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Cablegate: Presidential Referendum, Syria/Uk, Syrian Policy, Iraq

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0521/01 1501423
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301423Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3579
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6839
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4555
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3193
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7698
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1779
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5114
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1317
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7441

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000521

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, Syrian Policy, Iraq
(5/30)

1. Summary: Syrian papers featured a statement made by Speaker of
the People's Assembly on May 29 officially announcing Bashar Al-Asad
as the President of the Syrian Arab Republic for a new 7-year term
following the final results of popular referendum in which the
President won a reported 97.62 percent of the votes. On May 30
President Asad received phone calls from King Abdullah II of Jordan,
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain and Sheikh Hamad bin
Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar, congratulating him on the
confidence of the Syrian people expressed in the referendum and his
election as President of Syria for a second constitutional term.

Papers also reported Vice-President Shara's May 29 meeting with a
group from the British House of Commons, headed by Jeremy Hunt,
which included representatives from both the Labor and Conservative
parties. Talks dealt with the latest developments in the regional
and international arenas. VP Shara answered the group's questions
on regional issues and he asserted that foreign intervention,
hegemonic policies, the absence of the international resolutions,
and the enforcement of resolutions supporting the Israeli occupation
have led to the tension and instability in the region. "The policy
of dictates has been foiled," VP Shara said, stressing that dialogue
is the only way to reach acceptable solutions to the problems of the
Middle East. VP Shara confirmed that Israel's full withdrawal from
the occupied Golan and occupied Arab territories is necessary to
achieve security and stability in the region. For their parts,
members of the British delegation stressed Syria's important and
pivotal role regarding settlement of the crises in the region and
the necessity for continuing dialogue and contacts with Syria.

Papers also reported President Asad's meeting on
May 29 with Hilarion Capucci, former Metropolitan of Jerusalem.
Talks during the meeting dealt with the current situation in the
occupied Palestinian territories and the oppression and unjust
practices against the Palestinian people by the Israeli occupation
authorities.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"President Asad wins a new term in office with an unprecedented
unanimity" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 5/30)

"President Asad receives congratulatory phone calls from the Kings
of Jordan and Bahrain and the Emir of Qatar" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 5/30)

"The number of Syrians who voted 'Yes' on the nomination of
President Asad reached 11,199,445 citizens" (Government-owned
Al-Thawra, 5/30)

"President Asad discusses Israeli occupation practices against the
Palestinian people" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 5/30)

"VP Shara receives a British parliamentary delegation:
Policy of dictates has been foiled" (Independent al-Watan, 5/30)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

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

"Syrians Loudly Say 'Yes' to President Asad,
the Man of Principles"

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

Muna Niyazi, a commentator in government-owned Al-Ba'th, wrote
(5/30): "Syrians, after saying yes to President Asad, view his
second term in office with hope and optimism, knowing that his
abilities, courage, and wisdom in the past seven years resulted in
major achievements, initiatives, and steps toward development and
progress....

"Syria lies in wait to stop all attempts aimed at making it
capitulate or admit defeat.... The attempts to subjugate Arabs will
not succeed because strong Syria, with its courageous leadership,

stands in the face of every attempt to bring the region to its
knees...."

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

"Chemical Equation for the Future"

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

Khalid al-Ashhab, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote (5/30): "The responsibility for developing the country and
safeguarding its independence and sovereignty is a joint
responsibility shouldered by the leader and the people....

"It will not be enough for us to unanimously agree on the leadership
of the president and then relax and expect miracles and the
impossible from him. Nor will it be enough to reduce the trust to
the rights and ignore the duties. The unanimity is the first step,
but many more steps must follow. Just as the past seven years were
full of work and successes despite the flaws and stumbles, the next
seven years should be like the previous ones, with initiative,
diversity, and the entrenchment of confidence added to them...."

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

"Pan-Arab Significance for Syrian 'Yes'"

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

Information Minister Dr. Muhsen Bilal, commented in government-owned
Tishreen, (5/30): "When Syrians say 'yes' to President Asad, they
express support for a policy and position that has always said 'no'
to colonialist plans for the Arab nation.

"Syrians realize the national and pan-Arab responsibilities of their
country, and their 'yes' to the President essentially reflects
national and pan-Arab commitment to the absolute sovereignty of all
Arabs, a sovereignty that is organically linked, from Palestine's
sovereignty and peace to Iraq's sovereignty, unity, and genuine
national affiliation...."

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

"Challenges for Syrian Foreign Policy"

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

Ibrahim Darraji, a commentator in independent Al-Watan, wrote
(5/30): "Syria, in its confrontation of pressures, challenges, and
accusations in the past seven years, has adopted a cautious policy
based on the principle of absorbing the crises without rushing to
random policies or uncontrolled reactions. It has mobilized its
sources of power, scattered on more than one front and in more than
one direction, and skillfully wove them together in a way that
turned Syria into a key player impossible to ignore in the
region....

"This led to the failure of Washington's efforts to isolate Syria.
The next years will obviously bring additional challenges that Syria
must deal with in the right way, starting from the challenge it is
facing on the Lebanese front. The United States and Israel are
fabricating problems and creating crises for Syria in Lebanon to
exhaust Syria in political, security, and military matters and
always place it on the defense so that it cannot focus on regaining
its rights in the Golan and defending other Arab rights in Palestine
and Iraq....

"Foreign challenges, however, must not distract the Syrian
decision-maker from the domestic situation and the need to improve
people's lives and preserve their security, dignity, rights, and
interests...."

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

"Just US Interests!"

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

Ghazi al-Dada, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(5/30): "When Americans talk about measures to protect their troops
in Iraq without mentioning the Iraqi people, they indirectly admit
that their mission in Iraq is to serve pure American economic and
political ambitions, not to bring democracy to Iraq, as they claim.
All what the US Administration cares about is serving US interests,
which necessarily converge with the Israeli interests.

"The main US objective is to fragment Iraq and the whole region so
that Israel will emerge as the strongest, undisputed power.

"Iraqis must foil these American plans through adherence to national
unity and the achievement of a genuine national reconciliation...."

Corbin

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