Al-Assad's denunciation of anti-Syrian politicians



(16 August 2006) - BASHIR AL-ASSAD was to receive the German foreign minister Frank Steinmeier in the afternoon of 15 August, several hours after the speech in which, according to the world's press, he lambasted the anti-Syrian, so-called "March 14 bloc" of politicians in the Lebanese parliament led by the son of the assassinated Bediruti businessman Rafik Hariri.

Steinmeier's visit had originally been scheduled to take place much earlier, at least two weeks earlier, at the beginning of August. It was then still supposed that Israel would have reached the Litani and ceasefire negotiations would have begun on this premise - a premise of substantial defeat of Lebanon and the pro-Syrian block in Lebanon.

Steinmeier was to go to Bashir al-Assad and propose him to play his part in the restructuring of the "New Middle East" by cutting all ties to Iran and to Hizbollah as well as to the "extremist" Palestinian organizations. As a reward for Syria, the Association Accord signed between Syria and the European Union in July 2004, but put on hold because of US objections, would finally begin to be implemented. But Syria would have to give up the idea of

ever exercising any influence on Lebanon and of regaining the Golan Heights. In other words: Steinmeier was to offer a dish of lentils in exchange for the inheritance.

The article that contained Steinmeier's proposals for the then-upcoming trip to Damascus was posted on Der Spiegel on-line on 31 July

(see German-language report at http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,429492,00.html)

Then, however, within less than 36 hours the military performance of Israel became so miserable that it was clear that no victory was in sight. The article disappeared from the front-page of Der Spiegel and was put into the archive. It was actually an insult for the Syrian government. Thus it came to pass that, when Steinmeier then finally announced his definite plan to visit to Syria to rally support for the upcoming ceasefire-implementation talks, Bashir al-Assad held his speech some hours earlier to make clear, where the lines are to be drawn. In fact, in the German press, the al-Assad speech being given a few hours before the arrival of the German foreign minister was widely interpreted as a slap into the face.



For your information:

German foreign minister cancels Syria trip after Assad speech

Financial Times - Aug 15 7:08 PM

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany's foreign minister, yesterday abruptly cancelled a planned visit to Syria after President Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian leader, delivered a hard-hitting speech that ridiculed Israel's military offensive in Lebanon and warned against disarming Hizbollah.

Hariri slams Assad for trying to 'steal' Lebanon victory

The Daily Star Lebannon - Aug 17 5:23 AM

Parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri on Thursday accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of trying to rob Lebanon of its "victory" against Israel while failing to fight for the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. "We feel sad when the Syrian president tries to steal the victory of Lebanon," Hariri said in response to a speech by Assad on Tuesday.

*Susanne Scheidt is a long-time activist in Italy for the Palestinian right of return.
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