Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Israel, Syria/Lebanon,
DE RUEHDM #3256/01 1841310
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031310Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0121
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6075
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 3924
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2457
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7123
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1112
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4498
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0720
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 6859
UNCLAS DAMASCUS 003256
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/Israel, Syria/Lebanon,
Syria/Jordan, Palestinian Territories, Iraq (6/29)
1. Summary: Syrian papers today featured an official statement
reporting that two Israeli military aircraft flew at low
altitude near the Syrian coast in the Wadi Qandil area at dawn.
Syrian Air Defense Forces fired at the planes, that then left
the region. The source said the hostile act was an unjustified
provocation. If the aim was to hold HAMAS's political leadership
responsible for the abduction of the Israeli soldier, the source
said, then Israel is making a grave and illogical mistake. The
source said that the Palestinian popular resistance carried out
the operation in Gaza and claimed responsibility for it from
there. The operation could not be staged by remote control. The
source said that the over-flight reflects Israel's failure and
crisis at home, a crisis that Israel is trying to export abroad,
and this is why it is accusing others.
Papers also reported that President Asad and VP Shara met with
Nabih Berri, Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament. Talks focused
on the latest developments in Lebanon and the region, bilateral
relations, and the Lebanese national dialogue. Berri visited
Damascus a month ago in an attempt to pave the way for Lebanese
PM Fua'd al-Saniora to visit Damascus.
On Syrian-Jordanian relations, the Syrian press reported that FM
al-Mouallem discussed with Jordanian FM Abdul-Elah Khatib ways to
boost bilateral relations in light of the current meetings of the
Syrian-Jordanian Higher Committee in Damascus. The two sides
reviewed current developments in the region, including the
Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people in the occupied
Arab territories and the necessity to exert all efforts to stop
them. Papers also reported that Jordanian PM Ma'ruf al-Bakhit
arrived in Damascus on an official visit to Damascus, chairing
the Jordanian delegation to the meetings of the Higher Syrian-
Jordanian Joint Committee. Al-Bakhit was accompanied by an
official delegation comprising the ministers of foreign affairs,
interior, energy and mineral resources, transport, industry and
trade, agriculture, and water and irrigation, in addition to the
official Jordanian government spokesman.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad receives a letter from King Abdullah II of Jordan
and receives Berri. Talks touch upon recent Lebanese developments
and bilateral relations. Berri: Talks with President Asad are
positive" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 6/29)
"President discusses with Jordanian officials agenda of the
Syrian-Jordanian Joint Committee and bilateral relations between
the two brotherly countries. The Syrian-Jordanian Joint
Committee, headed by both Syrian and Jordanian Prime Ministers,
starts activities. Ottri and Bkheit reiterate the importance of
developing joint cooperative relations and establishing joint
projects" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/29)
"Information Ministry source: Syrian air-defenses repel two
Israeli airplanes near the Syria coast.... This hostile act is an
aggressive and unacceptable provocation" (Government-owned Al-
"Al-Mouallem and Khatib discuss the Israeli aggression against
Gaza" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 6/29)
"Information Minister Bilal to an Austrian delegation: Western
media is giving a misleading image of Syria" (Government-owned Al-
"Israel invades Gaza Strip and destroys its infrastructure. HAMAS
official in Lebanon to Al-Thawra: The Israeli aggression against
Gaza aims at ending the resistance" (Government-owned Al-Thawra,
"The Duma holds Washington responsible for the killing of the
Russian diplomats. Putin gives order to liquidate killers of the
Russian diplomats" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 6/29)
Editorial Block Quotes:
"Al-Bayanuni's Out-Stretched Hand"
As'ad Abbud, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra,
commented (6/29): "In brazen clarity, Sadr al-Din al-Bayanuni,
General Director of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, announced
that his hand is stretched out to Israel. This is yet another
hand presenting its credentials to the United States to join the
"Stretching a hand out to Israel is the first required document
in these credentials. Had we headed Al-Bayanuni off and said
that the road he was taking would lead him to stretching a hand
out to Israel, they would have blamed us and said that we are
advocates of the conspiracy theory. Exactly as in the case of
Walid Jumblatt, the announcement of an end to hostility toward
Israel was associated with an announcement of hostility toward
Syria. In the same interview, Al-Bayanuni offered himself as a
false witness: He anticipated the results of all investigations
and accused Syria of killing Al-Hariri. Of course no one forgets
the meeting between Al-Bayanuni's delegation and Walid Jumblatt
in Beirut; What do they have in common? Either a hand stretched
out to Israel or a declaration of hostility toward Syria. I
believe that all reasonable politicians know very well that the
two roads are one and the same thing, although they have two
"In his lust for power, Al-Bayanuni stretched his hand out in
different directions. He stretched it out, first of all, to
terrorism, thus shedding Syrian blood. He then stretched it out
to Syria, concealing an undeclared repentance. But Syria could
not ignore the stains of blood on the stretched-out hand and the
dagger in the other hand.
"So he stretched his hand out to every enemy of Syria, and he
held his 'super' meeting with Abdul-Halim Khaddam: each hiding
behind the other and each with the complex of being exposed by
the Syrian people.
"Al-Bayanuni, who imagines he can draw strength from the hand he
is stretching out to Israel, greatly underestimates Syria. But
he deceives himself and sees things upside down, or maybe he
turns things upside down so that he can understand them.
"There is no doubt that the flagrant American and non-American
hostility toward Syria and the aggressive pressure on it disturb
its economic situation and delay the reform plan. But, on the
other hand, this pressure itself strengthens Syria as it helps
it earn the love and support of all those who oppose and resist
the American policy, and they are numerous, as the Americans
themselves admit. This, consequently, strengthens Syria on the
front of the Arab street.
"Al-Bayanuni should know history well. This is not the first
time pressure on Syria has reached a peak. Syria did not, and
will not, fall."
"Rule and Exception"
Isam Dari, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
commented (6/29): "Since its independence, Syria has faced many
ordeals, conspiracies, and threats that often reached the point
of direct military aggression and various forms of pressure,
sanctions, and interference. This is due to Syria's decisive
role in the issues of the region and its rejection of foreign
plans against it....
"It stresses that Syria has always succeeded in overcoming these
ordeals, thanks to its strong national unity. It says that the
Syrian people, with their spontaneous national and pan-Arab
sense, have always understood the plots against their country
and reacted with political decision.
"We do not claim that there have been no exceptions to this
rule. But the exceptions throughout Syria's history have been
rare, temporary, and ineffective. Popular awareness has always
managed to neutralize, end, and overcome them."
"It is natural for Syrians to ridicule those who have deviated
from the right path and tried to encroach upon the homeland
under attractive slogans whose promoters claim to be patriots
concerned about freedom and democracy while they contribute, in
a way or another, to the campaign of pressure against Syria.
"Those opponents and their activities are soap bubbles that have
no substance on the Syrian street.... We do not doubt that some
are trying to portray these bubbles as having the power, the
ability, and the importance to play the role that the foreigners
want them to play, a role that the Syrian popular base strongly
rejects and firmly opposes."
"Playing in Stoppage Time"
Shawkat Abu-Fakhr, a commentator in government-owned Al-Ba'th,
wrote (6/29): "Despite the discovery of a terrorist network
linked to the Israeli Mosad, some Lebanese officials continue to
target the Lebanese resistance and travel the world to draw
strength from foreigners against their partners in the homeland
and to torpedo the dialogue table.
"Some ministers and parliamentarians have become regular
customers in Washington, New York, Paris, and other European
cities, discussing there the smallest Lebanese details. Some of
them are not even embarrassed to visit Zionist institutes,
especially after they honored John Bolton.
"Ahmad Fatfat, Acting Lebanese Interior Minister, has visited
the Brookings Saban Center and met with Martin Indyk, the
engineer of the dual containment policy and one of the strongest
supporters of Israel among the neoconservative hawks.... Walid
Junblatt visited the same center earlier and Defense Minister
Ilyas al-Murr will visit it later.
"What is the secret behind this rush toward the Israeli decision
and lobbying centers in the United States? Doesn't this activity
raise questions and suspicions at a time when the investigations
into the actions of the terrorist network, which is involved in
many assassinations in Lebanon, continue...?"
"What Will Palestinians Lose?"
Hanan Hamad, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(6/29): "Israel's reaction to the Palestinian attack in Kerem
Shalom was blind and illogical....
"Other parties, including some Arab parties, rushed to blame and
condemn the operation and to express concern over the abducted
"These same parties did nothing when they saw limbs of children
flying through the air in Gaza and successive kidnappings from
safe houses in the West Bank and Gaza taking place....
"The most surprising thing, however, is the argument by critics
that the operation will bring negative consequences for
Palestinians. The question is: Do the Palestinians still have
anything to lose? Should a people be blamed for resisting the
ugliest forms of occupation...?"