Despite Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich saying a Syrian media report “mischaracterized” a press conference he gave while on a “fact-finding” trip to Syria, video footage of an interview he gave on Syrian television while in Syria clearly shows Kucinich being deferential to and even laudatory of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
In an exclusive video obtained by The Daily Caller, Kucinich openly praises Assad, whose regime has reportedly killed over 1,300 demonstrators and injured many more since protests against the dictatorship began earlier this year. (Report says Kucinich praised Syrian dictator, congressman says statement ‘mischaracterized’)
“What I learned from my meeting with President Assad is that he does care about what’s happening, that he wants to respond, that he’s thinking about the different ways that would be the best way to address the needs of the people,” Kucinich said in the interview, video of which was provided to TheDC by The Middle East Media Research Institute. “And that’s what he’s talking about. He’s talking about the people. He’s very engaged in that kind of a discussion. And frankly, that’s a positive development.”
Kucinich does note that there is a democratic movement afoot in Syria, but says that the government is responding appropriately.
“There are great democratic aspirations for freedom. And it’s part of this desire for freedom which is really sweeping the region and the world. And that the government is listening to the people,” Kucinich said. “But you’re at the point right now where it must, from what I’ve seen, the government shows a willingness to listen, shows a desire to help the people, work with the people to bring about change.”
Kucinich appears on the video very accepting of the investigation he was told the Syrian government is launching into the violence, even though Syria is a closed society with no institutions to hold the government accountable.
“And that’s why you have an investigation in Syria, that the government has supported, to find out how did the violence occur,” Kucinich said.
When pressed by the interviewer to say that any changes that occur in Syria must not come about from outside pressures, Kucinich concurs, saying that the United States still needs a lot of work even after 200 years.
“There is no rushing. You have to unfold democratic traditions,” he said. “We’re still working on it in our own United States, after you know, more than 230 some years. So I think, though, that while one cannot be rushed into it, it’s important not to try to set back reforms that can be brought about now.”
When asked by the interviewer whether it is correct to say there is an unfair image of President Assad outside Syria, Kucinich merely responds by saying image problems are part of the nature of leading.
“In the affairs of state, it’s not unusual for one day a leader to be in a negative light, and the next day, they are in the positive light,” he said.
It is unclear if the Syrian television interview is the “press conference” the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported about on Tuesday. While Kucinich said the SANA report mistranslated and “misquoted” him, the Syrian television video reveals that Kucinich’s remarks were not too different than what he was reported to have said at the press conference.
While the video was clearly edited down, Kucinich’s quotes do not appear to be taken out of context.
When contacted by TheDC for comment, Kucinich’s office sent a press release in which the congressman urges diplomacy, condemns the violence in Syria and says his trip to Syria has begun to pay dividends.
“I don’t support the violence, I don’t condone the violence and by direct appeal to President Assad and in supporting those who are seeking freedom and serious reforms, I am working to end the violence,” he said in the statement. “I appealed to President Assad to remove his forces from the cities. He told me he would, and today we learned that he has begun to do just that.”