Tue Aug 25, 2015 9:36AM
A picture shows an Israeli army UAV landing in an airfield, in the Golan Heights on January 20, 2015, two days after an Israeli airstrike killed six people in Syria. (©AFP)
A picture shows an Israeli army UAV landing in an airfield, in the Golan Heights on January 20, 2015, two days after an Israeli airstrike killed six people in Syria. (©AFP)

Press TV has conducted an interview with Mimi al-Laham, a political commentator from Australia, to ask for her insights into the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s remarks on the links between Takfiri terrorists and Israel.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: What do you make of the president’s comments about the danger of these terrorists that they’re actually more dangerous than Israel itself?

Al-Laham: Well, I don’t think, he said that it’s more dangerous than Israel itself. He said it’s more dangerous than Israeli air raids, which is a bit different. He in fact said that the terrorists themselves were an extension of Israel and that they obviously are closer within Syria itself and pose more threat. Now on that level, yes, I agree that terrorists are more immediate threat, but in no way would, I agree, I don’t believe the president is saying this that Israel is less of a threat than the terrorists. Israel is always the number one threat to Syria and the Syrian state. And the terrorists are diverting consequence, in fact, they’re puppets of the Israeli state. So, it is nonsensical to say, they’re less of a threat. The air raids themselves haven’t done that much damage so as much as the terrorists have. So, in that way in saying that the air raids themselves are less of a threat that is true.

Press TV: Why do you think he’s choosing this time to talk about it in this way to put things in perspective as he has?

Al-Laham: I think he’s under a lot of pressure by the Syrian people, because they want to see a retaliation against Israel. And I don’t think that they’re necessarily wrong enough because the statement by the Syrian president, it is in response to the Syrian people to make them understand the situation. However, in saying that it’s a kind of opening a door for Israel as well for future it talks, because the only thing that would prevent Israel from doing so is the threat to retaliation. And Israel at this situation, at this time, with Syria with the threat to the internal security due to terrorists is very difficult to start a war with an external country. And that’s why Israel is taking advantage of the situation; however, I believe that it’s a paper tiger actually and if it felt there’s a retaliation would do know further the talks. And in fact Hezbollah proved that recently with their retaliation against Israel by destroying trucks and killing Israeli soldiers when they were struck. And I do recall that Nasrullah said that any attack on Syria would also create similar retaliations. But we haven’t seen that yet. And it’s sort of ... raise the question why Syria’s allies in Russia and Iran haven’t also made statements against Israel and maybe Syria doesn’t feel it can enter a war with Israel, because at this point of time, its allies would not push behind it. This is something that is difficult for Syria to go alone at this time. At the same time, I think that it’s ... maybe Israel wants a war at this time, because it knows it’s a bad time for Syria and its allies.

Press TV: I want to ask you from strategic perspective is it possible that Damascus is making this decision based on perhaps things they’ve seen that possibly as a matter of fact Israel wants just that a reaction so they can expand on another front attacks against Syria, how likely is that?

Al-Laham: It is likely; however, the next question I will put that is what is to stop them from expanding any way. I mean without any sort of statement or threat from the international community or from Syria itself, then, there is really nothing to stop them and the fear is like a frog boiling in the water. These small attacks how far we allow it to go before we draw a line. And that’s really a question for Syria and its allies because they’re in a better position to judge the situation with the information that they have.