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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Syria - Assassination Of

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

131202Z Dec 05




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - Syria - Assassination of
Gebrane Tueni WTO Ministerial
PARIS - Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Syria - Assassination of Gebrane Tueni
WTO Ministerial


A number of domestic social and economic stories dominate
today's front pages, the most notable being Le Parisien and
its banner headline: "The President Answers Our Readers."
Inside, nine-pages are devoted to the President answering the
fifty questions put to him by readers in a previous issue.
Many of the questions are a follow-up to the unrest in the
suburbs last month: they deal with housing, schooling,
apprenticeship, unemployment and colonialism.

Catholic La Croix devotes its lead, "Attacks in Beirut,
Damascus in the Line of Fire" and editorial, to the
assassination yesterday of Gebrane Tueni in Beirut, while Le
Figaro titles its front-page article: "Syria Behind a New
Attack in Beirut." Liberation carries a picture of Tueni and
states underneath: "An Anti-Syrian Gunned Down in Lebanon."
(See Part C) Le Figaro interviews Gisele Khoury, a journalist
and the widow of a slain Lebanese journalist: "The Syrians are
clearly behind. The international community must investigate
these political assassinations. and also stop the negotiations
that seem to be going on with Syria behind our backs for a
political solution."

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The WTO Ministerial in Hong Kong was widely covered in the
electronic media, with a consensus about the limited chances
for success, and the growing role of NGOs. The commentator on
France 2 television said: "The NGOs outnumber the official
representatives to the conference. They may even up-stage its
official opening." Le Figaro carries several op-eds on the
negotiations. Zaki Laidi asks: "Is Europe Guilty?" (See Part
C) while the President of the Farmers Association pens an op-
ed explaining why agriculture must be taken out of trade the
negotiations. In an interview in Le Parisien, Agriculture
Minister Dominique Bussereau says: "Agriculture is not a
sector like the others. It is a highly strategic sector. Look
at the efforts the Americans are making to safeguard their
sector. France, a major player in agriculture, industry and
the service sector has always said these three sectors should
be treated on the same level." Le Monde devotes a special
section to the WTO: "A Powerless Institution." Le Monde
comments: "Ten years after its creation, the WTO has limited
means and has yet to prove its worth. Multilateralism is


Syria - Assassination of Gebrane Tueni

"At the End of the Tunnel, Freedom"
Dominique Quinio in Catholic La Croix (12/13): "Once again
terrorism has hit Lebanon, killing a Christian legislative
representative and renowned journalist. This is the thirteenth
attack since Hariri's assassination. They have all targeted
high-profile figures, who were clearly anti-Syrian. Syria is
once again in the line of fire, although it denies all
accusations. Tueni's death occurred as the UNSC was examining
the conclusions of the report on Hariri's assassination. The
interim report clearly fingered Syrian intelligence and asked
for Syria's full cooperation. Tueni's death will re-enforce
the determination of all those - the UN, Europe and the U.S.-
who want to help Lebanon free itself from all foreign
intervention. Many dream of a Lebanon where, in the midst of a
convulsing Middle East, `a miracle' of coexistence between
communities and a `miracle' of democracy are still possible.
Some are trying to kill this dream. The international
community, and France in particular, owe the Lebanese
unfailing support. As a tribute to those who have lost their
lives for a dream."
"France's Initiative at the UN"
Jean-Christophe Ploquin in Catholic La Croix (12/13): "France,
the engine leading the international community in the Syrian-
Lebanese crisis, reacted quickly and firmly to the
assassination. The terrorist violence (in Lebanon) re-enforces
the feeling in the French capital that the UNSC must pursue
the logic of resolution 1559 and the call for Lebanon's
independence. Today, France will be putting forward a new
initiative at the UN asking for the investigation into
Hariri's murder to continue despite the withdrawal of Detlev
Mehlis. Meanwhile, the message from Syria is interpreted by a
French diplomat: `You wanted Syria to withdraw? Now you have
it and the instability that goes with it.' The Lebanese are
afraid that a lack of persistence from the international
community might leave them in the midst of internal divisions
and open to influence from their powerful neighbor. This is
why France will try to get a quick answer from the UNSC about
the Mehlis report. France has been locked into a strong-arm
struggle with Syria for the past two years in its attempts to
push Syria out of Lebanon. France's biggest success in this
regard is having brought the U.S. into this endeavor. The same
diplomat offers this thought: `We convinced the U.S. that its
ambition for democracy in the Middle East could not be
convincing unless Lebanon, the Arab nation where democracy was
rooted, could not flourish.' Syria for its part was taken
short by this close coordination between France and the U.S."

"Syria's Murky Role"
Hubert Coudurier in regional Le Telegramme (12/13): "These
repeated attacks and assassinations of anti-Syrian figures are
forcing the Lebanese people to lose hope. What is making the
Syrians so certain of their impunity, after having opted for a
low profile and assured Washington of their cooperation in the
Harriri investigation? Especially just when the Mehlis report
was due? One has to wonder whether Bachir Al-Assad does not
entertain a relationship with small Islamic cells in Lebanon
that may have replaced Syria's secret service."

WTO Ministerial

"WTO: Is Europe Guilty?"
Zaiki Laidi in right-of-center Le Figaro (12/13): "Why is
everyone pointing a finger at Europe, and is this accusation
founded? The European agricultural market is four times more
protected than the U.S. market. Hence the formal offensive by
the U.S. and Brazil to get Europe to lower its tariffs. But is
Europe guilty? Liberalizing agriculture, an enviable goal,
would not benefit all developing nations. Every serious study,
whether French or American, has proven it is impossible to
evaluate the global worth of a liberalized agricultural market
simply because it all depends on the situation of each
nation." STAPLETON

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