Syrian President Bashar Assad has accused Western powers of supporting “terrorism” by supporting his adversaries in the Syrian civil war and announced that Russia, China, and Iran will be calling the shots during Syrian reconstruction, but he also expects the United Nations to restore the ancient city of Palmyra, recently recaptured from the Islamic State.
CNN portrays Assad as “defiant” and filled with belligerent “fighting words” for his international foes, in a new interview with Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency.
Assad specifically accused Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, and the United Kingdom of having “directly supported” terrorism by backing his enemies, all of whom are “terrorists” in regime rhetoric.
The dictator declared that reconstruction for Syria will “rely on the three main states that have supported Syria during this crisis – that’s Russia, China and Iran.”
“I suppose that a lot of countries that were against Syria, I mean first of all Western countries, will try to direct their companies to take part in this process. However, for us in Syria, there is absolutely no doubt that we will ask, first of all, our friendly states,” he added.
However, NDTV cites Syrian state news reports that Assad sent a message to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in which he called on the U.N. and other international organizations to help rebuild Palmyra, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
“The Western response to Sunday’s recapture of Palmyra has been muted,” NDTV notes. “While some governments have welcomed the setback for Islamic State, they are reluctant to celebrate any victory for a president whose departure many of them demanded five years ago.”
Clearly Assad has not forgotten about that, even as he makes a few small gestures toward rejoining the international community, such as allowing that some opposition groups will be permitted to play a role in postwar Syrian government, and offering Syrian assistance to “accelerate the collective war against terrorism,” as NDTV quotes him saying in his letter to the U.N.