Syrian rebels of the Halab al-Shabah battalion take position during clashes with pro-regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo, on November 13, 2012
Syrian rebels of the Halab al-Shabah battalion take position during clashes with pro-regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo, on November 13, 2012 © Javier Manzano - AFP
Syrian rebels of the Halab al-Shabah battalion take position during clashes with pro-regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo, on November 13, 2012
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Rana Moussaoui, Sammy Ketz, AFP
Last updated: January 20, 2014

Syria's Assad accuses France of being a proxy for Saudi Arabia and Qatar

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad accused France of taking "petrodollars" and becoming a "proxy state" for Qatar and Saudi Arabia, in an exclusive interview with AFP.

"France has become a proxy state implementing Qatari policies. This is also what we see happening now between France and Saudi Arabia," Assad said.

"How can petrodollars make Western officials, particularly in France, sell their principles and sell the principles of the French Revolution in return for a few billion dollars?"

France is a strong backer of the Syrian opposition, along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and it was among the first countries to recognise it and call for Assad to leave power.

Assad's government accuses the West and Gulf nations that back the rebels of exporting "terrorism" to Syria.

The Syrian leader, speaking to AFP on Sunday in Damascus, said French and EU policy in the Middle East had been led astray by the United States.

"Ever since 2001 and the terrorist attacks on New York, there has been no European policy-making to speak of," he said.

"In the West, there is only an American policy, which is implemented by some European countries."

He said France's policy meant there was little chance it stood to play a role in Syria in the near-term.

"I don't think that France will play a role in the immediate future, unless it changes its policy completely and from its core and returns to the politically independent state it once was," he said.

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