Syrian President Assad: Trump’s statements encouraging

Bashar al-Assad, Syrian President

The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has praised Donald Trump’s statements on fighting the Islamic State (IS) group. Assad said, “Trump’s approach is encouraging. However, it is too early to expect anything.”

Speaking to Belgian journalists visiting Damascus, the Syrian president gave his thoughts on the Astana meetings, the latest developments in the conflict in Syria and ceasefire violations, and evaluated Trump’s approach and possible changes in the way the coalition is fighting against IS.

Specifying that Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the ‘fight against terrorism’ both throughout his election campaign and after taking office was encouraging, Assad said, “this is what we have been wanting for the past six months. This is why I am hopeful. We still have to wait and see if this turns into something concrete. This could lead to a collaboration between Russia and the US. We believe that this will benefit the whole world, including Syria. However, as I said, it is to early to determine whether this will be the case or not.”

The surging right-wing populist movements across Europe and in the US are explicitly developing relations with the Baathist Assad government in Damascus. Filip Dewinter, of far-right nationalist party Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest), visited Syria last week and met with President Bashar al-Assad with whom his Belgian party has close ties.

At first glance the Baath Party, or the Baath Arab Socialist Party to give its full name, doesn’t sound like a natural ally for these right-wing, in some cases extreme right, movements and parties. This has lead cynical political commentators claiming the visits have ulterior motives, probably even Islamophobia.