Syrian media: Trump will seek ‘understanding’ with Moscow to back Assad

Idea of storming country has been dropped, commentator says.

November 12, 2016 23:38
4 minute read.
A man holds a baby saved from under rubble

A man holds a baby saved from under rubble, who survived what activists say was an airstrike by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in Aleppo. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Donald Trump’s election will lead the US to seek a political solution in Syria with Russia and the Assad regime, a Syrian government website predicts.

The forecast comes as a leading commentator in the Saudi-owned, London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper tried to put the best face on Trump’s election, playing down his anti-Muslim stance as being campaign tactics that would not characterize him in power.

In Egypt, writers who support President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi described Trump’s victory as a blow to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group they accused Hillary Clinton of empowering as secretary of state.

An article on the website of the Organization of Syrian Arab Radio and Television said that the “military achievements” of the Syrian Army and its allies would impel Trump to strike a deal.

“We don’t believe that the policy of isolationism which controls Trump’s options, when taken together with the ability of the defensive camp in Syria, will lead him into a confrontation with this camp.

We don’t believe that America under Trump will initiate military actions.

“The more likely behavior of Trump is that America will seek understanding with Russia and the axis of resistance to get an exit by destroying Islamic state and other groups. It is a political solution because of the military achievements of the camp of defense.”

Publication of the article is a sign that Damascus is satisfied with the election of Trump, after having been concerned that Hillary Clinton would follow through on campaign pledges to establish a no fly zone and “safe zones” in Syria to protect civilians from the Assad regime and the Russian air force.

“Today Trump has become president, so the idea of storming Syria has been dropped,’’ said the article, written by Amin Hatit. It added that the failure of the American invasion of Iraq “is still felt by the Americans.”

The article said that creating safe areas would “require an aerial blockade and military forces to protect it. The question is how this could be implemented when it needs sufficient military force and the acceptance of the environment around it. This is impossible without colliding with Syria, the axis of resistance and Russia.”

Arab commentators are grappling with the same question that is gripping the world: Will Trump be as unpredictable as he was during the campaign and will he act on the racist views and inflammatory statements he made then. For some, the answer is no.

“I think the Republican Party and its institutions in Washington will limit Trump’s inclinations and extremism, because the Republican Party is the oldest party in the US and Trump can’t govern without the party and Congress,” Saudi political analyst Khaled al-Dakhil told Beirut’s As-Safir newspaper.

“Trump is an impulsive personality, but this type of behavior will change when he enters the White House, because in the US there are institutions of governance with a long and stable history and the candidate sometimes says many things during the campaign that he doesn’t adhere to when he reaches the White House. Every American candidate says he will move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, but no one has implemented this vow,” Dakhil said.

Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, a columnist for Asharq al-Awsat, tried to convince his readers that everything would be all right. “Changes are expected, but there won’t be a coup d’etat in foreign policy,” he wrote.

“Trump has won the presidency, the electoral contest is over and you won’t hear subsequent talk of Muslims and foreigners,’’ he predicted.

“I say to those whose mind has been squeezed by what’s been said and written during the campaign and who made the interpretation that Trump is against Muslims, that they should consider the personal history of Trump and the Constitution and institutions of the United States.

“He has a long personal record of dealing with Muslims and there was no racist position at all. He wasn’t involved in political or media campaigns against Muslims in America or abroad.”

“At the same time, his position against Muslims involved in terrorism and extremism cannot be considered a racist position under any circumstances. It is also our position. We are Muslims, too, and those who try to mix between hostility to extremism and hostility to Islam are ideological groups who sponsor terrorist ideology and want to create confusion and recruit others for political goals.”

It was only at the conclusion of his article that Rashed evinced a hint of worry, writing: “No doubt the four years of Trump will be more decisive and dangerous than the past eight years of Obama.”

Beirut’s An-Nahar newspaper did not share Rashed’s assurance that Trump is not anti-Muslim.

As one of its leading articles it carried an AFP dispatch from Dearborn, Michigan, which has a large Arab-American community, about fears sparked by Trump’s election.

In Cairo, where supporters of the Sisi regime blame Clinton and US President Barack Obama for having brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power after the Arab spring revolts of 2011, Al-Masry al-Youm writer Muhammad Amin gushed with satisfaction over Trump’s victory.

“The arrival of Donald Trump to the White House cuts the tails off of the brothers in the high political realms and it cuts their tails here in the region. The brothers had placed their hopes on the victory of ‘the woman’ in the American elections.”

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