On the morning after the stunning and tragic wave of terror attacks that turned the streets of Paris into a veritable warzone on Friday evening, the French (not to mention the world) are searching for answers.
And we don’t mean in terms of assigning blame. ISIS has claimed responsibility and indeed, despite some early suggestions by terrorist “experts” that the attack looked more like the work of al-Qaeda, there was never any real question as to who would be blamed and who would take “credit.”
Rather, the questions now revolve around how it could have come to this. Between last night’s massacre in the streets of Paris and a refugee crisis that to most Europeans probably seems to have come out of nowhere, it must appear to some as if the world has inexplicably descended into chaos over the past six or so months.
Of course that’s not the case. The events that ultimately led to the enormous people flows into Europe and to Friday’s attacks in Paris have been unfolding in Syria for the better part of five years and because this probably isn’t the time for a scathing Western foreign policy critique on our part, we simply present comments below from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with not further comment. The first passages are from mid-September, the second from today.
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is blaming Western nations for fueling the refugee crisis by supporting opposition groups in his country's bloody civil war.
"If you are worried about them, stop supporting terrorists," he said in an interview with Russian news organizations. "That's what we think regarding the crisis. This is the core of the whole issue of refugees."
"Europe is responsible because it supported terrorism," he said in the interview at his home in Damascus, the capital.
The European Union in May 2013 ended an arms embargo on rebel groups fighting the Syrian government. The United States, meanwhile, has been offering limited support to moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against ISIS.
"Can you feel sad for a child's death in the sea and not for thousands of children who have been killed by the terrorists in Syria?" al-Assad said, referring to images of a dead Syrian boy that shocked the world. "And also for men, women, and the elderly? These European double standards are no longer acceptable."
Despite his bitter accusations, al-Assad said he was willing to shake hands with any leader who would join the fight against ISIS and hoped to cooperate with the West and Saudi Arabia in building a "real antiterrorist coalition," the Russian news agency Interfax reported.
He said his forces weren't communicating or cooperating tactically with the U.S.-led coalition that's carrying out airstrikes against ISIS positions in Syria and Iraq.
"They cannot accept the reality that we are the only power fighting ISIS on the ground," he said in reference to the United States. "For them, maybe if they cooperate with the Syrian Army, this is like a recognition or our effectiveness in fighting ISIS."
He accused the U.S. government of "willful blindness" on the matter.
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Syrian President Bashar al Assad condemned Friday's attacks in Paris and said that such acts of terror were similar to what his people had faced in years of violent civil war.
"What France suffered from savage terror is what the Syrian people have been enduring for over five years," the Syrian President was quoted as saying on state media and Lebanese TV station al Mayadeen
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Saturday that French policy had contributed to the "spread of terrorism" that culminated in attacks claimed by the Islamic State group which killed 128 people in Paris.
In a meeting with a delegation of French lawmakers in Damascus, Assad said France's "mistaken policies... had contributed to the spread of terrorism."
"The terrorist attacks that targeted the French capital Paris cannot be separated from what happened in the Lebanese capital Beirut lately and from what has been happening in Syria for the past five years and in other areas," he said.
Assad was referring to twin bombings claimed by IS which killed 44 people on Thursday in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a stronghold of his Lebanese ally, Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
Assad regards all the rebel groups fighting his forces inside Syria as "terrorists", not just IS.
Assad said he had "warned against what would happen in Europe for the past three years."
"We said, don't take what is happening in Syria lightly. Unfortunately, European officials did not listen," he said, in comments to the delegation broadcast by France's Europe 1 radio.
He said French President Francois Hollande "should change his policy."
"The question that is being asked throughout France today is, was France's policy over the past five years the right one? The answer is no."