August 25, 2006 Special Dispatch No. 1265

Syrian President Al-Assad on Deploying UNIFIL at Lebanese-Syrian Border: ‘If [Lebanon] Wants to Destroy Relations Between Syria and Lebanon, It is Free to Do So – and to Bear the Responsibility’

August 25, 2006
Syria, Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 1265

The following are excerpts from an interview with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, which aired on Dubai TV on August 23, 2006.


"This [Lebanese] Movement Consists of Some Figures who are Known Historically for Their Relations with Israel"

Bashar Al-Assad: "This [Lebanese] movement consists of some figures who are known historically for their relations with Israel, since the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Others have begun collaborating with the Israeli position - not necessarily with Israel itself, but we do not necessarily have all the information. They did this through Resolution 1559. The Israeli officials said that they themselves had worked hard to bring about this resolution. Yet [these Lebanese figures] supported this resolution. Resolution 1680, which deals a blow to Syrian-Lebanese relations... For whose sake was this resolution adopted? For Syria? For Lebanon? It was for the sake of Israel. The recent war has exposed these positions."


"As is well known, they accepted the first Franco-American draft, and if the situation on the ground had not changed, this draft would have become Resolution 1701. These forces have carried out all these plots against the resistance. With regard to the resistance that concerns us as Arabs - and I'm not talking about resistance as an internal Lebanese issue, but as an issue that now concerns any Arab citizen, and you can see Hizbullah flags everywhere... They conspired with Israel in both directions."


"Loyalty to One's Country Means Rejecting Foreign Interference, Through Any Embassy"

Bashar Al-Assad: "Loyalty to one's country does not just mean [not] being a known agent of another country. Loyalty to one's country means rejecting foreign interference, through any embassy - and I am always clear on this - and through any foreign government that tries to interfere directly. I have said this very clearly to the Europeans several times. I said to them: Any person on whose behalf you interfere - we will consider him to be unpatriotic. You must stop interfering and sending messages. This matter is closed, as far as we are concerned. We are very sensitive when it comes to foreign interference. Apart from this, everybody is here. If we wanted to prevent them from talking, as some claim, they would all be in prison. This is not the case. We have taken a few steps, and we are not claiming we have achieved a lot. We have taken some steps that are reasonable, given our circumstances. Some think these steps are less than they should be, and others think they are more than they should be. Let us stay in the middle. We must act with caution. We are not operating in a normal climate. No one, Syrians or others, should doubt that there are daily attempts to interfere in Syria's domestic affairs. We cannot be naive and say: Everything is fine, everybody is patriotic. This is not a matter of good intentions."


Deploying UNIFIL "Would Violate Lebanon's Sovereignty"

Interviewer: "How do you view the deployment of UNIFIL on your border with Lebanon?"

Bashar Al-Assad: "This would mean creating hostility between Syria and Lebanon. First of all, this would violate Lebanon's sovereignty. No country in the world would accept the deployment of soldiers of other nationalities at its border passes, unless it is at war with another country, like in the Golan or South Lebanon. This is normal. First of all, this would mean taking away Lebanese sovereignty - and they are constantly talking about Lebanese sovereignty - and giving it to others. The other issue is that this would be hostile to Syria. Naturally, this would create problems between Syria and Lebanon."

Interviewer: "But Mr. President, they fear that Syria would be used as a conduit for weapons that would reach elements that they don't want these weapons to reach. People might infiltrate through this border, and help one group of Lebanese against another. This may justify their apprehensions and the presence of such a force."

Bashar Al-Assad: "If there is a Lebanese army, it should be responsible for that. Why should the Lebanese army be responsible for protecting Israel?"

If [Lebanon] Wants To Destroy Relations between Syria and Lebanon, It is Free to Do So - and to Bear the Responsibility

Interviewer: "Mr. President, are you calling upon the Lebanese government to reject the deployment of an international force along the border between Lebanon and Syria?"

Bashar Al-Assad: "I am calling upon it to bear the responsibility like any other country. It will bear the responsibility. If it wants to destroy the relations between Syria and Lebanon, it is free to do so, and to bear the responsibility. There are elements within the Lebanese government and among the majority who strive towards this."


Interviewer: "Is it possible that we will see armed resistance in the Golan?"

Bashar Al-Assad: "Like I said... Same answer... The people will decide. I reiterate: If peace does not restore the rights, this will be the natural and obvious option. Things will take this course, whether we like it or not."

Interviewer: "Mr. President, you say that the people will decide. Is the people ready... I am sure you can sense the sentiments of the people. Is the people ready now for armed resistance in the Golan?"

Bashar Al-Assad: "There are always different currents and opinions. Some people talk enthusiastically about getting into this today, while others say we must prepare ourselves. However, this war has emphasized that option."

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