Assad: America's Mideast 'an illusion'

Livni warns Damascus not to intervene in Lebanese affairs.

assad spiffed up 298 (photo credit: AP [File])
assad spiffed up 298
(photo credit: AP [File])
Syrian President Bashar Assad said in a speech on Tuesday that America's plan for a "new Middle East" had collapsed in the wake of Hizbullah's successes in the fight against Israel. "The Middle East they (the Americans) aspire to ... has become an illusion," he said. Assad, speaking to a journalists' association in Damascus, said the region had changed "because of the achievements of the resistance." For a Jerusalem Online video of events click here According to Assad, "The Arabs gave everything and got nothing in return. When we say that we have chosen peace as our strategy, it does not mean we gave up other options. On the contrary." "We are convinced that the true path to peace is via negotiations, but if this path is not possible - resistance is the only way. Not necessarily an armed resistance but a cultural and political resistance as well. The goal of the resistance is not war but rather peace. It therefore does not contradict the peace and is necessary in the current state of affairs," he said. The Syrian president went on to claim that the peace process had "failed", calling Israel the enemy and saying that it did not want peace. The fighting in Lebanon had been planned by Israel for some time, he said, but the endeavor had failed. "The result was more failure for Israel, its allies and masters," Assad said. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said in response that Syria must not intervene in Lebanese affairs or try to use Hizbullah to influence the Beirut government. Livni, speaking in northern Israel, said after the monthlong war against Hizbullah Syria must "understand that Lebanon is taking off, or is at least meant to take off, in a different direction without them." She said Syria would no longer be able "to influence (Lebanon) through such groups like Hizbullah." "There is international agreement regarding the role Syria played until today and the change it has to make in order to be accepted by the international community and to play a more positive role," Livni said. The Syrian leader said US participation was needed for a peace settlement in the Middle East, but he said peace cannot be achieved under the administration of US President George Bush.