'Saudi arms dealers are regularly in Belgrade signing arms deals with Serbian officials'

Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos

In an interview with BalkansPost, Marcus Papadopoulos, a journalist and a regular face and name in broadcast and print media, said “Saudi arms dealers are regularly in Belgrade signing arms deals with Serbian officials. So, it is not just America, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar who have the blood of Syrians on their hands but also countries like Serbia, Croatia and Azerbaijan.”

BP: According to the Washington Post, U.S. President Donald Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad. What’s your assessment of this move?

Marcus Papadopoulos: Since when was the Washington Post a reliable or serious source of information concerning international affairs? Indeed, since when was Western mainstream media in general a reliable or serious source of information concerning international affairs? The truth is that the Trump administration has given no such order to the CIA to end its support to Islamist/Wahhabist terrorists in Syria. If President Trump had given that order, we would have heard by now about it from the Syrian Government, verifying it. In reality, what we have seen is a continuation of American support to Islamist/Wahhabist groups fighting against Damascus - Syrian officials have confirmed this on more than one occasion. Further to that, the terrorists in Syria now have an air force and a navy at their disposal - the United States Air Force and the United States Navy - courtesy of Mr Trump having used these to directly attack the Syrian military on two occasions now. Mr Trump went further than this predecessor, Barack Obama, when, this April, he directly attacked Syria with American military might. And Mr Trump's contempt for Syria was exemplified when he told President Xi of China about having ordered a cruise missile attack on Syria while simultaneously enjoying, in his words, "the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake".

The Trump administration poses a potent threat to the Syrian Government - it attacked a Syrian air base, killing numerous Syrian soldiers there - and has extraordinarily close ties to Saudi Arabia, a deadly foe to Damascus; so, for instance, just days before Mr Trump ordered the cruise missile attack on the Syrian military, he signed a $200 billion investment agreement with the Saudis on joint American-Saudi enterprises, and later on he signed an arms contract with Riyadh to the tune of $110 billion. On top of that, Mr Trump has longstanding personal and business ties with another deadly foe of Syria - Israel. Then we have Mr Trump's bellicose attitude towards Iran, a key ally to Syria. In summary, Mr Trump and his administration, especially the likes of James Mattis, Mike Pence, H. R. McMaster and Nikki Haley, constitute a menacing threat to Syria and its future survival.

BP: Some U.S. officials believe the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia. If true, how would this affect U.S.-Russia relations?

Marcus Papadopoulos: We must always think in terms of realpolitik. The issue of Syria is a sideshow when compared to the Kremlin's core (and legitimate) demands which it has of Washington - and these demands will, under no circumstances, be met by the Americans. Essentially, there are three principal demands which the Russians have and they are non-negotiable as far as Moscow is concerned. Firstly, that NATO pulls its forces back from the Russian border. Secondly, that Washington dismantles its missile shield in Poland and Romania. And thirdly, that the Americans put into writing that Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia will never be invited to join NATO. Now, Mr Trump will never acquiesce to any of those Russian demands. Indeed, no American president would. Relations between the US and Russia are abysmal - and getting worse - because of NATO's presence on Russia's border, the American missile shield in Eastern Europe and Washington's lusting after Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia to join NATO. Alas, when we think of American-Russian relations, we must always think in terms of NATO and the US missile shield. Furthermore, Mr Trump is not the first American leader who has claimed that he wants to improve relations with Russia; Messrs Bush (junior) and Obama also claimed the same. Regardless of who is sitting in the White House, America remains the same old imperialistic America.

BP: Bulgarian reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva recently revealed that Azerbaijan’s state-run Silk Way Airlines has shipped under diplomatic cover 350 planeloads of heavy weapons and ammunition to terrorist groups around the world in the last three years. Would the end of CIA’s covert program affect such arms transfers?

Marcus Papadopoulos: The CIA and the Pentagon have not ended their support to Islamist/Wahhabist terrorist groups in Syria. However, Washington is, indeed, using its client states and countries it has cordial relations with to supply arms to the terrorists in Syria. Azerbaijan is one such country supplying weapons to al-Nusra and the so-called Free Syrian Army, for example, but so, too, is Serbia and Croatia, for instance. In regard to Serbia, the Serbian Government, under the leadership of Alexander Vucic, is supplying weapons to Saudi Arabia who then passes them onto the terrorists in Syria. Saudi arms dealers are regularly in Belgrade signing arms deals with Serbian officials. So, it is not just America, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar who have the blood of Syrians on their hands but also countries like Serbia, Croatia and Azerbaijan. It is suffice to say that that is the power that Washington exerts in this world. It is remarkable, albeit appalling.

BP: What role does Iran and Russia play in the conflict?

Marcus Papadopoulos: Iran and Russia are playing a crucially important role in Syria. They have augmented the Syrian Government's resistance to Islamist/Wahhabist terrorism which is not just a terrible threat to the Syrian people but to humanity in general. Tehran and Moscow are also, through their legal presence in Syria, countering the plans of Washington to achieve total American mastery of the Middle East. The US' global dominance has caused (and is continuing to cause) instability across the world and, in doing so, has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, as well as having given rise to the Islamist/Wahhabist terrorist threat that is facing everyone globally. I salute the actions of Iran and Russia to help defeat the Western-backed terrorists in Syria and to counter American global hegemony. Those actions are, hopefully, laying a foundation for a better world in which the US no longer has the stranglehold over the planet that it currently has.