Al-Assad has become a "monster" - Former university professor
By Asharq Al-Awsat
Istanbul, Asharq Al-Awsat - Professor Mousa al-Kurdi gave heart-wrenching
testimony about the humanitarian situation on the ground in Syria before the
recent "Friends of Syria" conference in Istanbul. Professor al-Kurdi has
personally witnessed Bashar al-Assad's transformation from "courteous"
student to "monster", as the Syrian president was one of his students at the
University of Damascus. In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat,
Bashar al-Assad's former university professor reveals his take on the Syrian
revolution, his former student Bashar al-Assad, and his hopes for the future
of the country.
The following is the full text of the interview:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your profession?
[Al-Kurdi] I am a university professor, independent academic, and
oncologist. I am also the president of the Arab Institute for Clinical
Excellence; I was elected to this post by the Council of Arab Ministers of
Health more than 5 years ago.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Why did you appear to give evidence before the "Friends of
[Al-Kurdi] The Syrian National Council [SNC] called on me to present a
general picture about what is happening in Syria, because I - along with
some members of my family - recently spent a year and a half in Syria where
I worked with a small group to deliver some medical assistance to those who
were suffering, particularly in Baba Amr and the rest of Homs. Transferring
blood bags [into Syria] is, in the eyes of the regime, a crime punishable by
death or at least arrest and referral to court. The same goes for
transferring medical equipment. The person responsible for smuggling us into
Syria was turned over to the courts. Whilst those who support the revolution
and freedom have their throat cut whilst they are still alive, whilst those
who take pictures or transfer video clips about the revolution abroad are
blinded and then killed.many people had not heard about this before, and
this had a significant impact on everybody [at the Friends of Syria
[Asharq Al-Awsat] When did you return to Syria?
[Al-Kurdi] I returned to Syria a year and a half ago, to live in Damascus,
and carry out my task of improving healthcare there. Prior to leaving the
country, I taught at the University of Damascus, and Dr. Bashar al-Assad was
one of my students.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Were you in direct contact with him?
[Al-Kurdi] Don't hold that against me.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Can you tell us about his character?
[Al-Kurdi] He was very different than he is today.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] In what way?
[Al-Kurdi] He was very mild-mannered, courteous and kind.at this time he did
not demonstrate any excessiveness, whilst his bodyguards were very discreet
and did not cause any disturbances. Nobody at Damascus University paid much
attention to them.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What about your own relationship with him?
[Al-Kurdi] There was previously a sense of cordiality on his part, in one of
the conferneces that took place in 2004, Bouthaina Shaban [al-Assad's media
adviser] came to introduce me to him, and he told her that I had been one of
his professors [at university].
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What was Bashar al-Assad like as a student?
[Al-Kurdi] There were a large number of students at university, but I recall
that he was mild-mannered and he would attend all of my lectures without
fail. He would also attend the scientific sessions. I recall that he was
very courteous with his fellow students, and he was very popular and
It was clear that he was courteous to his colleagues, but I recall hearing
that once, upon being criticized...he cut off the conversation and stormed
out of the room. However he is generally remembered fondly, but only by
those who do not oppose the government. I have been repreatedly told that he
has not forgiven my leaving Syria in 1992. A senior official informed me
that the projects that I have proposed are hindered by the fact that I left
Syria. So he has turned against supporting his old teachers for political
reasons, to the point that he refused to help development of health care in
Arab worlds, and tried to stop this.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What happened?
[Al-Kurdi] This president who was previously calling for renewal and
modernization turned into a monster, but he is a monster that can only scare
the weak, and this is proof that he is a coward and will only be deterred by
force or the threat of force.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are your views of the "year of the revolution"?
[Al-Kurdi] What is interesting is the intensification in the news about
regions that are loyal [to the regime], for I would say that the majority of
Damascus - where I lived - has defected from the regime, including the
university professors and students, as well as even the officers and
officials. The vast majority of people are waiting for the killing to end to
return to the street. People informed me that they have had enough of this
killing and destruction, as well as the lies of the media, namely that
Damascus is loyal [to the regime]. Whilst opinion polls of Syrian
expatriates in the US also revealed that around 80 percent want to see
regime change, and the majority of these expatriates are Christians. There
are a small percentage of the people who support the regime till death,
including some members of my own family, but they are only a very small
percentage. The regime is targeting entire cities, and this is what happened
in Homs. As a soldier in the Syrian revolution, I will try to provide
support via international organizations who I will conduct dialogue with.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Can you tell us more about this?
[Al-Kurdi] I do not like to talk about this issue, as some people may be
harmed by this.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What do you mean?
[Al-Kurdi] Firstly, I don't know who you are, and even if I did, it's not
important, for the lives of other people are more important than my own, and
there are some people who are risking their lives - and the lives of their
family - to transfer what needs to be transferred at the right time. It is
clear that intimidation tactics are being used, and there is only one way to
deal with a regime that wants to rule us or annihilate us.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] When did you leave Syria?
[Al-Kurdi] I left Syria for Cambridge in March, where my wife underwent
surgery, and at this time I did not know that I would be leaving and not
returning! I was invited to the special conference for the unification of
the [Syrian] opposition, and I was asked to give testimony to the "Friends
of Syria" conference, so I now have no chance of returning [to Syria]
because if I do I would be mince-meat!
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What were your impressions about the situation in Syria
the last time you were there?
[Al-Kurdi] If the situation remains the same, with regards to the killing
and slaughter.then things will go on another course, for nothing will stop
the people after what happened. I think the army will become more divided
and people will take to the streets in their millions, if the killing does
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Received on Mon Apr 09 2012 - 17:18:43 EDT