By By Callum Paton
Embattled Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad has said US President Donald Trump shows great promise, particularly in his statements on radical Islamist terrorism and his desire to fight the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria.
The Syrian ruler in Damascus was quoted by the Syrian State News Agency SANA as saying Trump’s prioritisation of the fight against the Islamic State was an encouraging sign. One in a flurry of executive orders signed by the US president has included empowering defence officials to create a plan in the next 30 days.
“I believe this is promising but we have to wait and it’s too early to expect anything practical,” Assad said.
The Syrian president’s praise of Trump comes despite a controversial order by the US leader banning travel to America from seven majority Muslim nations including Syria.
Iran and Iraq, also included in the ban, have been deeply critical of the move.
The ban, which caused chaos in the US was blocked by a federal judge, inspiring the wrath of Trump. He has said the blame for any terror attack carried out by an immigrant from one of the countries would be laid at the door of the Seattle-based judge James Robart.
In a recent tweet Trump said of the ban: “The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real, just look at what is happening in Europe and the Middle-East. Courts must act fast!”
Trump’s position with regard to Russia, the Syrian government’s principal backer, will also appeal to the Assad regime. Throughout the election campaign Trump praised Russian policy in Syria. In an interview with FOX news’ Bill O’Reilly when asked if he thought Putin was a killer – following alleged human rights abuses by Russian forces in Syria – Trump replied that the US was also not so innocent.
Where Putin and Trump diverge over the war in Syria is the issue of Iran, also one of the Assad regime’s principal backers. In its first weeks in office the Trump administration has restarted sanctions with the Islamic Republic, which had enjoyed a period of relative rapprochement with the US under Barack Obama.
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