September 9, 2013

Assad Interview


Maggie: First up today, we head to Syria where the two-year civil war has killed more than one hundred thousand people and forced millions from their homes.

The man leading the Syrian government, President Bashar al-Assad, has avoided all contact with U.S. media since 2011. That was until now. Demetrius Pipkin takes a look at the interview that is gaining international attention.

President Bashar al-Assad: We have been living in difficult circumstances for the last two years and a half, and we prepare ourselves for every possibility.

Demetrius: These are the first words that many Americans have heard from the Syrian president in almost two years. Bashar al-Assad spoke with CBS’s Charlie Rose about the allegations that his regime used chemical weapons against its own people.

Charlie Rose: What can you say to the president, who believes chemical weapons were used, and were used by your government, that this will not happen again?

President al-Assad: I would tell him very simply, present what you have as evidence to the public.

Demetrius: Last month, videos hit YouTube showing what appeared to be victims suffering from a chemical weapons attack, likely a toxic gas. Activists on the ground said it was sarin gas and that hundreds were killed. Rebels blamed Assad’s forces, but the Syrian government fired back and blamed the rebels.

The American government says it has proof that the attacks were initiated by the Syrian government.

President Obama is scheduled to speak from the oval office tonight to rally support from the American people. He has been pushing to hit Syria with targeted airstrikes. According to a recent poll, less than a third of American’s support the idea of attacking Syria. Nine percent are still unsure, and the rest of them are completely opposed to the idea.

Now, President Obama is waiting on Congress for approval for military action, and he has already gained the support of the house majority leader and the speaker of the house, top ranking Republican officials. But it is unclear as to how the rest of the House and senate will vote. The senate’s vote is up first on Wednesday.

CBS News estimates at least 49 senators are still undecided about whether they will authorize a strike. But yesterday, Russia threw a curve ball. And it could be a game-changer.

Russia is offering to work with Syria to secure its stockpile of chemical weapons. This way, the weapons won’t be able to be used and would be under control. President Obama says he will take a hard look at the offer, and it could represent a significant breakthrough.

Assad said that any attack against his country made without proof would be met with serious consequences. He suggested some of Syria’s closest allies would get involved in the fight.

Assad: You should expect everything, not necessarily through the government. The government is not the only player in this region.

Demetrius: Demetrius Pipkin, Channel One News.

Maggie: The president rarely gives prime time addresses from the oval office, making tonight’s address to the public that much more significant.


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