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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report -

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Lucia A Keegan 07/25/2006 09:43:52 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS PARIS 04986

SIPDIS
cxparis:
ACTION: PAO
INFO: AMB ARS DCM POL

DISSEMINATION: PAOX
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: PRS: LPLATT
DRAFTED: PR: SDOSSANTOS
CLEARED: NONE

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RUCPDOC RUEHRL RUEHRO RUEHMO RUEHNO RUEHVEN RHMFIUU
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INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
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RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 004986

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY; BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU;
AF/PA; EUR/WE /P/SP; D/C (MCCOO); EUR/PA; INR/P; INR/EUC;
PM; OSC ISA FOR ILN; NEA; WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE; DOC FOR
ITA/EUR/FR AND PASS USTR/PA; USINCEUR FOR PAO; NATO/PA; MOSCOW/PA;
ROME/PA.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR

SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT -
Israeli-Lebanese Conflict: Lebanese Conflict - Iran
Iraq
PARIS - Monday, July 24, 2006


(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

Lebanese Conflict
Iran
Iraq

(B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

Dominating themes in headlines and editorials today revolve around
the U.S. becoming more involved diplomatically in the Lebanese
conflict with the visit to the region of Secretary of State Rice.
The French national press, however, see the U.S. position "on the
fence" between its Arab allies, Israel and Europe. American
diplomatic efforts are viewed as hindered by the fact that the U.S.
has no contact with Hezbollah. The editorial in right-of-center Le
Figaro sees Syria as one of the keys to containing Hezbollah but
"the question is, what will Damascus ask for in return?" Finally the
issue of sending peace keeping troops to Lebanon is widely
commented, left-of-center Liberation suggests that France would
necessarily be heavily involved and weekly newspaper Le Journal du
Dimanche notes that "this time the U.S. will not be able to go it
alone."

Right-of-center Le Figaro's front page carries a photo of Secretary
of State Rice and announces that: "America is becoming involved in
the Middle East crisis." The inside article with a large photo of
President Bush and Secretary Rice meeting with the Saudi Foreign
Minister says: "The Americans run the risk of isolating themselves
by refusing to join in the international chorus for an immediate
cease-fire. Today they no longer have a great deal of time to grant
Israel... An international meeting of the contact group will be held
in Rome as of Wednesday... The Bush Administration should have no
trouble in finding consensus on the issues of humanitarian aid,
reconstruction and the reinforcement of the Lebanese government,
however the question of stabilization troops in the region could be
more controversial... In the meantime a de-escalation of violence
will depend on the U.S.'s willingness to influence Israel."

On privately-owned TF1's evening newscast a journalist noted, "there
are two diplomacies working in parallel right now: French and
American."

Left-of-center Le Monde asks: "how can American diplomacy have any
hope for success since it has no contact with Hezbollah...?
American diplomacy is in a difficult situation caught as it is
between pressure from allied Arab countries like Egypt, Jordan and
Saudi Arabia as well as Europe for an immediate stop to hostilities
and the desire not to undermine the Lebanese government and
Jerusalem's desire to stop Hezbollah."

In an editorial in right-of-center Le Figaro entitled "The U.S. and
the Syrian Factor" Stephane Marchand writes: "The U.S. knows that in
order to reach the desired goal in the Middle East, it will have to
include Syria in the equation..." (See Part C)

Popular right-of-center Le Parisien carries an interview with
Lebanese Druze leader Walid Joumblatt about Hezbollah's position in
Lebanon. While Joumblatt calls for an immediate cease-fire, he
blames neither the Israeli nor the Lebanese governments for the
conflict. For Joumblatt, Syria and Iran are the true culprits as
they attempt to deflect international attention away from
themselves. "Hezbollah has taken Lebanon hostage. It receives its
orders from Damascus."

A poll in weekly Le Journal du Dimanche sees 39 percent of the
respondents in France saying that Hezbollah is responsible for the
crisis in the Middle East, while 30 percent fault Israel. Some 48
percent trust the UN to resolve the conflict over 25 percent for the
EU, 15 percent for France and 9 percent for the U.S.

Left-of-center Liberation reports that "France is defending the idea
a peace keeping mission" in Lebanon, but the question is if "Europe
in general, and France in particular, is strong enough to send
troops into Lebanon while Hezbollah has not been sufficiently
weakened...?

The Monday edition of left-of-center Le Monde reports that President
Chirac received a letter from the Iranian president. "The letter
that Mr. Chirac received is very different in tone from the one
received by George W. Bush in May... But the fact that it was
received the day before the new Iranian ambassador to France
presented his credentials to President Chirac is interesting...
According to sources close to President Chirac the letter seeks to
further divide the West on the issue of sanctions... Ands to serve
as a reminder that while the Israeli army and Hezbollah continue to
fight, Iran's influence in the region is non-negligible." (See Part
C)

Catholic La Croix reports on Palestinian public opinion in Gaza,
which it says increasingly crystallizes against Israel each day
while the military operations continue. Hezbollah leader Hassan
Nasrallah has the moral support of Palestinians and, according to
some, "is more popular than Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War." One
Palestinian likened the Israeli military operation in Gaza and
Lebanon to "the rules of Bin Laden, not the Geneva conventions."

Left-of-center Liberation mentions the new Human Rights Watch report
that says that "prisoners held by American troops in Iraq continue
to be systematically tortured with the approval of the military
superiors." Liberation calls this new report "damning." (See Part
C)

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

"Experience"
Jacques Esperandieu in weekly Sunday newspaper Le Journal du
Dimanche (07/23):"The presence in Beirut of the French Prime
Minister on the sixth day of fighting was an extremely symbolic
gesture, as is the current visit of the Foreign Minister in several
countries in the region. One cannot help but see these trips as an
attempt to 'one up' the U.S. and its Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice. But perhaps this time there is a slight chance for success.
American credibility in the region suffers from the intervention in
Iraq and the country's unconditional support for Israel. Nothing can
be accomplished without the Americans, but this time they will not
be able to go it alone."

"Slim Margin for Maneuver"
Dominique Vales in regional La Montagne (07/24): "Even if French
diplomacy's margin for maneuver in the Middle East has been very
limited over the course of the last decades, its positions and
proposals are not ignored. If nothing else, because France continues
to have some degree of influence on certain countries that
traditionally have a determining role in the region. Starting of
course with the U.S. whose involvement in the current crisis has
reached a new level with the initiatives proposed by Secretary Rice
who is apparently much more aware of the explosive nature of the
situation than President Bush."

"Rules"
The editorial by Gerard Dupuy in left-of-center Liberation asks
(07/24): "Does a stabilization force in Lebanon need to come under
the banner of NATO like in Afghanistan? Wouldn't this
de-territorialize the 'Atlantic' Alliance and draw it into a
long-lasting conflict about which its members are far from having
reached a consensus contrary to Afghanistan... The hint of a
diplomatic solution does not mean a speedy end to the fighting...
But maybe Condoleezza Rice's visit to the region will make things
move forward. Maybe not. What is certain is that the coming days
will see the list of victims and evacuees grow."

"Saying the Opposite"
Antoine de Gaudemar's editorial in the Saturday Sunday edition of
left-of-center Liberation (07/22-23): "Ten days after the beginning
of the conflict, American diplomacy is starting to wake up. While
continuing to support its Israeli ally... the Bush Administration
has had to come to the realization that Tsahal's strikes have not
significantly weakened Hezbollah... The U.S. is starting to come
around to the idea of stabilization troops but the American
Secretary of State is saying the opposite of Europe when she

SIPDIS
qualifies as illusory the idea of an immediate cease-fire... In
fact, the conflicting view between Europe and the U.S. on a solution
to the crisis in Lebanon is due to two divergent visions of the
Middle East... this divergence was already put to the test in Iraq."


"The U.S. and the Syrian Factor"
Stephane Marchand comments in right-of-center Le Figaro (07/24): The
U.S. does not want to rush Ehoud Olmert... therefore Condoleezza
Rice's trip to the region will not seek to convince the parties to
return to a pre-exisiting situation... but to a more durable
solution thanks to the implementation of Resolution 1559... But the
head of American diplomacy will have to factor Syria into the
equation... without Syria it will be impossible to marginalize
Hezbollah. Syria is the movement's logistical tutor... If Syria
agreed to contain Hezbollah it would by the same token weaken
Iran... But to be able to kill these two birds with one stone
Damascus will no doubt ask for a considerable political gesture in
return for the favor, such as the total normalization of U.S.-
Syrian relations."

Iran

"Iranian Calculations"
The unsigned editorial in the Saturday edition of left-of-center Le
Monde mockingly notes that the "coincidence is astounding. Nine days
after the beginning of the war in Lebanon... Teheran chose to make a
statement concerning its nuclear program... The latest statement is
a setback for the West that along with Russia and China, have been
trying to get the Iranian leadership to put an immediate stop to
uranium enrichment... The war in Lebanon began right when the
various parties were at their wits end with regard to Teheran...
There is no tangible evidence to establish a cause and effect but
what is certain is that Iran has a feeling of impunity and power and
intends to capitalize on the conflict in the Middle East."

Iraq

"Iraqis are Skeptical Concerning National Reconciliation"
Delphine Minoui writes in right-of-center Le Figaro (07/24): "The
Iraqi people are growing extremely weary of the American presence in
their country. The recent scandal of an American soldier accused of
raping and Iraqi girl and the massacre of civilians in Haditha
contribute to the resentment already strong after the episodes of
torture at Abu Ghraib... Today, there are many accusatory fingers
pointing at the huge crane on the left bank of the Tigres that is
being used to build the new American embassy: the only sign of
reconstruction project in Baghdad that is crumbling under the
current violence. The precariousness of the infrastructure, the lack
of fuel and electricity (about one out of every six hours) add to
the long list of disillusionment." STAPLETON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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