“All American presidents commit crimes and end up taking the Nobel Prize and appear as a defender of human rights and the ‘unique’ and ‘brilliant’ American or western principles,” the Syrian president said in a state TV interview, according to an NBC News translation.
“But all they are is a group of criminals who only represent the interests of the American lobbies of large corporations in weapons, oil and others.”
Assad said he gives Trump credit for at least being transparent about his interests, namely oil. He said Trump’s decision to keep a small number of U.S. troops in the Kurdish-held areas of Syria “where they have the oil” showed that Washington was a colonial power that was doomed to leave once Syrians resist their occupation, as in Iraq.
“What do we want more than a transparent foe?” Assad said.
Assad also said during the interview that his ultimate goal is to restore state authority over Kurdish-controlled areas in northeast Syria after an abrupt U.S. troop withdrawal but that he expected it to happen gradually.
He added that a deal between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin to drive out the Kurdish-led YPG militia from a “safe zone” along the border was a “positive” step.
The U.S.-allied Kurdish YPG militia reached a deal with Damascus to take up positions near the border after Trump’s announcement in early October that he was withdrawing American troops from northeast Syria.
The YPG is the main fighting element of the Syrian Democratic Forces that has beaten back the Islamic State in the region.
— With files from Reuters