On Israel’s Assassination Policy 

President Bashar al-Assad indicated that there is no difference between the assassination of Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, and that of Dr.Abdul-Aziz Rantisi on the one hand and the massacres of Sabra and Shatilla on the other since the massacres were perpetrated by the same person irrespective of the time difference.

“Surely, there is no difference between the massacres committed before /1948/ and the ones perpetrated after/1948/.” 

The president said that the massacres are an on going state , and nothing new for the part of the Israel which has been expressing itself accordingly.

“Israel is expressing itself by words. It doesn’t talk about the freedom of speech but about the freedom of killing. This is democracy for Israel and they say Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East. Such saying is true from the perspective of killing which is free for Israel that practices the freedom of killing and nothing else. What is strange is to remain surprised in every case. The important question is what is your role?

If we want to hold Israel responsible for greater part, the U.S. for the lesser part and the European states and other superpowers for another part, then should we hold ourselves responsible for what is taking place? I am afraid to say that our responsibility lies in silence, in ineffectiveness , in not tackling the accumulations , in preoccupation with marginal issues at the expense of essential ones, in the non-availability of one political course and in the non-existence of cooperation. There are countless factors of our responsibility.”

On US. President George Bush promise to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon 

President Bashar al-Assad :” I read numerous terminologies. Some describe it as Balfour two .Now Balfour one , two or three , it doesn’t matter.” 

“Everything that has been done by the United States since the foundation of Israel can be described as Balfour in practice. This difference lies now in the announcement” the president said.

“The Americans have announced the “ Balfour”. But did we expect that the U.S. would be with the Palestinians.? Why do we call on other countries to adopt ethical stances while the states have their own interests? Most of them say:” We support you . But , you do nothing in the American arena. The Israeli Lobby is active in the American arena, while there is no Arab lobby.”

On the Syrian call for the resumption of negotiations with Israel 

The president said: “I did not make any initiative .What I said is the usual Syrian firm stance which stresses our readiness to achieve peace irrespective of the Israeli officials, because we have a crystal-clear policy.

There is an established right , there are the Security Council resolutions and there is a clear mechanism . We always say , we are ready for negotiations when the circumstances are proper in Israel.

I did not make an initiative. But the readiness was expressed during an interview with the New York Times. It was considered as an initiative by the Americans, because they do not know that we seek peace, and because as if we were silent or were talking about war , killing and violence and then suddenly we propose peace. Such a proposal was viewed as an initiative. However, we are ready for peace irrespective of who is ruling Israel.

On Israel’s allegation that Syria doesn’t cooperate sufficiently !!

President al-Assad wondered:” If they want us to cooperate with them in liquidating the entire Palestinian cause!!, and perhaps in liquidating the Syrian cause ,i.e. the Golan !!. There is a conscious cause and we have not changed our stand regarding it for decades.

Such Israeli allegations are mere political balloons which are of no value.” 

On Legitimate Resistance 

The President said: 

“Since 1948 up to the present day , the Palestinians have tried all options. They do not run in one direction. There were different currents and the Palestinians were trying one current and supporting it. The evidence is their support to Oslo and then to the Intifada which we view as uprising against Oslo”.

“We have to talk about reality, and we can take similar experiences.

I start by talking about the balance of power and say that there was no resistance in history that settled this balance especially from the military point of view , because resistance is not a military force. Resistance is not an army, it is a public situation. Hence , we can say that resistance is a public situation ; it is a legitimate cause, and anything public is legitimate. It is not abnormal. It expresses the Palestinian citizen. We have no right to evaluate its legitimacy or illegitimacy. The Palestinian citizen is the only one who evaluates it. It is an internal issue. We have the right to stand beside it when the Palestinian people wish. But to say that it is legitimate or illegitimate, this wording is illegitimate. I want to complete the question : Is it workable or not ?. As I said I do not want to talk about the future . This wording was said to the Lebanese in the 80s,but the resistance in the end ,was effective and gave results .It liberated the land and only Shebaa Farms remain.” 

On Syria’s Role regarding the Palestinian cause 

The president said :” Any role must be stemmed from objective circumstances and not be turned into acrobatics or balloons, part of which is information and other part is theatrical. The objective circumstances define the role of any state or people regarding any issue of other state or of other people. The circumstances must be geographical , political, historical, and cultural .The Palestinian cause unites the Arabs morally .Therefore, the Arab role in general is available regarding the Palestinian cause from the moral aspect. Egypt has demarcation with Gaza and Jordan has demarcation with the West Bank. Therefore, there is a daily interaction and in details with the situation of the Palestinian people and also regarding Syria. There is a big link of destiny between the Palestinian and Syrian issues. The issue of the Golan will directly affect the Palestinian track and the other way round is true when there is a solution for the question of peace on the Palestinian track. What is the destiny of half a million Palestinians living in Syria? . What is the destiny of the Palestinians living in Lebanon, particularly that the Syrian and Lebanese tracks are parallel and connected ? .

The president added:” The difference with the Palestinian leadership curbs this role from the other side. The difference passed through two stages: The stage of post departure of the leaders from Lebanon in 1982 and the stage of post peace process up to this date.

We are not in agreement politically to a large extent or very big extent. Nevertheless , we back Chairman Arafat and there are contacts with him because the United States and Israel want to besiege him for some stances they do not accept.”

The president said :”We have one political course which deals with political courses. We are against the policy of unilateralism ,and against Oslo policy . We have backed Chairman Arafat because there has been an acceptable method by others to intervene in the Palestinian affairs. We do not intervene in the details or differences among the Palestinians because it is an internal Palestinian issue. We always tell them: Get United because your enemy is one .”

On Sharon’s Threats to Assassinate Palestinian leaders 

The president said:” Any threat by Israel is expected . This is not the first time .They always threaten. No body trusts Israel. It was established on the basis of killing ,assassination and destruction. This Israel’s policy trend. Israel’s threat has present since the creation of Israel. It is an on going situation. 

On Iraq 

The president said: ”We have expressed our view point even before the war .We have said in Sharm elSheikh, in many press interviews and even during the war. We said that the Americans would sink in a quagmire and the occupation forces as well. As for the Iraqis, they will pay a very high price which is higher than that they used to pay in the past decades.

As for us as neighbouring countries, we shall pay direct price and shall be affected by what is taking place in Iraq.”

“ concerning the Arab situation ,it will be worse. That’s what we see today .The effects of instability and suffering of Iraq and of neighbouring countries came quicker than expected. Perhaps what happened in months had been expected to happen in three or four years.”

On the US. General Performance in Iraq 

The president said:” I can see everything except what the American are saying …. Everything except the liberation of Iraq , democracy, improvement of the living conditions, and prosperity; everything except these terms. It is certainly an occupation. They in one way or another , or maybe directly through political and field performance, express failure. No doubt they have failed ; there is no need for analysis. What has been proposed? What’s the outcome to date? Are the Iraqi people prosperous? Are the services better now? Is security prevailing? What is that has been changed?”. 

On the Assumption that Arab Nationalism Collapsed following the Collapse of Saddam Hussein 

The president said :”We must not charge Arab nationalism with the mistakes of one regime or an individual, otherwise we will be doing harm to it. Arab nationalism is not linked to the former nor to the latter. It has its own factors of geography , history, language, religion common interests , concerns and emotions.”

The president wondered :”Do these elements exist? Surely, they do, otherwise why we see sympathy throughout the Arab world with what is going on in Iraq and Palestine. We, however, do not practice a correct nationalist action, except in form. When an Arab summit is convened and we do not agree, where is the performance of the nationalist action? The nationalist action is a unifying one, not in terms of Arab unity ,but I mean unifying in the terms of interests economy, thinking , ect..”

On whether Syria regards armed resistance against US. troops in Iraq as legitimate 

The president said :”As I said when I talked about the Palestinian resistance. If they are popular , they will be legitimate. We can not nor can others, call them otherwise, since popular support calls them resistance. Is it possible that all those hundreds of thousands, and millions of people who are resisting occupation using different forms, not necessary to be military, are belonging to al-Qaeda ? We do not know if there is something called al-Qaeda. Or are all of them pro-Saddam regime, as they claim ? If so, the former regime was popular ..then why did you say that you came to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein . Therefore, all these ideas which are raised away from the popular ones are incorrect. Yes, what has occurred popularly certainly provides resistance with legitimacy and confirms that the great part of it is resistance. The Iraqis do not approve those acts targeting civilians... since there is no connection between killing civilians and resistance. I differentiate between the two. But you are talking now about resistance against the occupying forces; yes they are called resistance.”

Concerning other operations targeting UN. Troops and civilians the president said:” The Iraqi people do not approve these acts , and we have condemned these operations.

On the Recognition of the Iraqi Interim Ruling Council 

The president said :” We recognize the governing council as status quo. What I am going to say now to you is the same thing I literally said to the members of the governing council who visited Syria. We said to them that there is a political course and that there is a position.

We do not have definite position toward the governing council. Some of them lived in Syria for decades and we have established relationship with them. But this is different from the political course according to which we have no right legitimize the governing council.

This is an internal Iraqi issue. An Arab summit has not the right to legitimize it. The neighbouring countries have no right to legitimize it even if they convened. The United Nations does not have the right to legitimize it .The Iraqi people are the source of legitimacy and any legitimacy given by the others is without value .We deal with them as status quo resulting from occupation. The assessment is an Iraqi internal affair, so is the case with the administration law or provisional constitution. We can not evaluate a provisional constitution. What is evaluated is a permanent constitution.

The main principle with regard to the constitution is that it is a good constitution when it is agreed upon by the Iraqi people, because this constitution is going to determine the fate of Iraq and the unity of Iraq especially if there is a dispute on the permanent constitution. The important thing with regard to a constitution ..any constitution is that it lives up to the aspiration of the Iraqi people whether this constitution comes through elections or any other mechanism selected by the Iraqis. We , in Syria , do not believe it is important for the summit to convene so that we talk about an internal affair of some state. It is not the task of the Arab summit to interfere in an internal affair. He who wants a legitimate constitution has to seek it from his own people. 

On the Arab Popular Stance Regarding Iraq 

The president said :” The Arab popular stances are clear.. we see them in the demonstrations which take place now and then to express support to the Iraqi people. For ourselves , as governments, we can not move away from public opinion. Firstly in Iraq, we are in no position to replace the Iraqi people. This is something that should be listed as a matter of principle to us .We should in no way interfere in the Iraqi internal affairs. We support the Iraqi people in the way they deem suitable.

When there is a side that represents the Iraqi people , we deal with it.”

On the Allegations of Insurgents Crossing the Borders to Iraq 

The president said :’’ This was raised immediately following the occupation of Iraq. A number of US. officials and some European figures raised this issue with me. Our reply was always that if there were insurgents going into Iraq from Syria, then you knew who were they, or you had arrested a number of them. What are their names ?

Where are their passports ? Are they Syrians? Are they fake? Give some names.. tell us how did they manage to go there.. Until now there is no information… give us any piece of information...because this is smuggling … it means that there are persons entering Iraq through the Syrian borders and we do not know about that. We are concerned with that issue . As a country, we are concerned with knowing our borders …is it arms or persons? We do not know. But up till now, there is no piece of information. All what they have said is mere talk.”

“ I say: Send us one name. This is a sort of throwing the responsibility – the responsibility of failure on other states. This is the whole issue.” 

On the Proposed Projects regarding the Future of Iraq 

The President said :"Each state has a special method of action. The federal system is a success in Germany. This might be a success in another form . There is somebody who put forward different forms of federation. Does federation means administrative decentralization, or form of decentralization.

I warn that the danger lies in the fact that the federation is based on ethnic groups and communities . This thing is seen by us and by others as dangerous.Even the Iraqi people reject it through what we hear from the Iraqis themselves. This form of federation based on the ethnic groups and communities . This thing is seen by us and by others as dangerous. Even the Iraqi people reject it through what we hear from the Iraqis themselves. This form of federation that is based on the ethnic groups or community or on religion is a dangerous thing."

On Syrian –American Relations 

The president said :"Until now , dialogue is still the basis. This does not mean the relation is good . It changes continuously and every day. And it differs between one trend and another inside the US. Administration . There are trends that we have the desire to make dialogue with. These trends believe that dialogue with us is important for a number of reasons that are related to the issues of the region in general , and to Syria's role in particular . We cannot specify things now precisely , particularly that the US. administration has gone into election stage and everything in the US is now governed by elections.

Many persons told us they were not convinced when they had voted for Syri's Accontability Act. But , they added , they did this out of their electoral interests which motivated them to vote for it. This is known about the United States. Some of them are members of the Congress .But dialogue is still going on.

On An Effective European Role

The president said:"Syria has always called for such a role; but it is very clear in practice that Europe has no effective tools. Some attribute the affair to the economic reasons and others to political causes. But I say there is , in addition to both attributions, another cause which is the political will. The European role is marketing the American proposals, especially in the ME peace process. Any initiative ,if we want to call it a European one should be derivative from European vision.

On Different Security, Political , Economic Cultural and Social Challenges Syria is Facing

The president said:" These challenges are facing Syria because our country enjoys a special position. The security challenges were always there , but have increased after the mistaken method to combat terrorism was resorted to in Afghanistan and recently in Iraq after its invasion. The mistakes are daily committed in respect with tackling Iraq's issue. The economic challenges are also there and have increased due to the unification of the states of the north which aim at achieving their own interests.. The social challenges are also there as a natural outcome of the economic and political unrest , of poverty and other elements. The cultural challenges are there as a result of the west invasion . Syria is facing these challenges as a country where the Iraqi issue is in its eastern part and question of peace and the occupation of Golan is in its western part. Moreover , Syria lives in a region where the question of terrorism is crossing it.

On the forthcoming Arab Summit

The president said:"In the forthcoming Arab summit there are two reform projects, reform of the Arab League and reform of the general situation.

On a Possible Syrian-Iranian –Turkish Coordination

The president said:" Our relation with Turkey has specific peculiarity. There are many things that link us to Turkey which helped start this relation quickly during the past few years, the most important of which are the joint desire and sincerity of dealing . The cause of Iraq came to make danger direct and same on Syria, Turkey and Iran which caused high level coordination among these states."

On Syria's Internal Situation

The president said:''

"In the issue of internal reform ,when there is an intervention, it is rejected absolutely. We make a process of development and lead this process. I said in the taking oath speech: I have no magic wand , because the position , stand and data are clear. There are shortcomings in many aspects. There is a need for big development.

We are going on with the process of development despite all the obstacles, and we are working broadening the participation of citizens in this process."

On the Recent Events in Kameshli

The president said" The investigation conducted with the persons who planned for the riots showed that there was no foreign intervention. The events were as we saw them a match, then mob acts that turned into a clash and then into a nationalist form. Emotional case often take place. What happened was handled fast and the investigations are still underway. But until this moment , we do not see anything related to abroad. But the subject of citizenship is /42/ years old. There was a census law that suffered loopholes. There were persons who were given citizenship and others were not given citizenship....... the Kurdish nationality is part of the Syrian structure and of the Syrian history. It is fully integrated with the nation structure. So, this subject is solved."

On the relation with Lebanon

The president said:" Syria supports the Lebanese establishments because they are the guarantee of the non-return of this country to the circumstances or atmosphere of the civil war. And we support all persons who head these establishments with no exception. It is natural that we offer more support for the first establishment which is the Presidency of the Republic."

"Damascus doors are open to all parties and all categories without exception.





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