Cablegate: Asad Speech/Nomination, Syria/Plo, Syria/Uk, Syria/Italy,
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O 140939Z MAY 07
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TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Asad Speech/Nomination, Syria/PLO, Syria/UK, Syria/Italy,
Iraq, Palestinian Territories (5/11-13)
1. Summary: Syrian papers on May 11 reported President Asad's
speech at the first session of the new People's Assembly on May 10,
which approved the nomination of President Asad for a second
seven-year term as president and set May 27 as the date for the
Papers also reported VP Shara's meeting on May 10 with Farouk
al-Kaddoumi, Head of the Political Department of the Palestinian
Liberation Organization. Talks focused on the situation in the
Palestinian territories and efforts to enhance Palestinian national
reconciliation and rebuild the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
On Syrian-British relations, papers reported FM Mouallem's meeting
on May 10 with Peter Gooderham, Director for Middle East & North
Africa in the United Kingdom's Foreign Office. Talks focused on
bilateral relations and regional developments, particularly in Iraq,
LebQon and in the Palestinian territories.
FM Mouallem reiterated Syria's support for efforts to achieve
national reconciliation in Iraq and make the political process a
success, stressing the need to schedule withdrawal of foreign troops
and build the national army on national bases. Regarding Lebanon,
Mouallem confirmed Syria's support for all that the Lebanese agree
upon to achieve security and stability in Lebanon.
Papers on May 12 featured an interview with Italian Deputy PM and
Foreign Minister, Massimo Dalima, published on May 11 in the Italian
Weekly "L'Expresso," in which he reiterated the importance of his
talks with FM Mouallem on the sidelines of the Sharm al-Sheikh
Conference and expressed his intention to visit Syria soon. Dalima
stressed Syria's desire to cooperate to find solutions in the
region. Dalima denied reports of Hizbollah smuggling weapons in
south Lebanon, describing them as baseless. On Iraq, Dalima said
the uni-polar policy era has ended and there is now a return to
multi-lateral policy and the search for solutions based on
Independent al-Watan on May 11 published a Reuters report citing
Fatah al-Islam group in Lebanon as saying that four of its members
were killed in a clash with Syrian security forces while trying to
cross into Iraq.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad delivers a speech at the People's Assembly: Our
priority is to protect the interests of the widest sector of Syrian
masses. National decisions are above international resolutions.
Signing the UN Charter doesn't mean endorsing interests of the
United States. We have achieved good levels of economic growth in
spite of the hard political circumstances. We work to help Iraq,
and not to save the occupation troops from their impasse. The
return of Golan is non-negotiable. We have not authorized any party
to negotiate on our behalf. We are not intimidated by threats"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 5/11)
"The People's Assembly unanimously approves the nomination of
President Asad for new seven-year constitutional presidential term
of office. The People's Assembly determines May 27th is the date
for conducting popular referendum on the presidency"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 5/12)
"PM Shara to Farouk al-Qaddoumi [Head of the Political Department of
the Palestinian Liberation Organization]: Palestinian National
unity achieves aspirations of the Palestinian people"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 5/11)
"FM Mouallem holds talks with a British delegation on scheduling a
timetable for withdrawal from Iraq" (Government-owned Al-Thawra,
"Italian Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister D'Alima: I will visit
Syria soon" (Government-owned Tishreen, 5/12)
"Bush extends sanctions against Syria" (Independent al-Watan, 5/11)
"Israeli Foreign Ministry recommends commencement of negotiations
with Syria" (Independent al-Watan, 5/11)
"The Fatah al-Islam group in Lebanon announces the killing of four
of its members in a clash with Syrian security forces at the
Syrian-Iraqi border" (Independent al-Watan, 5/11)
"The Iraqi Parliament adopts a resolution rejecting security walls.
Four US soldiers killed or kidnapped in Baghdad" (Government-owned
"Iraqis call for scheduling withdrawal of foreign troops. Four US
soldiers killed in various attacks, the fiercest of which were in
Diyala" (Government-owned Tishreen, 5/12)
"Fatah and Hamas agree on withdrawing armed men from Gaza streets"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 5/13)
"Confrontations in Gaza foil the security plan" (Government-owned
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
Isam Dari, Chief Editor of government-owned Tishreen, wrote (5/12):
"Syria under President Asad managed, with its calm policy and
rational and logical approach, to overcome the hardest plight in its
modern and contemporary history, to avoid falling into the traps
that were set in its way, to face the hurricane that hit the region,
and to adapt to formidable changes without abandoning its national
and pan-Arab policies and its constant principles....
"President Asad's decisions, as captain of the Syrian ship, are not
personal or impulsive or reactions to certain actions or sudden
developments. Rather, they are positions, policies, and options of
our Syrian Arab people. They are based on an unwavering belief in
Arabism, the national identity, and the free, dignified, and
"Syria stands on solid ground embodied by a national unity that is
rarely matched in today's troubled world.
"The choices of Syrians are the same national and pan-Arab choices
that President Asad briefly expressed in his important speech to the
"Culture of Resistance and Course of Capitulation"
Hanan Hamad, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(5/12): "We wonder what Arabs did to benefit from the defeat of
Israel in Lebanon and from the predicament of Americans in Iraq....
"Arab regimes are making a mistake and miscalculation by
exaggerating Israel's power to stifle the culture of resistance and
encourage calls for surrender and concessions through separate and
partial treaties that have brought nothing but failure....
"Despite the Winograd Report and the Baker-Hamilton recommendations,
some Arab regimes, under the pretext of 'marketing the Arab peace
plan,' are still extending a helping hand to those who are sinking
in Iraq's quicksand and to the heads that are rolling as a result of
the erupting July volcano. But the decisive answer and the sincere
diagnosis came in concentrated and expressive sentences in President
Asad's speech to the People's Assembly when he said that Damascus
has not authorized anyone to negotiate with Israel on the issue of
peace, where there has been no progress because of the lack of an
honest broker and because of Washington's pressure on the weak
Israeli government, and when he stressed the Iraqi people's right to
"The Solution Lies in the United States Leaving Iraq"
Salim Abbud, a commentator in government-owned
Al-Thawra, commented (5/11): "Iraq is in great need of concerted
efforts by all regional and world states to help it at the economic
and security levels before liberating it from the occupation. This
occupation is the cause of all the bombings that are claiming the
lives of thousands of people and prompting thousands of Iraqis to
leave Iraq every month.
"The world must break its silence toward what is happening and
toward the United States' acts of intimidation. The world must
first search for the reasons that led to the destruction of Iraq and
to the tragic situation that is emptying Iraq of its people. All
previous and future conferences on Iraq will not achieve the desired
progress unless the cause, that is to say, the occupation, is dealt
with. The Bush administration is giving the world the false
impression that it seeks to address the deteriorating Iraqi
situation, while in fact it seeks to address its own deteriorating
situation in Iraq, in the United States, and in the world....
"The Bush administration stands behind the bloody bombings and
sectarian conflict, which are likely to spread to other states in
"The Bush administration did not seek to bring the Iraqi regime down
as it claimed. The toppling of the regime was only an alleged goal,
which the administration declared many times through Bremer,
Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. In fact, this administration destroyed
the security, political, economic, social, and cultural structure of
The Iraqi situation is much more serious than an occupation....
"At the Sharm al-Sheikh conference, Secretary Rice called for
supporting Iraq in return for a commitment by the Iraqi Government
to work to achieve national reconciliation. She made this call even
though everyone knows that the US army controls everything in Iraq
and that the Iraqi people need no reconciliation, but need to drive
out the forces which are supported by the occupation and other
forces that entered Iraq. The operation of most of these forces
follows directly or indirectly the opinion of the Mosad and US
intelligence.... At the Sharm al-Sheikh conference Rice sought to
absolve her administration of the responsibility for what is
happening and will happen in the future...."