View Full Version : Syria Says It's Preparing For War With Israel Even Though It Doesn't Want It

08-17-2007, 08:22 AM
Syria says it's preparing for war with Israel even though it doesn't want it


The Associated Press
Published: August 14, 2007

DAMASCUS, Syria: Damascus is not seeking war with Israel but is preparing for it nonetheless, should the Jewish state attack Syria, Vice-President Farouk al-Sharaa said Tuesday.

"Syria doesn't want war, and Israel knows this," the Syrian vice president said. "But Syria is preparing for it because it knows and feels that Israel wants a pretext for war as happened in 2006," al-Sharaa told reporters in Damascus, referring to last summer's war between Israel and the Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

"We have to be always ready to repulse any aggression," al-Sharaa added. He did not specify how Syria was preparing itself for an eventual clash.

Israeli media have recently been talking about the possibility of war with Syria, claiming that Damascus is building up its military forces along the border near the occupied Golan Heights. However, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has dismissed the possibility of war with Syria this summer, telling his Kadima party last week that Israel should see "a calm summer, a calm autumn and a calm winter".

Syria has technically been in a state of war with Israel since its creation in 1948. It says it is willing to resume peace negotiations if Israel commits to return the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau it captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Peace talks between Syria and Israel broke down in 2000 when Syria demanded that Israel withdraw from the entire Golan Heights. Israel wanted slight modifications to the pre-1967 line and insisted that issues of security and normalization be spelled out first.

Al-Sharaa stressed that Damascus would not launch a war against Israel, because peace has been a "strategic choice" since the 1991 Madrid peace conference on the Middle East.

However, "there are other options, which were never ruled out by any Syrian leadership, not in the past, nor now," al-Sharaa said.

Since Israel's 34-day inconclusive war with Hezbollah in Lebanon last summer, Syrian officials have been openly discussing these other options, including an armed resistance, to regain the Golan Heights.

Al-Sharaa said Syrians don't want war but will never accept giving up their occupied land.

He reiterated Syria's opposition to a Palestinian-Israeli peace conference proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush for the fall, saying the conference's goals and guarantees of success are unclear.

"Even if we were invited (to the peace conference), we will not go before we know it is a real peace conference that (helps) Arabs attain their rights and regain all lands," al-Sharaa said.

Syria says the conference would only exacerbate the plight of the Palestinians. It says talks must involve all countries in the region, and Arab League delegates have also stated that the proposed conference must include Syria.

Olmert has repeatedly called on Syrian President Basher Assay to reopen peace talks with Israel. But Assay has said negotiations would only resume with an Israeli guarantee that the Golan Heights would be entirely returned.