The Corner

Top Syrian Official: We’ll Cooperate with Obama against ISIS If He Asks Assad Nicely

Syria’s deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad says that Bashar Assad is ready to cooperate with a U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State in his country — as long as President Obama agrees to get in touch with the brutal dictator and coordinate a strategy.

Mekdad was interviewed in Damascus by NBC’s Bill Neely about President Obama’s Wednesday night speech, in which the president announced American plans to bomb the Islamic State within Syria. Assad’s government, which has been battling the Islamic State and other rebel groups since 2011, appears open to the idea of working with the U.S. military against a common enemy, despite almost being bombed by the U.S. just one year previously.

“We shall cooperate with any country that’s combating the menace of terrorism,” Mekdad said. “And when it comes to combating ISIS, then we have no reservations whatsoever to work together with any real force that wants to eliminate this menace. Because now, the United States and Syria are facing the same enemy.”

Neely, however, doesn’t think the Syrians’ proposal is all that serious, given that the president would be joining up with a head of state whom he’s said he wants to leave office. ”I don’t think, genuinely, they expect the president, or any of his administration, to pick up the phone and actually call,” Neely told MSNBC.

“This is a very uncomfortable – not alliance, but it’s a very uncomfortable arrangement — that the United States finds itself in,” Neely said, ”in that the most enthusiastic Arab country in the fight against ISIS is possibly Syria.”

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