Assad on Astana Peace Talks

Assad on Astana Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman
Discussed in a same day article, talks are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, longer if necessary.
Because of US obstructionism under Obama, multiple rounds of earlier talks failed, despite Russia’s good faith efforts for cessation of hostilities and conflict resolution.
Will this time be different? It’s hard being optimistic after years of failure. Maybe Trump succeeding Obama will bring positive change for Syria. Millions of its people and anti-war activists worldwide hope so.
Interviewed on Japan’s TBS TV channel, Assad said “(w)e don’t have expectations. Let’s say we have hopes from Astana…”
Government and terrorist groups (excluding ISIS and al-Nusra) will meet face-to-face for the first time – aiming for “ceasefire and to allow (these) groups to join the reconciliation in Syria, which means giving up (their) armaments and (receiving) amnesty” in return.
Any political discussion must conform to Syria’s constitution, Assad stressed. There’s nothing in it about transitional government. Different political parties representing different interests are permitted.
Assad can only judge Trump by his rhetoric so far. His policy on Syria is unknown until formulated. He said he intends to fight ISIS.
What about other terrorist groups in Syria? “(W)e expect, and we hope, (he’ll) be genuine in implementing (his) rhetoric regarding terrorism and help not only Syria, because terrorism today is not a Syrian problem. It’s a Middle Eastern and global problem.”
Under Obama, America aided ISIS and other terrorist groups, Assad made clear. So did Turkey and other US allies. Russia and Syria were wrongfully blamed for crimes they and their terrorist foot soldiers committed.
Assad: “We did our utmost not to have (civilian) casualties, but those who’ve been out crying for the civilians, did they present any shred of evidence about Syria killing civilians, or Russia?” 
“The other question: how can a government morally kill its own people? And if we kill our own people, the civilians, how can we withstand six years, as a government or as army or as President? This is not logical, this is not realistic. We are here because we have the public support.”
Asked if he’d consider resigning as a step toward reconciliation, he stressed “(t)he president’s departure or staying in office can only be decided through the ballot boxes,” not by elements outside the country.
Rebuilding in liberated areas began, Assad explained. It’ll take time, lots of money and help from valued allies.
He’s most concerned about ending the war and “rebuild(ing) the minds of the people that have been under the control of ISIS and al-Nusra for many years.”
They’ve been grievously harmed. They saw friends and family members murdered, along with other gruesome atrocities.
“How can we rebuild…or rehabilitate (the) minds” of so many so brutally mistreated,” Assad asked? “That’s our big concern after the crisis.”
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

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