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.”
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.”