Syrian President Bashar Assad gave an interview to Syria’s state-run SANA news service on Thursday in which he offered Donald Trump backhanded praise for being “transparent” about U.S. interests in Syrian oil, unlike his predecessors.
Assad also questioned the U.S. narrative about the demise of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and suggested his death had been faked.
Assad talked about the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the Turkish invasion at length during the interview, carefully absolving Syria’s allies in Russia of responsibility for the situation and praising Moscow for its supposed diplomatic openness while tap-dancing around the question of why Russia did nothing to stop the Turks, or why Assad’s own opinion about the invasion of his country seemed like an afterthought to everyone else involved.
“Russian agreements are always public,” Assad contended. “The Russian-Turkish agreement was announced immediately, with all its items; the agreement between us and the Kurds, with Russian mediation and support was also made public right from the very beginning. There is no hidden agenda in Russian policies, which gives us assurances.”
Assad asserted there is a hidden agenda shared between the United States and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who he portrayed as a mere puppet of Washington, as was the Islamic State. In Assad’s view, everything happening in the Syrian hinterlands is part of an elaborate American strategy to force him out of power, and it might have worked without timely assistance from the noble and forthright Russians.
This led to Assad’s damning-with-faint-praise of President Trump as refreshingly forthright about America’s determination to rob Syria of its oil. Assad said:
As for Trump, you might ask me a question and I give you an answer that might sound strange. I say that he is the best American President, not because his policies are good, but because he is the most transparent president.
All American presidents perpetrate all kinds of political atrocities and all crimes and yet still win the Nobel Prize and project themselves as defenders of human rights and noble and unique American values, or Western values in general. The reality is that they are a group of criminals who represent the interests of American lobbies, i.e. the large oil and arms companies, and others.
Trump talks transparently, saying that what we want is oil. This is the reality of American policy, at least since WWII. We want to get rid of such and such a person or we want to offer a service in return for money. This is the reality of American policy. What more do we need than a transparent opponent? That is why the difference is in form only, while the reality is the same.
Assad said the American troops remaining in Syria are “occupiers,” and while he admitted his military is no match for the U.S. in battle, he implied terrorist actions against them are possible if they remain, and Syrians who assist them will be treated as “traitors.”
“If there is resistance, the fate of the Americans will be similar to their fate in Iraq,” he warned.
“We should all be united against occupation. When we reach this state, I assure you that the Americans will leave on their own accord because they will have no opportunity to remain in Syria; although America is a superpower, it will not be able to remain in Syria. This is something we saw in Lebanon at a certain point and in Iraq at a later stage,” he elaborated.
In Assad’s paranoid imagination, one thing Trump has not been “transparent” about is the demise of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who he thinks might not be dead or might never have existed in the first place:
Regarding Baghdadi as an individual, it is well-known that he was in American prisons in Iraq, and that they let him out in order to play this role. So, he is someone who could be replaced at any moment. Was he really killed? Was he killed but through a different method, in a very ordinary way? Was he kidnapped? Was he hidden? Or was he removed and given a facelift? God only knows.
American politics are no different from Hollywood; it relies on the imagination. Not even science fiction, just mere imagination. So, you can take American politics and see it in Hollywood or else you can bring Hollywood and see it through American politics.
I believe the whole thing regarding this operation is a trick. Baghdadi will be recreated under a different name, a different individual, or ISIS in its entirety might be reproduced as needed under a different name but with the same thought and the same purpose. The director of the whole scenario is the same, the Americans.
Assad’s most verbose and tortured responses came when discussing the Syrian Kurds, their dealings with his beloved patrons in Moscow, and their future with the Syrian state. To boil down his lengthy digressions on the subject, Assad basically offered the Kurds a place in the post-civil war Syrian state, provided they jettison the factions that rebelled against him and made common cause with “terrorists.”
He suggested the Kurds who acted against his interests, like other rebel factions, were brainwashed by “extremist concepts” but now it should be possible to “assimilate all within the national system” with the proper education.