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Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Turkey, Lebanon,

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DE RUEHDM #6687/01 3621436
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 281436Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6368
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 5687
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 3591
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2050
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 6834
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 0674
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4186
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0421
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 6572

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 006687

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ARN, INR/IC/CD, INR/S:STHIBEAULT, AND
JMCCARTER, VOA NEWS CA, NEA/PPD:CBOURGEOIS, DBENZE AND
AFERNANDEZ, IIP/G/NEA-SA RWINCHESTER
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Turkey, Lebanon,
Palestinian Territories, Iraq (12/28)
1. Summary: Syrian papers today highlighted President Asad's
interview with Turkish TV Sky News. President Asad said that
Syrian-Turkish ties are progressing in a constant and firm

way and there is a conviction among Turkish institutions,
and many countries, that what is happening to Syria now is
unfair and that these pressures are for political
objectives.

Talking about the economic aspects of ties with Turkey, Asad
noted that the economic treaties were of course moving
forward although sometimes there might be obstacles due to
bureaucratic mechanisms either in Syria or Turkey, saying
that these obstructions might sometimes delay
implementation.

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Asad said Turkish policies have moved towards openness
regarding neighboring countries for many years and Syria did
not feel any change in content.

Asad said that Turkey made a very courageous suggestion
regarding the UN International Investigation Commission
questioning Syrian officials, noting that Turkey offered the
site of Ghazi Eintab to hold the inquires there while no
other state made a similar offer, which we appreciate, and
added that he does not believe that a change in ties between
Turkey and Syria might have led to such a suggestion.

"The Turkish suggestion was not accepted by the UNIIC but
Syria approved it and considered it very good," Asad said.

On the two Mehlis reports, Asad said "by all means we have
notes on the first and second reports, and perhaps we have
conclusions. The report is a narrative of meetings with
persons, real and false witnesses, but in the end, the
report said it is not over. The most serious outcome was
that each report, which was not final, became the basis for
UNSC decisions."

Agreeing that what is happening in Lebanon puts
international pressure on Syria, Asad said "Yes, the truth
is that the issue is clearly political and has no relation
to the criminal actions taking place in Lebanon," noting
that "what we expect is that the report would be
professional, and that means to learn in the end who
committed the crime of killing Hariri."

"We in Syria think that when this report reaches the final
result, it will acquit Syria, that is, if it is objective,
and free of political pressure. But regarding finger
pointing at Syria, I have said before, of course we reject
these accusations and condemn these crimes," Asad said.

Asad emphasized that Hariri was a friend of Syria and was
cooperative with her till the end, noting that he had made
statements to this effect, although those who accuse Syria
say that Syria threatened him on the subject of the
extension of Lahoud. Asad countered that Hariri responded to
the Syrian demand and that means Hariri had no position
against Syria to say that he had differences with her."

"I previously declared in a clear way that if there was a
Syrian involved in any criminal action of these operations,
he would be tried. This is, as I said in a previous
interview, considered treason in Syrian law," Asad said.

On democratic reform in Syria, Asad added that it is
impossible to say that this development must be rapid,
because the issue is related to human and financial
capabilities, as well as the political conditions the region
and Syria are passing through.

"We are under siege in everything; in technology, even the
companies that might help us in the process of development
are being prevented from coming to Syria," President Asad
elaborated.

On the US occupation of Iraq and the border issue, Asad said

that Syria has an interest in controlling borders
independent of the US demand, adding that the Syrian-Iraqi
borders are an old problem.

"Syria has adopted procedures to control borders with Iraq,
but if you look into the other side of the borders, you will
notice that there no US and Iraqi measures to do likewise,"
the President added.
On relations with the Iraqi people, Asad said that the
Iraqis understand Syria's stance and know very well that
Syria has no relation to terrorist infiltration into Iraq.

"Terrorists are coming from other states, but the accusation
comes to Syria... internationally, there has been more
understanding of Syria's stance during recent months,
particularly after the issuance of the first and second
reports on Lebanon. So our image now is better than before;
political games can't continue when they are based on
illusions. They are ephemeral," Asad said.

On Iraq's future and the elections, the President said that
its future depends on the constitution and what is proposed
regarding federalism.
"We consider that the essence is the unity of Iraq, the
essence of future... the essence of the region's future is
not only Iraq, but Syria, Turkey and the other states, and
even remote countries, whose future and stability depend on
the future of Iraq," President Asad noted.

"Any federalism built on a sectarian or racial basis will
lead to sedition in Iraq, or to the instigation of public
disorder among Iraqis... If there is a need or necessity for
federalism in Iraq, it should be based only on a national
factor," the President added.

On the Syrian view of the Kurdish issue inside Syria,
President Asad said "Kurds are a basic part of our social
body in our region. This part is not artificial, but we
should disentangle terrorist acts and extremist parties from
the Kurdish issue."

On the peace process, the President noted that we don't see
any interest on the part of the Israeli government, or any
popular Israeli inclination to peace.

"Syria is still committed to the peace process based on the
UN and Security Council resolutions... The current US
administration doesn't show any interest or wish for peace,
particularly on the Syrian track," Asad said.

He added that if the third party (the US) and the Israeli
party are not interested in the peace process, we don't
expect there will be any serious move soon.

In this context, Asad expressed support for a Turkish role
in this issue.

On Iran, the President said that Iran has the right to
possess nuclear materials for peaceful purposes, but
wondered what about the Israeli nuclear weapons...

"Syria's permanent stance is to make the Middle East a WMD-
free zone. Syria submitted a proposal in 2003 to the UN
Security Council to free the region from (WMD)," President
Asad added.
End summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"In a comprehensive interview with Turkish TV Sky News,
President Asad: Our relations with Turkey are progressing in

a constant and firm way. The most serious outcome was that
each report, which was not final, became the basis for UNSC
decisions. Any federalism built on sectarian or racial
basis, will lead to sedition in Iraq. We do not see a US and
Israeli interest in the peace process. We are proceeding
with the reform process; it will not stop" (Government-owned
Al-Ba'th, 12/28)
"Hizbollah and Palestinian factions deny firing katousha
missiles to the north of occupied Palestine" (Government-
owned Tishreen, 12/28)

"Two US pilots and one marine killed near Baghdad. Iraqi
demonstrations continue in rejection of the election
results" (Government-owned Tishreen, 12/28)

"Israeli occupation forces shell northern Gaza and ignore
random settlements. The Palestinian Authority rejects voting
without Jerusalem even if elections are postponed and calls
on Palestinian factions to adopt a similar position"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 12/28)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"Memories of a Passing Year"
Omar Jaftali, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (12/28): "It is regrettable that Arab solidarity was
in its worst shape in 2005, with every Arab country giving
its individual interest precedence over the collective
interests of the Arab nation.... Even the Palestinian cause
is no longer among the priorities of the Arab nation..."
"The fabricated international crisis with Syria then came as
an opportunity for the Arabs to evade their duty and the
remaining sense of nationalism, although everybody knows
that Syria is paying the price of its national and pan-Arab
positions, and that everyone is targeted by the Greater
Middle East conspiracy and the American-Zionist plan against
the entire region.
"The degeneration and shallow thinking of some Lebanese, for
example, drove them to launch a campaign against the Arab
League SecGen for his effort to improve Syrian-Lebanese
relations.... They are publicly calling for
internationalization instead of Arabization. They are
pinning their hopes and the ambitions of their suspicious
leaderships on the American factor in particular and the
Western factor in general.
"We hope that 2006 will be a better year for Arab
solidarity."
"Colombo and Revelation of Truth"
Isam Dari, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
commented (12/28): "What is more astonishing is the calls
unleashed by Lebanese political and media quarters
identified with a very well-known bloc calling for an end to
the Syrian media campaign against Lebanon. What is even more
astonishing is the lie by this bloc that Syria is behind the
assassinations in Lebanon, a lie that drove some Lebanese
leaders to ask help from other Lebanese parties and from the
outside world to get Syria to stop the assassinations. With
regard to the assassinations, the political bankruptcy of
this bloc made it imagine things that happen only in
Hollywood's science fiction movies....
"The heroes of this bloc showed exceptional skills in
identifying the culprits immediately after every
assassination and installing themselves as judges and
issuing irreversible verdicts, as they consider themselves
the exclusive agents of the American master, the patron of
the international school of lies, which justifies wars based
on lies....
"The call for ending the Syrian media campaign is
ludicrous.... The media machine of this Lebanese bloc has
been involved in a vicious and unprecedented media campaign

against Damascus for the past 10 months, while the Syrian
media were silent. But they proceeded with their dirty
campaign and even encroached upon the symbols of Syria.
Things came to a head and the Syrian media had to react, not
to respond to the trivialities and the rancorous campaigns,
but to expose the champions of this bloc and the grave and
malicious objectives of this campaign, which serves nothing
but the American Greater Middle East plan and the Zionist
project...."
"In the Heart of Israeli Strategy"
Muhammad Ali Buza, an editorialist in government-owned Al-
Thawra, said (12/28): "The Lebanese Druze leader Walid
Jumblat, through his campaign against the Arab League SecGen
for his efforts to end the Syrian-Lebanese tension, has
divorced Arabism and is now in the heart of the Israeli-
American strategy.
"Jumblat has showed his real self as a sick man driven by
complexes and a stupid opportunist who does not master the
art of politics and the reading of history as much as he
masters the language of street profanities, forging facts,
trading in blood, rendering services paid for generously and
in advance to the new masters at home and abroad, playing
the exposed set role in the management of the crisis, and
dragging Lebanon and the Lebanese into the traps of sedition
and the conspiracy of internationalization and trusteeship.
"Jumblat and his brokers and those who falsely raise the
slogans of freedom and independence in Lebanon are not
interested in knowing the truth about the Al-Hariri
assassination or receiving any Arab official or initiative
to correct relations between Lebanon and Syria.... They are
interested in receiving Condaleeza Rice, US Ambassador
Feltman, and other figures of trusteeship, interference, and
internationalization. They are interested in opening the
country's doors wide for the CIA, Mosad and their agents.
They are interested in receiving instructions and guidance,
and indeed implementing them on the ground, to lead Lebanon
astray, drown it in fires and chaos, strip it of the
resistance card and weapons, and besiege Syria as a prelude
to marketing the Greater Middle East plan in the region...."
Seche

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