President Bashar al-Assad Delivers a comprehensive Speech At the Arab Parties General Conference
Sunday, March 05, 2006 - 12:15 PM
DAMASCUS, (SANA)

In a comprehensive political speech at the opening session of the Arab Parties General Conference yesterday, President Bashar al-Assad said that the Arabs derived their strength from two main sources, the first of which is Islam which is strongly connected with Arabism, and the second is Christianity which emerged among the Arabs in Arabic language which is Aramaic.

President al-Assad expressed appreciation for the decision of the Arab parties to hold their general conference which he described as very important in Damascus for extending support for Syria and Lebanon, pointing out that such a decision reflects the consciousness and awareness of the Arab political trends and forces of the conspiracies being hatched.

The President added that the title of the conference supporting Syria and Lebanonís consolidates a deeply-rooted fact in which Syria and the Arabs believe, that Syria and Lebanon are two inseparable sisterly countries.

The President pointed out that what happens against an Arab country canít be isolated from the rest of the Arab countries, stressing that what is happening now to Syria and Lebanon and before to Iraq, Palestine are interrelated.

The president said that the challenges have grown and by the time they have become chronic and turned into a pain and the Arab nation is living in a chronic case.

He added that such a pain is being felt on the official and popular levels, and the Arab general weakness is an outcome of foreign conspiracies and self shortcomings which can be attributed to short sightedness which is a dangerous indication that the societies are not developing and history repeats itself when we fall in the same trap more than once and every time the trap becomes deeper and the price gets higher.

The President added that some have called Syria زan opposition stateس which means a static defensive state but this doesnít express Syriaís position, because Syria has always been moving with the events and has been wrongly understood, because those who called Syria an opposition state were not able to understand these events.

He pointed out that pressure on Syria is being put because Syria is acting to prevent the Zionist hegemony and other international powers that are targeting the Arab nation.The President said that Syria and Lebanon are only a link in a chain which was plotted against the Arab nation and the talk about the theory of conspiracy is not an Arab invention but was clearly written in the literature of the West.The President indicated that Syria warned the Americans that they would sink in the Iraqi quagmire although you would win the war, pointing out that Syria warned the British and the European countries and the Arabs who didnt take firm stance regarding this war.The President said that some of the Arabs thought that the war is targeting the regime and if the regime is ousted the other regime can be saved, but the real issue is not regimes, and the issue is countries and the target is to re-map the region and oil remains a temptation of the war.President al-Assad said that Israel remains a fundamental factor in all what is happening in the Middle East, pointing out that Iraq is the target which has very big potentials.Regarding Syria, it may differ a little through Syriaís suffering. Like any country, it will be as a spearhead through its geographic position and its historic role. I want to talk about a point concerning Syria. I say this point is not a suffering, rather it is a pain. We always talk about it with sorrow, namely the misunderstanding of the Syrian stand by many of the countries of the world. What concerns us specifically is the Arab states and Arab peoples sometimes and the political forces particularly. Now I want to go through the examples directly in order to talk about reality.

As I said, the pain which we suffer from in Syria is always the understanding of the Syrian stand though it is understood later but late, i.e. after it is too late and after we pay the price. I will give example: Syriaís stand regarding the Iraqi-Iranian war. We have paid the price for ten years of blockade, criticism and Arab fierce attack. Eight years of war and two years until the occurrence of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.He said that after the invasion, I heard from the Arab officials, though later, that Syria was right. President Hafez al-Assad was always saying that a similar thing will happen and we did not believe. We were mistaken. We appreciate this frankness which is not always available in the Arab world. We donít feel happy because it is too late.The President added, you all know that we have been exposed to pressures over the past years.

We believed that we side with the Palestinian people. We have conviction in this subject. Regrettably, the pressure came from the Arab states on this subject. The West does not concern us in this subject. What is important for us is the Arab homeland.About the invasion of Iraq, the President added that we had exerted great efforts to explain the dangers of this war for two years before it and two years after it. But some Arab states were talking in a different language, the same language which Syria is talking.We were accused of being unrealistic... hardliner, that we don't read the political map, donít know that the world has changed and that there is one pole. Under these difficult circumstances, we have had to fight the many political battles in the past years, facing two trends. The first exists in the West. It could be governments, intellectual strata...etc. Some of them exist in friendly and unfriendly countries. They despise the other, especially Arabs. This trend believes that it is an absolute power that cannot be confronted, so we have to submit to it and agree on whatever it says and orders even if it was against our interests.The second is represented in some in our region, especially the Arab world, who donít respect their identity and culture, but admire unlimitedly and non objectively the West. If we want to admire something let it be with reasonable limits. This admiration caused some circles blindness.Concerning the ground on which we were advancing at this stage, first of all, there is an eroding Arab situation, or rather there is no an Arab situation at all, at least at the official level. I distinguish between the official and popular levels.

There is an identity that is lost between the West and the East, past and present.There is also the short-sighted vision, which is one of the difficult points we suffered from in Syria. I mean that there is a principle adopted by some in our region that says let us win today and lose tomorrow.For us, the reasonable matter is to think that let us win today and tomorrow, and at worst let us lose today and win tomorrow. In other words, let us win on the long term since it is inadmissible to lose on the long run.This ground and different trends combined together to constitute a state of siege against Syria with the aim of subjugating it in order to become a part of the providing state in our region. In this case, we will not be an obstacle to any foreign scheme, and embarrass any of the forces existing in the region, which want to go with the West. This is what we have constantly rejected.No doubt the war of Iraq has drawn the attention on what is taking place in the Palestinian lands, continued acts of killing of the Palestinian brothers.He said that maybe there is another target as to draw the attention for the future like the demolishing of Al-Agsa Mosque with the aim of creating a temple similar to that of the foundation of Israel in 1948. Striking Iraq is a striking the Arab nation because Iraq has big economic, scientific and human potentials and a big national and Islamic castle to the Arab nation. All these reasons pushed for the war. But what are the methods? The methods started after the invasion of Kuwait and is continuing until now.

The blockade caused the death of hundred thousands of Iraqi children.The President added that starvation and instability were the method adopted before the war.The second method which started directly after the war was the killing of Iraqi scientists. Assassination was carried out deliberately. We should not have brains, should not develop.He continued to say that the other side is to create a sedition among the Iraqis in order to obliterate the Iraqi identity. To begin with was the theft of national museum. The theft process was carried out within a deliberate plan and not a matter of law or outlaws. It was an organized work. The pictures were cut by experts, some say that there were Israeli elements who entered with the American troops.Of course, we all know what Iraqís history means as one of the richest and oldest countries in the world with regard to history.Later, many things happened in relation to Iraqís Arab identity, through attacking the national structure and consequently turning the Iraqi citizenís belongings from the national and pan-Arab ones into narrow tribal, sectarian and religious belongings, and so on. But the most dangerous is what happened recently when the tombs were attacked. The aim is to destroy the national and pan-Arab identity, since as long as there is an identity gathering the Iraqi people, Iraq will remain united. Attacking this identity paves the way for other identities, and consequently Iraq will be divided.We must remember that there were acts occurred in Iraq at the hands of the occupation forces who were disguised in Arab uniforms. US officials claim that they have nothing to do with such acts.

It is known that legally the occupation forces are responsible for everything, security, economy and services. Therefore, it is natural for them to bear the responsibility.The aim of this attack is to create a sedition. They adopt in their dealing with the Arabs a step-by-step approach. When Israel killed Mohammad Durra in Palestine, there was a great protest.Today, when we hear from time to time that Israel killed two Palestinians, we say poor Israel, it did only kill two Palestinians. The issue becomes like a habitual act. When they destroy in the future Al-Aqsa Mosque, we will be exceeding the stages of preparation. It is a question of doses that are given step-by-step. The President added the funny thing was that the Americans convinced the whole world they would not withdraw from Iraq in view of the confusion which would be incurred as a result, while in fact the US occupation troops are the real reason behind the actual confusion taking place on the ground.The President expressed his belief that withdrawal of the US troops has become urgent. He called on the Iraqi people to unite on this issue.The President also expressed his belief that the solution lies in awareness, wisdom and dialogue amongst the Iraqi people as a way out of the crisis. The President outlined the priorities as the unity of Iraq which comes in the first place, and its national Arab identity that comes second, as well as, Iraqís independence which comes in the third place indicating withdrawal of the occupation troops.The President highlighted the fact that the unity of Iraq is the basis for the achievement of the other goals of independence and national identity which is the denominator for all Iraqis.

The President further highlighted that the Iraqi constitution would be a factor for settlement in Iraq if it were subject to approval by all Iraqis. On the other hand, this constitution would lead to conflict and civil war if it were subject to dispute by the Iraqi people. An agreed-upon constitution would result in national establishments which in turn would guarantee Iraqís independence following withdrawal by the occupation forces, the President added.Security and stability, the President added, would come as a result to a political process. Absence of security and stability would lead to catastrophic consequences in Iraq.The President explained how Syria supported the political process in Iraq away from any viewpoints.In this framework, the President talked about Syriaís support for the Iraqi electoral process when she provided the Iraqi electorate, residing in Syria, with all possible facilities.Syria tried hard to promote relations with the Iraqi government, the President said. Nevertheless, Syrian success, in this respect, had been limited in view of American pressure. This Syrian endeavour was manifested in the Syrian attempt to open the Syrian embassy in Baghdad last summer. However, the US administration did not allow the Iraqi officials to receive the Syrian delegation which stayed in Baghdad for seven days.

While receiving Moqtada al-Sadr here in Syria, the President said that Syria announced she would re-open the Syrian embassy following the formation of the Iraqi government.The President highlighted the issue of sending an Arab peace keeping force to Iraq making clear that he had put a question forward to an Iraqi delegation, that visited Syria once, on how the Iraqi factions would deal with an Arab peace-keeping force entering Iraq under the American flag. The President highlighted that the Iraqi delegation told him they would deal with such a force as if it were American forces.

He said that when security pretexts continued, army, soldiers, security; this means that these pretexts were made within the framework of the picture drawn up by Israel in the 90ís when it wanted to escape peace requirements and forwarded a substitute to land for peace, security for peace.The President added that this was forwarded by Netanyaho in 1996, security for peace. Of course, this theory failed in Lebanon when Israel was occupying south Lebanon from 1982 to 2000. Israel failed to realize security for itself, its agents and allies in Lebanon. Also the multinational forces failed. Israel failed in Palestine also. The withdrawal from Gaza is an evidence for the failure of this theory. Hamasí victory is another failure. The US failed in carrying out this theory in Afghanistan, and now we see a complete failure in Iraq. The President said that following resolution 1559, blackmailing Syria has started and foreign and European officials generally came to Syria for bargaining and to say do not withdraw immediately, you can take some steps, and we in Syria had been withdrawing from Lebanon within the framework of our convictions and interests.

The bargaining continued until few days, before the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri which created a shock, particularly with emotional and sectarian provocation of some Lebanese officials.The President said that the decision was taken to withdraw from Lebanon, and Syria completed its withdrawal from Lebanon in less than two months.Nations of the West thought that the resolution 1559 could not force Syria to pull out of Lebanon, then the resolution can be used to weaken Syria through weakening the resistance and the Palestinian situation through the camps, in addition, the quick withdrawal will have internal repercussions which may lead to the fall of the regime, but things were very clear to us and we dealt with the situation with remarkable calm.

The President pointed out that the first international investigation was openly disclosed at the Arab and international levels as politically-motivated and on-professional.The UN resolution No. 1636 was based on an incomplete report having no evidence or clear accusations and allegations that Syria is responsible for any event taking place in Lebanon. Such bases are illogical and constitute a grave precedent on the entire world, not only on Syria.

The course of the commission activities ran into three stages of attack. The first phase started with accusing Lebanese resistance of the assassination attempt but the idea totally failed and could not be marketed. The second phase began with attacking Syria and imprisoning some Lebanese officers on a testimony of a false witness. The third stage ran a vicious drive aimed at toppling the regime in Syria in terms of putting tough and incessant pressure on the country. The three manipulated drives eventually failed owing to scandals that brought investigation to a collapse due to open incredibility.What was achieved is contrary to what they planned as the Syrians were united in unprecedented way against the attacks and were well aware of the entire state of affairs.Thereupon, they started to re-launch new attacks through the Feb. 14 hysteria which is an expression of utmost failure of anti-Syrian forces.They will resort to a new attack under another banner -which is to unveil the truth - that has proven to be a stupidity by the forces moving from a failure to another. They are now launching attacks against President Lahoud because he is a staunch defender of resistance and the plot aims to get Lebanon away from Syria.Sometimes we commit a mistake by thinking that the entire issue started with Resolution 1559 or with extension of the Presidency or with the post-Iraq war era. But the issue is in fact long stages each with a certain step pending new circumstances and paving the way for new stage to follow.

However, the problem is not between Syria and Lebanon. It lies in a Lebanese political bloc which has a problem with Syria and is working under the command of others who are concocting plots against Syria. Our battle is not with this bloc because it is only a tool and states do not fight tools. Our battle is with the causes that have led to such a circumstance.The causes are the repercussions of the failure in Iraq and Palestine and a reflection of a certain international situation.It is not a Syrian issue but is an Arab one that should be confronted through a joint Arab action and through facing, the others in true battle fields and not against this Lebanese bloc which claimed itself to be a majority. The so-called majority is not a plentiful of money, the number of seats in parliament and an intrigue on the street.

The majority is the national forces that back resistance and support ties with Syria.What is going meantime is temporary and transitional as elements of the political current are before two options: either to resort to reason and logic and then maintain dialogue or to reap utmost failure.As regards peace, it is not opted for in the foreseeable future since Israel is day after day demonstrating itself to be far from peace - and as the US is now seen away from this peace because peace can empower some Arab countries - and because some other countries made peace initiatives in a bid to get out of their internal, regional or international crises.

Nevertheless, all Arab peace initiatives were dealt with in a despicable way because they were an expression of weakness, and that is why talk about peace in Syria is no more frequent lest it should be interpreted as a point of weakness. And as Arab peace tracks were contradictory and not united, the outcome was further political losses and more killings on behalf of the Palestinians.We are with peace, but the drive run by the Arabs and their political vision was wrong.The reaction came at the popular level. The Palestinian Intifada of 2000 did not break out owing to Sharonís provocative visit to al-Aqsa Mosque, but it was a reaction to the Oslo accord which the Palestinian people thought it would lead to the establishment of an independent state and the recognition of national rights.The other reaction is the Hamas election win. Hamas victory is not a triumph for a certain group, but is understood to be an election for resistance.Hamasívictory is an internal issue. We donít distinguish between this and that group.

We want a good relation with all the Palestinian trends. Our relationship with President Mahmoud Abbas is good. We told him that what concerns us is the unity of the Palestinians.But what concerns us with regard to Hamasí victory is the great pressures put on us in the last few years for the presence of Palestinian groups in Syria. The election of Hamas proves the correctness of the Syrian position. This means that we were aware and confirmed that the path of resistance expresses the option of the Palestinian public. We believed at that time that this is what the Palestinian people want, we didnít know that Hamas will enter the elections or not, and we didnít know that it is going to win or not. But we were aware of this direction. The Palestinian people expressed this direction and the correctness of our position towards these elections.We have been criticized for such position. Colin Powell was the first to ask us to expel Hamas and Jihad, when he visited Syria three weeks following the Iraq war. Before the visit, we talked with brothers in Hamas and Jihad and told them that we expect that we will be asked to close the offices. In fact, they willingly said that they want to ease pressures on Syria and that they will close the offices. We told Secretary Powell about the agreement reached with the Palestinian factions. The surprise was that the required was not the closure of the offices, they asked to expel the organizations. Some Arab countries began pressing in this direction. I told them when you expel a person, we send him away to his country, where can we expel them, since they are not allowed to go home to their country?

 I asked them if they accept them in their countries, but they refused. Then I asked them to find a solution for them.Now, they found the solution through the elections. The second point which concerns us is that the elections are the true standard for the European advices on democracy. Foreign officials like to assume the role of teacher when they come to us. They offer us advices about democracy, my love to my Syrian people, the Arabís love to the Arab, and how to move towards peace.Now, we see the great contradiction they are in, and how their calls drive them to deal with زa terrorist organization. They are confused, cut the aid, threaten to cut the aid, agree on aid, ask Hamas to recognize Israel...etc.The third point is what we always discuss with President Abbas and brothers in the Palestinian organizations.

This point is to unify the Palestinians. I said to brothers in Hamas following their victory that the first aim must be unity with all the different trends. I mean by unity, inside and outside.The other aspect which concerns us is the issue of Palestinian refugees. We have in Syria about a half million Palestinians for whom and for whose rights regard ourselves responsible until they regain these rights and decide by themselves if they are going to keep on defending them. Some say that this argument is unreasonable. We say it is not us who determine, but the owner of the right, if it is reasonable or not. It is very important to concentrate on the right to return.The other aspect is the game of tracks. If the Palestinian Authority decided to move towards peace, they will not find the party that accept to play with them the game of tracks. All of us speak one logic, that is the return of all Arab rights without any concession.