Yesterday's visit to Damascus by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, his joint press conference with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, his meetings with Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah and with leaders of the Palestinian factions, and his meetings planned for tomorrow in Tehran with senior Palestinian resistance officials all constitute clear and deliberate defiance vis-à-vis U.S. policy, and a declaration of the continuation of the policy of resistance against Israel and the U.S.
At a joint press conference yesterday, Ahmadinejad and Assad both attacked the U.S., particularly U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had called on Syria to sever relations with Iran. Assad mocked Secretary Clinton's statements, saying "We hope others will not [try to] give us lessons," and adding: "We can decide how things will proceed, and we know our own interests."
Ahmadinejad, for his part, said, "No one invited Mrs. Clinton to express her views," and voiced his wish that the Americans would drop dead from their annoyance. He even declared that the U.S. had reached a dead end in its attempts to take over the Middle East, and that developments in the world would be in Syria's and Iran's favor.
In response to Secretary Clinton's call to Syria to sever relations with Iran, Assad and Ahmadinejad declared that they aimed for maximally close relations between the two countries, and even signed an agreement eliminating visa requirements between them.
Assad and Ahmadinejad repeatedly stressed their support for the resistance movements in the region, and promised that final and absolute victory would come. Ahmadinejad reiterated his threat that Israel will be eliminated, and promised that if Israel repeated its mistakes, all the peoples of the region, headed by Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and Iraq, would join in resistance.
Assad stood with Iran on its nuclear issue, calling efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear energy for peaceful purposes "a new act of colonization" and a renewed attempt by the West to take over the region. He even claimed that the West was trying to prevent the Islamic countries from acquiring technology and knoledge.
Editorials in the Syrian government newspapers were vehement in their attacks on the U.S.'s demand that Syria sever relations with Iran, underlining that these relations are strategic and strong, to the point where nothing could ever affect them.
Ahmadinejad also met in Damascus with a delegation from Hizbullah, headed by the organization's secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah; with a delegation from the Amal movement from Lebanon; and with representatives of the Palestinian factions in Damascus, among them Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash'al. The Iranian news agency Fars reported today, February 26, 2010, that the heads of the Palestinian organizations, including Mash'al, Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ramadan Abdallah Shelah, PFLP-GC secretary-general Ahmad Jibril, and PFLP leader abroad Maher Al-Taher are to visit Iran tomorrow, February 27.
This information, and Ahmadinejad's statements over the past two weeks (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2826, "Iranian President Ahmadinejad Repeatedly Calls for Eliminating Israel," Iranian President Ahmadinejad Repeatedly Calls for Eliminating Israel), indicate that Iran and Syria may possibly try to drag Israel into a conflict by means of provocation by either Hizbullah or Hamas, with the aim of dispelling the current international pressure on Iran over its nuclear issue – as Iran did in 2006 through its proxy Hizbullah, on the eve of the U.N. Security Council discussion of Iran's nuclear portfolio.
Al-Assad in February 25, 2010 Press Conference
The Day Will Surely Come When We Will Celebrate the Big Failure of the Enemies of the Resistance
At a joint press conference on February 25, 2010 with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that despite considerable frustrations and obstacles that have harmed the region and its people, the outcome of the past stage has been favorable to the resistance forces in the region, which defended the rights and causes of their peoples. Assad added, "The forces on the other side have met with failure. At each juncture and with each development we can see these forces moving from failure to failure. We hope that some day, we will be able to celebrate their big failure along with some religious holiday [such as the Prophet's birthday that we are celebrating today]... Such a day will surely come.
''We wanted this holiday to be one of accomplishment, so we signed an agreement on waiving visa requirements between Syria and Iran... This agreement will result in more contacts [between us] and promote the common interests of the Syrian and Iranian peoples... Bilateral relations cannot remain confined for decades to the political domain alone. Economically speaking, these relations cannot be restricted to projects and to large companies, given that the real relationship between two countries or two peoples starts at the level of the individual, and proceeds from the base to the summit, and not the other way around... I believe this agreement will advance the relations in this direction, and will further enhance the relations at all levels and in all sectors, with no exception. We have no choice but to enhance communication, strengthen our relations, and expand the network of interests shared by our two countries... This is the only way, if we really want to attain what we call independent decision that transforms us from 'importers of the future' into shapers of the future...
"In addition to our bilateral relations, we discussed other political issues, including Iraq, the coming elections [there,] and their effect on the political process and on Iraq's stability, [as well as] the withdrawal of the occupation forces and its effect on the future of the region as a whole. Our meeting [also] dealt with Israel's terrorism and how to confront its crimes, and with the resistance and the mechanism for supporting it... It goes without saying that supporting the resistance is a legitimate and moral duty."
Al-Assad thanked Ahmadinejad for Iran's support of Syria in the face of the Israeli threats, adding that "these threats will not affect Syria's positions or policy." He added: "Ahmadinejad's participation [in the holiday celebrations] stresses our unity as Muslims vis-à-vis the attempts to divide the Islamic nation into rival tribes... We hear terms which are not part of the Islamic religion, and are aimed at destroying Islam and dividing the Muslims." Al-Assad stressed that "in these circumstances, we need the unity that the Prophet Muhammad called for, and we must work to achieve it, believing that all disputes are caused by the enemy."
"We Are Always Prepared for an Israeli Aggression, Large or Small"
Answering a question about the latest Israeli threats, President Al-Assad said, ''These threats are not an isolated case and should not be viewed as such. We must consider them in the context of Israel's history, which is based upon treachery, aggression, occupation, expansion and hegemony... At the same time, it would be a mistake to assess [the threat posed by Israel] based [only] on statements or probabilities... [Israel's] statements do not mean that it will launch an aggression, and the absence of statements does not mean that it will not do so... We basically assume that there is an entity [called Israel] that may launch an aggression at any time... We are always prepared for an Israeli aggression, large or small...
"If we want to examine [Israel's] statements, [we can see that] they may contain two messages: one for Syria and for the resistance, aimed at pushing them into submission... and another message for the Israelis [themselves], meant to lift their morale after the series of setbacks and defeats that have befallen Israel. Our reaction will not be based on statements but on our view of Israel. Naturally, we have to be prepared at any moment for any Israeli aggression that may occur, no matter what its pretext or reason."
President Al-Assad continued, ''The so-called new Middle East and the proposed projects to partition the region will not start with maps and borders, but with hearts and minds...When these maps ripen in our hearts and minds, they [i.e. the West] will implement them on the ground."
On Iran's Nuclear Program: This is a Western Plot to Prohibit the Muslims from Possessing Technology and Gaining Knowledge
About Iran's nuclear program, Al-Assad said: "I listened to my brother Ahmadinejad's [statements] about his country's stance on the Iranian nuclear dossier, and based on what I have heard from Western officials over the last months and weeks, I firmly believe that what is happening is a new act of colonization in the region. [It is an act of imposing Western] hegemony by preventing a sovereign country – a member of the UN that seeks to possess nuclear energy for peaceful purposes – from [realizing] its right to enrich [uranium] – and this despite the noticeable flexibility displayed by Iran in the last two months.
"This is a prearranged [Western] plot... The Islamic countries are prohibited from possessing this technology or any other, which means that we have no right to gain knowledge... What is applied to Iran will later be applied to the other countries as well... Our stance in Syria is based upon our understanding of this issue and principle... and I think that our interest as a country is to attain [nuclear] energy for peaceful purposes at some point in the future, just as it is the interest of all other countries to do so."
Sarcastic Response to Clinton's Statements: "We Meant to Sign a Separation Agreement Between Syria and Iran – But Apparently Some Mistranslation or Misunderstanding Occurred, and We Signed an Agreement Waiving Visa Requirements Instead"
In reply to a question on U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's latest statements, in which she called upon Syria to steer away from Iran, President Al-Assad remarked sarcastically: ''In our meeting today, we meant to sign a separation agreement between Syria and Iran, but apparently some mistranslation or misunderstanding occurred, and we signed an agreement waiving visa requirements instead...'' He continued, ''I wonder how they [i.e. the Americans] talk about stability in the Middle East and about all the other positive principles, and at the same time call for a distancing between two countries...
''We hope others will not [try to] give us lessons when it comes to our [own] region and history...We can decide how things will proceed, and we know our own interests... [though] we do thank them for their advice.''
Ahmadinejad in February 25, 2010 Press Conference
The Zionist Regime Must Not Repeat Its Past Mistakes – For This Will Lead to Its Inevitable Death
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at the press conference that the developments in the world would favor Iran and Syria, and the free peoples and governments. He added that the new Middle East is in a phase of development, and that the ties among the peoples of the region are very strong. Referring to Israel, he said, "I call the Zionists to reconsider their situation, to respect and recognize the rights of peoples of the region, and to realize that if they continue on this wrong path they will find no place for themselves in our region. He called upon the Zionist regime not to repeat its past mistakes, because this would lead to its inevitable death, as the peoples of the region – in particular Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Iraq, but also all the other peoples – would rise up against it. Ahmadinejad added that the Zionists and their supporters have reached a dead end, saying, "Time is on the side of the peoples of the region and is working against the enemy. Weakness lies behind all the of Israel's practices and threats against the Palestinian people."
On Iran-Syria relations, the Iranian president said: "The brotherly relations between Syria and Iran are deep, broad, developed and permanent... Nothing can affect these brotherly relations, and they are constantly developing and deepening. The Palestinian and Lebanese resistance [movements], and the Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian peoples [all] stand by each other... Our interests and goals are shared, and cooperation between us is expanding daily in the economic, cultural and political fields..."
"The U.S. Once Wished to Dominate and Control the Entire Middle East – But Now It Has Reached a Dead End"
About the U.S. and its involvement in Iraq, Ahmadinejad stated: "Look at Iraq ... The Iraqi people were united for hundred of years, but the U.S. occupation generated disagreement among them." He added that, today, the U.S. government no longer has any influence on relations in the region: "The time when the U.S. issued orders from overseas, and was obeyed by the other peoples, is over. Now, the peoples of the region have their say. We seek to upgrade the Syrian-Iranian-Turkish relations, and hope that Iraq will join us in confronting those who want to dominate the region. We advise the U.S. to leave the region instead of interfering in its affairs... We all know that, if the U.S. continues to follow the former approach, the people will end its hegemony... The U.S. once wished to dominate and control the entire Middle East, but now it has reached a dead end... They are in the process of leaving the region."
"No One Invited Mrs. Clinton to Express Her Views on the Region's Affairs"
In response to Clinton's demand that Syria distance itself from Iran, the Iranian president said: "I say that there is no distance between Syria and Iran ...If she wants to do something, then she should do something for the benefit of the American people... No one invited Mrs. Clinton to express her views on the region's affairs..."
According to the Iranian news agency Mehr, Ahmadinejad said that Clinton's demand expressed American annoyance, and stated his wish that the Americans would "drop dead from this annoyance."
Teshreen: Nothing Can Harm Syria-Iran Relations
The editor of the Syrian government daily Teshreen, Samira Al-Musalima, wrote about the Assad-Ahmadinejad summit: "The meeting in Damascus yesterday between the two leaders... proved that, in terms of their extent and their depth, the relations between Syria and Iran have surpassed [the point] that [some elements in the world] hoped that they would never reach. These relations have now reached such a level that nothing can affect them, no matter what means are employed...
"The identical positions expressed by the leaderships of the two peoples have created a situation in which the horizons for further development of the relations, in all domains, are unlimited. Therefore, we can now say that these relations have become a model for emulation for countries throughout the world, especially since they lay the foundation for a regional reality characterized by stability and development, and by a political atmosphere of transparency and openness to all. This [has occurred] despite all the pressures to which these relations have been subjected under various pretexts [characterized by] lies, false claims, and lack of credibility and transparency.
"Ever since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has promoted our national and pan-Arab affairs... thereby proving itself a [true] sister and friend. The factors and motivations unifying Iran and the Arabs cannot be reduced to history, geography, shared political or cultural interests, or [a common] religion. It is all of these [together] that make Iran a true part of the present and future of this region – a creative, active and influential component, which has mutual ties not only with Syria but with all the Arabs and Muslims, without exception.
"That is why we must all [be careful] not to be swayed, even for a moment, by the lies and delusions of others, and especially by their plot [to have us] live in a state of unjustified fear of a friendly Muslim country [i.e. Iran]. Any talk meant to sow division [between ourselves] and Iran is talk that does not promote the interests of the region, or its security, stability and future. [Such talk only] strengthens the Israeli entity, while impeding all other countries in the region from developing their abilities in all domains, especially their ability to ensure their stability and territorial integrity, and to develop technology as the basis for a prosperous future for all the peoples in the region."
Al-Thawra Editor: The U.S. Demand that Syria Distance Itself from Iran is Degrading and Arrogant
As'ad 'Abboud, editor of the Syrian daily Al-Thawra, harshly criticized U.S. demands for Syria to distance itself from Iran. In an editorial, 'Abboud wrote: "How can we consider it rational policy for a world power to view separating and alienating two neighboring nations one from another as a basis for mutual understanding?... The advancement of Syria's relations with other countries in the region is likely to present to those with good intentions more than one opening to resolving problems. [Only] one who is oppressively and domineeringly arrogant views relations between Syria and Iran – which have been built up over more than 30 years, and which are established on enduring historical, geographical, and cultural roots – as something which can be bartered over [with Syria].
"Not only do we refuse [to enter into negotiations with the U.S. over our relations with Iran], but we see it, moreover, as something degrading. It is our wish to assist all those countries of the world prepared to demonstrate good intentions for [achieving] peace, security, and stability in the region through strong, healthy, and well-developed relations with other nations, and not through distancing [nations] from [other nations]...
"We do not consider the aim of the West with regard to Iran's nuclear production the prevention of arms proliferation. If that were the case, they would turn first to Israel. All the countries of the world have the right to derive benefit from science without [being subject to] dictates. They are obligated to follow the decisions reached by the international community... and those decisions based in logic and evidence and not accusations.
"[Assad said:] 'Preventing [the nuclear development of] an independent nation which is a member of the U.N. and an NPT signatory is an act of domination and neo-colonialism in the region.' These are clear positions. Firstly, because they are rational, and in line with state diplomacy and [the notion of] cooperation, and secondly, because these positions will inevitably prevail sooner or later."
 SANA (Syria), February 25, 2010.
 MEHR (Iran), February 25, 2010.
 Teshreen (Syria), February 26, 2010.
 Al-Thawra (Syria), February 26, 2010