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Cablegate: Syria/Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestinian Territories, Iran

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0588/01 1631258
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 121258Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3682
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6875
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4582
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3227
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7723
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1807
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5139
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1345
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7466

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000588

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: Syria/Israel, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestinian Territories, Iran
(6/12)

1. Summary: Syrian papers on June 12 reported a meeting by the
Central Leadership of the National Progressive Front (NPF) on June
11. The Leadership stressed Syria's firm position toward the issue
of peace with Israel, describing the current peace proposals to
Syria as "contradictory and not serious." The Leadership also
reviewed the situation in Lebanon and reiterated Syria's position on
the need to maintain the unity of the Lebanese people and territory
and achieve national accord in the country. The Leadership discussed
the current Israeli assaults against the Palestinian people and
stressed the need to preserve and strengthen Palestinian national
unity. The Leadership also discussed the situation in Iraq and
stressed the need to maintain the unity of the Iraqi people and land
and end the occupation, which gravely endangers this unity.

On Syrian/Lebanese relations, papers reported Minister of
Information Bilal's meeting on June 11 with a delegation from the
Syrian Social Nationalist Party in Lebanon headed by Secretary
General Ali Qansoh. They discussed recent regional developments and
the challenges facing the Arab nation, in addition to the role of
media in countering campaigns of delusion and distortion. Bilal
confirmed that Syria is dedicated to ensuring Lebanon's stability,
and that it supports what the Lebanese people agree upon under the
constitution and free from foreign interference. Qansoh praised
Syria's position in support of Lebanon and its important regional
role.

Papers also featured President Lahoud's meeting with a delegation
representing the Lebanese Democratic Party in which he expressed
confidence that Lebanon will emerge victorious in spite of the
pressures that aim at subjugating it to foreign plots. Lahoud said
that "the Lebanese people are sticking to their rights, and the
international pressures will fail because Lebanon has defeated
Israel twice when it stuck to its rights." He called for speeding
up the formation of a national unity government in order to deal
with pending issues, the most important of which is a parliamentary
elections law that makes all the Lebanese people equal. On the
events at Nahr al-Bared Camp, Lahoud stressed that everyone who
attacked the army must be handed over to the judiciary.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"The Central Leadership of the National Progressive Front discusses
the current political situation: Syria's position on peace is
constant... Israeli peace proposals are contradictory and not
serious" (Government-owned Tishreen, 6/12)

"Information Minister Bilal discusses the current situation in the
region and the role of the media in confronting campaigns of
deception with a delegation from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party
in Lebanon" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/12)

"Fierce clashes continue in Nahr al-Bared. Five fighters from Fateh
al-Islam killed. The Lebanese army demolishes Al-Absi's
headquarters. Aoun: Civilians are a red line... We are in
agreement with Hizbollah" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/12)

"Lahoud warns against the conspiracy of settling Palestinian
refugees in Lebanon to abort the Palestinian right of return, and
against exhausting the Lebanese army" (Government-owned Tishreen,
6/12)

"Militiamen target Palestinian PM Hanieh's house. Scores of
Palestinians killed and injured in renewed clashes between Fateh and
Hamas" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/12)

"British PM Designate Brown in Baghdad turns Blair's page and paves
the way for pullout from Iraq. The Pentagon modifies the Baghdad
security plan: A new strategy to enlist Al-Qaeda dissident
fighters" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/12)

"The EU grants four million Euros of aid to the Palestinian
Authority. The first national US demonstration in Washington
calling for an end to Israeli occupation of the Palestinian
Territories" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/12)


"Kuwait will not allow US military to attack Iran from its
territory. Al-Baradei calls for adopting dialogue to solve the
nuclear crisis" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/12)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

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

"Where Is Olmert's Seriousness about Peace?"

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

Ahmad Sawwan, a columnist in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(6/12): "Israeli PM Olmert said: I realize that any peace
agreement with Syria will force me to return the Golan Heights to
Syrian sovereignty, and I am ready to shoulder my responsibilities
to establish peace between us....'

"Is it true that Israel is ready and qualified to resume the
negotiations and revive the peace process? And is it true that
Olmert can captain the peace ship on the Israeli side...?

"Olmert is coming under strong criticism over his failed policy and
because of his defeat at the hands of the Lebanese national
resistance in the surprise aggression of July 2006. He is also
facing splits and cracks within his Qadima Party and in his
alliances with the parties in his coalition government. He is the
prime minister with the lowest popularity rating in six decades....

"Because of all this, Olmert has found nothing better to do than
occasionally play the tune of the Syrian track. He believes that
promoting ideas and proposals for peace with Syria might help him
win some support and gain some power. This means that the
credibility and seriousness of his talk about peace with Syria are
in doubt. Syria has always been ready for revival and reactivation
of the peace process from where it left off....

"So the worn-out Israeli tune about 'direct or indirect' secret
negotiations is fabricated by Israel, and sometimes by the United
States, or by both of them, to suggest that there is a deal on
peace. Syria totally rejects this because peace does not need deals
as much as it needs courageous political will...."

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

"Olmert and Peace with Syria"

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

Khurshid Dalli, an editorialist in independent al-Watan, said
(6/12): "Israel is talking about peace with Syria in an attempt to
make some strategic gains, such as distancing Damascus from Tehran,
Hizbollah, and HAMAS and obtaining military political, and financial
support from the United States....

"Israel is not willing to abandon the entire Golan, and Olmert,
through the talk about peace or war with Syria, is trying to ease
his government crisis.... Olmert, after the failure of the
aggression on Lebanon, realizes that the war option is very costly,
especially in light of reports that Syria has a formidable missile
capability for both deterrence and assault...."

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

"This Is Why Syria Resisted and Triumphed"

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

Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (6/12): "Americans and Israelis used all their capabilities
and agents in the anti-Syria campaign of pressure, provocation,
threats, and fabrications in the past four years. But Syria
succeeded in the confrontation and forced its attackers to
reconsider their plans, as indeed happened when the Bush
administration began to reconsider its calculations toward Syria and

to request dialogue with it over the issues of the region....

"Syria's enemies discovered Syria's immunity and its important Arab
and regional role.... Syria, which is the victim of aggression and
which has a dear part of its territory under occupation, has always
considered all possibilities and prepared for all developments. For
it accurately knew the methods of its Israeli enemy and its ability
to influence American decisions. This is why, perhaps, Syria was
not surprised by the campaign of pressure and fabrications it came
under, especially as it realized that the American invasion of Iraq
was ultimately more of an Israeli decision than an American
decision. This is why Syria resisted and triumphed.

"The US plans against Syria in Lebanon also failed, especially with
the defeat of the Israeli army in Lebanon.... Americans apparently
became convinced, without announcing it, that Syria cannot be
transcended, no matter what the pressure, and that they must return
to it, which they unwillingly did...."

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

"US Fingerprints behind the Crisis in
Nahr al-Bared Refugee Camp"

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

Walid Muhammad, a commentator in government-owned al-Ba'th, wrote
(6/12): "The current escalation in Lebanon is not only a result of
the domestic Lebanese bickering, but also a link in a plan concocted
in the corridors of the American intelligence establishment, with
the participation of regional circles and local Lebanese power
centers, to impose American hegemony on the region and promote the
culture of defeat at the expense of the resistance plan and the
culture of steadfastness and opposition....

"The pro-government forces in Lebanon, at the request of the
Americans, pushed the Lebanese Army, which is known for its
nationalist doctrine and honorable mission of defending Lebanon
alongside the national resistance against Israeli aggression, into a
battle that is not its battle....

"Just as the United States and its allies and tools in Lebanon seek
to politicize the al-Hariri assassination, one of the objectives of
the Nahr al-Bared crisis today -- an objective that is known to
everyone -- is to create new justifications for movement to other
steps, including the disarming of the heroic resistance and the
creation of the appropriate atmosphere for the settlement of
Palestinian refugees...."

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

"An Excuse for Hegemony"

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

Muhammad Khair al-Jammali, an editorialist in government-owned
Al-Thawra, wrote (6/12): "The US claims that the Iranian threat is
the reason behind the plan to deploy the missile shield in Eastern
Europe....

"Iran is not powerful enough to threaten Europe.... The term,
'Iranian threat,' that the US Administration has used to market its
new military program in Eastern Europe and directly on the borders
with Russia, is only a new US excuse to cover up the policy of
hegemony and strategic influence that the United States is pursuing
in the world....

"Now that the United States has failed strategically in the Middle
East, with its plans bringing upon it difficult predicaments and
chronic crises, it has chosen the missile shield program in Eastern
Europe as an excuse to compensate for its major failure. But the
strong Russian opposition to this plan and the popular rejection of
it in Poland, the Czech Republic, and other European countries will
render the plan a failure, just like all other plans and excuses for
hegemony...."

Roebuck

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