Cablegate: Asad, Cousseran, Lebanon, Bush/Me Peace, Iraq, Palestinian
DE RUEHDM #0730/01 2001040
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191040Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3883
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6960
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4653
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3304
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7786
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1881
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5206
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1417
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7526
UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000730
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: Asad, Cousseran, Lebanon, Bush/ME Peace, Iraq, Palestinian
1. Summary: President Asad's oath-taking ceremony and speech at
the People's Assembly on July 17 was the main topic in Syrian papers
on July 18. Banner headlines were dedicated to the speech, which
was carried in its entirety. President Asad said that "Syria has
emerged stronger a
fter facing challenges" and that "these challenges
have sharpened Syria's potentials." He confirmed that what protects
Syria and preserves its stability are not its resources or material
potentials but all aspects of its rich moral heritage, particularly
the pan-Arab aspect and its correct political positions.
Asad expressed hope that the Palestinian brothers will agree on a
national project in the face of the Israeli occupation, stressing
Syria's readiness to perform her duties and exert every effort
possible with the brothers in order to reach that end. President
Asad added that "what Iraq is witnessing of national and human
tragedies in light of the occupation troops' incapability to ensure
the minimum limit of security, must be a good lesson to all those
who ignore the realities of the region, and think that stability can
be attained by foreign troops." Asad stressed that the solution
lies in the achievement of national reconciliation through dialogue
with the participation of all Iraqis, and on the basis of a
timetable for withdrawing occupation troops. President Asad
stressed Syria's solidarity with the Iraqi people, extending every
possible help to them.
Papers also reported that French envoy on Lebanon Jean-Claude
Cousseran arrived in Damascus on July 17 and is expected to meet
with President Asad on July 18, and will meet with VP Shara and FM
Mouallem regarding French efforts to find a solution to the Lebanese
crisis before deciding whether to travel directly to Cairo, where he
is supposed to hold coordination meetings with Amr Mousa and
Egyptian officials, or to Beirut.
On Middle East peace, independent al-Watan reported that the
International Quartet will convene in Lisbon on July 19 to define
Tony Blair's mission, and also cited Egypt's demand to make the Arab
Peace Initiative a basis for the international conference on Middle
East peace proposed by President Bush.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"A speech of optimism and confidence: I will be one of you, working
for your interests, breathing with the blessing of God and the
satisfaction of the people. Our steadfast Golan is in my heart and I
am sure of its return to the motherland Syria. Our priority is for
the living conditions of Syrian citizens. Commitment to the
resistance is a guarantee for the future of the nation and its
pride. Negotiations with Israel require guarantees on the
restoration of the entire Golan. National belonging that unites and
does not divide is the motto of our policy. Challenges have made us
stronger and sharpened our potentials. I call on you to be
optimistic.... Invaders will perish. We will maintain our heritage
and identity. 2007 is a decisive year, and the remaining months
will decide the future of the region and the whole world"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 7/18)
"Cousseran arrives in Damascus" (Independent al-Watan, 7/18)
"France succeeds to some extent in restoring its political
importance in the region. Damascus a sensitive phase in the
Arab-international move to solve the Lebanese crisis" (Independent
"Split among Palestinians over Bush's new proposal on peace. Ten
Palestinians injured in clashes with Egyptian security forces in
Sinai" (Independent al-Watan, 7/18)
"Arabs call for making the Arab Peace Initiative a basis for the
peace conference proposed by President Bush" (Independent al-Watan,
"France supports an international conference on final status in
Palestinian territories" (Independent al-Watan, 7/18)
"Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema warns of the negative
consequences of Western policy on Hamas" (Government-owned
"Ban Ki-Moon proposes facilitation of peace talks between Israel and
Syria" (Independent al-Watan, 7/18)
"Rice: We are ready for direct negotiations with Iran over Iraq"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 7/18)
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"Al-Asad Takes the Oath"
An unsigned commentary in government-owned Al-Ba'th said (7/18):
"President Asad took the constitutional oath for another seven-year
term in office and delivered a comprehensive speech on the domestic
situation and Syria's positions on Arab and international issues....
"President Asad did not need to recall the achievements of the past
seven years because the Syrian people made the assessment themselves
and unanimously voted for the president and pledged to support his
wise and courageous leadership....
"President Asad managed the political game wisely and competently,
foiled the wagers of 'creative chaos' and its relevant alliances,
and upset the calculations of the aggressors [on Lebanon] last
July.... Syria today begins a new stage toward further openness,
democratic participation, and the building of the institutionalized
state.... It will continue to shoulder its responsibilities and
defend national and Arab principles...."
"Political Contradictions and Banquets of Lying"
Ali Qasim, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(7/18): "There are tragic ironies in the US policy .... President
Bush stated that he rejects withdrawal from Iraq so that Hizbollah
will not prevail in Lebanon.
"In principle, the withdrawal of occupation forces from any inch of
Arab land is undoubtedly a victory for all those who reject
occupation. But for the link to be established by President Bush in
such a blatant way leaves a host of important signals for
understanding the dimensions of the American plan in the region,
whether in Iraq, Lebanon, or Palestine...."
"Will Bush Wake Up?"
Ghazi al-Dada, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(7/18): "President Bush continues to mislead the American people
and to challenge the will of the overwhelming majority of Americans
when he talks about progress in Iraq despite the horrible
destruction of that country and the growing losses among US
"We wonder if Bush will wake up, even if late, and withdraw his
troops from Iraq and leave the Iraqis to manage their own affairs by
"But even if Bush decides to follow in the footsteps of Tony Blair
and order a troop withdrawal, the Zionist circles might not allow
him to do that."