Syrian dictator Bashar Assad concluded his first official visit to Tehran on Thursday by agreeing with his Iranian hosts that Israel and her US ally currently are in a period of weakness that should be exploited on behalf of the Palestinians.
According to Assad, the renewed Palestinian intifada was a "positive development" and resulted from the success of the resistance by the radical Shi'ite militia Hizb'Allah against Israel in South Lebanon. While Assad added that Syria supports a "just and comprehensive peace," he stressed that recent events have proven to the Arab world that Israel does not desire peace.
The Syrian president met Thursday with Iranian supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mohammad Khatami. Preaching a similar line, Khatami said that Israel finds itself in a weakened state it has not known for many years, due to the change of government in the US and the success of the Palestinian intifada. "The Arab countries now know that it is not impossible to defeat Israel, as they once believed, and the states that did think so were isolated by their own people," Khatami said.
Khamenei added that conditions were ripe for the Palestinians to abandon the peace process with Israel. Khamenei contended that, due to Israel's weakened state and US political turmoil, "a new era has started in the region and that to the dismay of the Big Powers and contrary to what is set forth in the so-called peace negotiations, the fate of the Palestinians will be determined in a different way." Iran has stated repeatedly there can be no Middle East peace until Israel has been destroyed.
Assad stressed that his visit to Tehran was a continuation of his father's foreign policy toward Iran, and that it points towards a deepening of strategic cooperation between the two regimes. Tehran and Damascus have enjoyed good relations since the aftermath of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, when Syria allied itself with the Iranians in their war with Iraq.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.