Syrian Foreign Minister Spells out Positions on Syria-Lebanon Relations, Peace Process
Albawaba.com - Damascus
The Syrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Farouq Shara’, in a lecture delivered to senior Syrian officials and other attendees, spoke about issues relating to the deployment of the Lebanese army in south Lebanon, and the pullout of the Syrian forces from Lebanon.
Regarding the deployment of the Lebanese army, he said, “this is solely a Lebanese issue that should be decided by the Lebanese government and agencies.” He added that there are certain problems regarding the blue line and the internationally recognized borders between Lebanon and Israel. Israel has not pulled back to positions beyond these borders. So, Lebanon has the right to demand the completion of this withdrawal beyond the internationally recognized borders including Shabaa Farms.
Regarding the withdrawal of the Syrian forces from Lebanon and the implementation of Taif agreement, Al-Shara’ said “this issue will be agreed upon between both the Lebanese and Syrian leaderships as stated in the agreement. No third party has to do with this matter. Syria does not accept, under any circumstances, a violation of the Taif agreement or its context,” Al-Shara’ added.
Responding to a number of questions regarding the possibility of resuming negotiations with Israel, Shara said that Damascus does not close the door on any Arab side that wish to return to negotiations provided that they come back with gains rather than surrendering.
Shara spoke about the Aqsa Intifada which he described as the factor that has reestablished many priorities among which is the international attention recently paid to the Palestinian issue, and the return of the Arab Israeli conflict which was on the verge of being forgotten.
“The core of the Palestinian Intifada has its own characteristics such as the Palestinian national unity called for in every part of Palestine,” he stressed. “The option of peace and war is not the option we are facing any more. Israel has left us with only one option: either war or surrender. When Israel fires missiles at defenseless people and bombards their homes, it wants to send signals to the Arabs to surrender,” Shara added.
The minister went on to ask how it is possible to make peace with Israel now. “I cannot imagine the resumption of negotiations under the present circumstances, otherwise we will be lacking the minimum sense of dignity and it would appear as if we consider the Palestinian-Israeli conflict a dispute between two merchants over a deal. I cannot imagine any Palestinian with national feelings sitting tomorrow at the negotiating table after all that Israel has done over the past two months,” Shara added.
Responding to a question regarding the possibility of coordination with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, the minister said “we have been coordinating with the Palestinian Authority, but coordination, commitment and the promise of implementing these commitments are all required. But if we coordinate in matters not related to that which we have agreed upon, we will be doing Israel a favor.”
On the Lebanese Islamic Resistance, the veteran politician said that the meeting of the Arab foreign ministers last March contributed effectively to the victory achieved by the resistance. He added that this is due to the fact that it was the first Arab meeting at this level, which gave legitimacy to the Lebanese resistance.
“Some of the Arab leaders used to consider this resistance as ‘terrorism’ and it was difficult for us to convince them that this resistance is legitimate and should be used in the defence of our rights.”
Shara also raised the question regarding who rules whom, Israel or the United States of America?
“Ten years have passed since the American initiative for peace making was taken. This initiative was based on the international legitimate resolutions. It was mentioned then that Israel would withdraw from the occupied Arab lands exactly in the same way that Iraq withdrew from Kuwait. We have discovered that Israel has been evading the matter under the cover of others who created false hopes and imagined that the Arab mentality could not realize what was going on.”
“There is a common mistake that has not so far been corrected objectively. This is about who rules whom? Does the United States rule Israel, or does Israel rule the United States? … In fact, I would say objectively that Israel has the upper hand in American policy towards the Middle East. Nothing happens in our region without the Israeli leaders having the decisive say on it. We have seen how Israel controlled what was the so called peace process, the result of which has turned out to be zero,” he said.
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