Asad's Speech to Lawyers Union Jan.
In his much-anticipated speech today Bashar al- Assad refused to submit to UN's interview request in Hariri's probe. The President's tone was less hostile to the US and Lebanon than it was during his speech of November 10, 2005 at the University of Damascus, though he blamed Lebanese officials for the failure of a Saudi Arabian initiative to defuse tensions between the two countries. All in all, there was not much new and Asad hewed to the message he has been refining for months. Reuters called Asad, "down beat."
In a swipe at the Syrian opposition he said: "Anyone who accepts ... something to be above his national sovereignty in any country or place in the world, should swap his nationality and sacrifice it and take in its place an international one from the United Nations." He called the UN panel "a condemnation committee, not an investigation committee.”
President Bashar Assad, invoking Syria's national sovereignty, indicated Saturday he would not submit to an interview request from the U.N. investigation into Rafik Hariri's assassination. In a speech to the Arab Lawyers Union, Assad pledged, however, to continue cooperation with the international probe the former Lebanese premier's assassination.
The U.N. investigation has said Syria has not been sufficiently forthcoming and the Security Council demanded full cooperation.
"The issue of national sovereignty is paramount, not the (U.N.) Security Council decision, or others," Assad said. The Syrian leader did not specifically address the request by the U.N. investigation for an interview with him and his foreign minister about threats Assad allegedly made against Hariri months before the Feb. 14 assassination. That left open the possibility that he might later agree to meet with U.N. investigators, rather than submit to an interview.
"We should not give up our national sovereignty even if the circumstance requires that we fight for our country. We must be prepared for that.”
Kofi Annan tried to softened the international reaction to Asad's speech by stating on Friday that Syria will facilitate the UN probe, which suggests he will accept Asad's refusal to testify on grounds of national sovereignty as legitimate.
Asad returned to his indirect accusations that Israel was behind the Hariri murder by accusing Israel of murdering Yasser Arafat when he said, "Of the many assassinations that Israel carried out in a methodical and organized way, the most dangerous thing that Israel did was the assassination of President Yasser Arafat."
On Reform, Asad let down Syrians who may still be expecting something dramatic. He said very little other than that he would not be pushed into things by the West. "Reform begins with our domestic needs and we totally reject any reform imposed from outside under any slogan or pretext," he said.
Asad referred in a general way to moving ahead with the new party law that was recommended at last June's Baath Party meeting, as well as to the anti-corruption campaign that he has talked about since coming to power, and developing an independent judiciary. He said:
"We are still at the beginning of a long road, but we will not let it be said that we have achieved nothing. Maybe the (pace) is slow ... but we are speeding as much as possible.”
We are undertaking several projects that will boost public participation and help enrich democratic life, whether it be linked to the parties’ law or to election and local government laws."Sana has published these paragraphs from the speech
"We are also working on strengthening institutions, the rule of law and judicial independence to activate political life, enrich our national activities and remedy some negative symptoms it is facing.”
In his address at the Arab Bar Association Conference, President Bashar al-Assad has stressed that the Iraqi issue is a political, pan-Arab and moral earthquake to the Arab Nation and has created a new reality in the Middle East, the tragic feature of which have begun to surface on the structure of its societies, and to shake the conventions and national and pan-Arab affiliation.Yesterday's news was the Syria and Iran – Joint Statement that came at the end of the President of Iran's visit to Damascus.
“ Phenomenon of terrorism has begun to expand threatening to sabotage the national and social texture of the countries in the region due to wrong international and regional pre-mediated stances regarding the Arab Nation,” al-Assad said, pointing out that terrorism phenomenon is being used as a tool by some forces that allege combating terrorism to terrorize the others…
President al-Assad indicated in his address at the Arab Bar Association Conference that all roads have been blocked before the Middle East peace process not only because the Israeli governments rejection to respond to peace requirements and continuous denial of the Arab rights, but the current international situation and influential forces are not ready also to push the peace process forward, in addition to non commitment of the international community to meet its requirements regarding the peace process and stability in the region…
The current events and circumstances have been the results of the past decades but have intensified in recent years and the Arab nation in paying high price for strange projects and settling the debts of others on its land from the blood of its sons and their stability, " Al-Assad stressed in his address.
In his address at the Arab Bar Association which is being held in Damascus President al-Assad stresses that the stage through which the Arab nation is passing requires high sense of affiliation and readiness for giving and honest work in addition to clarity of vision and direction…
President Bashar al-Assad expressed high appreciation Saturday over the sincere efforts of the Arab lawyers in advocating the right and defending the Arab nation’s causes.
He lauded the Arab lawyers’ solidarity with Syria in the face of dangers surrounding her.
Syria and Iran have agreed to launch joint projects in oil and land and air transport, the official Syria Times newspaper reported
Israeli Defense Ministers Shaul Mofaz blamed Iran and Syria for financing and ordering the Tel Aviv bombing. The defense establishment has "decisive proof that the attack in Tel Aviv was a direct result of the Axis of Terror that operates between Iran and Syria," said Mofaz. "Iran supplied the money, and [Islamic] Jihad's headquarters in Damascus directed the organization's operatives in Nablus, giving operational orders and instructions."
Syria denies it was involved in the Tel Aviv bombing
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was in Damascus Jan. 20 at a meeting with the leaders of 10 Palestinian movements. Among the leaders present were Islamic Jihad head Abdullah Ramadan Shala, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, and Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-GC leader Ahmed Jibril. The Palestinian leaders pledged to continue their armed struggle and expressed solidarity with Syria as well as Iran and its right to nuclear technology.