Syria’s embattled president heaped scorn on British politicians for allowing the vote on leaving the European Union, saying lawmakers who had criticized his handling of the civil war had shown themselves to be “disconnected from reality”.
President Bashar al-Assad has stayed in power through Syria’s five-year war, in the face of calls for his departure from Western powers including Britain, and an array of armed groups fighting to depose him, from Western-backed opposition forces to Islamic State.
“Those officials who used to give me the advice about how to deal with the crisis in Syria, and say ‘Assad must go’ and ‘He’s disconnected’ (have been) proven to be disconnected from reality,” Assad said.
“Otherwise they wouldn’t have asked for this referendum … I would call them sometimes second-tier politicians,” he said in an interview with Australia’s SBS News channelbroadcast on Friday.
The shock vote to leave the European Union cost Britain its top credit rating, pushed the pound to its lowest level against the dollar since the mid-1980s and wiped a record $3 trillion off global shares.
EU leaders are scrambling to prevent further unraveling of a bloc that helped guarantee peace in post-war Europe.
Asked about the potential effects on Syria, Assad said a new British government might “have a different policy that will affect us positively. But I don’t have now a lot of hope about this.”
Britain and other Western governments have accused Assad and his supporters of atrocities during the civil war, which has killed about 500,000 people, displaced more than 6.6 million inside the country and forced another 4.8 million to flee, 1.5 million of which fled to Lebanon and millions are seeking refuge in Europe.
Concern over the numbers of migrants entering Britain was one of the main factors cited by Leave campaigners during the Brexit campaign.