Cablegate: Syria/Israel, Syria/Rome, Asad Cbs Interview, Algeria,
DE RUEHDM #0920/01 2521253
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091253Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4152
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 7076
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4757
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3423
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7879
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1994
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5322
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1503
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7598
UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000920
DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ELA, INR/IC/CD, INR/R/MR: JPAUNESCU AND
JMCCARTER, VOA NEWS CA, NEA/PPD:CBOURGEOIS, AZAIBACK, AND DFOLEY,
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Syria/Israel, Syria/Rome, Asad CBS Interview, Algeria,
Lebanon, Iraq (9/7-9)
1. Summary: The main story in Syrian papers over the weekend was
the Israeli warplanes violation of Syrian airspace on September 6.
Government-owned Al-Thawra, the only paper to appear on September 7,
quoted a Syrian military spokesman as saying that Syrian air
defenses opened fire on the Israeli planes and forced them to leave
after dropping some of their ammunition without causing human losses
or material damage. The report said that Syria warned the Israeli
government confirming that Syria reserves the right to correspond to
this action in the appropriate way. The paper also cited Arab and
foreign condemnations of the "uncalculated Israeli adventure,"
noting that Russia condemned the Israeli "hostile act" and expressed
its deep concern over such "unacceptable" actions. Iran expressed
concern in a telephone conversation the Iranian foreign minister
held with his Syrian counterpart, condemning the Israeli act and
stressing full support for and solidarity with Syria. Arab League
Secretary General Amre Mousa urged the Quartet Committee and the
international community to deal seriously with this Israeli action
and the negative repercussions that might result from it. Papers
also featured condemnation statements made by spokespersons of
foreign ministries of Egypt, Qatar, Paris and Turkey. Chief Editor
of government-Tisheen on September 8 criticized Washington's silence
on this describing it as "the silence of tombs" on this action,
which is interpreted as a US support for the Israeli act.
On Syrian-Italian relations, papers reported VP Shara's vist to
Italy and his meetings with Italian Premier Romano Prodi, Deputy
Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alima, Chairman of the
Foreign Relations Committee at the Italian Senate Senator Lamberto
Dini and with Life Senator Julio Andreotti. In a press conference
following their meeting, Prodi said that their talks focused on
developments in the Middle East. On Lebanon, Prodi, expressed
appreciation of Lebanese Parliament Speaker, Nabih Berri's
initiative regarding the election of the forthcoming President of
Lebanon, and said that the next Lebanese president must satisfy all
spectrums of the Lebanese society. Prodi expressed anxiety over
Israeli warplanes' violation of Syrian airspace and warned that such
acts might lead to an explosion in the region. Shara praised
Italy's role in contributing positively to finding solutions to
problems of the region, adding that the Israeli provocation against
Syria was not on the agenda of the talks, and constitutes a threat
to efforts being exerted to find solutions to problems in the
region. He expressed hope that the European Union will condemn such
a provocation so that it will not be repeated.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad in a comprehensive interview with American CBS
channel: Americans do not want to acknowledge their error and look
for a scapegoat...
Things worsen and US forces will not achieve stability... The
American administration does not support any political process in
Iraq... Chaos is contagious and Syria has no interest in it... We
fought extremism when American leaders called it jihad... Hizbollah
is part of the Lebanese society and Israel daily trespasses
Lebanon... We are working for peace and reject the existence of WMD
in the region" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/9)
"A reckless Israeli adventure. A Syria military spokesman: We warn
the government and retain our right to correspond. Russia denounces
and expresses deep worry. Iran: We are fully steadfast with Syria.
Turkey: A provocative action. Shara: Israel endeavors to
aggravate tension and block possibilities of peace. Confused
answers from Israel. Washington refrains from any comment"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/7)
"Strong condemnations of the reckless Israeli infiltration continue.
The Arab League calls on the international community to deal
seriously with the breach. Cairo: increases tension. Doha: We are
steadfast with Syria. Paris: We are committed to peace. Ankara:
We are worried about this act"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 9/8)
"Shara returns from Rome after holding talks on developments in the
region: The Israeli aggression cannot be tolerated"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 9/8)
"Terrorism strikes again in Algeria. 88 killed and injured in a
suicide bomb explosion in a military barrack. Syria condemns the
terrorist attacks and calls for full support of Algerian brothers"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 9/9)
"General Petraeus, Commander of US forces in Iraq, might recommend
reduction of US forces. More than 18 US soldiers were killed in the
first week of September" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/8)
"A global BBC opinion poll: 67 % of people around the world support
a US pullout from Iraq" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/8)
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"Israeli Aggression and the Silence of Tombs"
Isam Dari, chief editor chief editor of government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (9/5): "Why did Washington refuse to comment on this Israeli
aggression? Was it because it was waiting to receive the comment
from its source, Israel, or was that in compliance with the Israeli
decision not to respond to the "Syrian accusations?
"But we will not blame the American master as long as he lacks a
free and independent policy toward anything related to the region,
and as long as the American policies on the Middle East are cooked
in the kitchens of Tel Aviv before they are marketed by the
neo-Zionists who control the American decision-making centers.
"We are not awaiting an American response, because if it comes it
will justify this piracy. Perhaps the new hostile act was
coordinated between Washington and Tel Aviv. We no longer know how
to separate the American and Israeli policies.
"With this Israeli belligerence, the leaders of Tel Aviv prove that
they are really first-class peace advocates and that they are
working to remove the tension and defuse the volatile situation!
"What is more important is that the American silence, which can only
be explained as an exposed and blatant encouragement for Israel,
proves that the American peaceful intentions are sincere! It is a
message of peace for the peoples of the region, intended to prove
that the American endeavors to bring about the hoped-for peace are
honest. And it is the prelude to the conference that George Bush,
the eternal peace lover, called for....
"How can the Bush administration host a peace meeting when it
blesses Israel's terrorism and piracy...?
Don't we have the right to ask about the motives of the new Israeli
aggression on the one hand and the suspicious American silence on
the other at this particular time when the US Administration is
promoting a 'peace meeting'?
"Is there a connection between the Israeli violation of the Syrian
airspace and the adoption by the Arab foreign ministers of a
resolution stressing the need to invite Syria and Lebanon to the
Washington meeting, if the aim of the meeting is indeed to revive
the peace process?
"Did Israel want, at the instructions of the US Administration, or
the US Administration want, upon a proposal from Israel, to justify
the failure not to invite Syria to the American-Israeli
'normalization meeting', which will see broad and significant Arab
"Despite everything, we are not surprised by the American position
or by the Israeli belligerence. This is the nature of the US
Administration and the truth of terrorist Israel...."
"Beautifying the Ugly"
Mundhir Khalil Id, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote (9/7): "President Bush twisted facts and underestimated the
intelligence of others when he spoke from Sidney about security
progress in Iraq....
"The US President is perhaps trying to suggest that he prevailed in
Iraq and that a partial withdrawal has now become possible. But the
fact is that US occupation is no longer able to stay in Iraq....
Regardless of the objectives of Bush's statements, the only fact
that remains is that the solution lies in setting a timetable for
withdrawal and leaving the affairs of the country to its people, who
saw nothing under the occupation other than tragedies and
"Until then, the Iraq nightmare will continue to haunt Bush wherever
he goes, whether in Sidney, which turned into a military base
because of his visit and the strong opposition to him, or later in
Washington, where the season of reports awaits him."