The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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March 24, 2010

March 24, 2010 - Now Lebanon - Assad supports Sleiman, says Syria did not insult Jumblatt

During an interview with Al-Manar television on Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that Lebanon “did not achieve anything,” in response to statements that the country has progressed in the past five years following the withdrawal of Syrian troops.

He said that he was the first to propose the establishment of diplomatic ties between Syria and Lebanon, and it would not have happened in 2008 without his conviction.

He denied that foreign pressure led to the establishment of diplomatic ties, adding delineation of the borders is a bilateral issue between Syria and Lebanon, and Damascus does not adhere to foreign requests.

Assad said the Shebaa Farms is a legal issue and not a political one.

The Syrian president commented on Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt’s recent statement that no one will benefit from his trip to Damascus if the Druze as a whole does not approve it, saying sectarian identity should be part of a greater sense of national belonging.

Assad added that he cared about the content of Jumblatt’s rhetoric rather than a literal apology, in response to the PSP leader’s statement that he made inappropriate comments against Assad “in a moment of anger and loss.”

Assad said that his country only wanted Jumblatt to get back on the right track.

The Syrian president denied that his country wants to insult Jumblatt. However, he said, “Syria is not seeking an apology, and we do not have a superiority complex. We do not need to prove ourselves.”

“Syria rejects forgiveness and, most importantly, we do not need anyone to forgive us,” he said, in response to Jumblatt’s statement that he will “forget and forgive” Syria for killing his father, PSP founder Kamal Jumblatt.

“If anyone in Lebanon has proof that Syria was implicated in any crime, let him follow the legal measures in this regard,” the Syrian president said.

However, according to Assad, there is a bazaar of international tribunals that have lost their significance, a possible reference to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).

The Syrian president said he was not purposely delaying Jumblatt’s visit to Damascus but is seeking common ground in their political positions.

He said Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah played the largest role in facilitating Syria’s renewed relationship with Jumblatt, adding the PSP leader’s trip might take place after Libya’s Arab League Summit in late March.

“It is important to reduce tension now,” said Assad, adding, “Syria benefits when the situation in Lebanon improves.”

He refused to comment on reports that Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Jumblatt improved their relations with Damascus at the ire of their political supporters. However, he said the discrepancy affects the Lebanese politicians rather than Syria.

The Syrian president said the issue is part of domestic Lebanese details, which, he added, do not affect or concern Syria.

Assad said he and Hariri are trying to build their personal relations as a way to push institutional ties between their two countries and reiterated his support for Hezbollah.

Assad also said that he never approved Tawhid Movement leader Wiam Wahhab’s recent call for President Michel Sleiman’s resignation.

He said that if Syria wants to criticize someone; it is fully capable of directly communicating with them.

The Syrian president touched on reports of possible regional crises, which, he said, have been imposed on Syria. However, the country does not place its “future in the hands of major powers.”

Assad also said that he does not want to mix between the Bush and Obama administrations, saying they are very different.

US President Barack Obama does not dictate terms as former US President George W. Bush did, he said.

Assad refused to comment on US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford’s testimony to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 16 that “he is not a prize for Assad’s regime.”

He also spoke about Iranian-Iraqi relations, saying Tehran is not interfering in Iraq’s national security but is playing an important role in the country.

Assad added Syria is not violating Iraq’s borders and believes in building relations with the country.

As for Syrian-Israeli relations, the president said there is no hope for peace with the current Israeli cabinet. However, he said Tel Aviv has no choice but peace, and the Jewish state’s deterrence has decreased as the concept of Resistance has increased among the Arabs.

Goals can be achieved in many ways other than war, said Assad, but he added his country will engage in any war that is imposed on it. He reiterated that Israel “only understands the language of force.”

According to the president, Syria coordinates with Lebanon on the issue of Arab-Israeli negotiations because Damascus and Beirut do not benefit on their own.

Assad also said Egypt should support Syria despite their different positions on issues.

For more of the speech, click here.

-NOW Lebanon

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