Cablegate: Iran/Syria, Syria/Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories
DE RUEHDM #0157/01 0511001
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 201001Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2980
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6581
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4349
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2963
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RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4915
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RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7252
UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000157
DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ARN, INR/IC/CD, INR/R/MR:STHIBEAULT AND
JMCCARTER, VOA NEWS CA, NEA/PPD:CBOURGEOIS, AZAIBACK, AND
AFERNANDEZ, IIP/G/NEA-SA MDAVIDSON
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Iran/Syria, Syria/Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories
1. Summary: The major topic in Syrian papers over the weekend was
President Asad's state visit to Iran, which commenced on Feb. 17.
All papers reported Asad's talks with Iranian President Mahmud
Ahmadinezhad; Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of
Iranian Islamic Revolution; Ali Larijani, Secretary of the Iranian
Supreme National Security Council; and Foreign Minister Manouchehr
Mottaki. Banner headlines on Feb. 19 featured a joint statement by
Asad and Ahmadinejad at the end of the visit. Both Presidents
expressed satisfaction with all meetings and praised their
"friendly, cooperative and constructive atmosphere." The statement
condemned the continuing, aggressive Israeli expansion policy in the
region, voicing total support for restoration of the Golan to Syria.
They also condemned Israeli's attempt to destroy parts of the
al-Aqsa Mosque. The joint statement welcomed the Mecca accord on
formation of a Palestinian national unity government, expressing
full support for Palestinian unity.
Both sides expressed support for the Iraqi government and Iraq's
territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty and for the
efforts of the Iraqi government and others aimed at achieving
national reconciliation, rejecting sectarian sedition and
The statement confirmed the importance of boosting Lebanese national
unity and concordance and supporting all that the Lebanese may agree
upon in a way that ensures Lebanon's stability, security and
Both Presidents emphasized Iran's right to possess peaceful nuclear
technology and said that the issue must be dealt with through the
International Atomic Energy Agency. They said that the "issue must
be handled by dialogue and diplomatic means without preconditions".
Both sides reiterated the importance of ridding the Middle East of
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"The Tehran Summit confirms solid Syrian-Iranian relations.
President Asad: Playing the last card on the Arab and Islamic
streets will fail. President Ahmadinejad: Syria and Iran are
influential players in the region. The final communique: We
support what the Lebanese agree upon.... We call for ending Israeli
occupation of Arab territories.... We support maintenance of Iraq's
unity and identity.... We call for ridding the region of WMD....
We are satisfied with economic cooperation" (Government-owned
"Syrian-Iranian summit is held in Tehran. President Asad and his
Iranian President Ahmadinejad discuss boosting economic and
investment cooperation, confirm support for Iraq's territorial
integrity and the Iraqi political process and welcome the Mecca
Accord among Palestinians" (Government-owned Tishreen, 2/18)
"The Palestinian Authority calls for giving a chance to the
forthcoming government" (Government-owned Tishreen, 2/18)
"Bush disappoints Abbas' hopes and aborts Rice's initiative: No
dialogue with the new Palestinian government-Al-Ba'th, 2/18)
"US Secretary of State Rice arrives on a surprise visit to Baghdad
to discuss the new security plan. The total of US soldiers killed in
Iraq estimated at 3132" (Government-owned Tishreen, 2/18)
"US presidential candidate Richardson calls on the US Administration
to hold dialogue with Syria" (Government-owned Tishreen, 2/18)
"The US Senate endorses non-binding resolution objecting to Bush's
plan on Iraq. Democrats: First step to cut financing for Iraq war"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 2/18)
"The Lebanese opposition rejects foreign interference in Lebanon's
affairs. AL Secretary General: The Arab initiative to solve the
Lebanese crisis still valid" (Government-owned Tishreen, 2/18)
"Hizbollah SecGen Hasan Nasrallah: What is taking place now is a
continuation of the Israeli war against Lebanon.... There are some
powers of the February 14 team sacrificing this country for their
personal interests. Hizbollah: We were victorious militarily and
will be politically as well" (Government-owned Tishreen, 2/17)
"US Defense Secretary Gates and Chief of Staff Gen. Pace: No
evidence of Iran's involvement in attacks against US troops... US
Congress today vetoes Iraq strategy" (Government-owned Tishreen,
"Lebanese prisoner al-Kintar: Junblat is a small agent"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 2/17)
"A Republican Congressman calls for real dialogue with Syria"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 2/17)
"President Asad urges Palestinians and Iraqis to adhere to national
unity. President Asad to Iraqi Parliament Speaker: We support the
political process in Iraq. President Asad to Khaled Mishaal, Hamas
Politburo: We support what Palestinians agree upon.
President Asad to Iraqi Minister of State for National
Reconciliation: It is important to achieve national reconciliation"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 2/16)
"In two phone calls to President Asad, Hanieh and Abbas thank Syria
for its efforts to achieve a national unity government"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 2/16)
"Discourse of insults causes Lebanese disgust. Talal Arslan,
President of the Lebanese Democratic Party: It is absolutely an
Israeli discourse. Fathi Yakan, President of the Islamic Action
Movement in Lebanon: It is the discourse of hopelessness and
despair" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 2/16)
"Lebanese professor of international law al-Ghatit: The
International Tribunal threatens Lebanese sovereignty"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 2/16)
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"Solid Relations and a Friendship Unshakable by Threats"
Ilyas Murad, Chief Editor of government-owned Al-Ba'th, wrote
(2/18): "President Asad's visit to Iran is not as some people are
trying to portray it through misleading leaks and reports. Syria
and Iran are key countries in the region and the world. They are
bound by close and important relations and identical positions on
many international issues in general and regional issues in
"There are attempts to weaken Arabs, especially Syria and the
Palestinians, in their confrontation against and opposition to the
Israeli plan, and to weaken Syria in any forthcoming peace
"Perhaps some people are not pleased that we are adopting this
logic, the logic of cooperation between Arabs and Iran, because they
are involved in the American plan in the region. Our question to
these people is: Where is the Arab interest in an Arab-Iranian
dispute or conflict? What is the national interest in promoting
hostility between Arabs and Persians? And where is the interest of
Islamic countries in a conflict of a denominational nature between
countries or groups in the region...?
"At any rate, some of these parties know the dangers of the plan
that is designed for the region but are still involved in it and
constitute a link in its chain. Others are helpless. Yet others
are, regrettably, being used as tools that will be thrown away when
they have expired...."
"Catastrophic Dependence on Assumptions"
Ali Nasrallah, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(2/18): "The US Administration, in its disregard for the House of
Representatives' resolution on Iraq, and before it for the
Baker-Hamilton committee's recommendations, appears as if
deliberately threatening US national interests....
"Democrats appear determined to curb the escalatory plans of
President Bush, who has not yet realized the disastrous nature of
his foreign policy....
"Unrealistic US assumptions on Iraq have produced a disaster in that
country.... It will be catastrophic to believe unrealistic American
assumptions and claims regarding Iran, as this might pose a greater
threat to the security and stability of the region and the whole
"Fruits of Constructive Chaos"
Ahmad Dawwa, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(2/18): "Violence has continued in Baghdad and other Iraqi regions
after the start of the Baghdad security plan.
"The US Congress endorsed a new resolution against President Bush's
strategy.... There are conflicting American statements about the
involvement of Iraq's neighbors in the violence in that country.
"All this proves once again that Bush and his team do not really
have a new strategy to end the security chaos in Iraq, just as they
do not have a plan for withdrawal from that disaster-stricken
country. What is happening is nothing but attempts to mislead
"The Merchants of Blood and Politics"
Muhammad Khayr al-Jammali, an editorialist in government-owned
Al-Thawra, wrote (2/18): "That is what the leaders of the 14
February forces in Lebanon are: merchants of blood and politics....
"They offered yet another proof that they trade in blood and
politics when they exploited the anniversary of the martyrdom of
former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri to escape from their political
defeats and cover them by a double assault. First, they targeted
the nationalist forces, primarily the resistance, for their
rejection of the conspiratorial plan that seeks to move Lebanon away
from its historical position and turn it into a fertile soil for
plots and pressure against Syria and Arab forces that reject the
plans of American, Israeli, and Western hegemony in the region.
Second, they targeted Syria because it adheres to its national and
"Those leaders, and with them the foreign forces, from which they
draw strength, resented the fact that the Lebanese people rallied
around their nationalist forces and dispelled the illusion that
those leaders represented the majority. They found no other way to
express their resentment, hatred, ignobility, and rancor than
launching vicious campaigns against anyone who played a role in
exposing their conspiratorial roles and hired connections with
foreigners as designed by [US] Ambassador Feltman and the hints of
Olmert. Through these campaigns they want to mislead the people
about the crisis they created in the country, a crisis they hope
will push Lebanon once again to domestic fighting in keeping with
and in response to the policy of targeted chaos to which the United
States turned to compensate for the failure of its Middle East
Samir al-Shibani, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote on (2/17): "As much as the Mecca agreement between Fatah and
HAMAS caused satisfaction and left a positive climate in the
Palestinian and Arab arenas, it angered Americans and Israelis
because it foiled their plans for and bets on a Palestinian civil
"The US Administration is practicing blackmail against Palestinians
by setting conditions for dealing with their national unity
"It wants the upcoming government to recognize Israel as a gesture
of goodwill. It forgets that the party that needs to show goodwill
is Israel, which has offered nothing over the past six decades but
death, crimes, and the assassination of trees, stones, air, and
"Through its position, the US Administration shares with Israel its
crimes against Arabs, humanity, and the United Nations....
"To confront this blind bias, the national unity government must be
formed and the Mecca agreement must be protected. Also, effective
Arab solidarity must be built to confront the numerous challenges
and dangers that target the nation from the Gulf to the Ocean. This
solidarity is an objective that all Arabs must work to realize."