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Dissecting Assad’s state of mind

August 30th, 2012
11:58 AM ET

Everything's just fine in Syria, at least according to President Bashar al-Assad, who appeared in an extensive interview on Syrian television Wednesday.

Assad looked relaxed as he sat down with a reporter from a pro-regime network, Al Addounia, which means "the world."

He gave the impression that despite the ongoing violence, he and his regime have everything under control.

“We are engaged in a regional and global battle, so we need time to win it. But I can sum it up in one sentence: we are progressing. The situation on the ground is better, but we have not yet won. This will take more time.”

Assad gave no signs of standing down or even negotiating in the on-going civil war in his country.

Fawaz Gerges, the director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics, says the interview gave the world a glance into the psychology and state of mind of the Syrian president. Gerges says that Assad appeared to look confident.

“I think if there is one particular lesson that you take out of this interview,” Gerges said, “it’s that the Syrian president believes this is all-out war.”

'Moral obligation' to help Syria: Morsy

Gerges believes Assad is hunkering down for an even longer haul. Despite Assad’s acknowledgement that he has not been able to deliver a decisive blow against the opposition, he says he is making progress.

During the interview, Assad consistently asserted that this war was both an internal and external struggle. Not just a regional struggle, but an international struggle in Assad’s assertion.

“If there is one particular point that is really consistent from day one [it is that] President Assad and the inner circle do not see this conflict as internal. It's not part of the Arab Spring uprisings. This is not an internal, political crisis. This is part and parcel of a regional and international conspiracy hatched against Syria.

Gerges highlighted the fact that Assad laid this conflict as part of a long history of conspiracies.

“He said it is Syria's fate to face and overcome conspiracies from colonial days, from the 1920s, up till the present. He drew a consistent, straightforward line from the 1920s to the present. And this tells you a great deal about his state of mind. He has convinced himself and the inner circle around him believe that Syria is facing a regional and international conspiracies by the United States, by Israel, by Turkey, by Saudi Arabia and what Syria is doing, it's fighting the Arabs' struggle for independence. He's turned the table on its head.”

The Assad interview gave Gerges little reason to be hopeful for a peaceful outcome anytime soon.

“I have no doubt in my mind that basically President Assad and the opposition are hunkering down for the long term. Far from really the beginning of the end, in fact, I would argue this is a long, drawn-out conflict.”

Al-Assad blames Turkey for killings

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soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Agbodji. Désiré

    I hate to see civilians been kill without any sign that one day it will stop.

    August 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  2. cook2half

    Assad, a doctor by training, might serve as a prime specimen of a specific condition – let's call it dictator delusion syndrome – suffered by the tiny class of humanity who run authoritarian regimes. The most striking feature of this mental state is its consistency. The themes that ran through Assad's speech have cropped up time and again whenever oppressive rulers have been forced to confront the anger of their peoples.
    The first and most familiar refrain is that all the trouble has been got up by outsiders. A dictator is psychologically programmed to believe that he basks in the adoration of his people. If he ever stops clinging to that vital reassurance, then his regime really would be a criminal enterprise dedicated to plunder and self-preservation. So the comfort blanket of universal popularity must remain immovable, and the facts have to be adjusted accordingly.

    August 30, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  3. manny

    Great leader ASSAD defending his country from others who exporting Terrorist and Arms to put a puppet dummy to say yes world can see created unrest everywhere either puppet Govt or defender I don't know which way taking all of us and why killing to many innocent and they all Muslims

    August 30, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • ruelander

      Great leader Assad is defending his inner circle of people being in power as a result of collonialism. Being a supporter of terrorists in other countries inherriting a killer mentallity from his father, excusing his actions by talking about what other people do, or might do, or are doing, he will continue to defend HIS country by 'logically' and 'intellectual' having more Syrian citizens, old people, woman, children and even babies killed by his maffia army and their Syrian mercenaries. Ofcourse Assad is facing a lot of countries in his defence, since in many countries outside Syria there is still something called 'humanity'.

      August 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Reply
  4. Rafa

    "He has convinced himself and the inner circle around him believe that Syria is facing a regional and international conspiracies by the United States, by Israel, by Turkey, by Saudi Arabia and what Syria is doing, it's fighting the Arabs' struggle for independence"...
    He might have a point there

    August 30, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Reply
  5. Laura

    I completely agree with Rafa – it's in no way a defense of Assad or his oppressive regime, but I don't think it's completely out there to say that the whole Arab Spring movement was quite possibly (probably?) set into motion by the CIA. People think I'm a crazy conspiracy theorist, but I don't know why, because it's not like it hasn't happened many times before.

    August 31, 2012 at 3:01 am | Reply
  6. gazzza

    Well those predicitions of the rebels and terrorists taking over Syria have proven to be a bit premature.

    August 31, 2012 at 6:05 am | Reply
  7. Abumere Christopher Wilson

    _____For the past eighteen (18) months, the Whole World watched helplessly as the Assad Regime of Syria unleashes horror and terror on its people. CNN reports daily death toll of over 200 people being killed by this dictator and modern day Hitler. I don't seem to understand the inability of the western world to call this tyrant to order or better still topple him like they did to Gadhafi; rather they prefer to officially greet the issue with a deafening silence and a mere impotent economic sanction.
    Though Russia and China had opposed military action against Assad, which is a weak reason for US not to stop this tragedy considering the right of the Syrian masses to demand for good Governance. There was no special UN resolution whatsoever before the US and its ally attacked Gadhafi of Libya. I dare to request the right and privilege to have such thoughts and ask such questions without being threatened to be jailed by any administrative agency of society…. ….Is it because there is no oil in Syria? Or is Libya (Africa country) the only place where the West can commit any crime against humanity with impunity?
    Watching these defenseless and innocent civilian been killed in Syria, it is crystal clear that the US is playing a double standard, because this is a lesser crime than that committed by the Libyan leader. In the face of a rigid, doctrinaire, self-appointed, ready-to-kilI leader, It’s about time the White House act decisively by declaring military action against Assad and his cohorts instead of the impotent economic sanctions against the blood thirsty Regime. In my Opinion, if this Genocide should continue. ………Posterity will most certainly judge President Obama and his Western collaborators

    September 6, 2012 at 10:03 am | Reply
  8. Jaz

    President Assad should step down in-order to stop killing people

    Jazryll Guillermo
    University of Santo Tomas

    November 27, 2012 at 4:54 am | Reply
  9. buy targeted soundcloud followers

    The root of your writing while sounding reasonable in the beginning, did not settle properly with me personally after some time. Somewhere throughout the sentences you managed to make me a believer unfortunately just for a short while. I still have a problem with your jumps in assumptions and you might do well to help fill in all those gaps. When you actually can accomplish that, I could undoubtedly be amazed.

    May 2, 2016 at 2:42 am | Reply

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