TRANSCRIPT: ABC's Barbara Walters' Interview With Syrian President Bashar al-Assad


Walters: But now?

Assad: I met with two British recently, one a French we meet we had and others.

Walters: Let me ask you once more time so we are clear, in general, can foreign correspondents, if they are accredited, come to this country?

Assad: Of course they can come.

Walters: They can?

Assad: Yeah of course.

Walters: You said that if there is any outside attempt to bring you down it would mean an earthquake, what do you mean by that?

Assad: Syria is the fault line in the Middle East. You know, the Middle East is generally it's very diverse in ethnicities, in sects, in religions, but Syria the most diverse and this is the fault line where all these diversity meet so it's like the fault line of the Earth of the, of the Earth. When you play with it, you will have earthquake that is going to effect the whole region. So playing don't mean to overthrow me or to deal with me it's not about me it's about the, the, the fabric of the society in this region that is what I meant.

Walters: You know your father led this country for 30 years until his death. You have now led the country for more than a decade.

Assad: Yes.

Walters: If the Arab Spring means anything it seems to be that the era of one-family rule is over.

Assad: OK, no I never supported being a dynasty, is that correct?

Walters: That's correct.

Assad: Yeah of being a dynasty.

Walters: You are not raising your son to succeed you?

Assad: No, no and my father never spoke with me in politics, you don't believe this. We never and he never tried to prepare me. He always wanted me to be a president against what you hear in the media that he asked me to come from London. He wanted me to go back to London to continue and I refused.

Walters: But your older brother was supposed to be, take your father's place when he was killed.

Assad: No, he had no posit--

Walter: Your father asked you to come back?

Assad: My brother had no position when my father was there and I had no position. I wasn't, I was nothing in the party, I was only, I was in the military since I was a doctor, nothing else.

Walters: But your father did not expect his sons to take his place?

Assad: Never, he never spoke about this.

Walters: Really?

Assad: Yeah.

Walters: Then, then with all due respect you're a doctor you're an ophthalmologist how did you become the leader of this country?

Assad: I was a military doctor and according to our laws that military law you can move from how to say sector to sector within the army.

Walters: OK.

Assad: So I left the, I was military doctor. Even when I was in London I was a military doctor. They only sent me to London not the Ministry of Higher Education, for example, or anything or the university or university. And so I was in the army since 1985 since I was made a student at the school, few people knew that. I wasn't civil doctor. So anyway when I became, when I became president, I became president through the party after President Assad died. Not, not-- When he was alive I was not there I didn't have any position.

Walters: But when your father died the son became the leader.

Assad: Yes.

Walters: So there were not free elections to make you the leader.

Assad: No anyway we don't have free election we have referendum this is our constitution.

Walters: So your constitution said we want the son?

Assad: No not the constitution, the party.

Walters: The party said?

Assad: And the people demonstrating and they surrounded the parliament they said we need a president so many people who didn't want the president in the government they accepted this new president and I nominated myself, before that I never thought about it.

Walters: So when you have elections which you say is in 2014, you will have opposition parties?

Assad: Yeah.

Walters: Yes.

Assad: We have them already now.

Walters: OK and if they want somebody else and not you, you say OK and you step down?

Assad: The people will say OK, the people say OK. Of course you have to be, to leave that is self-evident you don't have to discuss it. To stay to be president while the people don't want you how can you, how can you succeed.

Walters: You are not training your eldest son who is now, 8?

Assad: He's 8. No.

Walters: To take your place?

Assad: No I was never trained to be in this place.

Walters: Do you sometimes wish that you were still an ophthalmologist?

Assad: No, because I was in the public sector anyway as son of president, I couldn't have my own clinic and get money from the people, so I was in public sector now in wider public sector in the same place. So you wish you still have kind of let's say emotion and feeling toward that job and I am still in touch with the new innovations in that field. But you cannot look back to see yourself as a doctor now we have more important position.

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