Following are excerpts from an interview with Hareth Al-Dhari, secretary-general of the Sunni Clerics Association in Iraq, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on December 5, 2006
Hareth Al-Dhari: To be honest, we know that Syria supports the resistance, and that it opposes the occupation, and does not support the occupation. It is the only country – or perhaps one of the very few countries – that called the occupation "occupation," and the resistance "resistance." That is why it was subject to a lot of pressure on the part of the occupation and the Iraqi government or those [supporting] the political process. We have recently seen that the Syrian government recognized the government currently in Iraq, and established diplomatic relations with it, through its foreign minister who traveled to Iraq. We do not know whether these relations, or recognition, stem from conviction, or whether they are intended to fend off the pressure. Only Allah knows. However, I tend to [believe] that it was in order to fend off the pressure on Syria, because I know its president, President Bashar Al-Assad. When I first met him, at the beginning of 2005, he said to me, literally: "We are in agreement with Iran on many issues, except for Iraq. On this, we disagree. We cooperate with them in this regard, according to the Arab saying: Me and my brother against my cousin, and me and my cousin against the foreigner." I thanked him, and I hope that this is indeed the case, for the sake of the interests of Syria, Iraq, and the nation.