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Cablegate: Arab Summit, Syria/Malaysia, Seymour Hersh's Article On Us

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DE RUEHDM #0190/01 0581504
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271504Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3029
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6601
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4368
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2980
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7535
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RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7271

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000190

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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: Arab Summit, Syria/Malaysia, Seymour Hersh's Article on US
Plans against Syria, Iran (2/26-27)

1. Summary: Syrian papers on Feb. 26 reported that President Asad
received a message from Saudi King Abdallah Bin-Abd-al-Aziz on Feb.
25 inviting him to attend the 19th Arab summit, which will be held
in Saudi Arabia next month. The message was delivered to President
Asad by Dr. Abdallah al-Zinil, Saudi Minister of State.

Papers also reported President Asad's meeting with Malaysian PM
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, that focused on regional and international
developments. The two sides also reiterated the importance of
supporting a political solution in Iraq and the Palestinian national
unity government. They also stressed the need to remove the siege
on the Palestinians and stop the encroachment upon their holy places
and the holy places of Arabs and Muslims. They also discussed the
need to activate the role of the OIC in light of the new
developments that affect all OIC members.

On Syrian-Iraqi relations, papers on Feb. 26 reported telephone
contacts between Foreign Minister Mouallem, Iranian FM Mottaki and
Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari in preparation for a meeting of Iraq's
neighboring countries due in Baghdad next month. Papers also
reported that Vice President Shara met on Feb. 25 with a delegation
representing the tribal chiefs of Al-Anbar and Mosul in Iraq. Talks
focused on the difficult situation that Iraqis are experiencing. FM
Shara reiterated the importance of ending the occupation and
achieving national reconciliation, in order to allow Iraq to
overcome the current situation, preserve the unity of its people and
territory, and bring security and stability back to the country.

Government-owned Al-Thawrah on Feb. 26 cited an article by US
journalist Seymour Hersh published in "The New Yorker" saying that
the US Administration is "implementing a political and financial
program in Lebanon to support some parties against others in an
attempt to create sedition in that country." The paper cited
Hersh's statement that "many people in Lebanon, acting as
representatives of Al-Saniora's government, are offering money and
weapons to some groups to confront Hizbollah." The Al-Thawrah
report adds: "Hersh, who met with Walid Junblatt, stressed that the
latter asked the US Administration to deal with the Muslim
Brotherhood group if it wanted to act against Syria. An American
intelligence official confirmed this information to Hersh and
stressed to him that the United States is effectively supporting the
Muslim Brotherhood in Syria with money and weapons."

Independent Al-Watan, for its part, highlighted this story in a
front-page report accompanied by a picture of an informal meeting
between President Bush and Saudi National Security Adviser Bandar
Bin-Abd-al-Aziz at President Bush's ranch in Texas. The report says
that the new American strategy, as cited by Hersh, "will be
implemented through close coordination with Saudi security agencies,
and it seeks to weaken both Syria and Iran." It cites Hersh's
statement that "the secret American operations in Iran, Lebanon, and
Syria are directed by US Vice President Dick Cheney, and they rely
heavily on Saudi Arabia and former Saudi Ambassador in Washington
Prince Bandar Bin-Sultan."

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"President Asad and Malaysian PM Badawi review regional and
international developments, reiterating the importance of a
political solution in Iraq and supporting unity of the Palestinian
government. Syria and Malaysia sign six cooperation agreements"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 2/27)

"President Asad receives a message from Saudi King Abdullah Ben
Abdul-Aziz inviting him to attend the Arab Summit" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 2/26)

"Foreign Minister Mouallem, Iranian FM Mottaki and Iraqi FM Zebari
discuss preparations for the meeting of Iraq's neighboring
countries" (Government-owned Tishreen, 2/26)

"Vice President Shara receives an Iraqi delegation representing
tribes of Al-Anbar and Mosul: Ending occupation and achieving
national reconciliation are the way to enable Iraq to get out of the

current ordeal" (Government-owned Tishreen, 2/26)

"Former Lebanese PM al-Huss: The US agenda is the reason for
Lebanese crisis. The opposition: Washington rejects agreement
among Lebanese, as it rejected the Mecca Accord" (Government-owned
Al-Ba'th, 2/27)

"Lebanese President Lahoud refuses to abandon Presidency for an
illegal government. Seymour Hersh: The US Administration is
planting sedition in Lebanon" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 2/26)

"Israeli occupation forces respond to the Palestinian deal on
forming a national unity government with incursions into Nablus"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 2/26)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

--------------------------------

"In Order to Trust Arab Summits"

--------------------------------

Abd-al-Fattah al-Awad, Chief Editor of government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote (2/26): "In principle, Syria supports every Arab-Arab
meeting. Syria has always been enthusiastic about any activity that
leads to a unifying, not a divisive, Arab discourse....

"Now the Arab countries need to focus, more than ever, on things
that bring them together and lead them to the adoption of concordant
and solidarity-based positions. Syria, which is shouldering a heavy
burden, has the right to ask its brothers to take clear and
supportive positions toward many of the issues that directly concern
it.... Arab countries must at least support the Syrian positions
toward the peace process and the return of the Golan and toward
every other issue in which Syria is the main party concerned....

"The upcoming Arab summit will be full of issues that might affect
the Arab future. It is the duty of every Arab country, therefore,
to render it successful....

"The success of the summit is linked to the ability of Arab leaders
to commit to the concerns of Arab citizens, not to any other
options. Arab citizens have lost much confidence in the seriousness
of Arab governments about creating a unified position. They believe
some governments have adopted positions that are far from such a
unified Arab position.

"At any rate, the Arab League and the Arab summits strongly need to
regain this confidence. We hope the next summit will be a major
step toward the achievement of this objective."

----------------------

"Illusory Promises"

----------------------

Omar Jaftali, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(2/26): "The US Administration is working to foil the agreement
that Fatah and HAMAS signed in Mecca and is threatening to punish
the Palestinian national unity government that will result from it
and to maintain the siege and the collective punishment against
Palestinians....

"Washington wants the Palestinian government to meet conditions in
return for illusory promises like those that Bush made three years
ago when he talked about a Palestinian state and rejected Israeli
settlements and the separation wall in the West Bank.

"The Israeli incursion into the West Bank city of Nabulus and the
continuation of the Israeli terrorist operations and the Judaization
of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque prove that nothing has changed in
the nature of the American policy. The United States always wants
to fulfill Israeli wishes...."

-----------------------------

"How Reconcile These Things?"

-----------------------------

Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (2/26): "The reported Israeli request that the United States
allow Israeli warplanes to fly over Iraq to attack Iran's nuclear
installations, shows the American-Israeli coordination and way of
thinking in the post-Iraq occupation stage, where the United States
gives Israeli aggressiveness a free hand without any regard for the
region's security and stability....

"Israel, which is a nuclear power rebelling not only against the
IAEA but also against international legitimacy altogether, wants
through military thuggery and US cover to attack Iran's peaceful
nuclear program. It already did something like that when it
attacked and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981....

"There is a double standard in the international approach toward the
nuclear issue in the region.... Israeli officials do not hide their
intention to launch a new aggression on Lebanon. They never stop
making threats against Syria and Palestinians. And now there is the
news about Israeli preparations to attack Iran. All this shows that
Israel is the source of the plague for Arabs and Muslims and that
the Bush administration knows nothing other than support for Israeli
aggression...."

Corbin

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