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Cablegate: Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Syria/Israel, Iraq (6/15

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0606/01 1681315
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171315Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3710
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6887
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4594
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3240
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7735
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1821
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5151
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1357
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7478

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000606

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: Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Syria/Israel, Iraq (6/15
to 6/17)

1. Summary: Syrian papers on June 15, 16 and 17 focused on the
inter-Palestinian conflict in Gaza and the West Bank, the meeting of
the Arab Foreign Minister in Cairo, and the Lebanese dispute between
the majority and the opposition on holding by-elections to fill the
seats of two assassinated anti-Syrian Members of Parliament.

The papers reported the Syrian Fore
ign Minister's denunciation of
"the campaign of lies by some Lebanese used to accuse Syria after
any crime and before an investigation even starts." Moallem
underlined Syria's keenness on Lebanon's security and stability, and
condemned practices of Fatah al-Islam and Jund al-Sham, considering
them as a part of the al-Qaeda group in Iraq.

The papers covered the inter-Palestinian war in Gaza and the West
Bank and highlighted the meeting of the Arab FMs held in Cairo in
which Arab ministers called for an immediate halt to the fighting
between the Palestinian [factions] in the Occupied Territories. The
papers also reported that the meeting decided to dispatch a fact
finding committee to the Territories.

The papers also covered the talks between Syrian Minister of Finance
and Kuwaiti Minister of Finance who discussed means to enhance
economic and financial relations between the two countries.

Papers also quoted British Minister of State for Middle East
Affairs, Kim Howells, as saying that Syria plays an important role
in the Middle East, describing Syria as a pivotal country in the
region.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"Arab FMs stress the unity of the Palestinian decision and call on
the Lebanese to hold dialogue and avoid accusations and
provocations" (Government-owned Tishreen, June 17, 2007)

"After guns got quiet in Gaza, a political battle between Fatah and
Hamas," (Independent al Watan, June 17, 2007)

"The Lebanese opposition: the accusations against Syria lack
credibility and serve the US-Israeli project," (Government-owned
Al-Thawra, 6/17)

"A British reiteration of the Syrian role; Howell: dialogue grows in
an atmosphere of mutual confidence," (Government-owned Tishreen,
6/17)

"A cabinet meeting to follow up what has been accomplished in the
framework of developing the Eastern Region," (Government-owned
Al-Ba'th, 6/17)


3. Editorial Block Quotes:

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

"Fighting over Gaza"

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

Marwan Kabalan, a commentator in al-Watan, wrote (6/17): "We are
not naive enough to call on Hamas and Fatah to stop their internal
fighting in the name of fraternity, partnership, or the good of the
Palestinian people, since this logic has proven to be futile, after
the collapse of all mediations and the toppling of all agreements
which have tried in vain to stop fighting or at least postpone it.
We call on them in the name of Reason and we tell them, "If you must
fight, fine, provided that there is a state to fight in and a real
authority to fight for."

"What is this fighting for? The Palestinian President (from Fatah)
cannot leave his office without a permission from the Israelis, and
his PM (from Hamas) can be seen very rarely. What is this fighting
for if half of the MPs are in the Israeli jails?"

"This entire fighting is for the 360 square kilometers from which
Israel was forced to withdraw. The question is what will happen if
Israel withdrew from the entire West Bank of 5000 square
kilometers?"

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

"A disappointment or a death announcement for the US project?"

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

Mohyidin Mohamad, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(6/17): "The US Defense Secretary expressed disappointment for not
achieving any progress at the security level in Iraq... As the
American officials choose their words very carefully, they avoid
telling the bitter truth (...) that the American 'security plans'
have failed, and the American occupation of Iraq has failed in
achieving its goals. It also [has resulted] in expensive costs that
the American people can no longer afford.

"The American Defense Secretary as well as all the other
Administration officials know that the 'security plans' (...) will
only lead to more resistance, because any action will be met with an
equal reaction. They also know that wagering on a sectarian war in
Iraq may postpone the announcement of the ultimate defeat of the
invading troops. That is why we see that the blowing up of the
(Shiite) shrines and (Sunni) mosques is (...) nothing but an
American attempt to convince international public opinion and
American public opinion that what happens in Iraq is a mere
sectarian war that Iraqis are waging against one another."

(...) The US Administration, looking in pain at the death of its
colonial project in the region, is trying to revive it, not via its
troops and military forces, but rather via alternate schemes, though
fighting among brothers in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. And we are
required now to properly resist this new scheme."

Roebuck

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