The full interview between Charlie Rose and President Bashar al-Assad aired on September 9 (partial transcript below) and the story lines that have spun out of it suggest it was a carefully managed appearance, as one would expect, meant to stave off the threat of an attack by shifting blame onto the rebels and questioning the trustworthiness of the American government.
Tuesday morning, the Washington Post carried the headline, "Bashar al-Assad’s interview with Charlie Rose shows he knows Obama’s weak spots." It states, "Assad seems to betray a nuanced understanding of American politics and of the U.S. debate over strikes — and where it’s weakest." The audience he was speaking to was and is America and the English speaking world. The arguments he made in the interview, that the U.S. has nothing to gain from war, are far different that the ones he's often made internally in Syria, where his tone is much more defiant and focused on resisting the U.S.-Israel alliance.
A partial transcript of the interview:
CHARLIE ROSE: Well, as you know, [Secretary of State John Kerry] has said there is evidence that they saw rockets that fired from — a region controlled by your forces into a region controlled by the rebels. They have evidence from satellite photographs of that. They have evidence of — an und — of a message that was intercepted about — chemical weapons. And — and that soon thereafter, there were other intercepted messages. So Secretary Kerry has presented what he concludes is conclusive evidence.
BASHAR AL-ASSAD: No. He presented his confidence and he presented his convictions. It’s not — it’s not about confidence, it’s about evidence. The United — sorry, the Russians — have completely opposite evidence that the missiles were thrown from area where the rebels controlled. That reminds me about what Kerry said, about the big lie that Colin Powell said in front of the world on satellites about the W.M.D. in Iran before going to war when he said, “This is our evidence.” Actually, he give — false evidence. In this case, Kerry didn’t even present any evidence. He talk, “We have evidence.” And he didn’t present anything, not yet. Nothing so far.
CHARLIE ROSE Well, the United ——
BASHAR AL-ASSAD Not a single shred of evidence.
...Now that the proposal for international inspectors to take control of Syrian chemical weapons has been agreed to by Syrian officials, it appears the threat of a U.S. attack may be diminishing. Obama is scheduled to address the nation at 9 p.m. EST on September 10.