Renowned French historian and archeologist Annie Sartre-Fauriat said that Assad uses Palmyra as a pawn in his Game with the west Assad, adding that “Assad lies when he opens his mouth.”
In an interview with Deutsche Welle (DW) on March 31, Sartre-Fauriat said that “when Assad more or less handed Palmyra over to the ‘Islamic State’ in May 2015, it was an intentional political move. His strategy was that the West would come help him fight the ‘IS’. But it didn’t happen…That’s why it was very important to him for Palmyra to fall into the hands of the ‘IS’.”
“The situation now is similar: Assad did manage to get Russia and Hezbollah on his side to free Palmyra and celebrate himself. He’s hoping to rehabilitate himself with the UN and be accepted again as a negotiation partner. It’s a political maneuver,” Sartre-Fauriat added.
“When his [Assad’s] army occupied Palmyra Castle during the revolution from 2012 to 2015, he did a great deal of damage. He launched grenades and rockets onto the world heritage site and destroyed the pillars and walls. His troops plundered graves, looted artifacts and sold them illegally. As long as Bashar al-Assad is in Palmyra, I’m afraid that he could cause further damage, and that his people will plunder again.”
The French historian and archeologist went on to say that “I know that the press made positive comments about the recapturing of Palmyra but that doesn’t mean the war in Syria is over. That’s why I’m not very optimistic about Palmyra.”
“Peace has to return first and the place must be secured before we can even think about rebuilding the site or restoring monuments.”
“Assad lies when he opens his mouth. I’ve known the Syrian system for more than 40 years. When I went to Syria in 1971, I came into contact with the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s father and was in the country when the government was passed from father to son. I was in Syria at the beginning of the revolution in 2011 and I got to know Bashar al-Assad as a manipulator and a deceiver,” she added.
Sartre-Fauriat pointed out that Assad’s only goal is to stay in power, “so Syria stays as he wants it. He views Syria as his possession and is prepared to do everything to keep it. He had no problem massacring 300,000 people, exiling millions of Syrians, and torturing and killing prisoners. If the West wants to negotiate with him, they’ll have to bring a big spoon to fill his stomach, because they will be sitting at the table with the devil himself.” (Source: Agencies)