From Damascus. The road which from Libya leads to Syria is continually dotted with checkpoints. Loyalists check every vehicle passing through because the risk of attacks is still very high. Gli Occhi della Guerra have once again returned to Syria. And in the most delicate moment of this tormented nation: following the liberation of Aleppo and the signing of a ceasefire agreement.

Assad welcomes us in one of his residences. His expression is relaxed and he greets everyone shaking their hand with a smile. We are able to ask him a few questions. Firstly concerning the Syrian migrants who are flocking to Europe. His answer is clear: “If you ask me ‘What do they want?’, I will tell you, as a Syrian: they are my fellow citizens and they want to go back to their country, they all want to go back to their country. They require stability, security and at the same time they want the basic needs for their livelihood which so many of them have lost due to the war. I don’t want to invite them to return to Syria because Syria is their country and they don’t need an invitation to return. But I’d like to say something to the European officials who created this problem by supporting terrorism directly or indirectly in our country and have created this flood of Syrians fleeing to Europe, while at the same time declaring that they are supporting them from a humanitarian point of view. They don’t need your support in your country, they need your support in our country. They (the officials N/A) need to stop supporting terrorists, they need to stop the embargo that forced many Syrians to go to Europe, because it is due to the embargo, and not only to terrorism, that they can no longer live in their country.”

According to Assad the causes of the outbreak lie in his refusal to accept the pipeline system put forward by Qatar. “This was one of the important factors. It wasn’t offered to us publicly but I think it was planned. There were two routes crossing Syria: one of them from north to south, which is the one Qatar was interested in, and the other one from east to west, to the Mediterranean, crossing Iraq from Iran. At the time we had embarked on building the one going from east to west. And I think that many countries that opposed Syria’s policy didn’t want our country to become an energy hub, whether for electricity or oil, or even a crossroads of railways and so on.”

Just yesterday the ceasefire agreement on Syria was confirmed. This is certainly an important step put forward by Iran, Russia and Turkey to try and bring peace to the country. The agreement excludes jihadist groups, against which bombing continues. According to Assad, these very same terrorists are responsible for last week’s attack to the heart of Germany. The Syrian president states he is one of the few world leaders to fight terrorism and declared: “The problem with Europe is that they don’t want to help themselves. The officials and the governments are working against their interests, they are working against the interests of their own people. They are supporting the terrorists. And if they are supporting the terrorists in our region they are also assisting terrorism in attacking Europe, so how can I help them? If You don’t have a good policy before intelligence you cannot achieve any results, whether through the intelligence, or military or otherwise.

Christians are amongst those who have suffered the most during this war. However Assad ensures they will play a role in rebuilding the country, together with other minorities: “If you look at Syria, not just today, or over the last few years but over the last centuries, it’s always been diverse, a melting pot, with different religions and ethnicities. We have a wide spectrum of diversities. Without this wide spectrum of diversities you wouldn’t have Syria, regardless of the name, regardless of the political borders, I’m talking about Syria as it was before the war. Due to this war we have had many demographic changes, caused by the displacement of people, whether internally or externally. I am confident that after the war the majority of Syrians will return to Syria. Syria will be…. I’d like to use the word reborn although Syria has not vanished yet. Secondly, this war has brought many Syrians together. They have learned so many lessons: that if we don’t accept each other, if we don’t respect each other on every level we will not have a unified society. And without this unified society Syria cannot be reborn, I think we should not just talk about the rebirth of Syria. Today I feel that once we will no longer be afflicted by terrorism our society will be much stronger than the society that you knew before the war because of the numerous lessons that we’ve learned.