By Mick Krever, CNN
Syria’s ambassador to the UN said his country was “fed up with wars” and called any allegations of using chemical weapons “false and unfounded” in an exclusive and combative interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
“We haven't declared war to the United States or to any of our neighbors,” Bashar Ja’afari said from the United Nations. “We are not war mongers. We are not war advocates. We are a peaceful nation, a small nation, and we don’t pretend to be equally strong enough to confront the United States military.”
From the earliest days of the Syrian civil war, and President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown, Ja’afari has defended his government at the United Nations.
The United States, Britain and France say that they now have proof that the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people in an attack last week.
U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking congressional approval for a military strike against Syria.
“We are all victims of any escalation of the Syrian situation,” Ja’afari said. American and European claims against Assad’s regime, he said, “cannot be taken seriously and are not credible.”
The UN ambassador often drew historical parallels in his sometimes opaque answers, warning the American government not to err in attacking his country.
“You can repeat the same mistakes that the previous American administrations did at many times,” Ja’afari said, “during [the] Vietnam War or during the Cuban Crisis or the Iraqi War with Colin Powell in the Security Council.”
Ja’afari said that Western nations were basing their claims of chemical weapons on shaky intelligence, and were only interested in whether the weapons were used, not who used them.
In her final question, Amanpour put a pointed question to Ambassador Ja’afari.
“How do you sleep at night, Mister Ja’afari,” she asked, “defending a regime, a government, that has caused so much bloodshed?”
Ja’afari was evasive, responding that the use of chemical weapons was “horrible” and “appalling.”
“All what we are saying is that yes, we do have a domestic crisis,” Jaafari said. “Yes, wrongdoings happened in the past. Yes, injustices took place in Syria in the past. We need to correct this, and we believe in what Obama said in the elections. ‘Change: Yes we can.’”