Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Video’

List of video, audio, and some other online archives

This is a quick list of archives I’ve come across over time. Feel free to suggest other internet archives in the comments section, so that I can try to keep this post as useful and helpful as possible.

The various archives listed contain podcasts, stock film, documentaries, shorts, recited poetry, experimental music and sound, lectures, etc. I tried to include only sites that have archives of materials as opposed to shows I like.

Categories: Audio or Video Tags: , ,

Stereoscope

This animation – Stereoscope – is by William Kentridge, with music composed by Philip Miller. You can read a very short interview with Kentridge at UbuWeb.

Categories: Art, Audio or Video Tags: ,

The ‘state of national safety’ in Bahrain

May 12, 2011 1 comment

The Kingdom Bahrain is safe, so says the man in charge. His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa announced a three month reign of safety called “a State of National Safety” to protect citizens’ lives. This March 15 announcement was made in response to popular demonstrations in that country.

European and US support for justice and human rights are armed and supposedly on the march, after all — Bahraini officials would have been sanctioned, and no-fly zones issued by these countries, and the military alliance of NATO. Surely ‘precision’ freedom rockets would have rained from the sky and made impact on government compounds if innocent people were truly at risk. There would have been talk of weapons provided to the opposition movement that is asking for a constitutional monarchy or democracy.

The State of National Safety is decreed to end on June 1. Perhaps this means national safety is being amply protected by targeting and eliminating threats.

Since mass demonstrations took place in Bahrain, threats being handled so far include special military courts being given 405 political detainees to prosecute, including 23 doctors and 24 nurses.

Here is an Al Jazeera report of raids on schools and beatings of school girls.

A lot of work went into getting things to this stage. There was “systematic and coordinated attacks against medical personnel, as a result of their efforts to provide unbiased care for wounded protestors.” The abuse ranged from threats to beatings. Hospitalised patients and detainees received a generous share of the national safety efforts as well, “including torture, beating, verbal abuse, humiliation, and threats of rape and killing; government security forces stealing ambulances and posing as medics; the militarization of hospitals and clinics which has resulted in the obstruction of medical care; and rampant fear that prevents patients from seeking urgent medical treatment.” These are documented by and quoted from Physicians for Human Rights.

Some hospitalised patients are said to have been abused by masked security officers. On the subject of masked men, they have made a couple of other notable appearances of late.

At least two groups of masked men went into action the night of May 1-2. They grabbed Matar Ebrahim Matar and Jawad Fairuz.

Matar, a member of al-Wefaq political party, was taken off the street and forced into a car at gunpoint. A government spokesperson has put it this way: Matar “has been called in for investigation.”

Before the abduction, Matar was accused of directing the killing of two security officers during the period of popular uprisings. The accusation was very dramatic. It took place on television. A man detained and charged for the death of two security officers was broadcast admitting the direction of Matar in targeting officers.

Prior to his own detention, Matar identified the bearer of the television accusation as Ali Isa Ibrahim Saqer. This man is dead now, since early April. He seems to haven been tortured to death. Fairuz, also a member of al-Wefaq who had earlier resigned from the lower house of parliament, was victim of a home invasion by men with weapons in hand, and he was taken. You can read more about this from Human Rights Watch.

The Kingdom of Bahrain has had help. Its partners include the thousand strong Saudi-led military men who entered the country to help the royal Al Khalifa family maintain control.

Mercenaries were also requested to boost the power and security of the royal family during this time of increased opposition. And it should have by now become increasingly clear that the national safety announced by the king is primarily about the maintenance of power in the hands of the royal family.

The Kingdom of Bahrain benefited from an advert to “urgently” hire military and security personnel from Pakistan. This is what the advert looked like.

Urgent Requirement - Manpower for Bahrain National Guard

Urgent Requirement - Manpower for Bahrain National Guard

Part 2 of advert

Urgent Requirement - Manpower for Bahrain National Guard

Part 3 of advert

The News, from Pakistan, in April expanded on the subject:

The Fauji Security Services (Pvt) Limited, which is run by the Fauji Foundation, a subsidiary of the Pakistan Army, is currently recruiting on war footing basis thousands of retired military personnel from the Pakistan Army, Navy and the Air Force who will be getting jobs in the Gulf region, especially in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. But sources in the Fauji Foundation say over 90 per cent of the fresh recruitments, which started in the backdrop of the recent political upheaval in the Arab world, are being sent to Bahrain to perform services in the Bahrain National Guard (BNG), and that too at exorbitant salaries. Thousands of ex-servicemen of the Pakistani origin are already serving in Bahrain and the fresh recruitments are aimed at boosting up the strength of the BNG to deal with the country’s majority Shia population, which is calling for replacement of the Sunni monarchy. Bahrain’s ruling elite is Sunni, although about 70% of the population is Shia.

[…]According to available figures, over 1,000 Pakistanis have so far been recruited in March 2011 alone.

[…]Bahrain has long been a happy hunting ground for ex-Pakistani army personnel — an estimated 10,000 Pakistanis are already serving in various security services of Bahrain.

The work of repression includes such things as demolitions. Shia mosques and shrines have been demolished. Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Sheikh Khalid bin Ali bin Abdulla al-Khalifa, has claimed, “These are not mosques. These are illegal buildings.”

The Justice Ministry’s website had this response: “The ministry will provide legal alternatives for buildings with a licence for those cabins and facilities being removed.” (from Reuters)

Pepe Escobar writes in the Asia Times that detainees put on trial include “Shi’ite dissident Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the opposition group Haq who has called for the overthrow of the monarchy; and Ebrahim Shareef, the Sunni leader of the secular Waad group that called for a constitutional monarchy.”

Human Rights Watch has reported that on May 3 it “received credible reports that a human rights and opposition activist, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, who was arrested on April 9 and whose whereabouts and well-being were unknown, had been admitted to Bahrain Defense Force hospital for six days for treatment of injuries, including to his jaw and head. One person who saw him said he was unrecognizable as a result of apparent beatings in detention.”

Local media has also been targeted. For example, three editors from an opposition newspaper, Al-Wasat, are being taken to court. Their charges include unethical coverage of demonstrations.

The Al Khalija family is wielding terror, violence, and detentions in its campaign to retain a monopoly on power. This is the same family that has been ruling Bahrain since 1783.

Here is one dimension of the country’s recent history as written by the US State Department:

In the 1830s the Al Khalifa family signed the first of many treaties establishing Bahrain as a British Protectorate.

[…]The main British naval base in the region was moved to Bahrain in 1935 shortly after the start of large-scale oil production.

[…]Bahrain… declare[d] itself fully independent on August 15, 1971.

[…]Bahrain promulgated a constitution and elected its first parliament in 1973, but just 2 years later, in August 1975, the Amir disbanded the National Assembly after it attempted to legislate the end of Al-Khalifa rule and the expulsion of the U.S. Navy from Bahrain.

[…]Military exercises are conducted on a regular basis to increase the BDF’s [Bahrain Defence Force] readiness and improve coordination with the U.S. and other GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] forces. The BDF also sends personnel to the United States for military training.

[…]Bahrain’s strategic partnership with the U.S. has intensified since 1991. Bahraini pilots flew strikes in Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War, and the country was used as a base for military operations in the Gulf. Bahrain also provided logistical and basing support to international Maritime Interdiction efforts to enforce UN sanctions and prevent illegal smuggling of oil from Iraq in the 1990s. Bahrain also provided extensive basing and overflight clearances for a multitude of U.S. aircraft operating in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Bahrain also deployed forces in support of coalition operations during both OEF and OIF.

[…]Bahrain and the United States signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement in October 1991 granting U.S. forces access to Bahraini facilities and ensuring the right to pre-position material for future crises. Bahrain is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. The U.S. designated Bahrain a Major Non-NATO Ally in October 2001. Bahrain and the United States signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2004.

Occupation of an Egyptian factory: downsizing to increase efficiency or cutting people out

Under the previous Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, numerous public companies were sold off to the private sector. The process left many workers without employment from layoffs and factory closures. Here is a video of Egyptian workers explaining the situation they are  in as they occupying an abandoned factory.

Privatization was represented as a move to efficient business practice. In that case, it should have helped improve the country’s economy, if we understand improvement to mean better standards of living that would support the basic life needs of people.

This sort of doing business, ‘rationalizing’ both private and public firms, is not unique to Egypt. The problem with its practice is that even if the GDP of a country grows, poverty is in most cases is increasing.

This is true in many countries, no matter the size of their economies. And the practice of buying existing companies (or factories) and shutting them down is not new. On paper, it might even be shown to provide a short-term increase in the nation’s profits, depending on how you like to calculate such things.

For example, a group buys a working factory at low cost, closes it, and sells off all of its assets (machines, land, etc.) for a nice profit over the initial cost of purchase. They might decide to keep a few factories open in the short to medium term with reduced number of employees and call this efficiency. In time, even these can be closed and sold off as social and political pressure from the initial round of mass closures eases up.

Downsizing is another word for this sort of efficiency, putting capital markets in control of business management. For an example of this in the US, during the Reagan’s presidency, see the video clip below. It’s from Adam Curtis’ documentary, The Mayfair Set. I recommend watching the video from about 2 minutes and 10 seconds in.

You can watch the entire four part documentary for free on Youtube .

Start of: Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4

Episode one and four are also available at the Internet Archive. Part 1 (the end is missing) | Part 4

People: free will versus complex animals that must be controlled

The language that is understood in our modern democracy [is] through putting thousands of people on the street. [...] We need to go out and do mobilization. [...] It is the only thing that will push into a meaningful engagement; not a discussion. [...] Our power remains in our numbers. Unity is our strength.

Above is an excerpt from a short talk given by S’bu Zikode. Below is the speech in full.

There are two broad schools of thought on people, that they are capable of effective self-determination and free action, or that they are almost exclusively shaped by the social, environmental, and material conditions of their daily life and so they cannot be trusted to decide their own fate.

These two streams of thought take on many different forms, have various names, and are championed by various causes. They both seem to regularly offer the same examples of human atrocities, such as global wars, as events that prove the basis for their argument. A war that mobilizes a great mass of people to kill and die is represented as either:

  1. The horror of people lacking good judgment and committing murder or mass suicide; or
  2. The oppressive power of privileged factions organizing a system of government that coerces the mass of people to commit murder.

These ideas of a people, as reactionary networks of individuals or people as the most suitable for determining their own lives touches on all aspects of life, from deciding on types of healthcare to how best to determine good forms of employment.

These schools demand broadly different approaches to governance. Simply put they demand rule by a supposedly enlightened elite that knows best or direct decision-making by empowered collectives of people. These governing bodies range in size from national or international governments to local boards or movements.

B.F. Skinner is famous for supporting the notion that people cannot govern themselves. He helped develop behaviouralism. This presents people as shaped by their social and environmental context, their behaviours shaped in response to stimuli (rewards and punishments). Of course, an ‘engineer’ could then command people’s behaviours. Here is an example.

Here is a a video of Skinner giving a short talk on the subject.

There is also the notion of people having the capacity for self-determination by applying their free will. This is not a complex form of reflex or manipulated bahaviour.

The will of the people is, to quote the philosopher Peter Hallward, “a deliberate, emancipatory and inclusive process of collective self-determination.” This requires that people not be slave to purely behavioural control. The application of free will requires the people to “resist the power of the historical, cultural or socio-economic terrain to determine” their/our own way. (quotes from Hallward’s essay, The will of the people, available online)

Here is an eloquent articulation of why and how people must organize together:

Our politics starts by recognizing the humanity of every human being. We decided that we will no longer be good boys and girls that quietly wait for our humanity to be finally recognized one day. Voting has not worked for us. We have already taken our place on the land in the cities and we have held that ground. We have also decided to take our place in all the discussions and to take it right now. We take our place humbly because we know that we don’t have all the answers, that no one has all the answers. Our politics is about carefully working things out together, moving forward together. But although we take our place humbly we take it firmly.

[...]Our politics starts from the places we have taken. We call it a living politic because it comes from the people and stays with the people. It is ours and it is part of our lives. We organize it in our own languages and in our own communities. It is the politics of our lives. It is made at home with what we have and it is made for us and by us. We are finished with being ladders for politicians to climb up over the people.

[...]To think about all this we must start with the history of where we come from. Who are we and what type of society we want to build.

It has become clear to us that whenever we talk about history we are seen to be launching an offensive. It has become clear to us that this is because the rich want to believe that we are poor because we are less than them – less intelligent, less responsible, less clean, less honest, less educated. If we are poor because we are just less than the rich then we must be happy for every little thing that we are given, we must be happy with a hamper or some old clothes when our children are dying in the rats and the fire and the mud.

But we are not poor because we are less than the rich. We are poor because we were made poor. The rich are rich because they were made rich. If your ancestors had the land you will go to university and get a nice job and look after your family well. If your ancestors lost the land you will be lucky to find a dangerous job that you hate so that your family can just survive.

The above are excerpts from a speech given by S’bu Zikode. Zikode is the president of Abhalali baseMjondo, a South African shack dwellers movement that began in early 2005.

Jacques Ranciere writes the following in his book, The Ignorant School Master:

There is stultification whenever one intelligence is subordinated to another. [...] That subjection is purely one of will over will.

[...]There aren’t two sorts of minds. There is inequality in the manifestations of intelligence, according to the greater or lesser energy communicated to the intelligence by the will for discovering and combining new relations: but there is no hierarchy of intellectual capacity.

[...] Whoever looks always finds. He doesn’t necessarily find what he was looking for, and even less what he was supposed to find. But he finds something new to relate to the thing that he already knows.”

All watched over by machines of loving grace

This is a teaser for an upcoming film by an excellent documentary filmmaker, Adam Curtis.

The title of the film, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, is from a poem by Richard Brautigan. Below is a video that starts with Richard reciting the poem.

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
by Richard Brautigan

I’d like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.

I like to think
(right now, please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.

I like to think
(it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.

Categories: Art, Audio or Video, Film Tags: ,

Revisiting Nights of Labour: Jacques Ranciere video lecture

June 4, 2010 1 comment

The French philosopher Jacques Ranciere gives a lecture in Delhi, following the release the Hindi translation of his famous book, Nights of Labour: Workers’ Dream in 19th Century France.

SaraiMediaLab provides some background:

Ranciere wrote The Nights of Labour after years of archival work. It traces the world of worker intellectuals in 19th century France, who, through their poems, music, letters, produced a world that did not celebrate work as in conventional socialist texts, but a life outside it. Radical in its style and argument, Nights of Labour, offers not just a revision of working class history, but the relation between politics, knowledge, aesthetics and equality, all of which have become topics of Ranciere’s future books.

Revising Nights of Labour – Part 1:

Revising Nights of Labour – Part 2:

Revising Nights of Labour – Part 3:

Revising Nights of Labour – Part 4:

Revising Nights of Labour – Part 5:

Revising Nights of Labour – Part 6:

Israeli forces kill civilians carrying aid shipments to Gaza

At least 10 civilians were killed, and many more injured, by Israeli commandos boarding a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza on Monday, May 31.

The Gaza Strip is under an Israeli blockade, with all its points of entry monitored and controlled by Israeli officials. The siege has stiffened following the 2007 takeover of Gaza by Hamas and the Israeli war on the Strip that killed some 1,500 people in 2008-2009.

The aid ships carried over 600 activists and 10,000 tonnes of supplies. Among the activists were some members of parliament (MPs). After leaving Turkey, the flotilla was to pick up more passengers in Cyprus, including 30 MPs from nine European countries, but traffic to and from the flotilla was denied by authorities in Cyprus.

Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Israel and has called for a session of the UN Security Council. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on a state visit to Canada at the time and was scheduled to visit the US next. He has canceled his foreign trip and returned to Israel to face the political crisis that has resulted from the deaths of so many international civilians under the Israeli Defense Force.

Greece has ended its joint war games with Israel, while ambassadors are being recalled or questioned in multiple countries, such as Sweden recalling its ambassador to Israel as protest.

Prime minister Erdogan of Turkey has responded to today’s attack, saying that “This attack made by Israel is a state terror. Actual Israeli government demonstrated that it does not want peace in the region. It should be known that we will not keep silent and unreactive facing this state terror.”

Turkey has been one of Israel’s few regional allies, though relations have become increasingly strained following the 2008-2009 war against Gaza.

Israel claims that upon boarding the ships they were attacked by activists wielding clubs and knives and fired live rounds in response, as a form of self-defence. Eight members of the military are said to be wounded.

Juan Cole writes that:

It is being alleged by members of Free Gaza that the aid ships were boarded in international waters and that Israel contravened the UN international convention on freedom of navigation on the high seas. Although the Israeli press refers to the waters off Gaza as “Israeli territorial waters,” in fact Israel has no legal claim to the Gaza coast. It is the Occupying power in Gaza since 1967, but is in severe contravention of the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of occupied populations.

Thousands of people are protesting the incident around the world, outside Israeli and sometimes US consulates. On Monday, some 300 protesters in Turkey tried to storm the Israeli consulate but were repelled by security forces. The number of protesters has since grown.

Amnesty International’s response:

For nearly three years, Israel, which is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip, has implemented a policy of banning all movement of goods and people, except for the most basic humanitarian necessities, which are imported by international aid agencies. Only a fraction of patients in need of treatment outside Gaza are allowed out, and dozens have died waiting for Israeli permission to travel.

“The blockade does not target armed groups but rather punishes Gaza’s entire population by restricting the entry of food, medical supplies, educational equipment and building materials,” said Malcolm Smart.

“Unsurprisingly, its impact falls most heavily on those most vulnerable among Gaza ’s 1.5 million people: children, the elderly and the sick. The blockade constitutes collective punishment under international law and must be lifted immediately.”

Interview with Amira Hass

Below is a video of an interview with Amira Hass, an excellent Israeli journalist who writes for Ha’aretz.

The video covers a detailed bio, including the experience of her family during the Holocaust, moves to her inspiration for writing, then to her work in Palestine and in Israel.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad interview transcripts and video

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was interviewed by Charlie Rose on May 27, and the video of the full interview is available online. You can also read the full transcipt at Joshua Landis’ excellent website, Syria Comment. Syria comment also has the full transcript of a May 8 La Repubblica interview with Bashar al-Assad. The La Repubblica transcript is cleaner and easier to read.

Here are some highlights from the more recent Charlie Rose interview (video here):

Charlie Rose: How do you see Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, the northern tier in –

Bashar al-Assad: The northern tier of Iran and Iraq.  Normally you should have good relations with your neighbors, something we’ve learned from our experience in the last decades.  We’ve been in conflict, Syria and Turkey, Iraq and Turkey, and other countries.  What did we get?  Nothing.  We’ve been losing for decades.  We have learned here in the last decade that we have to turn the tide, so everybody is going for good relations with the other, even if it doesn’t have the same vision or they — even if they disagree about most of the things, not some things.  So, this relation, Syria/Iraq, we are neighbors.  Syria/Turkey, we are neighbors.  We’ll affect each other directly.  Iran is not my neighbor, but at the end, Iran is one of the big countries in the Middle East, and it’s an important country, and it plays a role and affects different issues in the region.  So, if you want to play a role and help yourself and save your interests, you should have good relations with all these influential countries.  That’s why this relation, I think, is very normal.

[...]

Charlie Rose: What is it we don’t understand, those in Washington, about the region, about the culture, about Syria’s role, about Iran?

Bashar al-Assad: They don’t understand that we want peace.  But if you want peace, doesn’t mean to — if you want to sign a peace treaty doesn’t mean that we accept to sign capitulation agreement.  That’s what they don’t understand, the difference between capitulation agreement.  That’s how I’m talking about the perception in our region, how we see it, and peace treaty.  Peace treaty means having all your rights.  This is the second about Iran very clear issue, nuclear issue.  It’s about Iran having the right to have peaceful nuclear reactor.  You cannot deal with Iran through the Security Council through threats and the evidence that they didn’t understand is the recent agreement between Turkey, Brazil and Iran.  And I told the official that I met recently from Europe after that agreement that this is going to be the proof that they didn’t understand this region because Turkey and Brazil succeeded in getting what the world has been asking for during the last year in a few weeks because they understand this region and they adopted different approach which is direct, not strict, not imposing.

Charlie Rose: Their interpretation of what happened between Iran and Turkey and Iran and Brazil is that it’s just another effort by Iran to delay sanctions –

Bashar al-Assad: We disagree.

[...]

Charlie Rose: Some find it interesting that your allies are Islamist, in one case of theocracy, and yet Syria is a secular state.

Bashar al-Assad: That’s true.  And that’s what they don’t understand.  This is one of the things that they don’t understand in the West, especially in the United States, because if I support you, it doesn’t mean I’m like you or I agree with you.  That means I believe in your cause.  There’s a difference.  Maybe if we don’t have this cause, we have different debate with them or different relations.  While now they have a cause and support the cause, we don’t support organization.  We support the Palestinian cause, and Hamas is working for that cause, and the same for Hezbollah.  Hezbollah is working for the Lebanese cause, so we support that cause, not Hezbollah, but Hezbollah is one of the means.  So, that’s what they have to understand in the West.

[...]

Charlie Rose: The relationship with Turkey is very good.  Turkey was serving as an intermediary between negotiations between you and the Israelis.

Bashar al-Assad: Yeah.

Charlie Rose: It came that close in which you would get back the Golan Heights, yes?

Bashar al-Assad: This is very important.  What we have now as reference is mainly the United Nations or Security Council resolution.  It’s very important reference but it’s not defined.  It talks about the land occupied in ’67 but how can you define this land?  Israel talking about a different line, how can you define this line, I mean?  We wanted in that inquisition to define the line through one point and Israel wanted to define its security requirements.  So if we define these two things and we move to the direct negotiation, whenever you have arbiter this arbiter can play its role only through this paper, not like what happened in the ‘90’s when some politicians, some of them with a good will spoiled the process with good will but with enthusiasm but less with a lack of knowledge.  And others, self-serving politicians, spoiled it for their own interests.  Now we had this paper, anyone who wants to play a role, any mediator, any official, any arbiter, should play it through this paper and this is where we can succeed, not to have 19 wasteful years.

[...]

Charlie Rose: You don’t think Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to make a deal.

Bashar al-Assad: Again, it’s not about him.  It’s about the whole government.  Can he lead the government toward peace?  Is he strong enough to lead this government toward peace?  Because you know, it’s a coalition now.  It’s coalition.  You do not have — he doesn’t have the majority to say I’m going in that direction.  So in reality, nothing is happening yet.  So why do we waste the time expecting.  He’s been for now in his position for a year and nearly a year and a half, something like this.  And he couldn’t do anything in peace.  So I don’t know if you have the will or he has the power.  We don’t know.

Charlie Rose: On the other side of the Palestinians, and they are not unified.

Bashar al-Assad: Yeah.

Charlie Rose: There’s Fatah, Hamas.  Can they be unified?

Bashar al-Assad: Of course they can.  If you help them, they can be unified.  And they have to be unified.  Without unification in the Palestinian really you cannot have peace.  You need this unification.  It’s not about who is going to sign the treaty.  At the end if you want to implement the treaty, you need unification.  You need unified policy.

[...]

Charlie Rose: Let me focus again on the dynamic of this region. There is Egypt, which has traditionally had the largest army and the most powerful force. There’s Iran, which has emerged as a regional power after 1979. There is now Syria and Turkey having a very interesting relationship. Some say Syria’s moving more to the East. How do you see the new forces shaping the region?

Bashar al-Assad: The criteria has changed in the positive. They used to say Egypt is a big country, Syria is a small country, but it’s playing a role which is bigger than your size. Of course –

[speaking simultaneously]

Charlie Rose: — beyond its weight.

Bashar al-Assad: Yeah, exactly. Qatar is a very small country. Nobody put it on the political map for inclusion. Actually the criteria has changed. Now we have the will, the vision, and the geopolitical position. We have these three.  Qatar has will and has vision. Turkey has the three criteria, the geopolitical position, big country, strong economy, will and vision. It was a strong and it was big 10 years ago, but they didn’t have the will and same vision, so it didn’t play that role, Turkey. So, the criteria have changed. Today you have Iran, you have Turkey, you have Syria, and you have Qatar.    If you want to talk about cooperation, for example, regarding the peace, we had a meeting in Istanbul, me and Erdogan and the prince of Qatar, and it was about the peace, because Turkey and Qatar are partners with Syria in the peace issue. So you have a different map regarding different issues. We had a meeting with Iran regarding defending our rights regarding the Israeli aggression, regarding the issue in Iraq. Regarding Iraq, there’s cooperation between Syria, Turkey, and Iran. So you have different [unintelligible]. But all of them in the same region, so this is the new dynamic that we have that depends on every subject.

[...]

Charlie Rose: There is no dialogue between Syria –

Bashar al-Assad: Between Syria and the United States regarding Iraq.  They only talk about borders, and they only talk about terrorists, because they deal with the terrorists like playing a game on the computer where you have terrorists, and they have to shoot him.  That’s how they deal with the terrorist issue.  They don’t understand that terrorism fighting means having the atmosphere, the normal situation, fighting the chaos.  You cannot fight the chaos while you have political anarchy.  You should have normal government with the police, with the army, with the normal situation, normal political situation.  This is where you don’t have chaos, this is where terrorists fail.  They cannot do anything.

Charlie Rose: So what is your big challenge today?

Bashar al-Assad: The biggest challenge is how can we keep our society as secular as it is today.

Charlie Rose: As secular.

Bashar al-Assad: Secular — the society, not the government.  It is secular.  You have diversity, very rich diversity in Syria we are proud of.  But at the end, you are part of this region.  You cannot stay unrelated to the conflicts from the conflicts surrounding you.  If you have sectarian Lebanon on our west and sectarian Iraq on our east, and you don’t have the peace process solved on our southern border, and you have the terrorists dominating the region, and let’s say growing with leaps and bounds, you will be affected some day.  You will be — you will pay the price.  So it’s not about being passive and saying I’m going to protect myself.  How can you be active and expand what you have to the other?  So the challenge is the extremism in this region.

Charlie Rose: But the extremism some people believe — those people who are never secular, who in fact find in religion a cause.

Bashar al-Assad: They always use religions to assume — to assume the mantle of religions or Islam, whatever, in order to have followers.  They only assume it.  I don’t think they are convinced about what they are doing.  Some of them, they are ignorant.  They believe it.  They think they are helping the religion this way.  But at the end, it’s not about those, about — it’s about the others.  How can they influence because, I mean, you always have extremists in everything.  In politics, in religions, in Christianity, in Islam, in Judaism, in every religion, you have extremism.  But it’s about how much can they influence the society.  As long as we have open-minded people, you don’t worry about them, they are going to be isolated.  So I’m not worried about what meant to be the few to convince the other, only about how much the other can protect himself from them.

Charlie Rose: But as I listen to you say that, it seems an incongruity between saying that and looking at who you have great relations with and who you support in the region.

Bashar al-Assad: That’s why I say it’s not about who is like you and who is not.  It’s about the cause.  They have cause they have to support.  And this is the second — there’s not extremist if you –

Charlie Rose: Hezbollah is not extremist?

Bashar al-Assad: No, it’s not.  They support peace.  If you want peace, they support peace.  They believe in Islam as — to be the government in their country.  This is their freedom of — this is — I mean, they are free to think whatever they want.  But they never try to implement it by force.  This is where you cannot blame a rebel as an extremist.  The extremist wants to force you to go in certain way.  And sometimes they attack you, and sometime they kill you.  This is extremism, not to have your idea, your idea, of course we’re going to have different ideas, different currents, political currents and treaty currents.  That’s normal.  And this is the diversity that we have.  But they are not extremists because they never try to implement by force their doctrine.

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