Sounds confusing of what? But this is the state of affairs we are in. Barack Obama has been working to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power for several years now while ISIS has been making that effort more complicated, especially politically. In addition to ISIS being a ruthless enemy with whom Americans have become increasingly familiar, al-Assad has been fighting them as well, so in turn the U.S. are helping Assad, Turkey’s enemy while Turkey supports ISIS and the U.S. is still allied with Turkey.
To add to the complexity, now, Assad wants Obama to bomb his country harder, which poses a rather bizarre political dynamic.
According to an interview Assad gave to a French magazine:
Paris Match asked Assad whether he believes, as many Syrian rebels argue, that Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS and al-Qaeda are helping the Syrian leader hold on to power.
Here’s what he said:
“You can’t end terrorism with aerial strikes. Troops on the ground that know the land and can react are essential. That is why there haven’t been any tangible results in the two months of strikes led by the coalition. It isn’t true that the strikes are helpful. They would of course have helped had they been serious and efficient. We are running the ground battles against [ISIS], and we have noticed no change, especially with Turkey providing direct support to these regions.”
In the first half of this quote, where Assad says that the US airstrikes can’t succeed without credible ground allies, he sounds a hell of a lot like John McCain, or other hawkish American critics of Obama’s Syria policy. Like American hawks, Assad is suggesting that Obama’s strategy is guaranteed to fail unless he steps up the ground war.
Unlike American hawks, though, Assad doesn’t seem to want American troops to do the dirty work in Syria: he’s unmistakably calling for the US to develop a more “serious and efficient” campaign by working with his Syrian army. When he says “we are running the ground battle against [ISIS],” and talks about troops that “know the land,” he’s clearly calling for a stepped-up US air campaign that supports the Syrian army.It does sound like Assad wants to ally with the U.S. to defeat ISIS, which is something U.S. ‘ally’ Turkey doesn’t seem to have any interest in doing.