Bashar al-Assad jokes that he ‘should have won Nobel Peace Prize’

Syrian dictator tells pro-regime Lebanese newspaper that he should have taken the award which went to the global chemical weapons watchdog charged with disarming his country

The Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has joked in an interview with a pro-regime Lebanese newspaper that the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize should have been awarded to him.

The prize was instead given last week to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is charged with disarming Syria of its chemical stockpile.

“That prize should have been given to me,” Mr Assad said when his interviewer brought up the announcement from the Nobel committee.

The dictator is widely blamed for an attack on his own people on 21 August which, using the nerve agent sarin, killed as many as 1,400 people. UN weapons inspectors have confirmed a chemical attack took place but have been unable to definitively attribute the blame for it.

Speaking of his country’s chemical weapons as a bargaining chip, Mr Assad told the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar: “Today the price has changed and we have agreed to give up our chemical weapons to remove the threat of the US attacking us.”

The stockpile had been seen by the regime as a valuable tool in attempts to force Israel to get rid of its nuclear arsenal.

“There is no doubt that the loss of chemical weapons has resulted in a loss of morale and a political loss for Syria,” Mr Assad said.

The dictator also criticised a number of Arab countries for turning against Syria, and said that the West “was more dignified in dealing with us than some of the Arabs”.

“Even the conventional military industry, which used to be geared against Israel, is now directed at the domestic enemies,” he said. “This too is a loss.”

That “dealing” from the West is now spearheaded by the OPCW. The organisation, based in The Hague, currently has inspectors on the ground in Syria inspecting over 20 suspected chemical weapons sites. It is tasked with destroying Mr Assad’s arsenal by mid-2014.

Meanwhile US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has previously said the Syrian leader deserves “credit” for agreeing to the chemical weapons disarmament plan, warned that an urgent conference was needed if peace in the conflict-torn country was to remain a possibility.

The casual tone of Mr Assad’s interview with Al-Akhbar comes as the Syrian rebels find themselves weakened by increasing disunity. Reports continue to emerge of chaos in the rebel-held north and in-fighting between the various anti-government factions, and Mr Kerry said his hopes for a “Geneva II” season of peace talks would not happen unless the rebels could unite behind a single new transitional government entity.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy