Two important items on Syrian President Bashar Assad:

* MEMRI brings us an article from the website of the Syrian Communist Party showing how Assad recently pulled a Yassir on his people – speaking peace and concession to the West, while saying something else entirely to his people in Arabic. The issue in question is Assad’s Nov. 30 interview with the New York Times, in which Assad expressed willingness to resume peace talks with Israel. Though it was ‘reprinted’ in Syria, it had been tampered with:

Is it conceivable that the president makes statements for quoting to the American press (which is the international press, since the interview was published in English), but that these statements aren’t exactly the same as the ones published in the Syrian media?

Let us begin with the numbers: The English version, as published on The New York Times website, had 11,280 words… The Syrian news agency Sana and the official Syrian press published what it called the ‘full version’ but this had only 5,500 words. The London paper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published the ‘full Arabic translation’ of the interview, which was 7,667 words long.

Where did the 2,200 words vanish to, if, as the American press said, it was the president’s office that prepared the English translation? What did Al-Assad tell America and the entire world yet at the same time thought not fitting to tell the Syrians?

The part that was omitted included questions and answers regarding [Syria’s] domestic situation, Iraq, Hizbullah, normalization with the Hebrew state, and U.S.-Syrian security cooperation.

* The (UK) Telegraph has a number of important articles on Assad and Syria: An interview in which Assad all but admits that Syria has a WMD stockpile, Assad’s verbal gymnastics when discussing suicide bombers, a profile of Assad, and a well-done staff-ed on the Syrian dictator.