At a press conference in Damascus on Wednesday, Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinajad and his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad took turns threatening and taunting Israel. The former received more headlines, with his remark about a “New Middle East free of Zionists."
Assad said, “We assume that we are facing an entity [Israel] that is ready to attack us at any time. We are always ready for aggression, whether small or large.” He said that he had discussed with his Iranian guest “Israel’s crimes, and how to deal with [Israel] and help the resistance forces.”
Ahmadinajad, for his part, told the reporters, “The new Middle East [a phrase originally made popular by President Shimon Peres who envisaged a peaceful, prosperous region – ed.] will be a Middle East without Zionists and without imperialists. With Allah’s help, this will happen.”
“We hope that they [Israel] will recognize the rights of the nations of the region,” the Iranian president said, “but they must know that if they continue their mistaken ways of the past, they will have no place in our region… If the Zionists repeat their past mistakes, all the nations of the region will stand against them and rip them up from their roots.”
"No one can damage" the close Iranian-Syrian ties, Ahmadinajad said, which will “become deeper and develop over the years… We are brothers. We have mutual interests, as well as common goals and enemies.”
On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton downplayed last month's decision by the Obama administration to return an ambassador to Syria. Clinton told Congressmen that the U.S. demands that Syria sever all ties with Iran.