President Hafez Assad in the Eye of Press
The Independent October 28, 1994, Friday
By ROBERT FISK IN DAMASCUS
It was a victory for President Hafez al-Assad, a victory of words. Mr Assad has been using since the Madrid conference three years ago. And it was Bill Clinton who was using them. It was President Clinton's replies - not Mr Assad's – which told the story. He talked about ''a just and comprehensive peace'', about UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 and 425, about how peace could never be lasting unless it was just, about ''the principle of land for peace'' upon which a treaty must be based.
Mr. Assad did not talk of victory. He smothered Mr. Clinton in praise for his peace- making efforts and insisted that he wanted ''to express my readiness to work with him for making a real, comprehensive and just peace throughout the region''. ''Comprehensive'' is the code word for withdrawal of Israeli troops from all Arab land. Mr. Assad implied. ''Anyone who does not believe what we are saying doesn't want peace themselves,'' he said. ''Why are the other side not convinced we are serious? I've heard statements from Israeli officials that Syria is serious. ''Our views were identical on the importance of making a comprehensive peace,'' Mr. Assad said. Then came the key phrase. ''I stressed to President Clinton the readiness of Syria to commit itself to the objective requirements of peace through the establishment of peaceful, normal relations with Israel in return for Israel's full withdrawal to the line of June 4, 1967 and from the south of Lebanon.''
World Socialist Web Site
16 June 2000
"Assad spent his 30 years in power carrying out a tortuous balancing act. Domestically, he was compelled to maneuver between various social interests and factions Assad's legacy. He is mourned in Washington, London and Paris because his sudden departure is one more destabilizing factor in a region ."
The BBC's Nick Bryant in Washington
"There was a strong sense that (Assad) was genuinely committed to peace"
BBC News Online
"Syria's shrewd master ,the late Hafez al-Assad was a key player in Middle Eastern politics."
President Hafez Assad’s Addiction to Just Peace, National Rights, and to Arab Solidarity
" Our will for peace is boosted by determination on the liberation, restoration of rights and on safeguarding national dignity. It was our keenness on the peace process as well as on securing security and stability in the region which, time and again, motivated us to keep on announcing our preparedness to resume peace negotiations from where they broke off and on the basis of acknowledging what the previous two Israeli Premiers committed themselves to and on the same bases of the UN Security Council Resolutions and the principle of land for peace," His Excellency has ever called for the establishment of a just balanced New World order in which" Neither the strong control others with their strength nor the weak are weakened by their weakness."
"We Want the Mediterranean to be a sea of peace and friendship where seagulls fly, ships of amity sail not warplanes of killing and destruction,’’
An Extract from the late President’s Speech at the inauguration of the third Legislative Term of the People’s Assembly on November 16, 1981
"Israel has wrought havoc in the occupied territories, oppressing our people and turning their lives into hell. But our people are putting up heroic resistance to this aggression. They are standing unarmed in the face of the occupying oppressors, confirming everyday all over the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan that they are holding firm to their own rights and those of their peoples and nations, and that they will keep on resisting the occupation until it is eliminated. We assure our people in the occupied territory, as we have previously done, that we will strive together until they rejoin us and we reunite with them.""
An Extract from The President’s interview granted to the British Daily "The Observer" on March 2, 1982
In the Golan Cause, Mr. President, you have won a victory in the UN, but this, in my opinion, will not help you regain the region, what is your next step, on the Syrian, Arab and international levels?
Late President’s Answer:
"Our battle with Israel, as it has been commonly known to every one now, is a long one. The Golan occupation, annexation or liberation is but a step in the long battle. We don’t doubt for a moment that we will regain our rights, regardless of how long it takes, because aggression everywhere in the world is destined to retreat and fail. We are rightful in our position, and we have been attacked. We have prove and moral potentials which , if well used and managed by us, will enable us in the long run to fully regain our rights."
Do you feel, Mr. President, that the USA has turned you down? When you met with President Carter in Geneva in 1977, it was plain that things were moving on smoothly between you. Ever since that time, the relations deteriorated; there were the Strategic Cooperation Accord with Israel and the veto against the decision on the Golan. You accuse the USA of interfering with your internal affairs. Is it possible to say that your relations with the USA are at their lowest and that you consider it as a hostile enemy State?
Late President’s answer:
"I have previously said more than once that I had good and positive impressions at the end of the meeting with President Carter, but what happened after the meeting has clearly confirmed that the USA does not have an American policy in the Region, but is implementing an Israel police. We can give many examples which confirm this."
The Great Never Pass Away
The great and unique never pass away; their stances, heroism, masterpieces, accomplishments and their curricula vitae speak of and denote them. This is the case with the leader, Hafez Assad, who proliferated 30 years of the Syrian modern history with accomplishments. These accomplishments do certify his wisdom, leadership genius, rare national zeal, and self-denial for the sake of the people, homeland, and for the sake of the nation.
The late president spent about four decades serving in different leadership positions, 30 of which as a president. All through these years, he never resorted to luxury or to relaxation, in the very sense of the word; rather, his real joy was in staving dangers off his homeland, drawing the way for victory, building the constitutions and generations morally and cognitively as a castle in defense of the land, and of the homeland future, security and independence.
Indeed, the most precious present the great leader was ever offered was freedom, which he attained with toil, blood, wisdom and with courage. This very freedom was presented by him to the Arab Nation in the Liberation War of October, and in the victory of the Lebanese Resistance and the crushing of the Israeli occupation after 22 years of resistance, fathered and led by him wisely and firmly in the cling to the principles, and in rejection for the logic of compromises, despair, or of being conditioned to the carrot and stick logic.
A year has passed since the departure of this great leader, where his presence is even felt stronger; his stances are renewed daily whereby days and events do reassert the credibility, correctness and ability of his vision in predicting the future.
Thus, in the Arab-Israeli conflict and in all battles, as well as regional and international conflicts , which Syria and the Arab Nation have had a role in, the late President proved his deep and far sighted vision of the future, where he was able to read through this vision the map of events and power realizing enemies and their allies, schemes and plots hatched against the causes of his homeland and nation, and at the same time realizing the map of potentialities, overt and covert forces; thereupon, he used to run the battle, outline and define the way for his goals in the wisdom of those who very well know their goals. In fact, he was able to know his friend from his enemy, know his tools and how to use and control them away from chaos and offhandedness. He never fell in the trap of victory ecstasy, never weakened by a loss whatever its pains were. The late president was very solid in defending the land, right and dignity, farsighted in reading alliances and conflicts. He was in love with his homeland and nation to the decree of Sufism; never saw pleasure or success but through the realization of the interests of his people, nation evading them risks and plagues achieving victories and accomplishments which made Syria and Arabs in a state of power and efficiency rather than being affected and acted upon.
The question of life and death
The question of life and death is still at times a puzzle, as realities on the ground do show; it is unknown whether death ends others’ life or brings it more and more into limelight ! Thus, there are many of the living but dead in spirit, the dead but ever living in deeds as well as words. This isn’t a philosophical theory but rather an observation by a journalist when it comes to the untimely demise of the late President, Hafez Assad, whose presence was very strong in the aftermath of demise. Almost all the said and done by the late Assad do remind the majority of his heroic principles stances. The very stances, which came in an accurate translation for a wise balanced policy, based on the principles of of unlimited belief in the power of masses and of the Arab Nation, betterment and improvement of the masses living conditions, welfare and prosperity, full return and liberation of the occupied territories and usurped rights, and of strong commitment to peace realization and world legitimacy.
In the Arab masses and Syrians, the late president put his deep trust; they were one of the main sources of his power, and the driving force and objective for every measure and step taken. His 1970 Correction Movement targeted the majority, if not all. The masses, especially the millions of Syrians, were led out of chaos and coups to the shores of safety and rest on the long so far running march of building, development and modernization. The late president built on the rubbles of pre-1970; 30 years later, the masses voted for President Bashar, who non-stopping has been working to build on the achieved and accomplished during the said 30 glorious years. Remarkably, the symphony was orchestrated to the pulse of the public, their satisfaction and desire. New democratic institutions, constitution, organizations were enshrined; equality, justice the rule of law and its precedence did prevail. Redistribution of resources to suffice all, every body was judged in terms of how much work and effort, not of what color or origin. The more you belong to your country, the more you deserve. This was a turning transitional point in the social life, promotion of peasants and farmers status, lifting of restrictions on political parties and on freedom of speech, emancipation of women and so many others.
The liberation Arab land occupied by Israel was always, and ever is, the objective and noble aim. For the sake of peace, a just war was launched. It was a war in defense of world peace and security, hence no peace and security without the liberation of the 1967 occupied land. This compelled the other side , some years later, following a further dealt blow and defeat in Lebanon, thanks to the late president for defending and preserving of its present demographic mosaic, to unwillingly take part in Madrid Conference, dragging peace efforts into years of procrastination and futility as Mr. Shamir pledged. During 10 years of on and off rounds of peace talks on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks of peace, others fell into the trap of behind curtains deformed deals! Such a deviation from Late Assad’s long sought for Arab solidarity and coordination did yield the fruits of Adam’s apple. You have by now to pluck the thorns from your hands by your bleeding without-fingers-hand! The issue of the liberation and return is still for us, as defined and underlined by the great leader of Syria’s most turbulent phase of foreign conspiracies and plots. 242, 338, UN Charter and resolutions are not only the most quoted terms of reference by Syrians worldwide, but also the most frequently repeated guidelines and principles used by the late president. These two resolutions besides 425 , not to mention Beirut’s Initiative, still dominate the political agenda in our country. Unfortunately, the other side has developed a UN Phobia, not even to mention any UN terms of reference. Israel has developed a complex of fear from its past, rather than capitalizing on the suffering imposed by others; Moslems defended Jews, when the world let them down. The Sephardem are those of Spain, when the origin of the world itself means the prosperous Jews of Spain under the protection of Arabs. Unfortunately, Israel paid no heed to the serious honest commitment of the late president to just and comprehensive peace. The Israeli side summarized the dispute as a matter of a few meters, when it was indeed a struggle between liberation and occupation, dignity and humiliation, logic and illogic. One would have no wonder that the assassination of Mr. Rabin was merely a further step on the long way of aborting every peace effort, and so were the Israeli ongoing slander campaigns of misinformation and distortion against Syria and Lebanon. Peace won’t only secure the interests of the oppressed but more that of Israel itself. So far, the majority in this part of the region are more than willing to build on the accomplished on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks of peace, and restart from where the talks broke off; it is a win-win solution for all.