Assad Insists on Syria’s Central Role in the Region: France Agrees: US Divided

US policy is at a crossroads. As the world adjusts rapidly to important new Syrian foreign policy initiatives, the Bush administration remains pig-headedly hostile to Syria. Damascus has played an central role in braking Lebanon's gridlock. It helped produce agreement on both a Lebanese president and government; it has also been carrying out the most promising dialog with Israel that we have witnessed in almost a decade.

It is beyond doubt that Syria is a key player in regional politics. Washington, however, still wants to pretend that it is not.

Having participated in a few government briefings in the last few months, I have been struck by the shift in attitude toward Syria within most government agencies. The problem is at the top. President Bush and the National Security Council are shaping Syria policy, not State or Defense, both of which seem to understand that they can reap real rewards through cooperation. The White House is determined to stick to its ideologically driven policies until the bitter end, sacrificing US soldiers in Iraq and business investment in Syria. And for the same of what? Stopping peace between Syria and Israel?

Raed Rafei of the LA times writes: Syria: Back on the world stage, with a fury…..

… In an article that appeared Thursday [Here is French copy Rencontre avec Bachar Al-Assad: mercredi 9 juillet 2008, par Alain Gresh] on the website of the publication and that was translated into English in the Monthly Review, Gresh quoted Assad as accusing the current U.S. administration of obstructing peace: 

The biggest obstacle to peace is the White House. This is the first time a U.S. administration has advised Israel not to make peace.

Syria and Israel held indirect peace talks recently through Turkish mediation. But the prospects of quick breakthroughs remain slim. The West is trying to persuade Damascus to loosen its ties with Tehran, an unlikely prospect.

Asked about Iran, Assad described his country’s strong links to the Islamic Republic as a relationship between two equal allies:

We have been isolated by the United States and Europe. The Iranians have supported us, and yet I'm supposed to tell them: I don't want your support — I want to be isolated! We don't need to agree on everything to have relations. We see each other regularly for discussion. The Iranians do not try to change our position — they respect us. We make our own decisions, as in the time of the Soviet Union. If you want to talk about stability, and peace in the region, we must have good relations with Iran.

Talking about threats to peace in the region, Assad also criticized the way Americans have led their war on terrorism:

Terrorism is a threat to all humanity. Al Qaeda is not an organization but a state of mind that no border can block out…. I fear for the future of the region. We must change the soil that nurtures terrorism. This requires economic development, culture, an education system, tourism — and also an international exchange of information on terrorist groups. The army alone cannot solve this problem, as the Americans are trying to do in Afghanistan.

U.S. refusal to negotiate with his country was counterproductive, he said: 

They must accept that we are part of the solution not just in Lebanon but also in Iraq and Palestine. They need us to combat terrorism in order to achieve peace. They cannot isolate us, nor can they solve the region's problems by manipulating such words as "good" and "evil," "black" and "white." You need to negotiate, even if you do not agree on everything.

Assad's official visit to France to take part in Bastille Day celebrations comes as a sign of international recognition after the signing of a peace agreement among Lebanese rivals in Doha in May. For the last few years, Syria had been accused by the international community of creating instability in Lebanon. But relations between the two countries are back on track with the presidents of both countries scheduled to meet in France.

In an earlier interview published Monday in the French daily Le Figaro, Assad expressed his hopes for the next U.S. administration: 

Frankly, we do not think that the current American administration is capable of making peace. It doesn't have either the will or the vision and it only has a few months left…. We are betting on the next president and his administration. We hope that it will be rather an advantage to have a change of president in the United States.

In an interview with the Arab daily Al Hayat published today, French official Claude Gueant said permanent solutions to Middle East's problems would not be possible without Syria's participation.

— Raed Rafei in Beirut

Comments (12)


1. Jad said:

Georges Corm :

http://www.georgescorm.com/personal/download.php?file=mediapart.pdf

La Syrie et Israël ont négocié directement au début des années 1990 dans le cadre du processus de Madrid sans résultat concret, même s’il a été dit par les deux parties qu’elles étaient très près d’un accord.

Israël et les Etats-Unis pensent par ce jeu pouvoir séparer la Syrie de l’Iran, ce qui n’est pas très réaliste, mais la Syrie ne peut manquer l’occasion de montrer qu’elle est ouverte à une reprise des négociations et desserrer ainsi la pression des Etats-Unis et des gouvernements européens sur elle.

Israël, de son côté, face aux timides pressions pour trouver une issue à la situation des Palestiniens, fait une fuite en avant en se déclarant prêt à négocier le retrait du Golan syrien occupé et annexé. Les gouvernements israéliens l’ont déjà fait à plusieurs reprises dans le passé.

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July 11th, 2008, 9:11 pm

 

2. Jad said:

http://www.georgescorm.com/personal/download.php?file=mediapart.pdf

La Syrie et Israël ont négocié directement au début des années 1990 dans le cadre du processus de Madrid sans résultat concret, même s’il a été dit par les deux parties qu’elles étaient très près d’un accord.

Israël et les Etats-Unis pensent par ce jeu pouvoir séparer la Syrie de l’Iran, ce qui n’est pas très réaliste, mais la Syrie ne peut manquer l’occasion de montrer qu’elle est ouverte à une reprise des négociations et desserrer ainsi la pression des Etats-Unis et des gouvernements européens sur elle.

Israël, de son côté, face aux timides pressions pour trouver une issue à la situation des Palestiniens, fait une fuite en avant en se déclarant prêt à négocier le retrait du Golan syrien occupé et annexé. Les gouvernements israéliens l’ont déjà fait à plusieurs reprises dans le passé.

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July 11th, 2008, 9:13 pm

 

3. Al-Syasy said:

النظام السوري يتجرأ على القرآن العظيم كتاب الله,
في الوقت الذي هو فيه خانع ذليل أمام اليهود أعداء الله!
لم يكتف النظام السوري بظلم الناس وقمعهم, وتكميم أفواههم, وسجنهم لقولهم ربنا الله,
ولم يكتف بالانسحاب من الجولان وتسهيل احتلال اليهود لها عام 1967م,
ولم يكتف بمنع أية رصاصة تطلق على يهود في الجولان, حيث يعيش اليهود فيها آمنين
أكثر من أمنهم في عقر مستعمراتهم في تل أبيب!
ولم يكتف بعقده مفاوضات مع يهود حول ترتيبات نزع سلاح الجولان, والاعتراف بكيان
يهود المغتصب لفلسطين,
لم يكتف النظام بكل تلك الموبقات, بل تجرأ على كتاب الله في سجن صيدنايا!
لقد اقتحمت زبانية النظام السجن الذي أكثر سجنائه هم بسبب قضايا إسلامية, من حزب التحرير وحركات إسلامية أخرى, اقتحمت الزبانية السجن بطريقة استفزازية, فضربت السجناء وشتمتهم بسقط الكلام… ثم تمادت في جريمتها بأن ألقت بالقرآن العظيم أرضاً وانتهكت حرمته, ولما هب السجناء دفاعاً عن كتاب ربهم, محتجين على اعتداء زبانية النظام على القرآن العظيم الذي لا يأتيه الباطل من بين يديه ولا من خلفه, لما أحتج السجناء على ذلك, لم ترعوِ الزبانية, بل أخذتها العزة بالإثم, فأطلقوا وابلاً من النار على السجناء فقتلوا وجرحوا منهم الكثير… حتى إن أهل السجناء الذين هرولوا إلى السجن ليطمئنوا على أبنائهم, لم يسلموا من الضرب و الإهانة بل والقتل…!
أيها الأهل في سوريا
يا أهل الرباط في ثغور الشام
إن صمتكم على جرائم طاغية دمشق هو الذي دفعه إلى التصعيد واقتراف المزيد من الجرائم,
وكل جريمة أكبر من أختها:
أفلا تخشون أن يحق عليكم قوله سبحانه  فاستخف قومه فأطاعوه ؟!
أولا تخشون أن يحق عليكم قوله سبحانه  واتقوا فتنة لا تصيبن الذين ظلموا منكم خاصة  ؟!
ثم ألا تخشون أن يحق عليكم حديث رسول الله  من طريق أبي بكر الصديق رضي الله عنه « إن الناس إذا رأوا المنكر ولا يغيرونه يوشك الله عز وجل أن يعمهم بعقابه»؟!
إن المكتب الإعلامي لحزب التحرير في سوريا يستنهض هممكم بالتغيير والإنكار على هذا النظام وإزالته, وإقامة الخلافة الراشدة, فهي فرض ربكم ومبعث عزكم, وقاهرة عدوكم, ومحررة أرضكم, فهل أنتم مستجيبون؟
 إن في هذا لبلاغاً لقومٍ عابدين .

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July 11th, 2008, 9:53 pm

 

4. why-discuss said:

New clandestine traffic to Gaza: Kangurus, crocodiles and squirrels

L’orient le Jour:

“Un Palestinien tentait de faire passer des crocodiles et des kangourous à Gaza.
Un Palestinien qui avait l’intention de faire passer clandestinement des crocodiles, des kangourous et des écureuils dans la bande de Gaza a été arrêté hier en Égypte. « Emad Khalil Hassan a été arrêté avec deux crocodiles, huit écureuils et deux kangourous dans sa voiture près de la ville d’al-Arich », dans le Sinaï, a indiqué à l’AFP un responsable de la police égyptienne.”

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July 12th, 2008, 12:40 am

 

5. norman said:

For God sake, where are we , On a french Blog?.

Have mercy on us and write in English .

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July 12th, 2008, 3:34 am

 

6. Majhool said:

Referring to the hopes raised by his election in 2000 and the so-called “Damascus Spring” — a form of political thaw — he speaks of illusions: “It’s like young people who want to marry and believe that marriage is wonderful. They have strong emotions. But then comes the shock of reality. We cannot change things in a few weeks.” And he adds: “When you play chess, you cannot change the rules. You must follow them.” Is that why he says today, “We will need a generation to implement a real reform”? Clearly, he is serving a hard apprenticeship of power

so vague, I have to say. also he keeps saying that Syria has no political prisoners. I need someone to explain this to me from a legal perspective.

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July 12th, 2008, 5:55 am

 

7. offended said:

Well, if you are foraging for the kind of quotes that will suit your propaganda, you shall always find what you are looking for.

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July 12th, 2008, 7:34 am

 

8. offended said:

LOL!
It’s epically funny to see some people are still yearning for the Khilafa. Honestly, if you’ve got such talent and imagination, why don’t start writing sci-fic?

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July 12th, 2008, 7:42 am

 

9. Leo said:

To Al-Syasy:

Please spare us from your propaganda. There is no need to attack Jews on this respectable forum. In addition, there is no room for Hizb-ul-tahreer in Syria. This Khilafa system has proved its failure and the failure of all those who keep trying to implement it. Stop living in the past and lets try and build a modern civil state. I want to ask you a question, what is of more importance to you, a muslim from Indonesia or a Christian from Syria?

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July 12th, 2008, 12:17 pm

 

10. Al-Syasy said:

First of all you must know that the American,French,russian and british (officials) presidents are not talking imaginations or sci-fic when they talk about the Khilafa.

Second thing we dont attack jews, because the religion is not our enemy, we have to differentiate between jews and zionists.The khilafah system protected the jews when they were massacred in europe, the khilafah system lasted 1400 years, the moslems lived in dignity.

Third thing we do not have nationalism in Islam, and you know that the 56 colonies (states) that we have nowadays were created by the superpowers. (ex: Lebanon which is a french word, le blanc, which means white. SAUDI arabia , can you imagin a state called after a family. the same with the HASHEMITE kingdom.)

Last thing, we repeat that the struggle in the world is between superpowers, and syria is a tool to protect the american interests in lebanon.

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July 12th, 2008, 9:25 pm

 

11. Off The Wall said:

Al-Syasy

Your Argument:
we dont attack jews, because the religion is not our enemy, we have to differentiate between jews and zionists.

My Answer:
I quote the pamphlet you posted

ه خانع ذليل أمام اليهود أعداء الله!

حيث يعيش اليهود فيها آمنين
أكثر من أمنهم في عقر مستعمراتهم في تل أبيب

بكيان
يهود المغتصب لفلسطين

I failed to read the word Zionist anywhere in that pamphlet. Obviously this pamphlet is using the term Jewish as synonym to enemy of Allah. Please do not insult our intelligence. Also, what does the Regimes dealing with Israel have to do with what happened in the prison. I believe that people both in Syria and on this forum have outgrew that type of hyperbolic language. Most of the times, a thoughtful response and analysis is the norm on this forum.

Your Argument:
you must know that the American,French,russian and british (officials) presidents are not talking imaginations or sci-fic when they talk about the Khilafa.

My response
True, they are not talking Sci-Fi, but they are essentially fermenting Irrational and racist fears in order to enrich their military industries under the guise of combating what they call Islamic intolerance to their own culture.Some of them, though, and I have argued before are motivated to one extent and another by fighting a new crusade. Pretty much same as the pamphlet you posted does

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July 13th, 2008, 12:25 am

 

12. Off The Wall said:

Norman
I understand your frustration. i do not read french, but thanks to modern technology (i.e., the ubiquitous google) Why-Discucs story translates into

———-
“A Palestinian trying to get crocodiles and kangaroos in Gaza.
A Palestinian who had intended to smuggled crocodiles, kangaroos and squirrels in the Gaza Strip was arrested yesterday in Egypt. “Emad Khalil Hassan was arrested with two crocodiles, eight squirrels and two kangaroos in his car near the town of Al-Arich,” in the Sinai, told AFP an official of the Egyptian police. ”
——————–

Sharrul Abalyyati Ma Yud7eku

Sorry, my on-screen Arabic keyboard is not working

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July 13th, 2008, 12:41 am

 

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