Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that the U.S. plan for a "new Middle East" has collapsed following Hizbullah's victory against Israel.
Assad, speaking to a journalists' association in Syria, said the region has changed "because of the achievements of the resistance (by Hizbullah)." "The Middle East they (the Americans) aspire to ... has become an illusion," he said.
Assad said the fighting in Lebanon had been planned by Israel for some time, but the endeavor had failed. "The result was more failure for Israel, its allies and masters," Assad said.
The Syrian leader said U.S. participation was needed for a peace settlement in the Middle East, but added that peace cannot be achieved under the administration of President Bush. "This is an administration that adopts the principle of pre-emptive war that is absolutely contradictory to the principle of peace," he said. "Consequently, we don't expect peace soon or in the foreseeable future."
Assad noted the resistance was justified due to Israel's actions: "Resistance is necessary, required and legitimate." Its legitimacy is based on Israel's actions in the past five years, including the Air Force sorties over Syria."
Assad spoke about the peace process and said it did not prove itself. "Arabs gave everything and got nothing. And therefore Syria refused to give up its rights. When we say we chose peace as a strategic option, this doesn't mean we gave up other options – but quiet the opposite," he said.
"We are convinced that the real path to peace is through negotiations but if this path is impossible – resistance is the only path. Not necessarily armed resistance, but cultural and political resistance. The aim of the resistance is peace and not war. Therefore it doesn't undermine peace," Assad said.