Syria warns: Next war will be ruinous
The Jerusalem Post (Link) - JP Staff & AP (February 20, 2010)
Syrian Prime Minister Naji al-Otari on Saturday warned Israel that any new Mideast war would be catastrophic for the region and beyond.
Speaking to reporters Saturday after meeting with French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, he said that a new war will have dangerous repercussions not only in the Middle East but also on the international level.
Syria�s foreign minister warned Israel earlier this month that any new war would reach Israeli cities, to which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman responded that the Syrian army would be defeated and its regime would collapse in any future conflict.
Otari�s statements to his French counterpart on Saturday come after several weeks of quiet in the Israeli-Syrian war of words.
The United States, meanwhile, has appointed a new ambassador to Syria after the previous administration led by George W. Bush withdrew its ambassador in 2005.
It also withdrew travel warnings saying that American citizens would face security risks if they traveled to Syria.
The US did not, however, remove Syria from its list of states sponsoring terrorism.
Israel and Syria have held indirect peace talks during the tenure of former prime minister Ehud Olmert. Turkey acted as mediator. The talks came to a halt after Turkey voiced severe criticism of Israel�s actions during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip last winter and the Israeli government declared it no longer views Turkey as an honest go-between.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a visit to France late last year, hinted that Jerusalem my prefer that France take over the role previously held by Turkey.
Syria demands Israel cede the Golan Heights, captured during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, as a prerequisite for peace negotiations. Israel says it will not accept Syrian preconditions.
The two countries have enjoyed a stable ceasefire since 1973, but Israel conducted secret operations inside Syria, most notably destroying a fledgling nuclear reactor in the country�s east in 2007.
The assassination of Imad Mughniyeh, a top Hizbullah operative who was killed in his car on a Damascus street, was also attributed to Mossad, Israel�s spy agency. Israel never acknowledged Mughniyeh�s death was the work of Mossad.
Syria did not so far react to neither of these incidents.