"Yes, from a Western perspective, you are now sitting with the devil. This is how they market it in the west," Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told teleSUR's Rolando Segura in an exclusive interview from Damascus, addressing a range of subjects including claims of chemical attacks as well as the shifting geopolitical alignments impacting the war which has ravaged his country.
Speaking on the subject of Donald Trump, the Syrian leader said the U.S. president "has no policies," but is rather implementing decisions made by "the intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, the big arms manufacturers, oil companies, and financial institutions."
"As we have seen in the past few weeks, he changed his rhetoric completely and subjected himself to the terms of the deep American state, or the deep American regime," Assad said.
Despite running on a platform promising a departure from the interventionist foreign policy of predecessor Barack Obama, Trump launched 59 tomahawk missiles on the al-Shariat air base in Homs on April 6 in response to allegations of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government — claims which Syria's leader denies.
"That’s why it is unrealistic and a complete waste of time to make an assessment of the American president’s foreign policy, for he might say something; but he ultimately does what these institutions dictate to him. This is not new. This has been ongoing American policy for decades."
The attack on the airbase came days after the April 4 attack in Khan Sheikhoun, in which 58 people were killed by what experts consider to be exposure to sarin. Syrian opposition groups, the United States and allies including France have blamed Syria's government, while Damascus has said that armed opposition groups and their sponsors are to blame.
According to Assad, however, his government has asked for independent investigations into the chemical weapons allegations, which he says have been stalled by the U.S. government and its allies.
"We have asked the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to send specialized missions to investigate what happened. And every time, the United States obstructed these investigations or prevented sending such missions in order to carry out such investigations," Assad said. "This is what happened last week when we called for investigations over the alleged use of chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun. The United States and its allies prevented OPCW from taking that decision."
Assad alleges that U.S. officials are lying about their claims regarding Syria having chemical weapons, and recalled Colin Powell's infamous testimony at the United Nations in 2003 where he said that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction.
"This is what characterizes American politicians: they lie on a daily basis ... That’s why we shouldn’t believe what the Pentagon or any other American institution says because they say things which serve their policies, not things which reflect reality and the facts on the ground."
Throughout the bloody civil war which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, there have been a number of chemical attacks confirmed by the U.N. and other experts. The responsibility in some of the cases — including that of the attack in Khan Sheikhoun — has remained inconclusive.
Israel and Regional Alignments
The Syrian leader not only singled out the United States as an adversary but also pointed to other regional actors as playing a role in arming anti-government fighters.
According to Assad, alliances with Russia and China, especially in military cooperation, have been crucial to securing his government.
"The terrorists, acting on Israeli, American, Turkish, Qatari, and Saudi instructions have destroyed some of these (missile defense) systems," the head of state said. "And it is natural for us to negotiate with the Russians now with a view to strengthening these systems, whether to face any Israeli threats from the air or the threats of American missiles."
Neighboring Israel has attacked Syrian government positions, including an Apr. 23 airstrike in the Quneitra province that killed three. However, Assad also accused Israel of directly supporting armed opposition forces, including terrorist groups.
"(Israel) is supporting terrorists in two ways: first by providing direct support in the form of weapons, and second by providing logistic support, i.e. allowing them to conduct military exercises in the areas it controls. It also provides them with medical assistance in its hospitals," Assad added.
Latin America and Anti-imperialism
For Assad, Latin American nations have not only been important allies, but also a source of inspiration for Middle East states.
"You provided the world with an important model. So, keep it up, because if the countries of the third and developing world wanted to develop, they should follow the model implemented in Latin America."
However, Assad also warned that in its pursuit to reassert its global hegemony, the U.S. could look to turn countries in the region into war zones like Syria, Libya and Yemen.
"The United States always seeks to control all the states of the world without exception. It does not accept allies, regardless of whether they are developed states as those in the Western bloc or other states of the world," Assad explained.
"That is why what is happening to Syria, to Korea, to Iran, to Russia, and maybe to Venezuela now, aims at re-imposing American hegemony on the world because they believe that this hegemony is under threat now, which consequently threatens the interests of American economic and political elites."