assad ahmadinejad 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Damascus last week was a signal that Syria will not end its alliance with the Islamic Republic, a senior Israeli diplomatic official told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday.
During his visit, Ahmadinejad warned that “if the Zionist regime wants to repeat its past mistakes, this will constitute its demise and annihilation,” and promised that “the Zionist regime” would soon come to an end.
He and Syrian President Bashar Assad were seen praying and joking together, and in their public statements they ridiculed American efforts to drive a wedge between their regimes.
The visit “tells us what the Syrians always said – that they’re not willing to detach from Iran,” the Israeli official added. “They said the same during their negotiations with Israel, so there’s no change from the Syrian perspective.”
According to the official, despite American and other Western efforts to break the Syrian-Iranian alliance, “the Syrians never suggested this was possible. Syria is an Iranian ally, and we have to deal with it as such.”
Ahmadinejad also met with Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah, both in private and in a trilateral meeting over dinner at Assad’s presidential palace on Thursday evening. The discussion centered on “the Israeli threat,” according to Hizbullah’s Al-Manar television station.
The Iranian president went on to hold meetings with several Damascus-based Palestinian terrorist organization chiefs, including Hamas political head Khaled Mashaal, Islamic Jihad deputy secretary-general Zi’ad Nahla and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command’s Ahmed Jibril.
According to Al-Manar, Ahmadinejad promised the Palestinians “success” if they sustained “the resistance.”
Assad used the visit to criticize the “new situation of colonialism,” a reference to American involvement in the Middle East and pressure on Damascus to split from Teheran, a friendship Assad emphasized was secure even given Syria’s faltering economy.
The Assad-Ahmadinejad summit was noted in American media outlets as an answer of sorts to the recent US decision to send an ambassador, Robert Ford, to Damascus after pulling its representative in protest over the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut.
Meanwhile, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon was in China over the weekend, at the head of a delegation that included National Security Council and Foreign Ministry officials and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.
On Friday, Ya’alon held discussions with State Councillor Dai Bingguo, on “a series of bilateral, regional and international issues,” according to a Ya’alon spokesman.
The conversation included Israel’s concerns over Iran’s nuclear drive, and the possibility of China participate in harsh international sanctions to pressure the regime in Teheran.
Neither party would provide details on the discussions, though an Israeli official said they were “useful and very good.”
China’s state Xinhua news agency reported that the sides also marked 18 years since the start of diplomatic relations between their countries.