SYRIA: Some ten years or more ago, for months, the news media carried reports of a change in mood among the Syrians. In the beginning of 1994 the English-language Jerusalem Post quoted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as saying that Syria was “keen to have peace” and that “Syria understands peace means full normalization with Israel.” United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher had also said in May 1994 that President Hafez Assad “is ready for normalization with Israel.” Even former US President Bill Clinton said that Assad was willing to “normalize relations with Israel.” Along with “normal relations,” Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sha’ara said at the time that Syria wanted a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace.” But after a two-hour session with US Senator Hank Brown, Sha’ara refused to commit Syria to an actual peace treaty with Israel after retrieving the Golan Heights. He merely said that “Syria must get back all the territory, and then we’ll see.” In an unprecedented interview on Israel television in October 1994, Sha’ara even “rejected Israel’s right to exist.” And when President Clinton requested from Syria’s President Hafez Assad a clarification of the meaning of the “full peace” he said he was willing to make with Israel, Assad “rejected Clinton’s request.” Six months later, Assad stated that, like the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), he, too, was offering Israel the “peace of the brave.”

Westerners do not seem to understand that Arabs use code phrases that have more to do with the diplomatic meaning of the words than with their literal meaning. Thus, “normal relations” with Israel is a virtual continuation of the existing state of war. A “just peace” means obtaining every Arab demand. A “comprehensive peace” is the complete elimination of Israel from the Middle East. So, when Clinton met with Assad in Geneva in January 1994, Clinton painted a rosy picture of his understanding of their talks. He said Assad had “expressed a willingness to normalize relations” with Israel, which Clinton obviously understood to be an exchange of ambassadors, open borders with free movement of people and goods, and all components of neighborly relations. But Assad meant nothing of the sort, and when pressed by a CNN correspondent to say if Clinton was quoting him correctly, Assad pointedly declined to answer. Assad was reported to have come out of the meeting, “smiling.” The current lack of progress between Syria and Israel in achieving a “full and comprehensive peace” is, according to Syria, “because Israel is making unjustified demands, such as normal relations between countries, open borders and an end to the Arab economic boycott.”

Assad could afford to “smile”—the world actually believed that an Ethiopian can change his skin and a leopard its spots (Jeremiah 13:23). One of the Israeli tank commanders whose divisions threw the Syrians off the Golan Heights in 1967 said: “I do not believe Assad has changed his skin. He can change the color but not the nature of it.” And Assad’s skin was infamous for its brutal, sadistic nature, but those characteristics apparently found favor in the eyes of the leaders of the New World Order. Former US President Bill Clinton said he was “fascinated to be meeting with this somewhat notorious character.”

Clinton, like other prominent Western leaders, ignored the fact that Assad was one of the world’s cruelest dictators, and that his regime uses diabolical methods of torture to stay in power. Assad’s secret police routinely used horrible methods of torture, many of which are simply too gruesome to describe. It is perhaps hard for readers to imagine that in those last days of the twentieth century that torture devices such as al-khursi al-almani—the German chair—were in use in Syria. This particular instrument—still used today— brings excruciating pain as knives cut into the victim’s flesh as the chair is revolved. And can Western people really understand the Syrian regime’s use of al-abd al-aswad—the black slave—whereby “a prisoner is strapped down while a heated metal skewer is thrust into his anus?” These and many other practices are the normal methods of “questioning” undertaken by Assad’s police. Over the past few days we have been assailed by media attention given to a Democrat report against CIA interrogation methods. But let it be known that even the worst of the CIA’s interrogation techniques would be deemed to be mere “play-school” by Syrian standards.

To be continued

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