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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Syria - Middle East

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 001684

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 - SYRIA - MIDDLE EAST
DEMOCRATIZATION IRAN
PARIS - MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2005

(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

1. SYRIA - MIDDLE EAST DEMOCRATIZATION
2. IRAN

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

SYRIA'S DECISION TO WITHDRAW FROM LEBANON AND WASHINGTON'S
SUPPORT TO THE EU-3 INITIATIVE WITH IRAN ARE TWO OF TODAY'S
MAJOR INTERNATIONAL STORIES, WITH COMMENTATORS WIDENING THEIR
SCOPE TO ANALYZE THE REALITY OF AN "ARAB SPRINGTIME." WHILE
LEFT-OF-CENTER LIBERATION ASKED ON SATURDAY'S FRONT PAGE: "AN
ARAB SPRINGTIME?" EDITORIALIST MICHEL SCHIFRES ASSERTS THE
PRESENCE OF "AN ARAB SPRINGTIME" IN LE FIGARO. BUT HE WARNS
THAT "ISLAMISTS MAY ALSO BENEFIT FROM THE DEMOCRATIZATION
PROCESS UNDERWAY." IN LE JOURNAL DU DIMANCHE GILLES DELAFON
ALSO WONDERS WHETHER "BUSH IS THE SAVIOR OF THE ARABS," IN A
COLUMN THAT NEVERTHELESS CONCLUDES THAT "THE WAR IN IRAQ,
REMAINS A POLITICAL AND MILITARY FIASCO." "STILL," SAYS
DELAFON, "THE PRAGMATISM WHICH DOMINATED PRESIDENT BUSH'S TRIP
TO EUROPE CAN ALSO BE DETECTED IN WASHINGTON'S DECISION TO
SUPPORT THE EUROPEAN INITIATIVE WITH IRAN." FOR PIERRE
ROUSSELIN IN SATURDAY'S LE FIGARO, IN DEMONSTRATING SUPPORT
FOR THE EU-3, "PRESIDENT BUSH IS HONORING HIS PROMISE MADE
WHILE HE TOURED EUROPE." FOR RADIO COMMENTATOR BERNARD GUETTA,
"BUSH IS DEFINITELY BECOMING MORE EUROPEAN." (SEE PART C)

THE EUROPEAN CONSTITUTION AND THE MAY 29 REFERENDUM ELICIT
MANY COMMENTARIES ON THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION. AS PART
OF A SERIES ON "WHAT EUROPE DO WE WANT?" LE FIGARO INTERVIEWS
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: "WITH ITS EXPANSION TO THE EAST, EUROPE HAS
PROVEN ITS ABILITY TO MANIPULATE SOFT POWER EXPANSION. BUT AS
BOB KAGAN SAYS, EUROPE WILL ALSO NEED AT TIMES TO EXERCISE ITS
HARD POWER. IN THE PAST TWO YEARS, THERE HAS BEEN A
CONFRONTATION BETWEEN TWO ERRONEOUS THESES: EUROPE'S BELIEF
THAT THE SOLE SOURCE OF INTERNATIONAL LEGITIMACY LIES WITH THE
UN. AND AMERICA'S BELIEF THAT IT WAS DOING WHAT WAS BEST FOR
THE COMMON GOOD AND THAT THE WORLD WOULD FINALLY RECOGNIZE
THIS. I THINK THAT MOST AMERICANS WANT A EUROPEAN UNION THAT
RESEMBLES THE U.S.: A FEDERATION OF STATES THAT CAN PLAY ITS
ROLE ON THE WORLD SCENE. PRESIDENT BUSH'S SECOND TERM PROVES
CLEARLY THAT THE AMERICANS SUPPORT EUROPE. AND IF THE
AMERICANS ARE PUSHING FOR TURKEY'S EU MEMBERSHIP, IT IS NOT TO
WEAKEN EUROPE BUT TO STRENGTHEN TURKEY. TURKEY IS AN ESSENTIAL
ELEMENT TO COUNTER THE TERRORIST THREAT AND THE CULTURAL
DIVISIONS THAT FOLLOWED 9/11. IN ORDER TO DEFUSE THE DYNAMIC
OF THE WORST, WE MUST INVENT IN MUSLIM NATIONS AN EQUIVALENT
TO CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY."

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

SYRIA - MIDDLE EAST DEMOCRATIZATION

"AN ARAB SPRINGTIME"
PIERRE ROUSSELIN IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO (03/14):
"SYRIA'S DECISION TO PULLOUT FROM LEBANON MUST BE APPLAUDED.
IT MARKS THE SUCCESS OF INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE ON SYRIA AND
EMPHASIZES THE ROLE PLAYED BY THE LEBANESE PEOPLE. SYRIA'S
PULLOUT WILL NOT RESOLVE EVERYTHING, IF ONLY BECAUSE BACHAR EL-
ASSAD HAS NOT GIVEN UP ON CONTINUING TO INFLUENCE LEBANON'S
POLITICAL PROCESS. SIMILARLY, THE AMERICANS WILL NOT BE DONE
WITH HIM. THEY SUSPECT HE FACILITATES BORDER CROSSING INTO
IRAQ FOR ARMED MEN WHOSE PURPOSE IS TO FIGHT AGAINST THE
COALITION. WHETHER THIS IS A COINCIDENCE OR A CONSEQUENCE,
SYRIA'S DECISION IS COMING ON THE HEELS OF A WAR IN IRAQ AND
THE TOPPLING OF SADDAM HUSSEIN. SO MUCH SO THAT WASHINGTON IS
PREDICTING AN `ARAB SPRINGTIME.' AS A CONSEQUENCE OF ITS
STRATEGY AND THE CONFIRMATION THAT THE VIRUS OF DEMOCRACY HAS
SPREAD, ALL OF WHICH MARKS THE BEGINNING OF BUSH'S GREATER
MIDDLE EAST. IT WOULD BE VISCERALLY ANTI-AMERICAN NOT TO SEE
THE ROLE PLAYED BY WASHINGTON IN THIS PROGRESS. ALL THE
SIGNALS ARE ENCOURAGING, INCLUDING WASHINGTON'S LARGER ROLE IN
THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT. BUT NOTHING PROVES THAT THE
DEMOCRATS WILL COME OUT WINNING. THEY ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES
THAT CAN BENEFIT FROM THESE CHANGES. SO CAN THE ISLAMISTS. THE
WORST WOULD BE IF THIS DEMOCRATIC IMPROVEMENT LED TO THE
SUCCESS OF FUNDAMENTALISM."

"BURGEONING"
PATRICK SABATIER IN LEFT-OF-CENTER LIBERATION (03/12): "FOR
TOO LONG WESTERN POWERS, WITH FRANCE IN THE LEAD, HAVE GIVEN
THEIR SUPPORT TO THE STATUS QUO IN THE ARAB WORLD. BEN LADEN
HAS OPENED THE EYES OF THE WORLD TO THE PERILS OF POLITICAL
IMMOBILITY AND THE CORRUPTION WHICH SPUR ISLAMIC TERRORISM.
THIS IS WHY WE MUST REJOICE IN THE MOVEMENT THAT IS TAKING
PLACE, FROM IRAQ TO EGYPT, LEBANON, SAUDI ARABIA AND PALESTINE
AND WHICH PRESIDENT BUSH SALUTES AS A `WIND OF FREEDOM.' IT IS
TOTALLY DIFFERENT TO SAY THAT THIS ANNOUNCES AN `ARAB
SPRINGTIME.' THE DOMINO THEORY WOULD BE DANGEROUS IF IT WERE
USED IN REVERSE TO LEGITIMIZE THE WAR IN IRAQ. NOTHING
GUARANTEES THAT DEMOCRACY WILL SOON FLOURISH IN THE ARAB
WORLD. IT CAN JUST AS WELL GIVE SOME BITTER FRUIT. IN THE
MIDDLE EAST IT OPENS THE DOOR TO CERTAIN SHIITE MINORITIES,
AND TO THE PROPONENTS OF AN ISLAMIZATION OF SOCIETY. THIS
MEANS THAT DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS MAY NOT DO ANY BETTER IN
TERMS OF LIBERTIES AND DEVELOPMENT. AN ELECTION DOES NOT MAKE
A DEMOCRACY."

"BUSH, SAVIOR OF THE ARABS?"
GILLES DELAFON IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE JOURNAL DU DIMANCHE
(03/13): "SOME KEEP SAYING `BUSH WAS RIGHT.' THE WIND OF
DEMOCRACY IS BLOWING IN THE MIDDLE EAST. WHILE WASHINGTON CAN
LEGITIMATELY CONSIDER ITSELF RESPONSIBLE FOR STIRRING UP A
HORNETS' NEST, IT WOULD BE PRESUMPTUOUS AND CERTAINLY
PREMATURE TO CONSIDER ITSELF THE SOLE FATHER OF THE MOVEMENT.
IF ONE LOOKS CLOSELY AT THE CHANGES IN THE REGION, THE
PROGRESS OWES MORE TO THE ARAB POPULATION THAN TO THEIR
AMERICAN BENEFACTOR. IN ORDER TO GIVE SUPPORT TO THIS
POLITICAL PROGRESS, WE MUST BE CAREFUL NOT TO MANIPULATE IT.
THE PROCESS WILL BE A LONG ONE: IRAQ IS STILL A POLITICAL AND
MILITARY FIASCO, AND IN LEBANON, HEZBOLLAH'S ROLE GIVES AN
INDICATION OF WHAT MUST STILL BE OVERCOME. NEVERTHELESS,
PRESIDENT BUSH CAME TO EUROPE LAST MONTH WITH A MORE PRAGMATIC
APPROACH. THIS SAME PRAGMATISM HAS DICTATED WASHINGTON'S
SUPPORT TO EUROPE'S INITIATIVE WITH IRAN."

IRAN

"THE EUROPEANS AND THE IRANIAN CHALLENGE"
PIERRE ROUSSELIN IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO (03/12):
"PRESIDENT BUSH HAS HONORED THE PROMISE HE MADE TO THE
EUROPEANS DURING HIS RECENT TRIP. THE U.S. IS GOING TO SUPPORT
EUROPE'S INITIATIVE WITH TEHERAN. THIS TRANSATLANTIC
COMPROMISE WAS NECESSARY. WHILE IT MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TO BRING
ABOUT IRAN'S REGIME, IT DOES GIVE A CHANCE TO DIPLOMACY AND NO
ONE WILL BE ABLE TO SAY THAT PRESIDENT BUSH BELIEVES ONLY IN
THE USE OF FORCE. THE WEST IS WORKING HAND IN HAND. AND
TEHERAN IS SENSITIVE TO INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE. WHILE
WASHINGTON'S NEW ATTITUDE WILL NOT BE ENOUGH TO MAKE IRAN
CHANGE ITS POSITION, IT WILL KEEP THE NEGOTIATIONS GOING. THE
THREE EUROPEAN COUNTRIES HAVE A MAJOR ROLE TO PLAY, VIS-A-VIS
WASHINGTON AND IRAN: CONVINCING BOTH PARTIES THAT A NEGOTIATED
OUTCOME IS BEST FOR ALL. THE U.S. IS TOO HEAVILY COMMITTED IN
IRAQ TO OFFER A CREDIBLE MILITARY OPTION CONCERNING IRAN. THIS
EXPLAINS THE AMERICANS' NEW ATTITUDE. THE NEGOTIATIONS WILL BE
LONG AND DIFFICULT. BUT CONSIDERING THE IRANIAN REGIME'S KEY
ROLE IN THE REGION, FROM LEBANON TO AFGHANISTAN, AN OUTCOME
CAN BE GUARANTEED ONLY IF IRAN IS REINSERTED IN THE REGIONAL
POLITICAL ARENA." LEACH #

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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