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Cablegate: Media Play - Iraq - 4/11/03

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000650

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR INR/R/MR, I/RW, I/REC; PA SA/INS (FOR JWALLER)
DEPT ALSO FOR SA/PD (FOR LJIRWIN, LSCENSNY, WREINCKENS); SSA/PAB

E.O. 12358: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OPRC KMDR OIIP CE
SUBJECT: MEDIA PLAY - IRAQ - 4/11/03


1. In Sri Lanka the 4/11 front pages anticipate -- and
celebrate -- a conclusion to the conflict in Iraq. They
also ponder post-war scenarios. "America to hoist flag of
victory very soon" says a Sinhala daily. "Pentagon
studying whether to announce end of war" and "100 Iraqi
tanks in American custody" says a Tamil front page.
Another Tamil daily says "Mystery continues about Saddam's
existence," while a third reports that "U.S. targets Syria
for helping the Saddam family escape from Iraq." In other
reports regarding post-war scenarios an English daily says
"Bush vows Iraqi people will regain control of Iraq" and a
Tamil front page says "Saddam's reign in Iraq ends --
Efforts to establish Interim Administration."

2. Of the many front-page pix that accompanied these
headlines pride of place is given to the destruction of
Saddam statues. "Slipper treatment to Saddam statue" reads
a typical Sinhala caption, while an English caption says
"U.S. Marine covers the face of a stature of ... Saddam ...
with a U.S. flag."

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3. Editorial comment continues to be scarce: only one
daily, the ISLAND (opposition English daily) comments.
Under the headline "Post war challenges," the ISLAND
wonders whether American post war policies will "win back
the support and confidence of the rest of the world,
particularly the Third World on which they would have to
count ... in combating international terrorism...."
Excerpts follow:

"America may have grand designs for setting up a pro-
western democratic regime in Iraq but this is an extremely
difficult task. Ruthless dictatorships of Saddam Hussein
and those before him held the fractious Sunni, Shiite
Muslims and the rebellious Kurds under one regime. Whether
an emergent democratic regime could hold the country
together as the dictators did is much in doubt.

"Even more important is American intentions. Their
continued presence in Iraq will be opposed not only by
Iraqis but the entire Arab world. The American-British
triumph will be viewed by all Arabs as a defeat for Arabs
and Islamic nations. The Arab resentment could, as Hosni
Mubarak said at the commencement of this war: Produce a
thousand bin Ladens.

"Americans, however, are unlikely to bow out like good
knights after having slain the dragon. Already there is
saber rattling in the Pentagon where the hawks are saying
that what happened in Iraq is a good lesson for `rogue
nations' like Syria, Iran and North Korea.... If the
United States does target Syria and Iran ... the
repercussions are unforeseeable.

"If the Americans want to win back the support and
confidence of the rest of the world, particularly the Third
World on which they would have to count on in combating
international terrorism, much would depend on their post
war policies on Iraq."

WILLS

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