Assad calls Israelis ‘fighting children’

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

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 beenliving herefor 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 theysay 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…. Youstart 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 anyof the old generation who used to know what politics means, like Rabinand the others. That is why I said they are like children fighting eachother, messing with the country; they do not know what to do."

Alluding to Operation Cast Lead, the Syrian leader said that "[TheIsraelis] wanted to destroy Hamas in the war [in December, 2008] andmake [Mahmoud Abbas] strong in the West Bank. Actually it is a police state, and theyweakened [Abbas] and made Hamas stronger. Now they wanted to destroyHamas. But what is the substitute for Hamas? It is Al-Qaeda, and theydo not have a leader to talk to, to talk about anything. They are notready 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 stopthe program and in fact the Iranians would  accelerate it. Sanctions,according to Assad, can cause problems to the Americans rather than tothe regime in Teheran..

Furthermore, said the Syrian president, "If I am Ahmadinejad, I will not give all the uranium because I donot have a guarantee [in response to US and European insistencethat most of Iran’s low-enriched uranium be sent abroad for furtherenrichment to make it usable for a research reactor, but not for abomb]…. So, the only solution is that they can send you part and yousend it back enriched, and then they send another part…. The onlyadvice I can give to Obama: accept this Iranian proposal because thisis very good and very realistic."

RegardingMiddle East special envoy George Mitchell, Assad that he told the envoythat "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 hasnot changed…. But the whole atmosphere is not positive towards the president in general. And that is why I think his envoys cannotsucceed."

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 andmore recognition of America’s problems around the world, especially inAfghanistan and Iraq," he said.

Still, continued Assad, there have not been concreteresults. "What we have is only the first step…. Maybe I am optimisticabout Obama, but that does not mean that I am optimistic about otherinstitutions 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’scall for a freeze on settlements] was very bad, even for the image ofthe United States."

The Syrian President claimed that the US continues to be biased towards Israel, saying that "this is traditional for theUnited 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 onthe 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 ofstate that "now the problem is that the United States is weaker, andthe wholeinfluential world is weak as well…. You always need power to dopolitics. Now nobody is doing politics…. So what you need is strongUnited States with good politics, not weaker United States. If you haveweaker United States, it is not good for the balance of the world."