Jonathan Tepperman (R) interviews President Bashar al-Assad. (Photo courtesy: Media and Communications Office, Presidency of Syria)
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
In his latest interview, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “voiced untruths with confidence,” the editor who spoke to him told NPR on Wednesday, while likening him to Hitler.
Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman revealed his thoughts about Assad during his interview with the entrenched leader last week, in which Assad said he believed he was winning the Syrian war.
Assad also said he believes the Syrian people still stand with him, despite the fragmentation of the country during the country’s civil war which has lasted almost four years.
When asked by NPR whether Assad appeared “as self-confident as his word’s project,” Tepperman said that was the most “striking” aspect of the interview.
“He was extremely polite and supremely relaxed. When he would speak these wild untruths, which he had to know that I knew were false, he voiced them with unblinking, unshakable confidence. It was really striking.”
Tepperman then found himself questioning “whether [Assad] is a spectacularly competent liar and this was all being done for domestic consumption, in which case he’s merely a sociopath, or he really believes what he’s saying. This is like Hitler in his bunker when the Russians were an hour outside Berlin.”
In the past year, analysts say Assad has been positioning him as an alternative to terrorist groups such as ISIS, now controlling swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.
With U.S.-led airstrikes targeting ISIS since August, Tepperman questioned whether Assad is hedging his bets on the West sidelining him as a threat.
“The West has started to send signals that it is more open to a comprised solution with Assad about how to end the war. The Assad that I made gave the impression that such a compromise is a fantasy, it’s impossible to imagine because he is convinced he is winning the war militarily and [is doing it] for the hearts and minds of the people]. He is absolutely unrepentant.”
During the interview, Assad said he did not regret any decisions he made during the course of the conflict.
As of Dec. 2, 2014, more than 200,000 lives have been lost since anti-Assad protests first erupted in March 2011.
Last Update: Wednesday, 28 January 2015 KSA 14:49 - GMT 11:49