Monday, October 02, 2006

Bashar al-Assad says no one can prevent Hizbullah smuggling arms

In an interview with El Pais yesterday, Bashar Al-Assad said "If there is a real desire to smuggle [weapons], neither Security Council resolutions nor surveillance nor the whole armies of the world can prevent this,".

While Israel wanted an international force to police the Lebanon-Syria border for arms shipments, Syria refused, threatening to close its border with Lebanon in that instance. President Assad said other nations "should have faith in Syria" over controlling its borders.

Syria has, however, increased the number of troops on its border with Lebanon by moving forces from its eastern border with Iraq, Assad said.

"We have strengthened the border with Lebanon, but of course, this made us move parts of our forces guarding the border with Iraq to the border with Lebanon," Assad said.

The move appeared to be an effort to appease international requests but likely would increase criticism from the United States and Iraqi governments, which have long accused Syria of not doing enough to stop insurgents crossing into Iraq to fight U.S. troops.

Syria denies the allegation, saying it is impossible to fully control the long desert border it shares with Iraq.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said during his recent trip to the Middle East that Assad had assured him that Damascus was prepared to delineate its border with Lebanon.

Assad also affirmed to Annan that Syria was willing to increase the number of guards along the border with Lebanon, as well as give them more training and supplies.

Annan repeated that Syria had promised to deploy a battalion to the border with Lebanon.

President Al-Assad also said the U.S. "was not a fair co-sponsor" of the stalled Middle East peace process and called on Europe to take an active role.

"Regrettably there is not another international power that can replace it [the U.S.], and at the same time, the United States should not be alone, and here is where Europe's role comes in," he said.

SOURCE: AP/Haaretz

1 comment:

William said...

Interesting. The reality of course is that Syria can easilly control the arms trade. Indeed much of it - almost certainly most of it - is conducted by the Syrians.