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Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Iran, Syria/Agha Khan

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #2899/01 1700647
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 190647Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9737
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6037
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 3896
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2417
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7096
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1083
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4471
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0694
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 6833

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 002899

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/Iran, Syria/Agha Khan
Foundation, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestinian Territories (6/16-18)

1. Summary: Syrian papers on (6/16) reported President Asad's
meeting with Syrian official media figures. President Asad
discussed on Thursday (6/15) with representatives of the
government-run media the role of information, and mechanisms and
conceptions that might contribute to its development. Minister
of Information Dr. Mohsen Bilal attended the meeting. Among the
topics of the meetings were the importance of initiatives from
those working in the media, of encouraging dialogue, of
constructive criticism, and of solutions to obstructions to
media action. The gathering touched upon the need to invest in
the information sector, to clarify Syria's interior and exterior
media policies and to pay attention to the preparation and
qualification of media professionals.

Papers also reported President Asad's meeting with Ismaili
spiritual leader Prince Karim Agha Khan, which focused on the
current investment climate of in Syria. Talks also dealt with
future projects of the Agha Khan network in Syria. President
Asad and Prince Karim also discussed the local, regional and
international economies, according to a Presidential
statement. The Agha Khan Foundation for Development recently
established a national institution for small loans in Syria,
considered the first in the Middle East. The foundation has made
about 900 million SP of loans to about 15 thousand persons. The
spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims is the head of a large
network of charitable foundations and companies that operate
mostly in the third world.

On Syrian-Iranian relations, papers reported that General Hasan
Turkumani, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Armed
Forces and Defense Minister, and his Iranian counterpart,
Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, have signed a
memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation between Syria
and Iran. The memorandum provides for bolstering relations
between the two countries; maintaining peace, security, and
stability in the region; freeing the region from weapons of mass
destruction; and conclusively eliminating tension and
instability. The memorandum also provides for strengthening
defense cooperation, speeding up the implementation of relevant
agreements and contracts, and setting up a joint committee to
follow up and implement joint efforts and consolidate
cooperation on defense issues. The Iranian Defense Minister
stressed that Syria and Iran are two important countries in the
region and the Islamic world. He pointed out that relations
between Tehran and Damascus could serve as a model for Islamic
countries in all fields.

End of Summary.


2. Selected Headlines:

"President Asad discusses current climate of investment in Syria
and future projects with Prince Karim Agha Khan. Talks also touch
upon local, regional and international economic situations"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 6/18)

"Lebanese MPs and figures criticize movements by foreign
Ambassadors against the background of revelation of the Mossad
network: They serve Israeli interests" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 6/18)

"In light of confessions by members of the Mossad network
arrested in Lebanon, Lebanese fear the extent of Israeli
penetration. The case will be referred to the Security Council.
Lahoud: Israel seeks revenge against the Lebanese resistance"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 6/17)

"The Palestinian dialogue makes progress. The EU approves aid to
Palestinians. Palestinians consider it insufficient" (Government-
owned Tishreen, 6/18)

"Finally, a European mechanism for helping Palestinians awaits
the Quartet's approval. Israeli calls for coordination with
Abbas. Fatah casts doubts on Israeli intentions" (Government-
owned Tishreen, 6/17)


"Italy commences withdrawal of its forces from Iraq. A US soldier
killed, two reported missing in Iraq" (Government-owned Tishreen,
6/16)


"American annoyance at the Italian withdrawal from Iraq. 11
Iraqis killed, 25 injured in the Baghdad blast" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 6/17)

"President Asad discusses role of state and society in the
current reform process with Assistant Secretary General of UNDP.
Asad calls for pursuing objectivity and credibility" (Government-
owned Tishreen, 6/16)

"A memo of understanding for defense cooperation is inked between
Syria and Iran. Minister of Defense Tourkmani depicts relations
with Iran as strategic, saying that Iran's force is an asset for
us" (Government-owned Tishreen, 6/16)

"Revealing the Mossad network in Lebanon boosts the Lebanese
resistance. Lahoud: Investigations are continuing and saboteurs
will be punished" (Government-owned Tishreen, 6/16)


3. Editorial Block Quotes:

-------------

"Losing Bets"

-------------

Isam Dari, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
commented (6/17): "The situations in Afghanistan and Iraq prove
the failure of the US policy drawn up by neoconservatives....

"It is obvious that the US Administration has not learned from
the mistakes it has made in more than one place in the world,
from Somalia to Afghanistan to Iraq. The evidence is that it
continues to adopt the same military-political approach....
Despite the American failure, the US Administration continues to
rely on the same theories, from Iraq to Palestine to Lebanon,
and seeks to plunge the Arab region into unconstructive
instability to please Israel and its expansionist plan and to
serve the Greater Middle East plan....
"Washington, either out of ignorance or arrogance, does not take
into consideration the factor of peoples, who have managed to
stand fast and foil foreign plans.... The Bush administration
today knows that it failed in its wagers on isolating Syria, and
it will perhaps find out soon that it is unable to subjugate
Syria or ignore the central role that Damascus plays in the
region's security and stability, and that dialogue is the only
way to solve all problems and differences...."


---------------------------------------

"Such Desecration Requires A Response"

---------------------------------------

Muhammad Ali Buzah, an editorialist in government-owned Al-
Thawra, wrote (6/16): "Washington's sadistic and despicable
justification of the Israeli massacre on the Gaza beach and
subsequent crimes means that there is no longer any hope or
positive sign that the Bush administration will act rationally
and turn, during its remaining time in office, into a fair
mediator, a factor of peace, stability and calm, or a supporter
of justice in this troubled and volatile part of the world or
elsewhere....

"The US Administration has sold itself out to the devil and
become, just like Israel, a factor of tension, explosion, and
unrest and an enemy that harbors every evil for this Arab
nation; it effectively participates in aggression against our

nation and in crimes that seek to annihilate it and regularly
violate its sanctities....

"This situation must not remain without an Arab response....
What we need today, more than ever before, is the formulation of
a unified strategy and pan-Arab action capable of causing shock
and upsetting the equations of balance and the plans and
calculations of the enemies. This cannot be achieved without the
adoption and use of the other options, as an alternative to the
failure and futility of politics and as support for the peace
option, which is dead as far as Israel and the United States are
concerned. These other options are numerous, diversified, and
painful to those who loved the game of gratuitous death,
belligerence, violation of international law, bargaining,
blackmail, and bloodshed, and who believed they could get away
with their appalling crimes for ever and avoid the legitimate
response and punishment."

-----------------------

"Why Relieve Israel?"

-----------------------

Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned
Tishreen, warned (6/16): "The Palestinian political crisis
might turn into a national, political, and human disaster at any
moment if those who add fuel to the fire continue to behave
irresponsibly....

"Israel is working to ignite internal strife in the Palestinian
territories against the background of the results of the recent
Palestinian elections.... From the beginning Israel expressed
its dissatisfaction with HAMAS's assumption of power. It
announced this and launched a campaign to attack HAMAS and
thwart its overwhelming popular victory. It began by imposing a
tight siege and withholding aid from the Palestinian people.
And, through its American ally, it applied pressure on donor
states to stop transferring funds to the Palestinian Authority
and, consequently, to the Palestinian employees who are today
staging demonstrations demanding their salaries....

"While Israel is feeding Palestinian sedition by all available
means, some Palestinian factions are working in a way that makes
Israel more comfortable, through their insistence on creating
and stoking a Palestinian political problem and, consequently,
placing hard options before the Palestinian government...."

Seche

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