Putin: We Protect Syria’s “Statehood” to Prevent it Becoming Like Libya

by Steven MacMillan, New Eastern Outlook: In an explosive interview with Megyn Kelly at the 21st St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, systematically destroyed many of the narratives promulgated by the enemies of the Syrian state who seek to turn the country into the new Libya.

Although the panel discussion covered many issues and featured other speakers, one of the most crucial sections was when Kelly questioned Putin over the Syrian conflict. The opening exchange consisted of Kelly asking the Russian leader whether he believed Assad was an “evil guy?”, allowing Putin to articulate one of the central reasons why Russia supports the Syrian government. Putin emphasized that it is not Assad that Russia is protecting per se; instead, Russia is protecting “the Syrian statehood” from collapsing into an abyss of chaos similar to the one we have seen Libya descend into since 2011:

“It’s not President Assad whom we are protecting; we are protecting the Syrian statehood. We don’t want their interior to be a situation similar to that in Libya, or that in Somalia, or in Afghanistan – in Afghanistan NATO has been present for many years, but the situation is not changing for the better. We want to preserve the Syrian statehood. On the basis of resolving this fundamental issue we would like them to move towards settling the Syrian issue through political means. Yes, probably everyone there is to blame for something, but let’s not forget that were it not for active interference from outside, this civil war probably would not have broken out.”

Ever since NATO forced regime change in Libya – through waging a bombing campaign coupled with supporting al-Qaeda connected rebel legions on the ground – it has been in total chaos. The North African country has been a failed state for years, with rebel factions fighting over control of certain regions.

As journalist Neil Clark and others have pointed out, in July 2010, the Telegraph listed Libya as number one on their six best exotic cruise destinations. By August 2011, numerous reports detailed how many factions of the Libyan opposition were slaughtering black people on mass. In 2012, a disturbing video surfaced which purported to show Libyan rebels forcing African prisoners to eat flags while being kept in giant cages. Earlier this year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that African migrants were being bought and sold in slave markets.

This is just a glimpse into the utter chaos and degradation that Libya has descended into after NATO ‘liberated’ the country back in 2011, and it provides a window into what Syria would be like if the West forces regime change in Damascus.

“The Militants used Chemical Weapons”

Putin then moves on to counter the propaganda spread by the enemies of Syria that Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons in April of this year, before highlighting that the militants have a history of using chemical weapons in the region:

“What is President Assad been accused of recently? We know he has been accused of using chemical weapons, but there’s no evidence to support that whatsoever. Right after the incident, we suggested that an inspection should be carried out at the airbase… But they refused to conduct this kind of inspection. So, they’re talking a lot, but not doing much. We suggested that an inspection should be carried out at the site where the strike took place, [but] they’re saying it’s too dangerous. Why is it dangerous if the strike was against the good part of the opposition? No, they say it is too dangerous.”

“In Iraqi Kurdistan, the militants used chemical weapons and the world community recognised it. So, they know that the militants have got chemical weapons. But according to the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] Syria has destroyed its stocks of chemical weapons. You see, if pretexts are created without any real willingness to look into the matter, it’s not going to lead us anywhere. Let’s talk substantively. Did Assad make mistakes? Yes, probably a lot of them. But those who oppose him, are they angels? Who [are] murdering people and executing children – beheading people. Should we support those people?”

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