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Cablegate: Bilal, Baath Party, Palestinian Territories, Lebanon,

VZCZCXYZ0016
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0801/01 2191326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071326Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3995
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 7025
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4707
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3369
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7836
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1938
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5265
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1467
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7562

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000801

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: Bilal, Baath Party, Palestinian Territories, Lebanon,
Iraq, Rice Visit, US/Lebanon (8/3-6)

1. Summary: Syrian papers on August 4 featured a lecture by
Information Minister Muhsen Bilal saying that the US project
currently aims at lessening the value of victories achieved by the
Lebanese resistance and imposing its schemes on Palestine, Iraq and
other countries with the aim of seizing the region's treasures and
resources. In his lecture, Bilal noted the important role of mass
media to unveil facts to international public opinion, underlining
the necessity of raising the j
ust Arab causes on the different
platforms abroad. He accused the US of practicing a very dangerous
policy in the region by sending huge military supplies to Israel
saying that it aggravates tension in the region and destabilizes it.


Papers on August 5 featured a statement on August 4 by Assistant
Regional Secretary of the Baath Party Mohammad Saiid Bkhaitan
affirming that Syria will remain the prime defender of national
causes despite all circumstances, attacks and pressures. In a party
meeting in Hama, Bkheitan stated that President Asad clarified the
course of action regarding internal and external issues in his
oath-taking speech, and that the Regional Leadership has devised a
preliminary plan for implementing that course of action. Bkheitan
also pointed out to the Party's role in guaranteeing national unity
and confronting challenges and external pressures that target the
nation's interests, stating that the party's agenda focuses on
social services and the enhancement of the role of public and
charity organizations in the development process.

Independent al-Watan on August 4 published an interview with Ahmad
Jibril, Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine-General Command, in which he discusses Palestinian
developments blaming the leaders of the Palestinian security
agencies for the incidents that led to the HAMAS takeover of Gaza.
He criticizes the policies of President Mahmud Abbas and his refusal
to hold dialogue with HAMAS. He stresses that the United States has
nothing to offer Palestinians as it draws up its policy in the
region in a way that only serves Israel's interests.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"Information Minister Bilal: Events have proven the soundness of
the Syrian position" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 8/4)

"Assistant Regional Secretary of the Baath Party Mohammad Bkhaitan:
Boosting the party's work is a national necessity" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 8/5)

"An Israeli report: The war in Golan will erupt at the beginning of
November" (Independent al-Watan, 8/5)

"The UN Fact-Finding Commission, investigating the Israeli practices
in the occupied territories, visits the liberated city of Quneitira.
Facts prove the dangerous Israeli practices against Syrian citizens
in Golan" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/4)

"Israel continues to detain Syrian journalist Farhat. The Foreign
Ministry criticizes Israeli violations in occupied Golan"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/3)

"Bahrain: Syria's role is important for Peace" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 8/4)

"Hizbollah SecGen Nasrallah addresses the Lebanese: We want a
government to lead the state not a bank or a company. The
resistance's weapon is for defending Lebanon and is discussed within
the framework of a national defense strategy. The US policy leads a
team to monopolize authority and commit follies. Some Lebanese are
ashamed of allying with the resistance that liberated Lebanon and
not ashamed of living in Israeli camps" (Government-owned Tishreen,
8/4)

"Lebanese national factions continue to condemn US intervention in
Lebanon. Official results of Lebanese elections to be announced
today. Candidate of Al-Tayyar al Watani al Hurr is about to win"

(Government-owned Tishreen, 8/6)

"Fateh al-Islam fighters shell an electrical plant in Tripoli,
Lebanon" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/3)

"Four US soldiers killed, two injured in Baghdad. Iraqi Premier
al-Maliki rejects the resignation of two ministers from the
Reconciliation Front. President Bush tries to solve the crisis by
telephone and urges the Iraqi senior officials to make the political
operation a success" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/6)

"Thirteen US soldiers killed in the first days of August.Iraqi
Premier al-Maliki rules out the withdrawal of the occupation before
5 years" Government-owned Tishreen, 8/5)

"Abbas is to meet Olmert today to prepare for the New York
Conference" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/6)

"An Arab committee to resume dialogue between Fatah and Hamas"
(Independent al-Watan, 8/6)

"Israeli troops reoccupy the destroyed Gaza airport and assassinate
Al-Jihad leader in Nablus" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/4)

"Lebanese Opposition factions hold the current authority team
responsible for the continuing crisis. Speaker of Lebanese
Parliament Berri warns against making presidential elections a card
in the regional conflict" (Government-owned Tisheen, 8/5)

"Tehran welcomes independence of EU decision-making from American
policy" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 8/5)

"Moratinos reiterates the importance of finding a solution to the
Arab-Israeli conflict" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/3)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

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

"Arab Declarations of Indulging Israel"

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

Isam Dari, chief editor of government-owned Tishreen, wrote (8/4):
"Miss Rice came to the region like a storm, hitting here and
threatening there. She returned without declared positive results
but with a rich basket of secret results....

"If the State Department chief says she did not come to the region
to market Bush's call for the public relations and normalization
meeting that will be held in the United States next month, why then
did she come...?

"Secretary Rice, who a year ago installed herself as a midwife to
bring the New Middle East out of the womb of war, destruction, and
blood in the American aggression on Lebanon, which was implemented
by Israeli hands, knows that this American plan, which suffered a
serious setback, is the lifeline for the US Administration, and, if
realized, will serve as the Republicans' powerful election card in
the face of the rising Democrats in the forthcoming election.

"Next year is an election year. The Republican Party, which handed
its keys to the neoconservatives, has begun to realize the grave
mistake it made. The Bush administration is sinking in problems it
fabricated over the past six years and seven months, from
Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and the occupied Palestinian territories
to the home front where Bush's popularity is in the mire and the
Congress is lying in wait for Bush's administration.

"Faced with all these setbacks, the US Administration finds itself
in need of a foreign victory, any victory, even if fictitious or on
the media level, to redress its wounds, improve its ugly image at
home and abroad, and present to the Republican Party, which has
begun to grumble and level public criticism, a card it can use in
the hot election season....

"The set scenario is based on the following: Preparing the
atmosphere in the region for the revival of the new Middle East plan
by confronting the countries and forces that were behind sending the
plan to the intensive care unit, primarily Syria, Hizbollah, and
Iran. Rice explicitly announced this when she said that the
objective behind the arming of some Arab countries and Israel is to
confront this steadfast triangle.
"Rice forgot that the Arabs cannot get involved in such a crime no
matter how strong "allies" to the United States they might be and
regardless of the extent of their commitment to the American
dictates and irrespective of how far they go in their relations with
Israel and their normalization with it....

"The fall meeting in Washington wants the Arabs to grant Israel
retail and wholesale declarations of indulgence. It wants them to
offer warm handshakes and embraces and perhaps reconciliation and
normalization. All this without a price, and let peace and its
people go to hell!

This is part of the scenario. The hidden part is graver and more
dangerous. Arabs -- or at least some of them -- are unmindful of
what is happening, or are riding on this American storm. Are we
going to wake up before the axe falls on the head?"

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

"A Pitiful Policy Run by a Superpower"

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

Hanan Hamad, a columnist in government-owned Tishreen, wrote (7/4):
"Here is one of the mockeries of the current world order management:
The president of the world's strongest power declares war on
individuals with unknown names, and under fictitious excuses, and
promotes this war using resounding expressions like 'national state
of emergency' to confront an alleged threat, not to the country that
Bush's futile policy converted from a safe haven attracting the
dreams of lovers of beauty and luxury to a powder keg ready to go
off at any moment after decades of Israeli occupation and
destruction, but to a certain individual whom Washington summed up
with all the slogans of democracy, legitimacy, and stability.

"In his decision, which--as analysts and observers described it--was
a surprise in its significance and timing, Bush declared a 'national
state of emergency' to confront the threat that Lebanon is facing
and ordered a freeze on the assets in the United States of any
individual threatening stability in Lebanon and supporting what he
called the return of the Syrian domination to the country!

"Further explaining the justifications for the draconian decision,
the White House spokesman said: 'The president signed this decision
because Lebanon's sovereignty and the democratic establishments in
that country are under growing threat.' The State Department deputy
spokesman, however, was more explicit when he said that the decision
mainly targets Syria and Iran, which are supporting efforts to
destabilize Lebanon's government. He was more elaborate when he
named the person targeted by this American protection. He said:
Bush's decision stems from our desire to make sure we are doing
everything we can to support the democratic forces in Lebanon,
including Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and his government.

"It is no longer astonishing to see the US foreign policy being
dwarfed under Bush's administration from the policy of a superpower
with the responsibility of maintaining world stability to a policy
interested only in maintaining the posts of specific individuals who
were blinded by the desire for power and so lost their national
pride and turned into tools in the hands of an administration living
its last days and hoping to escape from its major crises.

"But the more important question is: Where was the national state
of emergency when Lebanon was coming under a brutal aggression that
spared none of its human and material components in July and August
2006? Has the stability of the Saniora government become more
important than the stability of Lebanon and the region? The answer
is known, and it was carried by Rice and her colleague Gates in

their latest visit."

Corbin

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