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Cablegate: Presidential Referendum, Syria/Uk, Lebanon, Iraq,

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0520/01 1501404
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301404Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3576
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6836
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4552
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3190
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7695
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1776
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5111
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1314
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7438

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000520

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: Presidential Referendum, Syria/UK, Lebanon, Iraq,
Palestinian Territories (5/29)

1. Summary: Syrian papers on May 29 reported Vice President
Shara's meeting on May 28 with former Archbishop Hilarion Capucci in
which they discussed the regional situation and the international
community's disregard of the oppression of the
Palestinians under
Israel's abusive practices. Shara expressed Syria's appreciation of
Capucci's courageous patriotic and humane stances. For his part,
Capucci expressed his joy at visiting Syria as it experiences the
festivities of renewing President Asad's constitutional term, and
stated his pride in Syrian national unity and the spirit of
coexistence and tolerance of its people.

Papers also reported that a large British Parliamentary delegation
visited Damascus. A group headed by MP Richard Spring met with FM
Mouallem on May 28. Mouallem briefed them on the latest developments
in the Middle East including in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon.
Mouallem reiterated the importance Israel withdrawing from the
occupied Arab lands, including the Syrian Golan, and the importance
of implementing relevant UN resolutions. As for Iraq, the Foreign
Minister pointed to the discussions held during the Sharm el-Sheikh
Summit and the goals that must be achieved to realize a political
solution in Iraq. Regarding the situation in Lebanon, Mouallem
underlined the importance of having Lebanese consensus on all issues
facing Lebanon in a manner that achieves security and stability. He
also warned against imposing choices upon Lebanon that could
increase division in the Lebanese society.

Also on May 28, VP Attar met with another group of British
Parliamentary members headed by Labor Party MP John Grogan. Attar
pointed out that it is necessary for the world to understand the
true situation in the Middle East and work to guarantee everyone's
rights. He also praised the role of the British-Syrian Association
in enhancing communication between the Syrian and British peoples.
Answering the group's questions on the situation in Iraq, al-Attar
stated that the US occupation there created a fertile ground for
terrorism and caused difficult humanitarian situations. He also
pointed out that the solution for the situation in the Middle East
lies in changing US policy and strategy, something that Europe can
have a part in achieving.

Articles, reports, and official statements published in the
newspapers today portray the May 27 referendum on the nomination of
President Asad for a new 7-year term in office and the reportedly
"heavy" voter turnout at home and abroad as a message to the world
that the Syrian people fully support their president and his
domestic and foreign policies.

Government-owned Al-Ba'th and independent al-Watan featured a story
by US journalist and academic Franklin Lamb who entered the Naher
el-Bared refugee camp in disguise and carried out an investigation
with people of the camp. The article was published on May 26 by a
US website bulletin called "Counter Punch" and shed light on the
involvement of the governing team in Lebanon in financing the Fateh
al-Islam group to achieve its goals, namely to blame Syria and
Al-Qaeda this group's actions.

Ziyad Haydar a commentator in independent al-Watan, offered a Syrian
reading of the developments in north Lebanon, noting that Syria is
concerned about the Lebanese army as it sees attempts to weaken and
divide it.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"Results of the presidential referendum will be announced today.
Arab and international figures: Syrians rallying behind President
Asad is an important message to the world on rejecting hegemony"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 5/29)

"Vice President Farouk Shara discusses Palestinian developments with
former Metropolitan of Jerusalem Archbishop Hilarion Capucci.
Capucci: We are proud of Syria's national unity" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 5/29)

"Vice President Attar and Foreign Minister Mouallem review latest
regional developments with a British Parliamentary Delegation.

Members of the delegation stress Syria's pivotal role in achieving
peace and stability in the Middle East, affirming that there can be
no peace without Syria" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 5/29)

"Intermittent clashes in the neighborhood of Nahr el-Barid. No
solution in the hori
zon. The Opposition: Who started shooting at
the Lebanese army seeks to drag the army into a war of camps"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 5/29)

"Franklin Lamb: Financial disputes detonated the Nahr
Nahr al-Barid incidents. Al-Mostaqbal Block finances the Jund
al-Sham and Fath al-Islam groups" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 5/29)

"First US-Iranian talks since 27 years; Crocker: The Baghdad meeting
was positive. Iranian envoy Kazemi: The meeting is a first step"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 5/29)

"Two Palestinians injured in an Israeli assault in Gaza. An Israeli
incursion into Jericho. An Israeli minister: A comprehensive
ceasefire in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is dangerous for
Israel" (Government-owned Tishreen, 5/29)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

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

"Syrian Reading of North Lebanon Developments: Questions need
Answers and Fears about the Lebanese Army"

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

Ziyad Haydar, a commentator in independent al-Watan, wrote (5/29):
"The incidents at the Nahr al-Barid camp in Tripoli are a source of
concern for Damascus, especially since Lebanon's security remains
central for Syria's security....

"The Tripoli incidents were given the required analysis and
follow-up in light of their sensitivity, brutality, and similarity
to the criminal methods that Al-Qa'ida Organization adopts, where
bodies were mutilated and victims were slaughtered while they were
asleep.

"The conclusions were consistent with the psychological burdQ that
the picture leaves, in terms of concern for Lebanon first and then
for the Lebanese Army mainly. The army is the most respected and
solid establishment in Lebanon and it is close to Syria from a
political perspective. The responsibilities that the army is
shouldering, however, have become exhausting, even without the
additional burden of the incidents in the north. The army is now
scattered along the northeastern border with Syria, the southern
border with Israel, and the streets of the capital as a result of
the political tension. There is, therefore, concern that the army
was deliberately dragged into these incidents, which the security
forces started and left the army to complete. There are elaborate
questions about the nature of the relationship between the security
forces, which are under the control of the ruling team, and the
growth of an organization that emerged only a few months ago and
that managed in a few-hour battle to inflict this amount of losses
on the army of a country.

"There are also no doubts about American journalist Seymour Hersh's
revelations regarding the relationship between Arab countries and
figures in the ruling team on the one hand and Fatah al-Islam on the
other, especially in light of the growth in the organization's
power. It is possible, however, that the organization has indeed
gone out of control, which dictates that it be dealt with seriously,
leaving the army to shoulder this responsibility.

"The concern stems from the fear that what happened might be a
deliberate and planned attempt to weaken and divide the army by
dragging it into a battle with a militia the results of which cannot
possibly be in the Army's favor unless the Army resorts to
destructive military intervention. Such intervention would cause
painful humanitarian consequences for the Palestinians and open old
wounds. It would also turn the other Palestinian camps into
volatile hotbeds threatening escalation. Furthermore, it might lead

to the dispersal of the leaders of the organization, like any other
militia. In this case, instability, which is confined to a limited
area in the north, might spill all over Lebanon, specifically in the
south....

"Some people believe that the timing is meant to tell the world not
to hesit
ate in taking any position toward Lebanon (as the case now
with Qatar, Russia, China, and Indonesia) and to speed up the
establishment of the tribunal under Chapter Seven without examining
the consequences of such a step for Lebanon's civil peace, as this
peace will be taken care of by local parties."

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

"A Message from the People"

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

Muhammad Khayr al-Jammali, an editorialist in government-owned
Al-Thawra, wrote (5/29): "The Syrian people sent a message to all
forces of evil, hatred, and conspiracy, a message that essentially
says that Syria has one option; namely, this creative cohesion
between the loyal people and the sincere leader and this solid
adherence to the national and pan-Arab policy that President Asad is
leading in defense of Syria's interests and the Arab nation's
rights...."

Corbin

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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