President Bashar Al-Assad: the Man of Peace (3)

The realization of the just and comprehensive peace has ever been the noble objective of H.E. President Bashar Al-Assad. Actually, all the measures and political moves taken by the Syrian leadership aim at the restoration of stability, security and realization of the peace. This strategy of peace has been characterized and reflected by H.E. President Al-Assad through:

The Israeli non-responding to peace requirements on the Syrian track, indicates that peace for Israel is but a tactical action rather than a strategic option.

Israel, not even for a single day, has cancelled the idea of aggression from its policies, caused by the Israelis’ latent fear of peace, especially at this time, when we witness the increasing flagrant trends of religious and racial extremism by the Israelis; concepts of expelling Arabs, and other racial expressions have, rather,  become more present in their political discourse.

Our belief in peace and optimism as to achieve it do not push us as to have illusions or day-dreaming, nor to fall into the trap of peace tracks game; but rather motivate  us to the more of commitment to our rights and to build the more of our force.

It is not suffice to talk only of the Syrian track- of the Middle East Peace Process-; the Palestinian track is very vital to the peace process. We hope for the presence of an international support as to make progress on this track, as not to talk only of the signing of the peace process; but rather to talk about the peace realized on the ground as being among the people, and not only among officials, governments  or negotiators.

Actually, we achieved 80% of what we have to achieve before signing the treaty but of course we do not have precise criteria; this is our estimation. But that is true; we achieved a lot during Rabin, but because of his assassination everything stopped. That's why we have been asking for starting from where we stopped during Rabin, where we talked about the security arrangements, which was the most difficult issue. Of course, we had Rabin deposit which means giving back the Golan Heights till the line of 4th June 1967, and we were about to talk about other issues like normal relations such as having embassies and things like this, and we did not talk about water; this is what has been left. That is true.

The Israelis used to think that with time they are going to be stronger and any opposition to their policies will be weaker, but actually what happened was the opposite. Now, the Israelis learned that without peace they cannot live safely and Israel cannot be safe. I think this is true especially after the war on Lebanon and because of the result of that war inside the Israeli society; this is the main incentive for the Israelis to move toward peace. This is our analysis.

Whenever you talk about non-peace and non-war situations, this means that it will end by either peace or war; you do not have a third option. We have been working on peace since the peace conference in Madrid, 1991. Of course, the situation and the atmosphere are not good as it was used to be. We are working to achieve peace in the region. We in Syria work for peace. It was surprising for us and for the entire world, why they did they do it? Nobody knows why. What is the target? But the target is not an important target; and I think if they knew what it was they would not have done it. You cannot talk about peace and carry out attacks against a neighboring country. This is the only message that we got.

The real peace which endures has a cost less by hundreds of that of the occupation” “Syria does not favour ‘secret negotiations’ and the need is for ‘ an Israeli clear, serious official declaration’ regarding the desire for peace, suggesting a written-pledge regarding withdrawal from the Syrian Golan Heights to the line of June 4, 1967, citing the Israeli Premier, Mr. Rabin written pledge as to withdraw from the Syrian Golan Heights to the line of June 4, 1967.  Syria, “ has direct interest in peace process” denying some Israeli claims regarding the Syrian want for peace “ as to alleviate pressures.

As far as the parties, there is the willing Arab Party; which has reflected this through the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002. The Israeli party, we all know and most of world countries interested in the peace know, is unwilling -for the peace.

There are no conditions, but the rights. There is a difference between conditions and rights and we are talking about the rights. The rights are subject to no compromise, no surrender and no discussion. The rights are the basics of Mideast peace.

The only obstacle in the way of stability is the Israeli occupation, which continues the policy of killing, siege, settlement erection, demolition of Palestinian houses, Judaizing Jerusalem and rejecting all peace initiatives. Achieving peace will not be too far when there is a partner from the Israeli side that believes in the just and comprehensive peace based on resolutions of the international legitimacy and the return of rights to their owners.

We have also dealt with the halted Mideast Peace; whereby our viewpoints were in agreement that the peace in the Middle East would be reflected security, and stability, upon Europe as well as the entire world.

Peace treaty is what you sign, but peace is when you have normal relations. So, you start with a peace treaty in order to achieve peace. If they say 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. You start with the land; you do not start with peace.

The return of the Land is to achieve the peace, and never the opposite. The return of the Land materially following the signature of a peace accord is only a procedural process.

The peace is to affect us, positively and negatively in all aspects of life. The stability and peace in the Middle East is but the stability and peace in the entire world.

There are the basics for the process of peace and the Terms of Reference, based basically on the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference.

The Process of Peace in the Middle East has its Terms of Reference: Madrid Terms of Reference, which stipulate the implementation of the Security Council Resolutions; the Israeli Government has to declare their acceptance of  these Principles, and the adoption of the said Terms of Reference  would re-launch the Process of Peace.

Mideast Peace Process, and after 18 years since its start, shows that the illusive power of Israel is in the real weakness of Arabs. Once the Arabs would have the real power, they would be able to see the points of weakness of Israel. The more of power we, as Arabs, are to have, the more of the Peace we want is to be attained.

It is a mistake to believe that the peace comes through the negotiations; the peace comes through the Resistance. Therefore, we have to support the Resistance; henceforth we are supporting the process of peace. The Resistance and negotiations are but one; both of them aim to restore the legitimate rights, which we are never to surrender.

The Resistance against occupation is but the national duty; and the support for the Resistance is the legitimate and moral duty. Supporting the Resistance is but the honor in which we take pride. This never negates our firm desire for the realization of the Just and Comprehensive Peace on the basis of the return of the occupied territories, on top of which comes the occupied Syrian Golan. But the failure of negotiations in restoring the full rights means automatically the Resistance solutions as an alternative solution.

Tel Aviv has to understand a clear message: peace is the only thing to protect Israel. If Israel thinks that it is exposed to attacks, it is the peace only to protect it and not war.

There exists a popular support in Syria for the continuation of Mideast Peace negotiations, as to achieve the Peace. This –the support- is very important for us, as Government and as State.  The solution, however, is to exist once there would be the partner, who is prepared to go in the same directions, from the Israeli Side.

The time is not in the interest of Mideast Peace Process; therefore, urgency is necessary.

It is from this very trust that we have started to work together for the stability of the region; we have had not even a slight doubt that the essence for this stability and the prelude for this stability are but the realization of the Just and Comprehensive Peace in the Middle East. We have translated this joint action through the indirect negotiations between Syria and Israel in Istanbul, which lasted for eight months, preceded by joint coordination and preparation between me and Premier Erdoğan directly, for more than 13 months. Syria has once more proved during those negotiations, I say once more because in the 90's there were negotiations, her keenness on the realization of peace, through the serious participation in these negotiations.

Israel, however, has once more asserted its rejection for peace, clinging to its ever stance destroying every peace realization initiative, responding to every initiative of such a type with new wars, and horrible massacres. This is what has happened! In 2002 following the Arab Peace Initiative, Israel committed massacres in Jenin, and the West Bank; in 2006 Israel launched its aggression against Lebanon. Four days after my telephone conversation with Premier Erdogan, which lasted up to the midnight when the then Israeli Premier was there in Turkey, Israel started its aggression against Gaza! We have had the hope that time has been ripe to complete a basic thing in the indirect negotiations; we have been surprised that the Israeli response was the attack against Gaza and the perpetrated massacres. However, the absence of the Israeli partner would not change our vision for the peace, and would never make us slow in working for the realization of the peace. This is to be through the pursuance of dialogue as to outline different notions, which could be transformed into a working plan. Once the partner from the Israeli side exists, we could quickly move on and accomplish an agreement, which could make of peace a realistic fact, rather than an illusion or a cover up for wars and massacres against the innocent.

To be realistic, we talk about an illusionary partner, never existed since the existence of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The hope for the existence of such a partner has been on the decline, particularly with the increase of the Israeli extremism following the 1967 aggression; which is increased day by day at the level of governments, and –Israeli-public opinion.

We all know that the Process of Peace was established on the basis the Land for Peace; that is to say,  land for land does not exist; peace for peace does not exist; what does exist is the Land for peace and he who rejects the Land, rejects the peace.

We had direct meetings with Israel in the 1990s. But we were not able to talk about concrete issues. There were main headings but no subheadings; in other words, there were no details. There were uncertainties. Because there was a failure to fill in the details, the 1990s meetings were not successful. When we started to meet again, but with Turkey as mediator, we started to talk about the details. When we reach a concrete point, we will be able to hold direct meetings. It is for this reason that we always want to shift to direct meetings once we reach a certain point through indirect meetings with Turkey's mediation.

Israel, in general, is not, at present, or in the short run, prepared for the realization of peace. As far as we are concerned, all the Governments of Israel are alike; since 1991, up to day, nothing serious has been realized in the process of peace. Consequently, the difference among them- Israeli Governments- is a difference in tactics and form; in substance, the essence is the same. The Israeli Polls assert that the Israelis, in general, are not yet willing for the peace; that they do not want to return the entire Land.

We do seek the Just and Comprehensive Peace; however, the difference is huge between the sincere call for the realization of this Peace in implementation for International Legitimacy Resolutions and the acceptance of the Israeli demands, which contradict the basics of the Peace evading its requirements. The Peace and occupation are contradictory, and are never to meet together. The return of all the occupied territories to the borders of June 4th, 1967 is never to be for negotiations or for compromise. The Syrian Arab Golan is to ever remain Arab in the hand, face, and tongue; Syrian in air, water, Land, and Man, and is to fully return to the bosom of the Motherland.

If there is any positive point to be counted for the peace process, it is the fact that it exposed Israel and revealed its truth to the world. This state, which has been aggressive in origin and intentions, has for decades portrayed itself as an innocent ‘lamb’ which wants peace with the ‘wolves’ surrounding it, including the original Palestinian owners of the land. But the failure of this process up till now has starkly shown that Israel is the greatest obstacle to peace.

We, in Syria in particular and as Arab countries in general, have never changed our positions towards peace as a strategic objective that should be attainted some day (of course through the full return of the rights, particularly the full return of occupied territories). But at the same time, our pure and honest intensions towards peace would not make us overlook the facts or the legitimate and logical questions that help us conduct an accurate reading of the future.

Israel should not be rewarded for its crimes; rather we should link any development of the relations, if they exist at all, to the degree it expresses, in concrete terms, its commitment to just and comprehensive peace, the return of the legitimate rights, and its withdrawal from the occupied territories in Palestine, the Golan Heights and Southern Lebanon.

Our commitment to the peace is as firm as our commitment to the return of our occupied territories in full.

We do not relate our vision of peace to what happens in Israel, whether it is a change in the government or having an attack or whatsoever. We never saw that Israel changed its policy towards the Arabs and towards peace. That is why we said it was probing the intention. This is first. Second, we do not have conditions. It is our land and there is a difference between conditions and rights. We have rights; we do not have conditions. Golan is not a condition; it is a right. So, we should be very precise because when they say they are ready to resume the negotiations only without pre-conditions, they mean the land. Whereas, the land is not a condition; it is a right. The only condition is to be committed to the international conditions. The international conditions are Security Council Resolutions; these are international conditions, not Syrian conditions.

Peace without land and it means there is no peace. For them, and even for us, peace is different from a peace treaty. Peace is when you have peace between the people. You can have a peace treaty without regaining the land, but you cannot have peace; and a peace treaty does not bring you normal relations. Of course, we do not accept it anyway: but if they are looking for this, it does not work. It does not bring peace. Therefore, there is nothing called "peace for peace".

The Arab Peace Initiative is suspended and dead, because and since its issuance, there was no partner. Because there is no partner for this imitative, it does not exist. It exists only in our minds and on the paper; in reality it does not exist.

We are the owners of the land; nobody is entitled to replace us. The Peace is my peace and that of Lebanon and Palestine.

Israel does not desire the peace; what is the alternative, or the parallel way for peace process? It is resistance. The Israel did not accept the carrots; there should come the sticks. Once any Israeli Government were to declare its preparedness to return the occupied territories in full, we could start negotiation.

The realization of peace is strategic for Syria. Whatever change in Israel is merely tactical. We have outlined the basics of the peace. When Olmert presented his desire for Erdogan that he wants negotiations with Syria, the dialogue with Erdogan persisted for a year or more, till we reached to the point that Olmert was prepared to return the Golan Heights in full, when he said this to Erdogan, we started the indirect negotiations.

I'm not concerned about Netanyahu's thinking, but of the return of the right-wing of Israeli society, which Netanyahu's rise reflects. This is the biggest obstacle to peace.

The outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Olmert had informed Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Israel was willing to withdraw from the Golan Heights. We were within reach of an agreement.


Dr. Mohammad Abdo Al-Ibrahim