Iran Never Tried to Control Syria, President Assad Says
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad underlined that Iran has helped the Arab country since the outbreak of war without any expectations.
In an interview with Swedish newspaper the Expressen, Assad dismissed the notion of Iran's control over Syria in exchange for its supports.
What follows are excerpts of the Syrian president's interview with the Swedish daily.
Q: How do you describe the relation between Syria and Iran today?
A: The same relation that we could have described 35 years ago since the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, when Syria stood by that revolution, supported it while many countries, but mainly the West and the (Persian) Gulf states, stood against it, then later Saddam Hussein attacked Iran and we supported Iran. Now, Iran supports Syria. So, it's a mutual support which is actually an alliance. So, it's an alliance. That's how I can describe it.
Q: Some critics say that you have sold your country to Iran, and that you would not survive without the help of Iran and Hezbollah. Is it true?
A: If I wanted to adopt this principle, to be ready to sell my country, I would have sold it to the United States, maybe to Israel, maybe to Saudi Arabia, because many countries since the independence of Syria wanted to control Syria for geopolitical reasons. So, if I wanted to sell, I would sell it to the United States first. So, as long as I don't sell it to anyone, I wouldn't sell it to Iran. This is first. Second, Iran never tried to control my country. Never. And the Syrian people, by nature, they won't accept anyone to control their country. So, when Iran supports Syria, that doesn't mean it controls, doesn’t mean it tries to impose what it wants on the Syrian government. What you say, we couldn't survive without Iran and Hezbollah, this is a hypothetical question for one reason: sometimes small support in a big war will lead you to bigger results, in any war or any conflict, will give big results. So, whether this support is small or big, it has given a result, we cannot deny this, and their position, supporting Syria, was vital for us.
Q: How much influence does Iran have in Syria?
A: It's about how we look at the word 'influence', because influence could be positive and it could be negative. If you want to talk about the influence of France and Germany in Europe, it's very clear, because one of them is a political power and the other one is an economic power. Iran is an important country to our region. It's a big country, it's a developed country, proportionally, at least. But that influence, I would look at it in a positive way, because Iran is a country that seeks to have more stability, for its interests. Any country has interests. So, it is influential, but in a positive way.