Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

Commanders: US ready for any North Korean missile

March 19, 2009

Two senior U.S. commanders said Thursday that the military is ready if called upon to shoot down North Korea’s planned rocket launch next month.

The top U.S. commander in the Pacific, Adm. Timothy Keating, told senators at a hearing that there was a “high probability” that the United States could knock down a North Korean missile. Gen. Walter Sharp, the U.S. commander in South Korea, said the threat “is real.”

Associated Press
The comments come as North Korea reportedly prepares for what many believe will be a long-range missile test in early April. North Korea says it will launch a communications satellite, and defends the launch by saying other countries have been pursuing peaceful space programs.

Keating said the United States is getting “reasonable intelligence” reports that give a close look at North Korea’s activities.

“We’ll be prepared to respond,” he said, adding that “the United States has the capability” to shoot down any missile.

Sharp said any launch would be a “very clear” violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution. “The threat,” he said, “is real, and it is felt in South Korea.” The U.S. has some 28,500 military personnel in South Korea.

“We call on North Korea not to act in this provocative manner,” Sharp said.

In his testimony, Sharp said North Korea continues to build missiles of “increasing range, lethality and accuracy” for sale in Syria and Iran and elsewhere and for its own forces.

The United States, he said, “cannot afford to overlook” the threat those missiles pose to Asia and the world.

Sharp said North Korea is struggling with attempts to balance increased contact with the outside world and the risks such contact poses to “regime control.”

That, Sharp said, “raises questions about the long-term viability of an increasingly stressed North Korean regime.”

Sharp also said North Korean leader Kim Jong Il “is in charge. Every major decision is coming directly from him.”

Kim, 67, reportedly suffered a stroke in August. North Korea denies he was ill.

Obama Backs Off, Japan Ready To Shoot Down North Korean Missile

March 13, 2009

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said today that “North Korea poses a continuing threat that should trouble us a great deal.”

North Korea is threatening to launch a ballisic missile over Japan and toward the United States.

Today Japan said it could shoot down any missile or object that looked to be a threat to Japan.
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“Japan is legally able to shoot down the object to secure safety if it looks like it will fall on to Japan,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said during a news conference.

Sun Setting On American Superpower?

North Korea, China, U.S., Japan: Missiles, Missile Defense, Naval Power At Sea

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura says it has the right to shoot down the satellite.

Above: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura says it has the right to shoot down the satellite.

Bolton said “Japan is sending a signal to Washington not to go soft on North Korea.”

The White House has already said it will not authorize a shoot down of the North Korean missile but could change its mind.  Hillary Clinton said there were “a lot of options.”

“Japan is certainly threatened by North Korea.  North Korea, with its nuclear weapons, is a regional and global threat,” Bolton said.

Even though the U.S. Navy has already demonstrated the ability to destroy an orbiting satellite, the White House says the U.S. will not interfere with North Korea’s missile test.

“Obama’s outreach and engagement with many [including Syria, Iran and the Taliban] is in contrast to Japan’s relationship with North Korea,” Bolton said.

Bolton was interviewed by the Fox News Channel on Friday morning, March 13, 2009.

North Korea remains a trouble spot in the world today only because China allows them to play that role.
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This week North Korea threatened war with the United States — a war that would certainly involve Japan and South Korea.  North Korea could not be making such threats and could not even think about testing a long range strategic missile just now unless China consented to this brazen move or at least looked the other way. 
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China supplies North Korea with almost all of its food, oil, luxury goods and currency. 
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Without China, North Korea would be impotent and meaningless.


One of Japan’s missile defense ships, KONGO

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Reuters

Japan said on Friday it could shoot down any threatening object falling toward its territory, after North Korea said a planned rocket launch would send it across Japanese territory.

North Korea has given notice to global agencies that it plans to launch a satellite between April 4 and 8, presenting a challenge to new U.S. President Barack Obama and allies who see it as a disguised missile test.

“Under our law, we can intercept any object if it is falling toward Japan, including any attacks on Japan, for our safety,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told a news conference.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement any such launch would be in violation of Security Council Resolution 1718.

“If North Korea goes ahead with the launch, we believe there will be discussions and a response by the Security Council on the violation of the resolution.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/2009
0313/ts_nm/us_korea_north_19

CNN:
http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD
/asiapcf/03/13/nkorea.launch.japan
/index.html

Related:
 Obama Wasting America’s Strategic World Power; China Surges Despite Economy

 White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

 China Provoked Obama; Now Works To Smooth Situation: Why?
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Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Japan Warns North Korea
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/20
09/mar/13/north-korea-japan-nucle
ar-missile


A U.S. Navy ship launches ballistic missile defense interceptors like those that could be used to counter North Korea’s long range missile launch….Japan also has AEGIS ships with ballistic missile defense systems….

http://michellemalkin.com/20
09/03/13/52-days-52-mistakes/

41% Say U.S. Focus on Economy Raises Risk of Terrorist Attack

March 12, 2009

“He who defends everything, defends nothing,” said Frederick II (1712-1786).

President Barack Obama is defending everything: the economy, earmarks, his health care plan, environmental plan, energy plan, education reform, government spending, bigger government, the rights to free and open seas (re: China), a stronger U.N., an encircled North Korea, the Muslim world, the power of negotiations (with Syria, Iran, and others), the ramp up of troops in Afghanistan, etc.

You get the idea.

In many ways I see this president as going the right things.  But then again he is doing everything.

He is pro-immigration and today he said he’d send troops to our border with Mexico, maybe.

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/03
/12/obamas-border-talk-i-call-bull/

Michelle doubts that.

But then again: doesn’t everything depend upon the economy; followed closely by national security and stoppong terrorists?

But terrorists and terrorism are gone from our public discussion….deleted from the Obama lexicon.

Hmmm.

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From Rasmussen Reports
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Forty-one percent (41%) of U.S. voters worry that America’s preoccupation with the ongoing economic crisis will make us more vulnerable to a terrorist attack, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

But 43% disagree and say it’s not a concern while 16% are not sure.

Forty percent (40%) also say America has more enemies than friends among the nations of the world, although 44% say we have more friends.

Voters are closely divided, too, over whether the current worldwide economic crisis is more likely to create tension between the United States and other nations or more likely to foster cooperation. Forty-four percent (44%) see more tension to come, while 43% expect greater cooperation between America and other countries.

Confidence in how America is doing in the War on Terror dropped dramatically in late February, but it is not yet clear whether the numbers are a statistical blip or a reflection of recent news developments.

Iran continues to be the country the plurality of voters (35%) expect to be the first to seriously test the Obama Administration. Nineteen percent (19%) say North Korea will be the new president’s first major threat, while 12% predict China. Eight percent (8%) say Russia will be the first serious challenger, but one-out-of-four voters (25%) are not sure which country is the greater threat.

Read the rest:
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_con
tent/politics/general_politics2/41_say_u_s_
focus_on_economy_raises_risk_of_terrorist_attack

Emerging Obama Doctrine

March 11, 2009

As President Obama carves out his own foreign policy, there are signs that his use of military force overseas will be tempered by his views on the limits of American power.

Mr. Obama is leaning toward a pragmatic approach that limits military deployment of the kind used by former President Bush in the “war on terror,” while remaining open to humanitarian aid and security training, especially in places such as Darfur. This approach departs from Mr. Bush but also synthesizes policy elements from Bush’s later years.

By Gordon Lubold
Christian Science Monitor

“It is a very balanced, pragmatic understanding that America’s interests and her ideals don’t always coincide and so you have to make some trade-offs,” says John Nagl, a former Army officer who now heads the Center for a New American Security, a think tank in Washington.

To a degree, Bush had come round to something resembling that position during his second term, as his administration began to recalibrate US goals amid the realities of two wars.

Obama’s top-to-bottom review of US strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, for instance, is expected to yield a downscaled agenda there. And while Obama has established an end date for US combat troops in Iraq – something Bush did not do – he’ll keep those forces there longer than he had initially wanted because of recommendations of the Pentagon, and despite the misgivings in his own party.

Obama has also broken from the previous administration by reaching out diplomatically to countries such as Iran and Syria, which have had fraught relations with the Bush White House.

An Obama doctrine?

In a speech announcing his drawdown plan for Iraq earlier this month, the president painted some broad brush strokes of an “Obama Doctrine” concerning use of force overseas.

The US must not rely on the military alone to achieve its foreign policy ends, he said. And if the US does need to take military action, it must do so only after seeking bipartisan support and after working closely with “friends and allies,” he added.

“We have learned that America must go to war with clearly defined goals,” he told the crowd of marines at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

“We have learned that we must always weigh the costs of action, and communicate those costs candidly to the American people.”

“Policymakers and military leaders have learned a great deal about the employment of American power, and the costs and risks of doing so and I think that is reflected in the president’s remarks,” says Nathan Freier, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, another think tank in Washington.

Moreover, in reaching out to Iran and Syria – two countries the Bush administration would not talk to – Obama is not necessarily looking to impose American ideals of democracy and freedom.

“There is business we have to do with those states to keep America safe and so to a certain extent, we hold our nose, we try to nudge them forward on issues of human rights and democracy promotion, but we understand we’re not always going to win that fight and there are other issues on the table,” says Mr. Nagl.

Similarly, despite an escalation of troops in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has suggested that the US will scale back on their goals there, from achieving a full-fledged stable democracy to achieving a semblance of security.

Read the rest:
http://features.csmonitor.com/politics
/2009/03/10/the-emerging-obama-doctrine/

Never Wrong? U.S. Intelligence Says Iran Does Not Nave Any Highly Enriched Uranium

March 11, 2009

Didn’t our national security team miss the current global economic, what’s the president call it?  Catastrophe?  Just in the last few weeks, the global economy was added to the president’s daily national security brief: too late.

Now our U.S. intelligence assessment is that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium. 

“We assess now that Iran does not have any highly enriched uranium,” said Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday.

But what if he’s wrong?  Hasn’t our intelligence community been wrong before?

Did they predict September 11 and the death of 3,000 Americans?

Didn’t the United States invade Iraq based upon a sure national security warning which was wrong?  Didn’t our national security team miss the impending fall of the Soviet Union?

The mistakes made by our national security team have had far reaching impact and have been much more significant in recent times than its successes.

The Times (London) reported today that a former Gitmo prison inmate was again killing U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan.  “The revelation of Rasoul’s return to the battlefield underscores the challenges faced by the Obama administration in carrying out its vow to close Guantanamo, and raises fresh questions about the quality of American intelligence….”

On Iran and its ability to make a nuclear weapon, what if they are wrong?  What will that do to Israel, to world relations and to our national security?

Did our national security team know North Korea had a nuclear bomb?  India?  Pakistan?  Did they know that A.Q. Khan was selling nuclear secrets all over the place?

Did our national security team know that those relesed from Gitmo would end up fighting the United States again?

Pardon me but I take no solace from yesterday’s national security assessment on Iran’s nuclear potential.

I’ll bet Israel doesn’t either….

On March 8, 2009, Israel’s Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, who told the cabinet on Sunday that Iran had “crossed the technological threshold” and that its attainment of  nuclear military capability was now a matter of “incorporating the goal of producing an atomic bomb to its strategy.”

File:Amos Yadlin.jpg
Amos Yadlin

Israeli’s view the possible development of a nuclear weapon in Iran as a life and deth proposition for Israel.  They are not comforted by Iran’s President Ahmadinejad when he says the Holocaust didn’t happen, the Zionist State (Ahmadinejad refuses to say the word “Israel”) is illigitimate and Israel should be removed from the world’s map.  And Israeli’s have been lied to in negotiations so often — and then attacked — that they put little stock in negotiations.

But the new U.S. president is sure he can negotiate for them with Syria, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, even the Taliban.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Israel’s took little comfort in President Obama and in the estimates of his national security team.

And you’ll have to pardon Israel if some there believe that U.S. intelligence may sometimes be politicized.  Obama’s seclection of known anti-Israel advocate Charles Freemanto be Chairman of the National Intelligence Council was proof enough for Israel.

This is life and death stuff in Israel.  It isn’t clear yet that this is life and death to the Obama Administration which is waging war against Rush Limbaugh and eliminating the word terrorism from the government lexicon….

Related:
 Obama’s Next Challenge: Iran, Israel, Russia? It’s Here Now

Obama Policy On Gitmo, Taliban, Afghanistan, Intel: As Stupid as It Gets

Obama’s Anti-Israel, Pro-China Intel Pick Freeman Withdraws

http://libertyjustincase.com/200
9/03/11/prisoner-8/

Turkey Tells Obama: Redefine Terrorism; Bush Misunderestimated “Realities” of Middle East, Hezbollah Says

January 30, 2009

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that he doesn’t much like the definition of terrorism adopted after 9-11 by George W. Bush.

Erdogan, whose country has played a key role in trying to mediate among Israel and Syria and the Palestinians, said Obama’s new Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, will be in Turkey for talks Sunday.

“President Obama must redefine terror and terrorist organizations” and make a new policy for the Middle east and elsewhere.

When 9-11 happened and President Bush declared the “war on terror, many though israel immediately looked at palestinians as terrorists, Russia looked at Chechens the same way, China saw Tibetans as terrorist and so it went around the globe.

No maybe a re-alignment or new definitions are in order.

In his remarks toward President Obama and the U.S., most observers said the Turkish leader appeared to be referring to the US position toward Hamas and Hizbullah, which the United States considers terrorist organizations.

Related:
The Jerusalem Post:
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?ci
d=1233050208220&pagename=JPost%2F
JPArticle%2FShowFull

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Bush Accused of Trying to “Remake” Middle East; Misunderestimated “Realities”

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the administration of former President George W. Bush worked with its Arab allies to try and change the “realities” in Gaza before Barack Obama took office.

Nasrallah says Bush administration worked with its Arab allies to "change the realities" in Gaza.

Nasrallah says Bush administration worked with its Arab allies to “change the realities” in Gaza.

In a wide-ranging speech on Thursday marking “Freedom Day” — a celebration of the release of Hezbollah prisoners from Israeli custody — Nasrallah said the Bush administration worked with its Arab allies “in order to take advantage of the short time of Bush’s term and before (Barack) Obama takes office in order to change the realities” in Gaza.

There were no U.S. forces involved in the 22-day Israeli military operation in Gaza; the United States is a key supporter of Israel.

Read it all from CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WOR
LD/meast/01/29/lebanon.bush/ind
ex.html

Did Obama set up Mitchell to fail in the Middle East?

January 24, 2009

In naming George Mitchell as special envoy to the Middle East, President Obama unfortunately made statements indicating no departure from the failing policies of previous administrations.
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By Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D
Online Journal Contributing Writer

In particular, Obama emphasized Israel’s right to “defend itself,” never once mentioned things like the occupation or international law, attacked Hamas (a duly elected movement that represents a significant portion of the Palestinian people), supported the strangulation of Gaza, demanded no resistance from an occupied people, and supported the Israeli occupiers in their violence that most recently killed over 400 children.

George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama's newly named ... 
George Mitchell, US President Barack Obama’s newly named Special Envoy to the Middle East, stands after the announcement at the State Department in Washington, DC. Obama vowed Thursday to aggressively pursue Middle East peace as for the first time since taking office he laid out his vision for ending the age-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.(AFP/Saul Loeb)

This logic has been tried before, including under the “aggressive diplomacy” of Bill Clinton and has yielded only a strengthening of Hamas, weakening of Fatah, continued Israeli colonization on Palestinian lands, and setting the stage for future conflicts. Further, such an approach is even more untenable now after the setback of the June 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon and the current war on Gaza.

As articulated well by President Jimmy Carter, it is wrong to frame this conflict simply as “democratic Israel” facing “terrorist groups like Hamas” and it is wrong to continue to fund Israeli wars while claiming to be an “honest broker.” It is analogous to describing the struggles in South Africa in the 1980s as “democratic South Africa” facing off against “terrorist groups like the ANC” (actually that was President Reagan’s framing in his first term in office as he supported Apartheid). Yes, some members of the ANC did use terror (including “necklacing” or burning their rivals alive) but that was miniscule compared to the state terrorism and apartheid they faced. The US cannot be an honest broker so long as the US government continues to….

Read the rest:
http://onlinejournal.com/artman/
publish/article_4271.shtml

Meeting of Arab leaders on Gaza ends in discord

January 20, 2009

Arab leaders trying to come up with a plan to rebuild Gaza ended their meeting Tuesday in discord, unable to agree on whether to back Egyptian peace efforts or even set up a joint reconstruction fund for the devastated Palestinian territory.

The deep tensions among rival Arab leaders could affect the fragile cease-fire between Hamas and Israel that ended a three-week Israeli onslaught on the Mediterranean strip. The military campaign to stop militant rocket fire left around 1,300 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials, and material damage estimated at around $2 billion. Thirteen Israelis were also killed.

The violence in Gaza split Arab countries into two camps — one led by Syria and Qatar supporting Hamas hard-liners who rule the territory, and another led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia hoping to lure the Palestinian militant group toward more moderation.

The two-day gathering of Arab leaders in Kuwait that ended Tuesday was expected to announce a fund to rebuild Gaza and a unified statement about how to end the crisis there.

Instead, pledges came in vague and without figures, along with criticism for Israel and threats to hold it accountable for what leaders called “war crimes” in Gaza.

Saudi Arabia was the only Arab country to commit at the opening of the gathering to a $1 billion contribution for rebuilding efforts, and Kuwait’s emir, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, said the reconstruction should be an “international collective effort.”

By DIANA ELIAS, Associated Press Writer

President Hosni Mubarak, of Egypt, King Abdullah  of Saudi Arabia, ... 
President Hosni Mubarak, of Egypt, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Sabah Al Sabah, Amir of Kuwait and Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Amir of Qatar, from left, walk in to the Arab Economic Summit at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait, Monday, Jan. 19, 2009. The Saudi king said an Arab initiative offering peace with Israel will not remain on the table forever. King Abdullah says Israel has to understand that the choice between war and peace will not always stay open.(AP Photo/Ameeri Diwan)

It remains to be seen when the money will be paid and if it will be delivered to Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers or to the rival Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

“An international effort is a million times better,” said Nabil al-Fadhl, columnist for Kuwait’s Al-Watan newspaper. “Do you want to give the donations to Hamas, the illegal authority?”

Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007 from its Palestinian rival, the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which now controls only the West Bank. The two groups have been unable to come up with a power-sharing agreement.

Shortly before a final statement was read, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, without naming specific countries, said leaders were unable to reach a consensus.

“Some are entrenched in their positions,” Zebari told state-owned Kuwait Television.

After the summit ended, Arab League chief Amr Moussa acknowledged he was frustrated.

“Of course the Arab situation is still troubled and tense … and we need to exert efforts to close ranks as much as possible,” he said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090120/ap_on_re_m
i_ea/ml_mideast_diplomacy;_ylt=AomtMR3B0coDx
Z0_dDNxMB1vaA8F

Obama to tap ex-Sen. Mitchell as Mideast envoy

January 20, 2009

Barack Obama plans to name former Sen. George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy in one of his first actions as the new U.S. president, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Mitchell’s appointment could come as early as Tuesday, the newspaper said, quoting unidentified Obama aides.

Obama, who will be sworn in as the next U.S. president at noon EST, has promised to engage on the Middle East immediately as president and a choice of Mitchell as special envoy was seen as affirming his commitment to early action.

Mitchell, 75, led a commission appointed by former President Bill Clinton to find ways to halt Israeli-Palestinian violence.
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Reuters

Former Senator George Mitchell testifies at a House Oversight ... 
Former Senator George Mitchell testifies at a House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing on Capitol Hill, January 15, 2008.(Jason Reed/Reuters)

His 2001 report called for Israelis to freeze construction of new settlements and stop shooting at unarmed demonstrators, and called for Palestinians to prevent terrorist attacks and punish those who perpetrate them.

Mitchell is a former Senate majority leader who later led peace negotiations between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, an effort that led to the 1998 Good Friday Accord aimed at stemming the long-standing conflict there.

Obama has declined to comment in detail on the Gaza crisis and other foreign policy issues during the weeks before he takes over from George W. Bush, citing the principle that there should be only one president at a time.

With Israeli troops withdrawing from Gaza after a 22-day offensive and having declared a ceasefire along with Hamas, the new administration may want to move cautiously, allowing the Egyptians and Europeans first to pursue their own initiatives.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/200901
20/pl_nm/us_palestinians_israel_obama

Syria Welcomes New Relationship with Obama; Won’t Distance Itself From Iran

January 17, 2009

Syria’s President Bashar Assad has signaled his readiness to cooperate with the new U.S. administration, but also indicated that his country won’t give up good relations with Iran, a German magazine reported Saturday.

Barack Obama’s election has raised hopes for better ties between Syria and the U.S. after years of strained ties under outgoing President George W. Bush. Damascus has close ties with Iran, which the West suspects of seeking a nuclear bomb.

“We would gladly contribute to stabilizing the region,” Assad was quoted as saying in an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel, in response to a suggestion that Obama might seek Syria’s help in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “But we must be included and not, as up to now, isolated.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad attends the emergency Arab leaders ... 
Syrian President Bashar Assad attends the emergency Arab leaders summit on Gaza in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. Pro-U.S. Arab countries boycotted the gathering, fearing it will boost the Palestinian militant group. The Qatar summit underlined the deep divisions in the Middle East over the Gaza violence. Egypt and Saudi Arabia reportedly sought to dissuade other Arab countries from joining the gathering, raising accusations that they were trying to thwart a united Arab stance on Gaza.(AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Associated Press

“We are ready for any form of cooperation that is also helpful for America’s relations with other countries,” he said, according to the report.

“However, we are independent – no one can dictate to us what we have to do; our actions are determined by our interests alone, Assad was quoted as saying. Good relations with Washington must not mean bad relations with Tehran.”

Assad said he did not believe Iran was seeking a nuclear bomb. And looking back at the Bush administration, he argued that the world situation has worsened in every way in the last eight years.

“We are talking of hopes, not expectations,” he said, according to Der Spiegel. “There must be a withdrawal by the Americans in Iraq; the new U.S. government must become seriously engaged in the peace process. We must help it in that, together with the Europeans.”

Syria has for years maintained close ties with Hamas, one of several anti-Israel militant groups that Damascus supports to gain leverage in any future peace negotiations with Israel.

Read the rest:
http://www.haaretz.com/hase
n/spages/1056202.html