A British Jewish Member of Parliament recounted his trips to meet with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad–and in one instance his wife–in a Daily Mail editorial and chalked Assad’s current actions up to one motive: regime survival.
Brooks Newmark first met Assad on a trip to Damascus in 2006 and writes that the Syrian president was alarmingly forthright in his comments, even then.
“Assad’s answers to my questions were instructive and at times shocking in their directness. When I asked him what was his most important objective, he replied in two words: ‘Regime survival,’” Newmark writes.
Assad was equally as forthright in articulating his regime’s weakness and hostility to Israel.
“I am weak both economically and militarily. I cannot take on Israel directly. They are much stronger than me. It makes more sense to use Hezbollah to put pressure on Israel,” Newmarks writes of Assad telling him during one exchange.
Newmark met with Asma al-Assad, Bashar’s wife, and questioned her on her husband’s promised reforms, making a comparison with Kamal Ataturk, the Turkish leader who led his country towards secularism before abandoning his rule.
“That is what I hope he does too, serve one more term in office and then retire,” she told him.
Newmark writes that Assad will continue to raze his country in an effort to survive, and that the West must intervene before all is lost.
“I hope and pray a peaceful resolution can be found to this bloody dispute. But if it cannot, we must lift the arms embargo to send a powerful message to Assad that this will no longer be a one-sided war.”