Syrian President Bashar Assad says Donald Trump a natural ally if he fights ‘terror’

"If... he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be ally, natural ally in that regard with the Russian, with the Iranian, with many other countries," said Assad.

By: AFP | Damascus | Published:November 16, 2016 3:53 am
syria, bashar al assad, trump, trump syria, trump isis, trump assad, world news, indian express, File Photo of Syrian President Bashar Assad. (Syrian Presidency via AP)

Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has said in an interview that Donald Trump will be a “natural ally” if the US president-elect fulfils his pledge to fight “terrorists”. “We cannot tell anything about what he’s going to do, but if… he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be ally, natural ally in that regard with the Russian, with the Iranian, with many other countries,” he told Portugal’s RTP state television yesterday.

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Asked about Trump’s campaign comments suggesting the US should focus more on fighting the Islamic State (IS) group, Assad said he would welcome such a move but was cautious. “I would say this is promising, but can he deliver?” said Assad, who was speaking in English. “Can he go in that regard? What about the countervailing forces within the administration, the mainstream media that were against him? How can he deal with it?” he said.

“That’s why for us it’s still dubious whether he can do or live up to his promises or not. “That’s why we are very cautious in judging him, especially as he wasn’t in a political position before,” said Assad. In an interview with The New York Times on March 26, Trump said he thought “the approach of fighting Assad and ISIS (IS) simultaneously was madness, and idiocy”. “You can’t be fighting two people that are fighting each other, and fighting them together. You have to pick one or the other,” said Trump.

And during campaigning, Trump also pledged to improve America’s ties with Assad’s main backer, Russia. After his election victory, Trump told The Wall Street Journal: “I’ve had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria”.He also said that if the United States attacks Assad “we end up fighting Russia”. In his interview with RTP, Assad accused the United States of interfering in the affairs of other countries.

“They think that they are the police of the world. They think they are the judge of the world. They’re not,” he said. Asked to give his assessment of the next UN chief, Antonio Guterres of Portugal, Assad insisted the “United Nations is not the secretary-general” even if the role is “important”.

“The United Nations is the states within this organisation, and to be frank, most of the people say only the five permanent members” of the UN Security Council, said Assad. “This is the United Nations because they have the veto,
they can do whatever they want and they can refuse whatever they want.

“If you ask me ‘what do you expect from such a new official in that important position,’ I would say I need two things: the first one is to be objective… the second one… is not to turn his office into a part or branch of the State Department of the United States.

“That’s what we expect now,” said Assad. The Syrian president went on to criticise his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, describing him as a “sick person”. “He’s (a) megalomaniac… He’s out of touch with the reality,” said Assad.