Washington out of touch with anger of Arab world, Syrian minister tells UN

Walid Al-Moualem, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Syrian Arab Republic, addresses the general debate of the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, at UN Headquarters in New York. (UN Photo/Erin Siegal)

United States officials are interpreting the actions of the people of the Middle East in a distorted manner in a bid to justify their policies to the detriment of all concerned, the Foreign Minister of Syria told the General Assembly today.

“Tragically, we all end up paying the price when the decision-makers in Washington believe that they know better, and are in a better position to understand and grasp the needs and circumstances of the Arabs,” said Walid Al-Moualem. “They diagnose the ambitions and aspirations of the Arab individual in a manner that is tailored to their own vision.”

He asserted that the people of the region are angered by the denial of their sovereign national rights. Summing up the collective sentiment, he said: “We want an end to the Israeli occupation of our lands in Palestine, Lebanon and the Golan. We want to recover all our usurped rights. We want the flow of American weapons to Israel, which are sowing death and destruction, to stop. We refuse hegemony over our resources and interference in our affairs.”

He went on to say that the people of the region “want a Middle East governed by peace and built on right and justice, a Middle East where people can dedicate their energies and resources to development and progress and embrace the positive trends of current human endeavours.”

The Foreign Minister said the so-called war on terror had not achieved its objectives, and in fact terror is more widespread than before. He called for international efforts to deal with the scourge, “taking into account the need to distinguish between fighting terrorism and people’s legitimate right to resist foreign occupation.”

In addition, he said the war on terror had been misused. “It looked as if it was masking the clash of cultures and civilizations, a fact that eventually proved detrimental not only to the interests of all parties concerned, but also played into the hands of terrorists and the cause of terrorism.”

He said Syria is committed to Lebanon’s independence and sovereignty and it “demands the withdrawal of Israel from all Lebanese occupied territories, including from the Lebanese Shabaa Farms. He also voiced hope that Lebanon would receive the necessary assistance to “overcome the consequences of Israeli aggression.”

The continued Israeli occupation of Arab territories is the “source of all problems in the region and the origin of the overwhelming anger consuming its peoples.” This is blocking peace and must be addressed to achieve a just and comprehensive settlement.

Tunisia’s Foreign Minister, Abdelwaheb Abdallah, also echoed this sentiment in an address to the Assembly today, calling for international efforts to help the Palestinian people regain their legitimate rights, including the establishment of an independent State, and to allow Syria and Lebanon to recover their occupied territories.

On the issue of terrorism, he called for tackling its root causes - “mainly injustice, the policy of double standards, as well as economic and social conditions which generate frustration and marginalization, within the framework of a comprehensive approach.”

Towards this end, he urged support for the World Solidarity Fund to fight poverty and exclusion and efforts “to lay the foundations for a more equitable and solidarity-based vision for development.”