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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 14:45 GMT 15:45 UK
Excerpts: Assad speech
Bashar al-Assad
President Assad said that Hezbollah had waged a 'glorious battle'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spoke on Tuesday of the emergence of a "new Middle East" in the aftermath of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

Addressing Syrian journalists at a conference in Damascus, Mr Assad accused the Israeli government of "foolishness and vanity", and complained that US policy in the region "totally contradicts the principle of peace".

Here are some key excerpts from his speech:

THE "NEW MIDDLE EAST"

It is my pleasure to meet with you in the new Middle East, which is new in the meaning and form that we understand and want, although it is not yet complete. It is new with the achievements of the resistance and with the unprecedented and clear-cut classification of forces, and the exposing of machinations, plots, masks and false phrases.

ISRAEL AND LEBANON

The recent events in Lebanon have proved that the aggression against Lebanon is not basically related to the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers, but it was prepared a long time before in order to salvage the Israeli plan which had been hit by many failures, whether by the defeat of the Israeli army by the Lebanese resistance in 2000, or by the failure of Israel's allies to carry out the tasks they'd been given in the past.

ISRAEL'S CHOICE

The Israeli leaders should give up their foolishness and vanity. They should know that they are at a historic juncture. They should either go toward peace and returning rights [to the Arabs], or towards constant instability... Israel must realise that time is not on its side. On the contrary, a generation will come which is even more determined to strike Israel, and which will exact revenge for what it had committed in the past, and then, your Israeli sons will pay the price.

US POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST

As for the USA, we always say it is important and essential for the peace process because of its position as a superpower and its relations with other parties. However, it is not just any USA: this administration has adopted the principle of pre-emptive war, and this war totally contradicts the principle of peace. And after six years of this administration, it has been proven that there is no peace, and therefore we do not expect peace soon in the foreseeable future.

THE ARAB WORLD

It was one of the rare instances at which we as Arabs agreed on something from A to Z. An Arab delegation went to New York representing all of the Arab countries without exception. It was met with rejection and negligence. Of course, it was not negligence for the delegation per se, but for those standing behind it - us as Arab states... Unless we as Arabs search for the factors of strength, then we will have no value, nor will we have a political performance.

ARAB "RESISTANCE"

The greatness [of this resistance] has been the reaction of the Arab people in general, which has been Arabist and sincere, a rejection of the theories we have heard recently which seek to foment strife, and a rejection of those who are behind them. It's as if they're saying to those people: we are Arabs, this is our resistance, and those who are not with us do not belong to us.

USE OF FORCE

The first fact is that military force, no matter how great, when it does not possess belief and ethics and is not based on legitimate rights and not built on a principled policy, produces defeat. The second fact is that resistance, which has faith, resolve, and steadfastness; which embraces the vision, principles, and goals of the people; and which is embraced and adopted by the people, produces victory. In this case, the victory of the enemy, which is armed to the teeth, is nothing more than destruction of stones and murder of civilians. Since every occupation is an immoral act, it should, and in fact it must, fail and be defeated. Israel is the model. Military force is not everything.

ACHIEVING PEACE

We are convinced that the normal way to achieve peace is through negotiations. But when negotiations fail or are not available in the first place, then resistance, in its various forms, is the alternative in restoring rights... Supporting the resistance is aimed at achieving peace and not war... Resistance is not the antithesis of or an alternative to peace.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Watch the speech by the Syrian President



SEE ALSO
Timeline: Syria
28 Jul 06 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Syria
28 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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