I’m scratching my head in bewilderment: is our former FM Støre actually trying to understand the behavioral machinations of that beastly Mr. Assad? Is he trying to say that he thinks Mr. Assad is cool, in spite of some human rights transgressions? Is he trying to say that if Israel only hadn’t reacted to the IHH/Gaza flotilla attempt to break the Gaza blockade, None of the horrors in Syria would have happened because Syria would have found a warm embrace in the West?
Or is he simply an old fashioned apologist who cares about nothing but to appear smart and “progressive” in newspapers that nobody really reads (not in Norway, and also not in the rest of the world…)
lifted from nrk.no, poor google translate, which probably subtracts a lot from Mr. Støre’s ramblings.
But not to be confused, it is not more than 2 weeks ago since Mr. Støre publicly condemned calls for continued sanctions against Iran, after the Minister of Economy banned two Iranian companies from the Petrol Fund (but kept mum about the exclusion of two Israeli companies in the same round). So it feels relatively safe to assert that Mr. Støre either has lost his marbles, or had none to lose in the first place and this is the actual beast under a very smooth package.
Støre speaks out about Assad : – the Middle East’s most interesting interlocutor
– I think a lot about how Bashar al – Assad must be feeling, a frank Jonas Gahr Støre told NRK. As Foreign Minister he met with the Syrian president several times.
Sidsel Wold and Stig Arild Pettersen
– I thought he was one of the most interesting conversation partners in the Middle East.
Jonas Gahr Støre is sitting in his office in Parliament and looks back on the years as foreign minister from 2005 to 2012. Between 2007 and 2011 , he met with Syrian President Bashar al – Assad several times, and he liked to hear the president’s analysis of the Middle East.
– He understands the real politics of the ME and is a power politician who is not mincing his words . He analyzed the world as he saw it : Here are my friends, here are my enemies , and these are my interests , said Mr Støre .
He calls Assad’s analysis “a sharp picture on the political situation in the Middle East .”
The last time the two met was just a month before the demonstrations in Syria started, which would eventually evolve into a civil war.
– When we asked questions about human rights, about freedom of opinion , economic reforms and democracy, he replied that this is not ripe for Syria , says Støre , who thinks this was typical for Assad :
– He analyzed the situation of others very well but very poorly for Syrians.
– Regarding the Arab Spring , he believed that Syria was protected from this, that the country didn’t have the same tensions ,Støre says.
– Didn’t want to be Iran’s Friend
The war in Syria has robbed the world of a good opportunity to integrate the country into the international community , said the former foreign minister .
Støre felt it was important to talk with the Syrians so that they didn’t end up completely in the hands of their only friend, Iran.
– Assad’s analysis of this relationship was measured, he had no particular desire to be Iran’s friend. But if one has no other friends, one takes the one which is available. But he was very clear that his personal desire and ambition was to find solutions with the West, says Minister.
Even if Assad even before the war was a controversial leader , he was until 2009 in fact only a hair’s breadth away to come to a peace agreement with archenemy Israel. The negotiations were led by neighboring Turkey .
But when Israel chose to board the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara , which was on its way to Gaza with humanitarian aid , and killing nine activists were negotiations broken. Thus Syria was left pretty lonely.
But Assad was not an easy man to understand, surrounded by power structures that are foreign to Westerners , says Jonas Gahr Støre .
– I often sat and wondered how much he actually decides. In many authoritarian countries ask you often ” Is it really the power I’m talking to , or is there a deeper power behind this figure? ”
– He is the president, but it is also a question of security, economic interests and family to consider, something we are used to in the West, says Minister.
In the meetings with Støre, President Assad gave the impression of being very confident and in control.
– But we knew from our own sources that this was not necessarily the situation. It reinforced the image that this was just one part of the power structure who spoke .
And thus one could not expect that Assad delivered on the promises he gave to the world community.
– The characteristics of Assad as an international actor is that he talks a lot about the solutions he needs but he fails to deliver on them, says Minister.
– Many in the UN , the U.S. and Europe who have tried to make an agreement with Assad has passed from the meeting and thought they agreed on all points . Then you come back after a certain time, and it has not happened anything. Then he either didn’t mean what he said , or was unable to implement what he has promised, the Labour politician says.
– I think a lot of Assad
Its a five -year age difference Jonas Gahr Støre and Bashar al – Assad. Both have three children each, and Assad stayed long in London and adopted a western, urban lifestyle that gave some recognition factor for the former Foreign Minister.
For this reason Jonas Gahr Støre finds himself often thinking about how Bashar al – Assad must have it now, in the midst of a civil war that may have killed as many as 140,000 people.
– I think a lot of it, actually . He ‘s a person I ‘ve met a man who has lived a family quite liked mine. He was very involved with his children when they were small, at the request of his wife, Støre says.
– So that part of him impresses me, considering the situation he ended up in. But then there’s another side we in Europe do not understand so easily: A power culture, a culture of violence, male cult and revenge culture that his father practiced and son also shows that he is able to practice , says Minister.
– Was he nice ?
– He was not a warm person . He is very formal with no generous gestures . He is very factual . But “nice” isn’t a word I can use,the former foreign minister responds .
Don’t break relations with Syria
When the Syrians began to march in the streets in protest against Assad’s rule in the spring of 2011 and Assad responded with violence the West and Norway were quick to condemn the regime in Syria. Norway’s message was that a president who attack their own people has lost all legitimacy.
– We still stand for this. But now the situation in Syria is very different, Støre says.
– But it is a paradox that with the opposition we saw in Syria at the time, it was probably possible to find a solution if Assad had shown real determination. The opportunity is swept away now , because now the situation is completely different . Now, one can not simply say that it is only the regime that violates human rights, he said, referring to the extreme Islamist groups in Syria.
However, it is important not to break relations with Syrian authorities, Støre says. Recently the Police Security Services (PST) arrested a Norwegian Islamist who came back from fighting in Syria and PST has a list of around 40 Norwegian jihadists who have traveled to Syria. We must have control over these says Støre , and we need the assistance of the Syrian authorities.
– This is one of the reasons we do not break the diplomatic relations with Syria. I assume we ‘ll be in touch , both diplomatically and through the intelligence and security services , says Minister.
– I would not call Bashar al – Assad a partner, but he is the power that according to international law has the formal control of Syria , and that we must hold accountable. And who we therefore should have contact with .
Oy. I am actually hoping that hobby journalist Sidsel Wold has massaged his words to the point of being unrecognizable, as she has previously shown she won’t shy away from using fabricated “interviews” to further her points. Sadly, I believe Mr. Støre actually has expressed all of this terrifying nonsense and can only send my thanks to higher powers that he no longer represents my country in any formal way.
While on the topic, this must really have been a pretty shite day for the Labout party, first they get this nonsense served on the NRK website, then the deputy leader of the Labour party let it rip while talking to a local Labour party group in Vadsø, Finnmark and called on every Labour party member to vilify the sitting government, a comment which caught the attention of every newspaper across the nation. Fantastic to know that the Labour party has no political arguments left and must resort to mudslinging to remain “relevant” Hopefully, many more than me will have concluded that if a central politician such as Støre can try to portray Assad as a caring father for his young children, then he is not fit for office. BTW. Himmler was also a doting father for his children. But he was nevertheless a godforsaken cruel devil who killed for pleasure.