"30/04/2008 Syria will not cut ties with Iran even in the framework of a possible peace pact with Israel to get back Golan Heights, a Syrian diplomat said. "It is naïve to think Syria would behave foolishly and abandon its strategic alliances with Iran and Hezbollah, which are not limited solely to the Israeli-Arab conflict but also touch on topical geopolitical issues," Dr. Samir al-Taqi, Damascus' high emissary to Ankara, told al-Manar TV in an interview aired on Tuesday.
Taqi -- who served for years as an adviser to the former Syrian president, Hafez Assad, and currently is the director of the Orient Center for International Studies in Damascus -- is the official who relayed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's message regarding Israel's willingness to return to the negotiations table to Syrian President Bashar Assad. He is also the Syrian representative handling his government's indirect contact with Israel.
According to Taqi, the move serves Syrian interests by strengthening the country's retaking to the Golan. This was also the objective behind Assad's decision to send an envoy to the Annapolis conference talks, he added. Additionally, Taqi hinted on Washington as being the destabilizing party, which is not interested in calm and continues to issue threatening messages to Iran.
Few days ago, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with Bashar al-Assad in Damascus amid renewed efforts by his government to broker a relaunch of peace negotiations between Syria and Israel.
Israel annexed the occupied Golan in 1981 in a move never recognized by the international community. Syria has consistently demanded the return of the whole of the Golan as its price for peace. But Israel baulked at the demand in the last talks between the two sides and a recent opinion poll found that more than two-thirds of Israelis oppose a complete withdrawal from the strategic territory."