Assad: Israel Leading the Middle East to War

By Jack Khoury, Haaretz Correspondent, and Haaretz Service

Syrian President Bashar Assad said on Wednesday that Israel is not serious about its intentions to make peace with Damascus as evidenced by “its conduct which is leading the region to war.”The Syrian leader made the statements during a meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos in Damascus on Wednesday.Netanyahu’s bureau said in response that Israel seeks peace negotiations with Syria, but Damascus has thwarted every effort to start the process.  
Unfortunately Syria is heaping obstacles and preventing negotiations and the formulation of understandings that could bring peace, security and prosperity to all sides,” a bureau spokesperson said.
“The statements by the senior Syrian leadership are most regrettable; in reality, the complete opposite is true. The prime minister has said many times the he would be willing to travel to any place in the world, at any time, in order to open peace negotiations with Syria without preconditions.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Assad’s foreign minister issued a strongly-worded warning to Israel that a future war between the two countries would be a “comprehensive” clash that would “come to your cities,” CBS News reported.
Just days after Defense Minister Ehud Barak cautioned that the stalled peace process with Syria is liable to deteriorate into all-out war, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem lashed out at Jerusalem. “Israel is indeed planting the seeds of war in the region, I would tell them stop playing the role of thugs in the Middle East,” Moallem told reporters Tuesday in Damascus. “One day you threaten Gaza, next day you threaten Lebanon, later Iran and now Syria,” Moallem told a joint news conference with Moratinos. 
“Don’t test, you Israelis, the determination of Syria. You know that war this time would move to your cities. Come to your senses and choose the road of peace. This path is clear,” Moallem warned. “No doubt, if we assume that this war would erupt – and we should not exclude this possibility from an entity established on expansion – I would say it is going to be a comprehensive war, whether it starts in the south of Lebanon or from Syria,” Moallem said.
According to CBS News, Moratinos said during the news conference that he had left Israel with the impression that the country was in no mood for conflict.
“I came in from Israel after meetings with most senior officials there, and I would tell you that I heard no drums of war, rather I felt a desire for peace,” the Spanish foreign minister said.
Moallem: U.S. requests accreditation for new envoy
The United States has issued a formal request to accredit a new American ambassador to Damascus, Moallem told reporters on Wednesday.
Robert Ford, the envoy to be, will be the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus since the Bush administration called back its envoy as a response to the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February of 2005.
“The United States has nominated an ambassador. This is an American sovereign issue and it is Syria’s right to study the nomination,” Moallem told reporters in Damascus.

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