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tv   Doc Film - Bashar al- Assad  Deutsche Welle  February 10, 2018 6:15am-7:01am CET

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have survived but do they don't still have a future. i really understand people who say they don't want to stay here. but i also admire people who want to stay here and who decided to create something . of a new beginning in peace time more the people making it possible what needs to happen if tolerance and reconciliation or to stand a chance is for that if you should go towards a really difficult complicated to forgiveness reconciliation forgetting they get stuck in your strategy to get. out of darkness cities after war. starting march tenth on t w.
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this is the story of syrian president bashar al assad a tyrant who has waged a brutal war against his own people he's used chemical weapons should this despotic butcher be allowed to take part in peace talks with western states. we have to talk to assad and his representatives at present don't. asada and his russian allies have after all played a key role in helping the west defeat islamic state forces but can really help to stabilize the middle east as a useful tyrant. hear us and visit syrian government troops in the summer of twenty sixteen the syrian government has been fighting a bitter civil war for more than six years more than three hundred thousand people have been killed in the conflict ten million have been forced to leave their homes tens of thousands have been arrested and tortured in government prisons. but assad
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could still prove useful to the west. as a moderate bosher are i suspect in some measure is always trying to live up to the image of his father. the latest wave of terrorism in europe the refugee crisis in europe instability in the middle east and new tensions with russia can all to one extent or another be traced back to assad. can be quite charming he'd be a good kind of a person you would want to have a dinner party going back i did not see any evidence. that bashar al assad could become the premier war criminal of the twenty first century.
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is assad really a tyrant or simply a modern political leader is he a friend or a foe so far the west has not been able to decide one reason for this is that assad is a master at concealing his real intentions you have to put your feet both on the other with the. belief that the future yes. in two thousand and nine two years before the syrian uprising began a french t.v. crew accompanied assad and his wife as they drove to a concert in damascus i would have a go to i would do the butt of. only do it myself but if that be unsecure no no it is if you don't. proof and open the window. hoping you include.
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otherwise you would be living in a living in a cage nobody will still have a cage. bashar was never supposed to become president he graduated from medical school in one thousand nine hundred eighty eight and later did post-graduate work in ophthalmology a hospital in london. his wife graduated from king's college london and worked for several years as an investment banker. brother basile the heir apparent was killed in a car accident in one thousand nine hundred four syrian president hafez assad started preparing bashar to succeed him. the elder assad died in june two thousand but shar took center stage at the funeral ceremony he was elected president the next month at the age of just thirty four but shar was
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reputed to be much less ambitious and charismatic than his older brother. assad was an air force officer who came to power in a coup d'etat in one nine hundred seventy he imposed a brutal dictatorship that would rule syria for the next three decades political opponents were executed or imprisoned. assad's funeral was attended by numerous world leaders and diplomats. these included delegations from syria's traditional allies iran. and russia. western officials attended as well and established their first contacts with the new president syria had been
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a key player in the middle east for decades particularly when it came to regional peace negotiations and fighting international terrorism. only one western head of state attended a son's funeral french president. you could read that false. leaders decided that if they showed syria some respect they might be able to influence its policy on lebanon you know. after assad's older son died french politicians try to figure out how to deal with bashar. was an ophthalmologist by training and had no experience as a political leader or an unknown quantity. but no one knew whether he would be up to the job that the group. also know if it. married his wife in two thousand the new president sought to portray himself as
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a modern western style leader perhaps this reserved and well educated young man would introduce political and economic reforms in syria and increase the country's ties to the west. in public assad usually appeared cordial even in difficult circumstances because he realized that he must win western support but his primary goal was to maintain his grip on power and that meant dealing effectively with the ruling ba'ath party a secular and arab nationalist organization syria's political establishment was watching him closely and many doubted his capabilities. lace bashar was not a born leader and had no particular interest in politics and that they. were there jim you know everyone noticed that he was very polite and sometimes more than
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necessary. and many thought he was too young to take on all that responsibility. but assad exceeded his critics expectations he promised to liberalize syria's economy and to implement some limited democratic reforms as i. believe that western countries would be more willing to support him if they saw him as a reformer and indeed in two thousand and one he received his first invitation to visit a western country friends. his hosts encouraged him to move ahead with his proposed reforms and he paid attention to this advice.
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after the september eleventh attacks in the u.s. the west focused its attention on how to fight the spread of international terrorism. assad and his powerful intelligence network could play an important role in that effort. bashar as we say was trying to make lemonade out of ones and to demonstrate that they could play an important and effective role in helping the united states in the west and one of that was what we needed all the help that i sat could give us his operatives could infiltrate certain organizations people in the but the capacity been a top european looking french agents who didn't speak any arabic would never have been able to do that job the assad gave us access to some of these dangerous groups
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oh i see them those laws she threw them they were my beliefs. but this relationship came to an end in two thousand and three when the u.s. and its allies invaded iraq which borders syria to the east assad found the presence of allied troops on his doorstep unsettling he took measures to undermine american influence in the region while at the same time maintaining his role as an ally in the fight against terrorism. bashir. starting in two thousand and three when george bush was president assad ordered his security forces to assemble groups of jihad his troops which were then sent to fight in iraq. one syrian even trained some of these fighters to moscow to be able to eventually follow the letter that you have you know me but then assad would pass along the names of these fighters to the americans because of it but one who
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believes that this intelligence was reliable that i made a gun that i made. but when washington finally realized what assad was up to it sent secretary of state colin powell to damascus to tell the syrian president to stop playing games. but assad paid no attention at the same time he had failed to make progress on the reforms he promised some liberal economic policies were implemented but they benefited mostly on saddam and his relatives not average citizens. this led to growing unrest about the slow pace of real economic reforms there were no political reforms either in fact political repression actually increased. this may be explained by the fact that assad belongs to
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a minority shiite muslim sect known as allawi. they have occupied the top government positions in syria since hafez assad became president in one thousand nine hundred seventy one and they aim to hold on to that power at all cost. bashar assad took a hard line against lebanon syria's neighbor to the south former lebanese prime minister rafik hariri had long sought to free his country from de facto syrian occupation hariri was killed in a car bomb blast in february two thousand and five some have alleged that the syrian government was behind the attack but this has never been proven afterward a number of other lebanese politicians and intellectuals were also assassinated. wished him up one day at a past party meeting we were discussing economic matters. and suddenly
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assad walked in and shouted. hari is an enemy of syria and. puppets of the us and france for the sea. three days later that it was that should. not. explosives equivalent to nearly two tons of t.n.t. were used in the attack twenty two other people were killed in the blast everybody says as a nation sparked international outrage the un security council approved a resolution sponsored by britain france and the us that imposed some new sanctions on syria. cories murder also led to a popular uprising in lebanon this domestic resistance movement combined with
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international pressure prompted syria to pull its troops out of lebanon in two thousand and six. assad seemed to take these events in stride at least in public. but since his relations with the west now lay in tatters he moved his country closer to iran. and he signed a military cooperation agreement with russia. that assad turned the situation following her reasons sasa nation to his advantage. he purged political and military leaders who'd been appointed by his father and replaced them with his own people. the shadow said that about how to bashar thought
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he was more powerful than his father had been caught on to believe that he was second to none ideal study visually most of it up. in two thousand and seven assad sought to expand his diplomatic contact he wanted to go. well beyond the alliances with iran and russia. french president jacques chirac had cut off relations with them after the attack on hariri who'd been a personal friend but in march chirac announced that he would not seek a third term. in two thousand and eight the new french president nicolas sarkozy sent his chief of staff close to syria for talks it was the first time in three years that the french government had had contacts with assad. that pulled me off when someone called we met for the first time in damascus us the streets were
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blocked off with armored vehicles and troops. assad was trying to expand syria's economy and to normalize the country's international relations this was the at the he and his wife had been educated overseas and they were tired of being treated as out costs by the international community as. france demanded that syria recognize lebanon sovereignty assad agreed and a few weeks later he was welcomed in paris and invited to attend a summit of european north african and middle eastern states. sarkozy sought support for his plan to create a mediterranean alliance to be led by france. assad was treated like an honored guest during his visit he attended the annual
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busty de military parade on the sean sleezy. and he joined other heads of state on the reviewing stand. but sarkozy's efforts to build a mediterranean alliance stalled and assad was still dragging his feet on implementing economic and political reforms at home. his trip to france ended without a single major agreement still needed sarkozy to help him achieve his immediate goal to convince washington to lift the sanctions it had imposed on syria. bashar assad said he knew that france enjoyed excellent relations with the united states and had told washington about its new contacts with assad.
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and indeed in two thousand and ten u.s. diplomats traveled to damascus to meet the syrian president. assad made an astonishing gesture of goodwill he offered to start talks on a peace deal with syria's archenemy israel the us responded by appointing a new ambassador to damascus the post had been vacant for five years. i. seemed to be winning on all diplomatic fronts. he had now restored relations with russia iran and the west. in early twenty antigovernment protests started spreading across north africa and the middle east the demonstrations soon forced the resignations of tunisia's
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president. and egypt and president hosni mubarak god. assad met the new u.s. ambassador to discuss the situation he was very nice i asked the president are you worried that the winds of change will come here. and he said he was not worried he said the syrian people strongly supported him strongly supported his government was the just two weeks later there was a large demonstration in damascus in a market called l three on the it happened very spontaneously very suddenly it wasn't planned and it was immediately filmed by syrians with their cell phones and the. and we sent
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a message to washington that night and said it's coming. in the firewood is very dry it's coming. in march twentieth eleven protests expanded young people in daraa aspirate painted anti-government slogans on walls these included your next doctor meaning assad and the people want the regime to go several suspects were arrested and tortured by police. the was. was was. more and more people demanded democratic freedoms the government responded with a violent crackdown against unarmed demonstrators was . american diplomats offered to set up talks between assad and moderate islamist
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opposition leaders but nothing came of this effort. what they would say is yes we will come to that discussion can you even help us organize that we said we would try but every time we got close to discussion. syrian secret police would move in and break up meetings or arrest people. at the presidential palace in the hay. rose above damascus a science advisers were divided into two camps those who favored putting a stop to the uprising once and for all and those who took a more moderate approach. assad had not yet made a decision. he was due to deliver a nationally televised speech on march thirtieth there was speculation that he might finally announce the implementation of the reforms that he had promised for so long and. who were bad
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but said be a good start met with his relatives and they decided that the country's security was the top priority and that the military should be used to maintain that security and me and. assad's mother was said to have advised him do what your father would have done. i don't know facing an extraordinary situation a country is always use threatened by conspirators little enough declared war and we will fight back and you'll. be up. to one half of the said assad's father was a senior military officer before he took over as president if that's what he was a true dictator and he convinced himself that he was a brilliant leader and made himself into a minor data. and then into god himself let us.
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say the shadow east africa but shar did exactly the same he idolized his father and never doubted his legacy than him but sean was convinced that the people had no right to stand up to the government might be silly so what are. the confrontation between the government and the demonstrators soon descended into civil war deserves from the syrian military organized armed groups of fighters. the government responded to this threat with increasing ferocity. qatar turkey and saudi arabia all conservative sunni muslim states supplied the
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rebels with money and weapons. their efforts were motivated at least in part by religion they considered assad a shiite muslim a heretic. oh out of that it's easy because they open their war all over the country and it's much easier to fight a war along your border. but whenever i saw the president it would say that we're going to be here and we're going to fight and we're going to be victorious we will prevail no problem no matter how painful it is but at the end we will prevail. by the summer of twenty eleven half of syria's territory was in rebel hands assad brought the full force of the syrian military to bear on the conflict and did not distinguish
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between opposition fighters and civilians his response was condemned by the international community and the support among western nations that he had worked so hard to achieve was fading rapidly. i have indicated repeatedly that president assad has lost legitimacy that he needs to step down rather than drag his country into a civil war he should move in the direction of a political transition. this syrian helicopter is dropping barrel bombs. throughout two thousand and twelve asante air force often attacked populated areas held by rebels. because. thousands of civilians men women and children were killed.
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hundreds of thousands left the country and that number continued to rise. or. this was the start of a refugee crisis that would soon force the west to take action. and up we should up false fronts his position is clear bashar al assad is killing his own people the sooner he steps down the baton good what about you couldn't produce one of you. in. spring of two thousand and twelve western politicians met at u.n. headquarters in geneva to try to find a way to end the conflict in syria they sought to create a transitional government that would include representatives of the democratic opposition and moderates from the assad regime. but
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it well russia had long been one of syria's key allies but moscow had seen its influence decline as assad turned to the west and now saw an opportunity to restore it. it was clear to us by two thousand and twelve he would only negotiate under pressure we hoped we hoped that the russians would apply that pressure. but russia refused to take part in any negotiations putin intended to hold on to russia's naval base on the syrian coast at all cost what's more putin an autocrat himself rejected the concepts of the arab spring and western calls for democratic reforms as threats to the regions of thora tarion regimes the negotiations went nowhere so france and the us seize the initiative they offered asylum to democratic opposition leaders and provided financial and military support to the free syrian
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army. what can we do to accelerate that process. the united states and other governments decided that they would try to coalesce the opposition provide it support so that it was strong enough to at a minimum negotiate a transition in syria. but assad vowed to fight on and his refusal to compromise and gave hope to his remaining supporters among the civilian population especially among the alawite and christian minorities. assad played for time he hoped that the west would soon lose patience with the opposition forces and would question their ability to seriously threaten the regime . if you're going to happen to have an opposition strong enough to take on
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a standing army and a regime with security forces that's backed by russia and iran then you need to be powerful and united and i think one of the challenges we faced was it turned out the opposition was neither strong nor united. the situation was complicated by the fact that joe hardest groups in the opposition were increasing their military power and influence. people. are getting stronger they had money they had ammunition they had food they could pay salaries to their fighters a lot of young syrians are joining them i recommended and i know colleagues at the cia recommended that we help those more moderate elements who were on the one hand competing with the al qaida affiliate in syria called the nusra front and on the other hand we're fighting off. the west now had to defend the moderate opposition
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against both assad and the jihad ists. on the mountain. on august first twenty thirteen assad visited his troops in a damascus suburb of rebel fighters controlled a residential area just a few kilometers from here called guta a lot of. trouble cut him a lot of cash. or on august twenty first go to was struck by rockets that contained the chemical agent sarin at least two hundred eighty people were killed including a number of children. the international community held assad personally responsible for the attack a military response from the west now seemed to likely. french president francois hollande made it
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a top priority to bring down assad's regime. soon after the attack the u.s. and france sent aircraft carriers to the eastern mediterranean in august twenty twelve president obama had warned syria that any use of chemical weapons would amount to crossing a red line and would have serious consequences. president obama has the military to prepare quite a significant response. a few hours before the scheduled attack the president called an emergency meeting of his advisors. there was a long national security council meeting that was focused it's fair to say more on how to go about military response than whether. the turning point was when the president came to the pollution that he changed his mind.
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it. was going to get american president called the french president but look a few hours before that obama had a short but the attack would take place. but now he said that there were complications and he was still talking to his advisors but in other words the red line was gone. only to parties france would not attack syria by itself of course and the whole plan fell apart for them to be formally sure a more we didn't know what to do next we do know is wrong. because major concern is that the day after an american strike would still be there and might even use chemical weapons again so then we have to hit again and maybe this time a bit harder and take out some more air defense and then again. the u.s. seemed less concerned about a military escalation than about the increasing power of jihad as forces there were
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some people in the administration who worried that cause had been at the end be toppled in extremis would take over those of us who were following syria more closely kept telling them stop worrying about that the extremists are no stronger than a lot of the moderate elements and they're not going to take over it might just shift the fighting a little bit but there will not be an islamic state declared in damascus the controls syria. must side interpreted the president's decision as a sign of weakness and used the situation to his advantage he knew that the western leaders feared that if he were overthrown there would be chaos they seem to be more concerned about the threat posed by the islamic state group than by his regime. the sheva said that if bashar decided that if he focused on fighting the jihadists the west would be less inclined to attack him surely out of shueisha way that china
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. will set up so he started promoting the concept of holy war dishes ian inches that minute and actually began encouraging the jihad is force that's the moment for the daily show. how. soon. after the uprising began the syrian government released a number of prisoners that was part of assad's effort to use the threat posed by islamic state to his advantage. the i asked organization was created in iraq in two thousand and six and started sending fighters into syria in twenty eleven by twenty four team islamic state controlled marj parts of northern and eastern syria. news of. the public service our intelligence agency has evidence of secret
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agreements between bashar and diana's he was cooperating with them about the. i don't mean that they don't ever fight this like stick sometimes they fight this long with state sometimes they cooperate with the islamic state but one of the things that as a professional i can say i admire about the syrian government is that it is able to do several different contradictory things all it wants and it's harder to understand them and they can confusion very well that way. assad's policy was now reduced to a simple slogan it's either me or chaos invasion of terrorists coming from abroad and the government is doing if the drop in fighting and defending it's. it's country has that authority of the syria loses all there will be chaos in the middle east a shock this is no i'm not rising it is for the present regime or
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a revolution that will be followed by an orderly transition to democracy. to cut them out she admitted that he was no saint but said that the other side was so bad that people should support him the people that are good for. you know he's a master at playing that game. we're. assad's efforts to portray himself as an alternative to jihad as barbarians led some critics to overlook his war crimes for example concentration camps in which an estimated seventeen thousand people are said to have been killed including women and children. islamic state took responsibility for a series of deadly attacks in paris in november twenty fifth teen the attacks sent shock waves across europe. this also seemed to
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confirm assad's claim that he was the lesser of two evils. also in november the u.s. stepped up its airstrikes against i asked targets in eastern syria and the obama administration suspended a program that trained and equipped moderate syrian rebels it was a small victory for assad. but the syrian military was now reeling from four years of civil war desperately needed outside help. or so in october twenty fifth teen he made his first foreign trip since the uprising began to russia to meet president putin. officially the two leaders discussed the fight against islamic state fun officially
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assad was reported to have asked putin for military support that would help him stay in power. today but i would like to express my facts no political efforts of limits of the damage that was caused by this crisis you a few of them. that russians do come and help us what they edit force understand not ask for anything from us by the way i will have a nation with that russian and other know is that he has thought of. russia saw the conflict in syria as an opportunity to increase its strategic profile in the region and it was willing to risk intervening on behalf of a dictator whose regime was threatened on all sides and what kind of before. the russians launched a series of airstrikes against positions held by several groups that were opposed
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to the syrian government including islamic state. the one that caused this if we. sit we monitored the russian act campaign these ninety percent of the targets were in civilian areas only ten percent involved i asked forces the enemy that assad himself had encouraged this as the only. threw out twenty sixteen the syrian government supported by russian air power managed to recapture much of the territory it had lost to opposition forces. the west could only stand by and watch as airstrikes reduced cities such as aleppo to rubble. nor did western governments react to the renewed use of chemical weapons
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. b. even assad sworn enemy friends stayed on the sidelines. i thought the best solution would have been for russia and the us to jointly administer syrian territory although i was personally opposed to that idea. that we see it's due. that theory that. the u.s. formally complained about russia's intervention but otherwise took no action. that. in september twenty sixth seen the u.s. and russia agreed to undertake joint measures to stabilize the situation in syria. the u.s. appeared to have dropped its demand for a sense resignation and that is precisely what the syrian president was trying to get washington to do. it was part of his overall strategy to convince the west that
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if he were to step down syria would descend into unprecedented chaos and that could only benefit the radical islamists. assad has been very effective at leading this conflict to a place where it seems like it's his regime or isis and their worst of the terrorists and you can find that immoral and frustrating and despicable and it's all of those things. assad has been able to hold on to power only by military force several hundred thousand people have been killed in syria's civil war and millions more have been forced to leave their homes much of the country lies in ruins. foreign intervention has kept bashar assad in power. said that even if the us
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russia and iran were to demand his resignation he wouldn't go there but if i. tried to assassinate him so when he would fight back he would to leave and if the intern were to drop his support what from assad would immediately turn to iran what to any old taliban iran and north in which he knows how to protect himself. from beautiful . i don't have so for. the political reality is that assad and the western powers will eventually settle their differences never before has the leader of a relatively small country played such an important role in middle east politics is at least indirectly responsible for islamic states occupation of syria plus the refugee crisis and regional chaos in general. remains in office because several powerful states want him there.
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