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Cablegate: Egypt Media Trends: August 2, 2006

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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #4758 2141335
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 021335Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0312
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS CAIRO 004758

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SIPDIS

NEA/PPD FOR ROBIN SMITH AND DAVID BENZE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PREL PREL IS LE EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT MEDIA TRENDS: AUGUST 2, 2006


1. Summary. The Israeli ground offensive, Syria's readying of
forces and reaction to President Bush's statements about the
conflict in Lebanon while in Florida were themes in the day's
headlines and news stories. Papers called the Qana bombing
"terrorism" and accused Bush of insensitivity toward the victims of
Qana. The specter of a regional war was debated on evening talk
shows and in the commentaries, while an online poll in one popular
Egyptian website showed the vast majority of voters believe the
conflict will end with an Hezbollah military victory. End Summary.

2. In the headlines. The picture of a potential regional war loomed
over the day's headlines in all papers. Pro-government daily,
Al-Ahram announced, "Syria Confirms Israel's Intentions to Attack
Her and Peretz Accuses Her of Transferring Weapons to Hezbollah."
Opposition daily, Al-Wafd's second headline proclaimed, "The Middle
East is on the Verge of War: Syria Prepares," and pro-government
daily, Al-Gomhouriya, announced that "The Superpowers Are Using
Israel to Torment the Region." Other headlines focused on the
Israeli land campaign and criticism of the bombing in Qana in light
of President Bush's comments the previous day from Florida.
Al-Gomhouriya called the Qana bombing "the High Point of State
Terrorism" and a prominent headline in pro-government daily,
Al-Akhbar, decried, "Bush Says Qana's Massacre Equals the Horror of
the Missiles." Independent daily, Al-Masry Al-Yom quoted President
Bush, "The Qana incident is as horrible as Israeli fear of
Hezbollah's rockets" and Al-Wafd's headline in red announced, "Bush
declares war on Islam" next to which was a large photo of President
Bush grimacing while descending from a plane. The accompanying
caption read, "Bush loses balance."

3. In the commentaries. The specter of war dominated discussion in
some Egyptian television evening talk shows. For example, guests on
Channel One's evening program, "An Hour of Politics," argued that
"Rice is setting a new stage for the scene of the greater Middle
East that she will deliver through blood and destruction," that "the
more the US pressures, the more extremists evolve in future
generations," and "this war is widening the cycle of violence in the
region... and hitting Syria because it supports Hezbollah may create
an unanticipated chaos." Commentaries in the papers also debated
that issue. In the words of one moderate commentator who is also a
friend of the embassy, "the moment of major confrontation has
come...the extremist rabbis hailing the Qana massacre, and President
Bush's indifferent statements that Qana is similar to Hezbollah's
attacks... he forgets that Israel is an occupying state." The
writer went on to declare "a regional war is about to begin, where
more violence will appear, and Arab rulers will be hated by all." A
columnist in independent daily, Al-Masry Al-Yom, calculated that "
the US and Israel are rushing to crush the resistance and implicate
Syria and Iran ... and Syria and Iran are ready to fight back."

4. Public sentiment. An online poll in Egyptian website,
Masrawy.com, asked voters to predict Hezbollah's reaction to the
Qana bombing. From a total of 6,500 votes, 80 percent predicted
that "Hezbollah will strike and reach the heart of Israel." Less
than 2 percent believed that Hezbollah would "return the two
soldiers to avoid civilian bloodshed" and 13 percent voted in favor
of international mediation for a prisoner swap.
RICCIARDONE

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