At his blog, Syria Comment, Joshua Landis writes:
President Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was in Damascus today, threw down the gauntlet. Only the day before Hilary Clinton warned Syria “to begin to move away from the relationship with Iran,” and stop supporting Hizbullah, Hamas, and ex-Baathists in Iraq. For several years, Syria has been told to “flip” and break from Iran if it expects to be allowed out of diplomatic and economic isolation. Israel has made Syria’s break with Iran a condition for peace with Damascus.
Today, Assad came out forcefully and defiantly to end any talk of separation.
“We must have understood Clinton wrong because of a bad translation or our limited understanding, so we signed the agreement to cancel the visas,” Assad said. “I find it strange that they (Americans) talk about Middle East stability and peace and the other beautiful principles and call for two countries to move away from each other,” he added.
Ahmadinejad, for his part, held up his hand with his thumb and index finger only a centimeter apart to indicate how little separated the positions of both countries.
The Washington Post reported:
The presidents of Iran and Syria on Thursday ridiculed U.S. policy in the region and pledged to create a Middle East “without Zionists,” combining a slap at recent U.S. overtures and a threat to Israel with an endorsement of one of the region’s defining alliances.
Ah, more threats to Israel… except Ahmadinejad’s threat was more nuanced than the Post report implies and it was made conditional on the possibility that Israel might launch another war. The Iranian president said:
I call on the Zionists to return to their senses and to recognize the legitimate rights of the people of the region and to respect them and to understand that if they continue to go down the wrong path, which they have traveled in the past, there will be no place for them in our region.
In other words, if Zionists insist on disregarding the rights of Palestinians and on making war with their neighbors, they are not welcome in the Middle East. What a reckless and unreasonable statement!