"Syria always speaks of the just and comprehensive peace: the comprehensive peace which includes all tracks. This conference is to deal with the Palestinian track; this is good and we will be happy that there is a conference for the Palestinians; but what is our role? We were to go when the objective and the basic is to be the just and comprehensive peace; that is to include the cause of the Golan. We can not only talk about the Palestinian track. The Syrian track is a basic one; and the cause of the Golan is second to none." 

 

Interview given to the Tunisian ‘ Al-Shirouq’ Daily 

In reply to a question regarding the 1973 Liberation of October, H. E. President Assad said: 

" The war of October does not only represent for us now in this phase a military issue with its military meaning. There are also those issues of Arab Solidarity; where this War has indeed demonstrated the Arab Solidarity from the ocean to the gulf. The other side of this war is the issue of the will , where we ,during many of the living moments, fell the feelings of frustration by the Arab Citizen and perhaps by the Arab Official. The War of October has expressed the how and the possibility of changing frustration which existed between the defeat of the 1967 and the War of 1973. Now what we can do is how to restore the Arab Solidarity, how to alleviate or eliminate frustration as to move forward into a phase of active work, from succumbing to the de fact into the alternating of the de facto."

 In reply to a question regarding the recent Israeli raid attack against Syria, H. E. President Assad said:

 " Israel shrouds its failure with ambiguity; what they have targeted in their attack was but unimportant : an empty military edifice under construction. This is an intelligence failure whether the source was the Israeli Intelligence or the US Intelligence. Israeli officials have been embarrassed as to declare the target of the attack; they have covered this failure with ambiguity saying that it was a secret! They did cover their failure with ambiguity…. The said attack expresses the Israeli non-desire for peace and , as you say, a bid to blackmail Syria. It is, however, not the first attack of its kind; they have attacked the Syrian troops twice in Lebanon before 2005, have violated the Syrian airspace twice before this attack. In every attack, they were to believe that Syria has understood the message! The result for us is that we have our principles, and rights which we will never surrender as a result for all the previous pressures." 

In reply to a question regarding a Turkish Mediation role in Mideast peace talks, H. E. President Assad said:

 " There is a Turkish mediation since my visit to Turkey in 2004. We have made it clear to the Turks that our position regarding peace has never been changed. We want first of all a clear announcement by the Israeli officials about their desire for peace , the restitution of the land to Syria, and secondly, guarantees that the land is to be restored in full. A mediator can convey the parties viewpoints, but the negotiations need a sponsor with a specific position at the international level. Unfortunately, in this case it is the USA as the only real sponsor in this case."

" Trust is missing between us and the Israelis. This trust today, even if it a little bit existed previously, is frankly null. We trust the Turks , there is a reciprocal trust to a big extent between us; and we told the Turks that once we were to receive the said guarantees, we can by then say that the climate is prepared for peace. Then, we can talk with other forces, and especially with the USA, as to resume the negotiations. However, we are quite certain that this US Administration has never worked for peace." 

" The Arab-Israeli conflict is a 60 year old one, has never been started by personal differences as to be concluded with personal-related matters statements; there are the basics and principles; and once the Israelis respond to these basics and principles , and the destiny of these rights, we can by then evaluate the Israeli stance. Every thing we have so far heard is but an oratory speech-tailored words away from the reality on the ground!"

 In reply to a question regarding the forthcoming so called peace conference at the US invitation, H. E. President Assad said: 

" we are not certain of the conference seriousness; this seriousness is linked to the conference Terms of Reference: the basics upon which to be based; whether upon the mood of those who called for the conference! Or to be based upon certain basics like the resolutions of the International Legitimacy: on top of which are 242 and 338 Resolutions and other resolutions. Syria always speaks of the just and comprehensive peace: the comprehensive peace which includes all tracks. This conference is to deal with the Palestinian track; this is good and we will be happy that there is a conference for the Palestinians; but what is our role? We were to go when the objective and the basic is to be the just and comprehensive peace; that is to include the cause of the Golan. We can not only talk about the Palestinian track. The Syrian track is a basic one; and the cause of the Golan is second to none. This Cause is not presented. There is another thing related to seriousness: Were the concerned countries of the Arab Israeli conflict consulted? However, we have not yet received an invitation to attend the said conference; if we were to receive an invitation, these are the conditions of Syria as to attend the international conference."

 In reply to a question regarding Mideast peace process, H. E. President Assad said:

 " The opportunities for peace now do not exist in reality; for example, at the Palestinian level, there is a division. Peace needs national consensus first of all, which is not available. The US Administration lacks both the vision and the will for peace, Israel lacks at least the will; I do not know whether the vision exists or not; but the Israeli government is weak. A weak government can launch a war, but can never realize peace…. Unfortunately, the current Israeli government is unable to provide any guarantee for peace and the return of the rights…. Perhaps the issue of normalization stands behind the conference aim, or the issue of diverting the US public opinion or the western opinion from the issue of Iraq, where failure has been clear. They have been trying in vain to deal with the consequences of the failure in Iraq. Consequently, perhaps they have decided as to go for the peace process with the aim of realizing something, even illusive to present to the public opinion."

 In reply to a question regarding the Syrian Lebanese relations, H. E. President Assad said:

 " Lebanon was stable in the stage which followed the Taif Accord,- September 1989- when it adopted the Arab stance and the support for the resistance, that is when it was against Israel. When Lebanon gets out from this logic, and any Arab country which does so, becomes unstable. We can never establish the future of the Syrian-Lebanese relations with forces which never believe in Lebanon: with any trend becoming closer to Israel conditioning its decision to foreign powers. We , as ever have been, are the more keen on stability in Lebanon, and on the normal relation with Lebanon, as a part of the natural historic relations between both people."

 In reply to a question regarding the Lebanese Resistance, H. E. President Assad said:

 " The Lebanese Resistance is far more powerful today and especially from a popular aspect. I am not talking about the military aspect, the popular. The power of the Resistance stems from its popular support, which is more inside and outside Lebanon, as we witnessed last year during the Israeli aggression of July against Lebanon…. The Arab people in general support every resistance. Syria’s position stems from the position of the Syrian Arab People. Our support for the Resistance is a political one linked to our causes. The Resistance in Iraq has its finance and weapons; they have every thing, and need no military support from any side, neither from Syria, Iran, nor from others."

 In reply to a question regarding Iraq, H. E. President Assad said:

 " The unity of Iraq is still a big hope possible to be realized. At the same time, we have to talk of a political process. First, The solution in Iraq must be based on the Arab Identity of Iraq, the Arab Iraq. Second, the assistance as to help in solving the Iraqi crisis should be an Arab one in essence before being a foreign one; the Arab countries should have a basic role. Third, the internal political process in Iraq should include all forces away from the US definitions…. Unfortunately, the Arab role is missing ; two years ago, there was a dialogue between us and several Arab countries concerned directly as to make an Arab initiative; we , however, have not found any response to this effort. Actually the role now is merely a Syrian one ; of course, there is a cooperation with the concerned countries, basically with Turkey and Iran as to preserve the unity of Iraq evading a destructive sedition, and to support at the same time the political process…. I think the current US Administration does not want from the countries neighbouring Iraq to help Iraq. We have told the Iraqi officials that the more they are independent, the more Syria is to provide them support; I think that this pertains also to the neighbouring countries of Iraq…. They- the Americans, have announced the so-called ‘ creative chaos’ ; we, Arabs, ourselves have not announced this. Consequently, we can say that what is happening is part of a scheme. Second, there are US writings and researches presented during the 1980th regarding the dismemberment of the region starting with Iraq . We judge things by realities, not by intentions; if their intention were to be good, and have destroyed Iraq and the region; can we speak of their intention as good! The issue is not that of a slap in the face , it is the issue of destroying the region which has millions of people. We can never judge intentions in such a case. The result is the destruction, division, sabotage and sedition."

 In reply to a question regarding Iraqi Refugees in Syria, H. E. President Assad said:

 " So far we have received but the promises, nothing concrete ever. We fully shoulder all the burdens. Recently, I have heard a statement from the Iraqi premier that he was to provide small amounts : 18 million US Dollar to Syria, I think 12 million Dollar to Jordan and perhaps to other countries. 18 million US Dollar for who shelters hundreds of thousands are nothing. We provide of Fuel support only about a billion US Dollar for a million and a half of the Iraqis in Syria…. The Iraqi citizen now shares the Syrian citizen all the services. The sheltering of the Iraqi citizen in Syria , notwithstanding the economic burdens, provides Iraq a positive value as to enable the Iraqi citizen to live. We believe that our hosting of the Iraqi citizen is political before being an economic one."

 In reply to a question regarding Iran, H. E. President Assad said:

 " The US may take a fool action, if we were to think logically. Such an action is to be harmful for the region and the world. We have to remain ever alert for any reckless action by the US, or by Israel against Iran , Syria, Lebanon, or against any other state….The problem for the world will be far more bigger than that of the Iraqi invasion considering the strategic position of Iran and its power. The situation would be very difficult for the US, its consequences would cover all the world in general. If the war were to begin, how is it to conclude; nobody knows! But we will be the first to pay the price: the Arab countries, especially the Arab Gulf region which is to pay a very high price for such an action…. We are all targeted, no country in the Arab World is not to be the price for the explosion to happen."

 In reply to a question regarding Arab Solidarity, H. E. President Assad said:

 " The Arab situation is still unsatisfactory and calls for concern. What is important is not what we talk about; but what we implement; not the Arab Summits, but the implementation. When it comes to the implementation, we are divided, at times if not divided, but careless for each other….Syria’s interest is to have Arab Solidarity existent at whatever extents. The Arab-Arab relations are good at the highest levels, but at other governmental or in the countries in general do not exist; or there is no follow up. The high level relation is not suffice to create good relations between two countries; there are establishments ; it is not only a personal relationship, a good personal relation can be reflected positively on relations between two countries in general…. If we were to compare the relation of any Arab country with Europe, or perhaps with Asia, we would see that it is far more better than the Arab-Arab relation… A kind of hope and optimism has to remain however."

 In reply to a question regarding Reform and Modernization Process, H. E. President Assad said:

 " Firstly, We have our priorities which are based on the most dire needs of the Syrian citizen. Secondly, it- the process of Reform and Modernization- depends on the possibility of achieving progress in a track before another track. The first priority was the economic one as to improve the citizens living standards; the second priority is the political one related to elections laws, especially local administration and parliamentarian elections and to political parties….We have initiated this process; with my election to the presidency, the Intifada started in the occupied Palestine, pressures on Syria, because of its support to the Intifada, started. The 11th of September took place with that Arabs have had to pay as the price; the Arab weakness has started in reality after this stage and not lately; and the invasion of Iraq took place. From here direct pressures with an excessive amount against Syria came. The consequences of the occupation resulted with an increase of extremism and the start of terrorist acts, which disappeared from Syria for decades and began to take place after the invasion of Iraq. Thus, the priority for us has become also to preserve the stability in Syria, as the first priority, where the economic priority has become the second, and the political one the third…. How can we build a good economy without stability? We, however, have made economic strides: the growth rate was in 2000 less than 1 percent and became 6,1 last year notwithstanding though of the political circumstances."

 Edited & Translated

Mohamad Abdo Al Ibrahim

 

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