Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is feeling confident these days—at least publicly—as he boasted on Sunday that his country “managed to foil the Western project” in that country’s civil war. Assad was further quoted by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) as claiming in a speech there was a West-driven “media and psychological war” against Syria that intended to affect their war with terrorism or “push us towards fear and hesitation.” He indicated that defining the conflict as a “civil war” is part of that Western plot.
The dictatorial Syrian regime has long claimed that their enemies in the civil war aren’t legitimate rebels seeking freedom for Syrians but terrorists. While some terror groups, such as ISIS, have eventually sought a foothold in Syria, reports have indicated that the Syrian regime has attacked their own civilians to put down the rebellion. Hundreds of thousands have died in the conflict, which originated with peaceful protests as part of the broader Arab Spring revolutions.
Despite his bravado, Assad said that the supposed battle with the West is not over. However, while Assad is claiming progress toward victory over the West, the United States is publicly saying they don’t want to rule Syria.
Said Assad, “Talking about foiling the Western project doesn’t mean we are victorious; the battle is still going on, and the signs of victory are there, but victory itself is another thing.”
Meanwhile,U.S. spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters last week during a press briefing that they do not plan to remain in Syria after defeating ISIS. Citing comments from the U.S. Defense Department, Nauert said that their focus in Syria is defeating the terror group and they have no designs on Syria.
“Our overall mission, and we’re not taking our eye off the ball in this regard, is to defeat ISIS,” said Nauert. “Whether it’s in Iraq or in Syria, that is our intent, to defeat ISIS and not do anything more than that. We want Syria governed by Syrians, not by the United States, not by any other forces, but by Syrians.”
Assad didn’t stop by railing against the West. He also publicly called out Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by name in saying he supported terrorists. SANA quoted Assad as saying they don’t trust Turkey and “don’t consider the Turkish side to be a partner.”
This is a dramatic change from the days prior to the Syrian conflict, when Turkey and Syria seemed to be developing closer ties. However, the civil war has become diplomatic a wedge between the countries.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, August 20, 2017)