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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Greater Middle East - Iraq -

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001559

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY (FRANK); BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU;
AF/PA; EUR/WE (DEBORAH MENNUTI)/P/SP; D/C (MCCOO); EUR/PA
(BERBENA); INR/P; INR/EUC; PM; OSC ISA FOR ILN; NEA; WHITE
HOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE; DOC FOR ITA/EUR/FR AND PASS USTR/PA
(ANN LUZZATO); USINCEUR FOR PAO; NATO/PA; MOSCOW/PA; ROME/PA;
BRUSSELS/PA; USVIENNA FOR USDEL OSCE.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - GREATER MIDDLE EAST - IRAQ -
LEBANON - SYRIA
PARIS - WEDNESDAY, MARCH 09, 2005


(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

GREATER MIDDLE EAST - IRAQ - LEBANON - SYRIA

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

FRONT PAGES AND EDITORIALS ARE FOR THE MOST PART DEVOTED TO
DOMESTIC SOCIAL ISSUES SUCH AS DEMONSTRATIONS BY RESEARCHERS
TODAY AND STRIKES SCHEDULED FOR TOMORROW. LEFT-OF-CENTER LE
MONDE IS THE EXCEPTION, WITH THE HEADLINE: "THE MIDDLE EAST IS
CHANGING: SHOULD WE THANK BUSH?" THE UNSIGNED EDITORIAL TITLED
"ARAB SPRINGTIME" GRANTS PRESIDENT BUSH'S POLICY PARTIAL
CREDIT FOR THIS CHANGE. IN HER ANALYSIS, CLAIRE TREAN
DESCRIBES PARIS'S STANCE VIS-A-VIS THESE CHANGES: "FOR PARIS,
THE WAR IN IRAQ IS NOT THE DETONATOR OF THIS VIRTUOUS CHAIN OF
EVENTS." (SEE PART C)

THE SITUATION IN LEBANON IS ALSO A MAJOR STORY. MOST
COMMENTATORS NOTE THE SUCCESS OF YESTERDAY'S HEZBOLLAH-LED
DEMONSTRATION. "THIS HUGE DEMONSTRATION PROVES THAT PRO-SYRIAN
MOVEMENTS ARE VERY WELL ORGANIZED. IT ALSO PROVES HEZBOLLAH'S
NEWLY ACQUIRED CLOUT." (THOMAS DE ROCHECHOUART IN FRANCE SOIR)
IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO, COMMENTATOR ALEXANDRE ADLER
ANALYZES THE CHANGES OPERATING IN LEBANON AND ASKS: "IS IT NOT
A FACT THAT THE MIDDLE EAST IS EXPERIENCING THE PLEASURE OF
VIRTUOUS CIRCLES?" (SEE PART C)

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SEVERAL REPORTS NOTE JOHN BOLTON'S NOMINATION AS AMBASSADOR TO
THE UN. FOR LE FIGARO, "THE NOMINATION MARKS THE LIMITATIONS
OF GEORGE BUSH'S MULTILATERALISM." LE MONDE QUOTES JOHN
KERRY'S REACTION, WHILE LIBERATION TITLES ITS REPORT: "BOLTON,
AN AMERICAN HAWK FOR THE UN."

THE ASSASSINATION OF ASLAN MASKHADOV IS WIDELY REPORTED AND
NOTED AS "AN IMMENSE VICTORY FOR PUTIN." BUT COMMENTATORS WARN
AGAINST "A NEW CYCLE OF VIOLENCE IN THE REGION."

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

GREATER MIDDLE EAST - IRAQ - LEBANON - SYRIA

"ARAB SPRINGTIME"
LEFT-OF-CENTER LE MONDE IN ITS UNSIGNED EDITORIAL (03/09):
"EVENTS THESE LAST FEW WEEKS IN THE MIDDLE EAST ARE PROVING
WRONG TWO PREVIOUS ANALYSES: FIRST, THE ONE SUPPORTING A
`SHOCK BETWEEN CIVILIZATIONS' BECAUSE THE ARAB WORLD WAS
DEEMED IMPERVIOUS TO DEMOCRATIC CHANGE.; THE SECOND, PUT FORTH
BY POLITICIANS CLAIMING TO BE `REALISTS' AND WHO CONTINUED TO
SUPPORT AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES, FOR THE SAME REASONS INVOKED BY
THE PROPONENTS OF A `SHOCK BETWEEN CIVILIZATIONS...' A NUMBER
OF EVENTS (ELECTIONS IN IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, PALESTINE.) ARE ALL
SIGNS THAT THE PEOPLE OF THE MIDDLE EAST WANT TO TAKE THEIR
DESTINY IN HAND. WHILE IT BEHOOVES US TO REMAIN CAUTIOUS, THE
FACT IS THAT THIS `ARAB SPRINGTIME' MUST BE ENCOURAGED.
PRESIDENT BUSH'S MERIT LIES IN THAT HE HELD TO THIS APPROACH
IMMEDIATELY AFTER 9/11. HE DEVELOPED THE IDEA THAT THE PEOPLE
IN THE ARAB MUSLIM WORLD HAD THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY
AND PROSPERITY. HE DID NOT SAY THIS ONLY BECAUSE HE IS
ALTRUISTIC, BUT BECAUSE HE IS CONVINCED THAT SUCH AN EVOLUTION
IS IN THE BEST U.S. INTEREST. MUST WE THEN SAY THAT BUSH AND
HIS NEO-CONS CAN TAKE CREDIT FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS HAPPENING
IN THE MIDDLE EAST? CERTAINLY NOT. NEVERTHELESS, THE
EUROPEANS, WHO LOOKED ON THE GREATER MIDDLE EAST PLAN WITH
MISTRUST, CANNOT LEAVE TO THE AMERICANS THE MONOPOLY OF
DEMOCRATIC RHETORIC. WHILE THE EUROPEANS ARE RIGHT TO SAY THAT
WITHOUT A SOLUTION TO THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT THERE CAN BE NO
LASTING MODERNIZATION AND DEMOCRATIZATION, IT WOULD BE A
MISTAKE TO MAKE IT A CONDITIONAL PREAMBLE. THE TWO MUST GO
HAND IN HAND."
"FRANCE REFUTES THE `DOMINO THEORY'"
CLAIRE TREAN IN LEFT-OF-CENTER LE MONDE (03/09): "FRENCH
LEADERS NATURALLY DO NOT SHARE THE IDEA THAT THE WIND OF
CHANGE BLOWING IN THE MIDDLE EAST IS EXCLUSIVELY DUE TO
PRESIDENT BUSH'S POLICY. NO ONE IN PARIS DENIES THE INFLUENCE
WHICH WASHINGTON HAS OVER THE REGION, OR THE PRESSURE ITS
MILITARY PRESENCE IN IRAQ CAN HAVE ON OTHERS. BUT THE IDEA
THAT THE WAR IN IRAQ WAS THE DETONATOR OF A VIRTUOUS CHAIN
REACTION OF EVENTS, IS CATEGORICALLY REFUTED."

"CLARIFICATION ON LEBANON"
ALEXANDRE ADLER IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO (03/09): "IN THE
SPACE OF A WEEK, THINGS HAVE BECOME MUCH CLEARER, NOT ONLY IN
LEBANON BUT IN THE MIDDLE EAST IN GENERAL. THE MOST CLEAR-CUT
DECISION IS THE IRREVERSIBLE ONE TAKEN BY SYRIA TO EVACUATE
LEBANON. IN SPITE OF ASSAD'S TACTICS OF A PULLOUT IN TWO
PHASES. IN EFFECT, LEBANON IS TRULY FREE TO ORGANIZE
DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS, AFTER IRAQ AND PALESTINE. ONE OTHER
IMPORTANT FACTOR IS THAT IRAN, THE NEW REGIONAL HEGEMONY, IS
NOT REALLY OPPOSED TO LEBANON'S INDEPENDENCE. UN RESOLUTION
1559 INCLUDES NOT ONLY SYRIA'S WITHDRAWAL FROM LEBANON, IT
DEMANDS THE DISARMING OF HEZBOLLAH. BUT WHY CHANGE APPROACHES,
ONE FOR THE PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES, ANOTHER FOR LEBANON? WHY
NOT THE SAME STEP-BY-STEP POLICY FOR BOTH: FIRST TRULY FREE
ELECTIONS THAT WILL ERADICATE SYRIA'S SUPPORTERS, AND LATER,
MUCH LATER, DISARMING HEZBOLLAH COMPLETELY." LEACH

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