn't mean to support isis it means automatically they're going to be with the government against isis but not with the government in other issues. it's opposition you have point of view but as i said it's not time for division. now you support the government, when you get rid of isis then you oppose the government in your own way. you cannot compare the government -- >> which raises the question can you destroy isis would coming together you cannot
destroy terrorists not only terrorists you have al-nusra front, you cannot destroy them unless you are unified as a society. but again isis now is not the syrian. isis and syria and iraq and libya, it's not enough to be unified on the local level. it's on the regional level and the international level. something we don't have yet that's why defeating terrorism going to be very- difficult. >> that is the question you don't have it yet. and how do you get it. >> because that's the future. >> rose: are you talking about more than one party. you are talking about international parties for the united states regional parties which is our neighbor very negative roles and the local parties. >> we would like to see this cohesion in fighting terrorism, but how can we convince them we tried maybe not directly because we don't have any direct channels with them. but that's how it should be.
if they could see the reality and the future in a clear vision, they wouldn't have this decision. they would make dialogue with-- including syria not because they support the syrian president or the syrian army we don't need their support internally it's about only fighting terrorism. you need to page dialogue. you cannot fight it, you cannot kill them and defeat them from the air. s with that's true in iraq. >> no, you cannot. >> did you want to see another conference like the geneva conference that failed? >> yes and that is the aim of the moscow conference next one. >> rose: that's it. >> that's it, yeah. >> rose: and what might happen there? >> that depends on different parties. i cannot talk on behalf of every party. for does should have principles to support i mean to agree about it like unification of syria. denouncing terrorism. something like this. and then -- >> sharing power. >> sharing power that's in
the constitution anyway. sharing power is based on how much grass roots you have. how much of the syria you represent. you don't come share power just because you want to share power. >> rose: you have to be forced to. >> sorry. >> rose: you have to be forced to share power. >> exactly. you have to represent it. so maybe if we reach conclusion and we reach agreement in moscow it could be as preparation to go to geneva for example. but it is early to tell. >> rose: i came here after secretary kerry had made his remarks. my impression once i got here is that when you heard those remarks you were optimistic. the state department backed back and said we still think there needs to be a new government. but you were optimistic after you heard that. you believed there is a way for your government and the american government to cooperation and coordinate.
>> that's not the main point regarding that statement. i think the main point we could have feeling and we hope that we are right that the american administration started to-- this policy of isolation. which is very harmful to them and to us. because if you are an isolated country or isolate yourself like the united states from being influential and effective in the cause on this you are talking about the negative -- negative influence like making an embargo that could kill the people slowly of launching war that could kill them in a faster way. so our impression is to say we are more optimistic of the-- that when they are thinking about dialogue doesn't matter what kinds of dying will and what the content of the dialogue and even doesn't matter what their real intention. but the word dialogue is something we haven't heard from the united states on the global level for a long time. >> rose: but you just did
from the secretary of state. we need to negotiate. >> exactly. >> rose: that is dialogue. >> that is what i said. that is why i say that is positive. we are more optimistic. things should be better. i mean when we start the dialogue,. >> rose: why don't you reach out to secretary kerry and say let's talk. >> we will always open. we never close our doors. they should be ready for the talks. they should be ready for the negotiations. we didn't make the embargo on the united states. we didn't attack the american population. we didn't support terrorism. so actually the united states did. we were always-- we always wanted to have good relations with the united states. we never go in the other direction t say great power. not a wise person think of having a bad relation with the united states. >> rose: can you have a good relationship with a country that thinks you shouldn't be in power? >> no that's to the going to be part of the dialogue
this is not their business. we have syrian citizens who can denied-- decide this no one else. whether they want to talk about it or not. this is not something we're going to discuss with them. >> rose: mr. president thank you. >> thank you. >> for more about this program and earlier episodes visit us on-line at pbs.org and charlie rose.com. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org
announcer: a kqed television production. man: it's like holy mother of comfort food. woman: throw it down. it's noodle crack. patel: you have to be ready for the heart attack on a platter. crowell: okay, i'm the bacon guy. man: oh, i just did a jig every time i dipped into it. man #2: it just completely blew my mind. woman: it felt like i had a mouthful of raw vegetables and dry dough. sbrocco: oh, please. i want the dessert first! [ laughs ] i told him he had to wait.