With regard to the historic perspective of the war on Iraq and with regard to what US. Secretary of State Colin Powell's recent statement that the war aims at reshaping the Middle East as a whole, the president indicated that the Arabs looked with sadness at Sykes-Picot Agreement which partitioned the region and "we dealt with it as a temporary event."

The Arabs, the president added had similarly felt sad when Palestine was occupied in 1948, but "we did not know that the occupation was planned by the Zionist Congress in the 19 century."

President Al-Assad pointed out that "what is going in Iraq was planned before and the Iraqi and the Palestinian issues are inseparable as far as the US. administration and the Zionist lobby within this administration are concerned."

The president added that the historical aspect of the invasion includes the interests of the major powers, the mistakes of the Arabs and the interests of the Israeli enemy.

He underlined that the aggressors have removed their masks declaring that they want the oil and tailoring the region in line with the Israeli interests so that when Iraq is partitioned to sectarian and ethnic cantons, Israel will gain legal status socially.

In his reply to a question that the overall Arab order seems involved in the war against Iraq because the war is being launched from Arab territories, using Arab territorial waters and airspace as well as an Arab cover, in contrast to the Syrian position, the president indicated that Syria's view points are based on experience and Syria's experience with Lebanon is well known and Lebanon can be considered as the first real and actual experience for all the Arabs. President Al-Assad went on to say that when Lebanon began resistance it was a small divided country and there were declared agents such as Southern Lebanon's Army, and those who contributed to Beirut occupation, as well as those who worked hard to conclude 17 of May Agreement. But Israel emerged defeated then.

The president underlined that Iraq is a major country that has big scientific, material and human potentials whereby what Lebanon had achieved can at least be achieved and at most more can be achieved.

 The president underlined that Syria was not surprised at the Iraqi resistance because Syria supported the Lebanese resistance and contributed to liberation of most of part of Lebanon from the Israeli occupation, but the situation in Palestine is different because the Palestinian citizen has been encircled.

 The president stressed that although some Arab states have contributed more to the quelling of the Intifada than Israel, yet when the people decide to resist you can have clear results and one can see the results of two and half year of the Intifada on Israel.

 He indicated that such being the fact, the United States can occupy a relatively small country but the question is whether it can take control of that country. There will be a lot more resistance and this will refute the allegations of some of the Arab officials who tried intentionally or unintentionally to depict a different reality from the current situation.

 

 In reply to a question regarding the repercussions of war on the region, President Al-Assad indicated that right from the very beginning Syria has warned that the war would lead the Arabs to the unknown and the repercussions depend on the people's reactions which have so far have taken the direction of steadfastness and resistance.

The president underlined that if the US plot succeeds there will be Arab popular resistance which has actually started.

President Al-Assad stressed that the first lesson the Iraqi citizen has learnt is that leaving his country means leaving it for good and therefore the only solution is resistance and following the example of the Intifada.

 As regard the Iranian position, the president stressed that there has always been coordination and consultation between Syria and the Iranians.The Iranian position is very clear and what the Iranians say they commit themselves to it, and this a very important point.

 Regarding President Al-Assad latest visit to Britain, the president underlined that the visit aimed at underlining the importance of the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions to prevent the war on Iraq since Syria is a member of the Security Council and that dialogue with Britain was important at that time regardless of agreement or disagreement.

 Concerning relations with Turkey, President Al-Assad underlined that bilateral relations have gained momentum in recent years but by the recent visit of Turkey's Former Prime Minister of the current government Abdullah Gul to Syria improved the standing bilateral relations and have gained special momentum particularly after the Iraqi question was raised. There was agreement that the Iraqi issue imposes a common threat to neighboring countries.

 The president underlined that the Turkish refusal to allow the American to attack Iraq from the north was the result of the common vision of Syria and Turkey. Syria knows very well that the majority of the Turkish people are against the war.

 Regarding if Syria is threatened by this war, President Al-Assad underlined that as long as Israel remain in existence the threat remains standing and as long there is a war next door the danger remains standing.

 Concerning a question whether Syria is capable of deterring such a threat, the president indicated that militarily, Syria may be weaker than a superpower, but the issue is the issue of land, and the land is Syria's land. There is no balance between an American and an Iraqi, yet the Iraqi people are courageously defending their land.

 President Al-Assad underlined that at the recent Arab summit he announced that this time not only Baghdad would be involved in the war like what had happened at the time of the moguls invasion but other Arab states will be involved as well.

 The president indicated that the US. invasion provides a cover for the Israeli crimes against the Palestinians.

 With regard to a question regarding the Syria's stance of the Israeli-Arab conflict, the president underlined that there is no country that doesn't agree with Syria's position that calls for the withdrawal of the Israeli troops to the line of 1967, and the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions. But Syria should be prepared for any Israeli attack. And this is what Syria has always done throughout history.

Concerning Syria's support to Iraq, the president underlined that the Iraqi officials previously announced that they do not need any military assistant from any country but what they need at least is political support.

 As for Syria-Saudi Arabia-Egypt axis, President Al-Assad pointed out that there are contacts on bilateral levels, but last summit of the three countries was in Sharm esh -Sheikh in May of 2002, but consultations are going on with Egypt and Saudi Arabia and other countries as well.

As regard the development of the private sector in Syria, the president indicated that the private sector will be improved through the law that encourage investment and activate the economic activities and Syria is preparing a new tax law whereby many problems that hinder investment in Syria will be solved.

 

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