Asad Pledges 2-Stage Withdrawal
President Bashar al-Asad of Syria gave a major policy speech [Arabic link] to the Syrian parliament on Saturday on Lebanon. He pledged a withdrawal of Syrian troops to the Biqaa Valley (a largely Sunni Arab area near the Syrian border), after which the troops would then be stationed along the Syria-Lebanon border.
Asad foresees no new negotiations soon with Israel over Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Syrian territory, the Golan Heights. Asad said that he was ready to negotiate, but that the Israelis had made it clear that they were not.
Asad warned the Lebanese that they were about to be pressured to make a separate peace with Israel.
In his offer to withdraw, Asad cited Un Security Council resolution 1559, which calls for a withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon.
He also referred to the Ta’if Agreement that ended the Lebanese Civil War.