Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara has called for closer relations with Jordan to protect Amman from falling into Israel's orbit, the Beirut daily al-Mustakbal reported Wednesday. The report was quoted by the Jerusalem Post Thursday.
Shara's call came during an address to the closing session of the three-day national congress of Syria's ruling Ba'ath Party, which this week effectively nominated Bashar Assad to succeed his late father, Hafez, as president.
The veteran Syrian foreign minister also said attempts should be made to alleviate the effects of sanctions on Iraqis and he called for closer relations with Turkey, said the report.
"Despite everything," he reportedly said, "Turkey remains a neighborly country whose population is Muslim and with whom we are joined by history, geography and mutual interests."
The Israeli daily also quoted another Beirut daily, As-Safir, which it said is close to the Syrian regime, as reporting that Shara also urged Bashar to make his first state visit to Lebanon to "cement the special ties" established by his late father, Hafez Assad, who died on June 10.
Both Beirut papers reported that the congress elected 12 "Young Turks" and nine members of the "Old Guard" to the 21-member National Command, which will be headed by Bashar.
Analysts believe it is politically imperative for Bashar to co-opt the Old Guard - and curb his zealous anti-corruption campaign - if his presidency is to succeed, said the Jerusalem Post.
While Syrian officials have stressed continuity under Bashar's leadership,
"Such predictions are hasty, and only reflect the wishes of those who make them," said former PA minister and PLO executive committee member Abdullah Hourani in a column he published in Al Quds Al- Arabi Wednesday – Albawaba.com
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