By David Ignatius
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
"DAMASCUS, Syria -- President Bashar al-Assad says he doesn't want to send a message to Barack Obama, exactly, but to express a three-part hope for the incoming administration's Middle East policy:
First, he hopes Obama won't start "another war anywhere in the world, especially not in the Middle East." And he trusts that the doctrine of "preemptive war" will end when George W. Bush leaves office.....
Asked whether Syria was prepared to restrain Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite militia in Lebanon, Assad said this was a matter the Israelis should sort out in separate negotiations with the Lebanese. Indeed, he promoted the idea of the other negotiating tracks -- which would draw in, at least indirectly, Hezbollah and Hamas...... "