In an interview aired on June 7, 2023, by the Al Mashhad TV Channel, Dr. Riyad Naasan Agha, former Syrian Culture Minister, expressed his opinion that in the early months of the Syrian uprising, Bashar Assad became convinced that America would not interfere, that he could do whatever he deemed necessary to remain in power, and that his main supporter would be Putin.
Born in 1947, Dr. Naasan Agha was an adviser to the former head of the Syrian regime, Hafez Assad, and served as Syria’s ambassador to Oman and the United Arab Emirates. He also holds a PhD degree in philosophy from the University of Damascus.
“The truth and tranquility that came to Bashar Assad saying ‘Do whatever you want’ was American.”Dr. Naasan Agha
When asked about Russia’s role in keeping Assad in power, Dr. Naasan Agha said, “I have opinions. For the first time I can say it and this might hurt me: The truth and tranquility that came to Bashar Assad saying “Do whatever you want” was American. “You will stay. Do not worry. do what you want.” Who has been delegated to play the real supporter role? Putin.“
Dr. Naasan Agha said that in March 2011, people took to the streets demanding the reform of the regime, not its overthrow. But the Assad regime and its allies reacted with bullets and rockets and started a large-scale killing of innocent people everywhere there was a voice demanding dignity and freedom.
Had Assad not responded positively to what Iran and Hezbollah wanted him to do, Syria would have never reached this stage of destructionDr. Naasan Agha
Dr. Naasan Agha stressed that the non-Arab interventions, mainly that of Iran and Hezbollah, in the first days of Syria’s peaceful demonstrations in 2011, was what led to all the bloodshed that occurred in the country for more than a decade now. Had Assad not responded positively to what Iran and Hezbollah wanted him to do, Syria would have never reached this stage of destruction, he added.
Dr. Naasan Agha pointed out that the turning point in the Syrian ordeal came with the direct intervention of Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force, one of five branches of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) specializing in unconventional warfare and military intelligence operations, from 1998 until his assassination in 2020, and Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah, and that all this happened in March and April of 2011 which was a very crucial and decisive period in the Syrian situation.
Dr. Naasan Agha stated that Vladimir Putin had not had close relations with Assad and that prior to 2010, had not visited Syria, adding that Putin interfered at a later stage of the Syrian crisis.
“Since 2017, there have been Arab attempts to neglect the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, and we in the opposition stand against that.”Dr. Naasan Agha
When the interviewer said that it looks as though Assad has won, Dr. Naasan Agha asked a number of rhetorical questions; “Really? With all the power of the USA, do you think he has defeated them? Did he really beat the USA in Syria? Did America retreat in front of the mukhtar (local administration representative) of the municipality in Damascus?” Dr. Naasan Agha emphasized that in spite of the fact that Assad was enabled to survive and declare victory over the whole of Syria’s people, he is in reality very weak even though he is being allowed to resurface as such.
When asked where the Syrian opposition stands today Dr. Naasan Agha said: “Since 2017, there have been Arab attempts to neglect the UN Security Council Resolution 2254, and we in the opposition stand against that,” adding that all that the Syrian opposition wants now is to achieve the implementation of that resolution and that the opposition’s main goal has been from the very beginning, from the first day, to reject bloodshed in Syria which should be a country free of foreign occupiers.