LATEST: Obama — Syria is About “Counter-Terrorism”

Syria’s State media leads with news of President Assad’s meeting with North Korea’s Ri Su Yong on Wednesday.

Reports say the two men discussed economic development and reconstruction; however, the rhetoric soon turns to Assad’s great success in the 39-month conflict:

Ri Su Yong asserted that the great achievements made by the Syrian people in their war against terrorists, their success in holding the presidential elections, and the massive turnout in them despite some foreign forces and sides attempting fervently to hinder it, have delivered a severe blow to the plots of these forces which seek to undermine Syria’s unity and its important role on the regional arena.

The Foreign Minister said “many nations around the world” shared his praise, but “in many cases they don’t express this openly due to the pressure being exerted by the forces opposing Syria, particularly the United States”.

Assad replied:

The West is employing various methods in an attempt to weaken and divide countries that don’t submit to its will and subjugate them….In the past, the West used hireling governments to implement its plans, and today terrorist groups are filling this role, but the rallying of people to protect their homeland and independence should be sufficient to thwart them.

Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi also received the Foreign Minister: “Syria and Democratic Korea have been standing up to the US, imperialism, and Zionism for decades, facing attempts to control them, destabilize them, and interfere in their internal affairs.”

Obama: Syria is About “Counter-Terrorism”

After his statement on the Iraqi crisis on Thursday afternoon, President Obama was asked if the events had changed his mind about US support to the Syrian insurgency.

Obama responded with cautioned and Washington’s standard line of assistance for “moderates”:

The question is, “Do moderates on the ground have the ability to counteract both extremists and Assad?”

We have consistently provided the opposition with support, but the challenge is equipping regular people against a battle-hardened regime.

Training Syrian rebels continues to be a challenge and even before ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham) went into Iraq, we had tried to support rebels that could fight Assad and diminish the importance of ISIS and (the Islamist faction) Jabhat al-Nusra. The key to both Syria and Iraq is going to be a combination of what happens in these countries and the US laying down a more effective counter-terrorism platform that gets regional countries pulling in the same direction.