Assad looks for ‘anti-terror ally’ in Trump

Damascus, Nov 16 (IANS) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that the US President-elect Donald Trump would be a “natural ally” if he fulfilled his campaign pledge to fight terrorism.

However, Assad said it was “dubious” whether Trump could “live up to his promises”, Xinhua news reported on Wednesday.

The Syrian President said this in an interview on Tuesday. He said he was skeptical about Trump’s ability to fulfil his previous promises on the need to fight terrorism in cooperation with Russia.

Assad said he was being extremely cautious about judging Trump’s stance, particularly as “he hasn’t occupied any political position before,… we cannot say anything about what he is going to do.”

His skepticism emanates from the fact that Trump was not alone in control of the US.

“What about the dominant forces within the US administration? What about the mainstream media against him? How would he handle it? And thus we remain skeptic on whether he can fulfil his promises or not,” Assad said.

Before winning the elections, Trump had expressed willingness to cooperate with Russia in the war on terrorism, and thus a possible cooperation with the government of Assad.

“When you think about it, wouldn’t it be nice if we got along with Russia?” Trump said in July.

“Wouldn’t it be nice if we got together with Russia and knocked the hell out of IS (the Islamic State)?” he added.

In the interview, Assad said that if Trump is going to fight the terrorists, then “we will naturally be allies to him alongside the Russians, Iranians and others that want to defeat the terrorists.”

Assad stressed that he would cooperate with the Americans in the war against the terrorist groups, as “we have suffered more than any other… from terrorism… If they have the will and ability, then of course.”

He said his government was ready to cooperate with any party in the world “unconditionally” in the war on terror.

However, Assad made it clear that any international effort against the terrorists without coordinating with the Syrian government, would be considered illegal.

He said: “if it’s illegal, we will not accept or acknowledge it.”