Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has stated that his American counterpart Donald Trump is “the best US President,” calling him an “honest enemy”.
Speaking in an interview aired on Syrian state television, Al-Assad said that “He is not a good president because of his policies, but because he is the most transparent. Various American presidents have made political mistakes and crimes, and received a Nobel Prize for it.”
Trump’s tendency to speak his mind and to be more direct than his predecessors, Al-Assad says, comes in the form of “Trump says ‘we want oil’, ‘we want to get rid of a certain person’, ‘we want to provide a service in exchange for money’ and that is the truth. This is US policy. What is better than a transparent enemy?”
Al-Assad also touched upon the recent US operation which was responsible for the killing – or suicide – of former Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi last week, admitting that “We had nothing to do with the elimination. There is no communication between us and American officials. Moreover, we cannot tell whether he was really eliminated or not.”
He added that the internationally-designated terrorist group could easily rename and rebrand itself and appoint a new leader, “but the idea will continue to exist”. US foreign policy, Al-Assad claimed, cannot deal with it or fix it, because “as far as Al-Baghdadi’s elimination is concerned, US policy is no different than what is common in Hollywood – it’s all based on imagination.”
The long-time Syrian dictator, who has embroiled his country and people in an eight-year civil war and whose regime has been responsible for numerous human rights violations such as the torturing to death of 14,000 people, also discussed the issue of the ongoing fighting in northern Syria. He said his ultimate goal is to retake all of the areas controlled by the Kurdish militias in the north-east, particularly after the reduction in the presence of US military forces, but stated that the recapture would take place gradually.
Al-Assad concluded by even insisting that he will recapture the areas in the north-east which have been taken by Turkey in its Operation Peace Spring, which Turkey aims to use for a planned safe zone to house around two million refugees. That operation came to a head last week when Turkey and Russia struck a deal to cooperate on establishing the safe zone, and have begun joint patrols along the north of Syria today as part of the deal.
While former US President Barack Obama was stricter against the Assad regime and was openly opposed to it, the Trump administration has shifted its focus more towards defeating Daesh, arming and supporting the Kurds, and opposing Turkey’s operation – all of which have taken much of the attention off Al-Assad and allowed his regime to thrive and recapture much of the country, thus restoring his legitimacy in the eyes of many in the international community.