Assad calls Israelis ‘fighting children’

Syrian leader: "Israeli leadership does not have the old generation like Rabin."

February 4, 2010 17:29
3 minute read.
Assad calls Israelis ‘fighting children’

Bashar el-Assad. (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.

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"I have half a million Palestinians and they have been living here 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."

Regarding 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 succeed."

Regarding 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 the whole 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."

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