(photo credit: AP)
Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel of fighting like children in an interview with The New Yorker on Thursday regarding the prospects of peace in the Middle East.
"I have half a million Palestinians and they have been
for three generations now. So, if you do not find a solution for them,
then what peace you are talking about?" he said.
On the prospects of peace between Israel and Syria, Assad that "if they
say you can have the entire Golan back, we will have a peace treaty.
But they cannot expect me to give them the peace they expect…. You
start with the land; you do not start with peace."
Speaking about the Israeli leadership, Assad said, "You need a special dictionary for their terms…. They do not have any
of the old generation who used to know what politics means, like Rabin
and the others. That is why I said they are like children fighting each
other, messing with the country; they do not know what to do."
Alluding to Operation Cast Lead, the Syrian leader said that "[The
Israelis] wanted to destroy Hamas in the war [in December, 2008] and
make [Mahmoud Abbas]
strong in the West Bank. Actually it is a police state, and they
weakened [Abbas] and made Hamas stronger. Now they wanted to destroy
Hamas. But what is the substitute for Hamas? It is Al-Qaeda, and they
do not have a leader to talk to, to talk about anything. They are not
ready to make dialogue. They [Al-Qaeda] only want to die in the field." Assad also expressed his concern with imposing sanctions on Iran,
saying that this is a problem because sanctions would not stop
the program and in fact the Iranians would accelerate it. Sanctions,
according to Assad, can cause problems to the Americans rather than to
the regime in Teheran..
Furthermore, said the Syrian president, "If I am Ahmadinejad, I will not give all the uranium because I do
not have a guarantee [in response to US and European insistence
that most of Iran’s low-enriched uranium be sent abroad for further
enrichment to make it usable for a research reactor, but not for a
bomb]…. So, the only solution is that they can send you part and you
send it back enriched, and then they send another part…. The only
advice I can give to Obama: accept this Iranian proposal because this
is very good and very realistic."
Middle East special envoy George Mitchell, Assad that he told the envoy
that "even though he was successful in Ireland, this is different….
[Mitchell] is very keen to succeed. And he wants to do something good,
but I compare with the situation in the United States: the Congress has
not changed…. But the whole atmosphere is not positive towards the president in general. And that is why I think his envoys cannot
US President Barack Obama, Assad said that Washington's approach had changed, in comparison to the administration of former US president George W. Bush "No more dictations but more listening and
more recognition of America’s problems around the world, especially in
Afghanistan and Iraq," he said.
Still, continued Assad, there have not been concrete
results. "What we have is only the first step…. Maybe I am optimistic
about Obama, but that does not mean that I am optimistic about other
institutions that play negative or paralyzing role[s] to Obama," said the Syrian leader.
Assad was critical of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying that "the press conference of Hillary with [Prime Minister Binymain]
Netanyahu [in which she appeared to walk away from the US administration’s
call for a freeze on settlements] was very bad, even for the image of
the United States."The Syrian President claimed that the US continues to be biased towards Israel, saying that "this is traditional for the
United States; we do not expect them to be in the middle soon." Assad went on to say that, regarding the Middle East peace process, "the vision does not seem to be clear on
the US side as to what they really want to happen in the Middle East."
With regards to American power around the world, Syria's head of
state that "now the problem is that the United States is weaker, and
influential world is weak as well…. You always need power to do
politics. Now nobody is doing politics…. So what you need is strong
United States with good politics, not weaker United States. If you have
weaker United States, it is not good for the balance of the world."