Comments from Jihad Makdissi

Jihad Makdissi is the spokesman for Syria’s embassy in London. He appears quite frequently on Arab and European Satellite TV news shows such as the BBC and Aljazeerah.

Here is his latest appearance on BBC Radio today.

Being an avid reader of Syria Comment, Jihad wanted to comment on our last few discussion topics.

Here is an email he sent earlier this morning.

(camille Alexndre Otrakji)


Dear Camille,

I read attentively your article on the Arab Peace initiative and the possible flipping of peace tracks.

Also I was following the coverage of Syria Comment on the US Raid and Minister Moualem’s visit to London.

I just wanted to share with you (informally) my thoughts on these topics:

On the Arab Peace initiative:

All Israeli leaders negotiated with Syria starting with Shamir, until Olmert (whether directly or indirectly), None of them had a clear vision for peace with Syria or genuine conviction of peace per say, except maybe Rabin, to some extent of course, in light of his famous “deposit” to the Clinton Administration.

Until this moment, the Israelis have no political will to achieve peace with Syria, and Syria has no illusion about that but cannot afford as a country not to respond to any peace initiative.

The Israelis are very good in evading peace requirements whenever they feel that a settlement is eminent, and the most effective evasion would be through blaming their internal politics … early elections, difficulty of digesting several concessions at once … etc.

As for Peres and Barak’s recent statements on the Arab Peace imitative, it is another attempt to bluff and evade Peace. What the Israelis are doing now, unfortunately through the help of some Arab countries, is to produce a second initiative … they are still discussing whether it should be launched as a European initiative or as an Arab one. This new initiative is a replica of the Arab Peace Initiative … minus the right of return of Palestinians.

I refer you to a recent meeting in Oxford City between Israelis, British and other figures from a major Arab country … Immediately after this meeting Bill Rammel, the British Minister in charge of the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, flew to Jordan to promote what was discussed in Oxford.

Another meeting on a broader level will be held in NY for the same purpose. All said, that does not mean that Israel is now ready to accept the modified initiative after abolishing the Right of Return. It is only an effective way of playing on time and unfortunately, this time, with the complicity of certain Arab countries.

As for the notion of weakening Syria and its allies simply by reviving the Arab peace initiative, it is not consistent at all because any Pan Arab initiative will not enable any Arab country to negotiate on the Golan on behalf of Syria because comprehensiveness is the broader political umbrella for all tracks and not the substitution.

On Minister Moualem’s Visit to London:

The visit was very successful on both the bilateral level as well as the regional level. Minister Moualem is a man with a strategic vision and Miliband was very impressed and encouraged to engage and explore Moualem’s Approach. Please forgive me if I can’t go into details, but I can tell you before the end of the year there will be a new positive development, and also I can assure you that Syria’s regional role in the region is most appreciated and fully acknowledged.

This American Administration became an embarrassment for all its allies.

On the American Raid:

The Syrian Diplomacy is adopting a gradual response while waiting to get clarifications from the USA and from the Iraqi Government.

So far we have taken the following steps:

Diplomatically, we briefed the accredited ambassadors in Damascus about the details of the aggression. Also we approached the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Security Council and made it clear for them that this sheer violation in international law is a double crime because it was launched by a country which [is] supposed to be a permanent member of the Security Council in charge of maintaining Peace and stability in the world.

Administratively: Syria shut down the American cultural Center in Damascus.

On the popular level: the thousands of people who demonstrated in Damascus wanted to send a double message to the United States and also to others who didn’t condemn the Raid, that these kinds of aggressions will only enhance the national unity and the rallying around our president. More and more Syrians are not differentiating between the terrorist explosion of the 27th of September, and the American Raid against Syrian civilians.

Security wise: Syria made it clear that the security and stability of Syria has a top priority, and that our efforts in counter-terrorism are intended solely to maintain peace and security of Iraq and Iraqis, That is why we are supporting the political process in Iraq in order to help maintain the Arab identity Of Iraq.

Finally let me share with you excerpts of the US Department of Defense definition of hot pursuit as an example just to let people draw their own conclusions on the American schizophrenic behavior:

“Pursuit commenced within the territory, internal waters, the archipelagic waters, the territorial sea, or territorial airspace of the pursuing state and continued without interruption beyond the territory, territorial sea, or airspace. Hot pursuit also exists if pursuit commences within the contiguous or exclusive economic zones or on the continental shelf of the pursuing state, continues without interruption, and is undertaken based on a violation of the rights for the protection of which the zone was established. The right of hot pursuit ceases as soon as the ship or hostile force pursued enters the territory or territorial sea of its own state or of a third state.”

Thank you

Jihad Makdissi

Spokesman of the Syrian Embassy in London

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November 9th, 2008, 12:07 am


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