The Syrian President has said Donald Trump could be an ally if his actions match his campaign rhetoric. Trump has signalled his foreign policy will be less hostile to the Assad regime than the Obama administration’s.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview that US president-elect Donald Trump could be a “natural ally,” if he follows through on his pledge to fight “terrorists” and overcomes “countervailing forces” in the US administration.
Making his first public reaction to Trump’s victory in last week’s election, Assad said he was unsure if the incoming president would stay true to his campaign rhetoric about focusing more on fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) group and less on Syrian regime forces.
“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,” Assad told Portugal’s RTP state television.
In a marked departure from the Obama administration, Trump has suggested his foreign policy will be less hostile to Assad’s government. The Syrian regime is currently mired in a four-way civil war that also involves mainly Islamist rebels, the IS jihadist group, and leftist Kurdish forces.
“I would say this is promising, but can he deliver?” Assad said. “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 added.
The United States is currently leading an international coalition carrying out air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq. It is also supporting rebels battling the Assad government.
On Tuesday, Syrian government aircraft bombed the besieged rebel-held city of Aleppo for the first time in three weeks, activists said.
In an interview with The New York Times in March, Trump said he thought “the approach of fighting Assad and (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,” Trump said.
Trump has also pledged to improve relations with Assad’s main ally in the war, Russia.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with Trump in which the two pledged to combine efforts to tackle international terrorism and extremism.