Syrian president Bashar al-Assad sat down with Charlie Rose on Sunday for an hour-long interview that aired in full Monday night on PBS. And while there was little surprising in the content of his responses to Rose's questions, the interview, conducted in English, is still an unsettling look into the leader of a country that's spent the past two years mired in a brutal, devastating conflict. Here are some of the more interesting snippets from the interview.
Assad thinks that accusations of his regime covering up chemical weapons use with bombs are "stupid."
"How could bombardment cover the evidence? The-- technically, it doesn't work. How? This is stupid, to be frank. This is very stupid," Assad said. The president denied his forces were working in the area of the attacks near Damascus on August 21. he also claimed that some Syrian troops were victims of chemical attacks:
"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."
Assad wants Americans to "expect everything" if the U.S. bombs, but not necessarily from him
CHARLIE ROSE: Will there be attacks against American bases in Middle East if there is an airstrike?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: You should expect everything. You should expect everything — not necessarily from the government. It’s not only the government are not the only player in this region. You have different parties, you have different factions, you have different ideology. You have everything in this region now. So you have to expect that.
CHARLIE ROSE: Tell me what you mean by expect everything?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: Expect every action.
CHARLIE ROSE: Including chemical warfare?
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: That depends if the if the rebels or the terrorists in this region or any other group have it, it could happen I don’t know. I am not fortune teller to tell you what’s going to happen.
Assad compared the opposition to the 1992 rioters in Los Angeles.
It looks like the Atlantic Wire may have compiled its list of the worst Syria analogies too soon. While trying to explain his stance that the opposition in his country is illegitimate, Assad brought up the 1992 LA race riots: "Do you call the rioters in Los Angeles in the 1990s opposition or do you call them rebels?" he said.
"Do you call the rioters in Los Angeles in the 1990s opposition or do you call them rebels?" -Assad ... uh, neither?— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) September 10, 2013
Assad: "I'll do anything to prevent the region from having another crazy war."
While tonight's interview was actually taped on Sunday, Assad's answer to a then more hypothetical question about a deal to prevent military action in Syria. However, it seems to ignore the fact that his own country is currently in the midst of a civil war, which has claimed the lives of over 100,000 people. Rose, however, asked Assad specifically about his willingness to give up chemical weapons in order to prevent war. "You always imply that we have chemical weapons," Assad said, smiling.
John Kerry has "no evidence" of Assad's culpability in the chemical attacks:
The Secretary of State "didn't present any evidence, nothing so far," Assad said, adding, "It's not about how they are dead, it's that they are dead." The Syrian president blamed the "terrorists —" his favorite shorthand for the rebels — for the attacks.
Assad sees himself as a surgeon, not a butcher:
"When you have to cut off a leg with the gangrene, you don't call that person a butcher. He's a doctor," Assad said. He also spoke of his war against the rebels as a "cleaning," evoking the image of an infected wound.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.