Assad: Syria preparing for war
Syrian President Bashar Assad has said that while the likelihood of war with Israel breaking out is low given the current circumstances, he sees war with Israel as a real possibility, and is preparing for it.
Speaking to a group of Arab intellectuals at a conference in Damascus, the Syrian leader conveyed that whilst war is not a preferable option, "if Israel declares war on Lebanon and Syria or if America declares war on Iran," his country would be prepared.
According to Assad, there are those in the American administration who want this war, and Damascus is preparing for the worst. "We're acting as if war is imminent and are preparing for it, but our intelligence does not indicate that such war is on the horizon."
"None of us can rule out the option of war, but it is arguable whether Israel will launch war against Lebanon or Syria, or whether the U.S. will launch a war against Iran.
"We should analyze the situation from the perspective of American interests, because the last war in Lebanon has shown that at some point Israel wanted to stop the fighting, but was forced by the U.S. administration to pursue it further," Assad conveyed, according to SANA news agency.
According to Assad, the 2006 Lebanon War has made Israel less assured of its existence in the Middle East. However, he is optimistic regarding the Arabs' future in the Middle East in view of Israel's "ageing" following the war. "After the Lebanon war it was proved that we, the Arabs, are renewing our young generation, while Israel is entering stage of old age.
"Following this war, the question of the country's fate and continued existence has arisen in Israel. Let us let them deal with their issues… while we act according to our own interests," the Syrian leader added.
On normalizing relations with Israel, Assad seemed skeptical: "What's happening in Egypt and Jordan proves that the public is not interested in normalization, and it cannot be forced on it. I know that the Syrian people reject normalization and will not force it on them."