Monday, December 20, 2010

Assad blames everything on "occupation"

An interview in Bild.de (German) with Syrian president Bashir Assad:
Q: Mr. President, in a few days people all over the world - including Christians in Syria - will be celebrating Christmas, the celebration of love and peace. Here in Damascus, we are in the heartland of the Bible. Why has this region had no peace for hundreds of years?

A: In a word: occupation. For centuries, we are living under extremely difficult conditions. But if you look at the social fabric of the region then you will see that it is very peaceful here. Apart from Lebanon during the last three decades there has been no civil war. Look, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine and the entire region of Syria - there have been no internal conflicts. The cause of all conflicts is occupation: first by the British, then by the French, now by the Israelis. This leads to despair which leads to extremism. This is the reason why we can not find peace.
How many lies can one find in this simple paragraph?

No internal conflicts in the area? What about Hamas/Fatah? What about Syria destroying the town of Hama and killing tens of thousands of people in 1982? And not long before that we see Jordan violently suppressing Palestinian Arabs from their coup attempt, killing thousands more. Syria was involved in that as well, and seized territory that Jordan still claims. His claims are ludicrous.

It's funny that he doesn't consider the Arabs to have been "occupied" by the Ottoman Turks for hundreds of years.

Even funnier is the fact that Israel's most peaceful border for the past few decades has been, arguably, the Syrian border after the capture of the Golan Heights. That "occupation" - where a state with no violent intention holds onto strategically vital land to stop the opponent from having a staging ground for war - has led to the closest thing to real peace that the region has seen. (Israel even allows thousands of tons of apples that are harvested in the Golan to be exported to Syria.)

So from all evidence, "occupation" does not lead to war any more than Arabs living amongst each other leads to war. In fact, the bogeyman of "occupation" has led to more Arab unity than they have ever had on their own!

(h/t Silke)