Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Asad's Speech, Syria/Britain,


DE RUEHDM #4046/01 2300623
O 180623Z AUG 06





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Damascus Media Reaction: Asad's Speech, Syria/Britain,
Israel/Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Iraq (8/17)

1. Summary: Syrian papers reported that the Syrian Cabinet
stressed that President Asad's address to 4th General Conference
of the Syrian Journalists Union reflected the impulse of the
Syrian people and all the Arab nation and expressed the Arab
street's support for the Lebanese national resistance. "With
its strategic inclinations, the speech has outlined future moves
by emphasizing the constants of steadfastness and resistance as
the only legitimate means to restore rights and achieve just and
comprehensive peace in the region," the Cabinet emphasized in
its weekly session headed by Premier Mohammad Naji Ottri. The
Cabinet hailed "the steadfastness of the Lebanese resistance and
its honorable victory against the brutal Israeli aggression that
restored the Umma's honor and dignity and destroyed the myth
that the Israeli army is invincible." The Cabinet added that
"the Resistance's victory also foiled the New Middle East
project that aims to establish US-Israeli hegemony in the region
and to deprive the Arab people of their rights and identity."

Papers also reported that Information Minister Bilal said in a
televised statement that President Asad's speech expressed the
Arab people's dignity and talked about the stage of resistance,
asserting that the new Middle East will be as Syria wants but
not the Middle East of chaos, destruction and aggression.
Answering a question on Syria's criticism of the positions of
some Arab countries regarding the Israeli aggression on Lebanon,
Dr. Bilal said "Syria is tied by fraternal relations with the
Arab countries," confirming deep-rooted and strong relations
with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. He added that Syria has
always hoped that all Arabs would stand by Syria in the battle
for a just peace that guarantees Israeli withdrawal from all
occupied Arab lands. The Minister noted that Syria has always
defended legitimate Arab issues, underlining the country's
stance in the face of the fierce campaign that accuses the Arab
and Islamic nations of terrorism or fascism. Dr. Bilal said
that the resistance victory is a victory for Arab dignity, for
the Arab nation and for Lebanon. He criticized those who called
immediately after the cease-fire for disarmament of Hizbollah,
even though the Israeli Foreign Minister had stressed that there
is no power in the world able to disarm it. Dr. Bilal said the
whole world knows that Syria had put an end to the civil war in
Lebanon, stopped the inner bleeding in Lebanon and supported
Lebanon's unity and sovereignty. He also pointed out the Syrian
government's and people's stances regarding the Lebanese people
during the Israeli aggression on Lebanon as proof of the unity
of fate of the two people.

On Syrian-British relations, all papers reported that Syrian
Minister of Information Bilal conferred with Chris Doyle,
Director of the Council for British-Arab Understanding. The two
discussed means of boosting dialogue between the Arab and British
peoples in order to find common understanding of events in the
Middle East. During the meeting, Minister Bilal confirmed the
important role of Arab media and other institutions concerned
with dialogue among civilizations to narrow the gap between the
Syrian and British peoples and convey the true image of the Arab-
Israeli conflict. Doyle said that British public opinion
sympathizes with Arab issues, but more efforts should be made to
reinforce this feeling through dialogue and visits, adding that
everyone who visits Syria leaves with a good impression.
End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"The Cabinet hails the Lebanese Resistance's steadfastness and
its honorable victory: President Asad's speech reflects the Arab
street's opinion" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/17)

"Information Minister underscores the importance of enhancing
Arab-British dialogue in order to create mutual understanding"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/17)

"Lebanese President: It is a shame to talk about disarming the
resistance while our martyrs' blood is still on the ground.
Israel is violating UN resolution 1701 by maintaining the siege
against Lebanon" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/17)

"The Bush administration proposes to help disarm Hezbollah. The
Lebanese government decides to send the Lebanese army to the
South. Annan: disarming Hezbollah is not a task for
international forces" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/17)

"Repercussions of failure interact in Israel. An investigation
committee is established. Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Haluts is
atop the list of Israeli officials to be investigated"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 8/17)

"Tens are killed or wounded in Baghdad attacks. Basra and Mosul
witness more clashes" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/17)

"Three Palestinians martyred in the Gaza Strip. Palestinians
consult to form a national Palestinian unity government. Egypt
offers a new proposal to release the captured Israeli solider"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 8/17)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:


"Why this Hatred?"


Omar Jaftali, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (8/17): "Despite the huge destruction of Lebanese
infrastructure, and despite the hundreds of martyrs and wounded
and displaced people in the terrorist Israeli aggression on
Lebanon, President Bush said hours after the ceasefire: "The
war between Israel and Hizbollah was part of the struggle
between freedom and terror."

"Bush once again claimed that the brutal aggression that Israel
launched against Lebanon was a result of Hizbollah's capture of
the two Israeli soldiers. He said Hizbollah, which attacked
Israel, was defeated in the battle!

"Although Israeli official and media circles admitted that
Israel was defeated in the aggression on Lebanon and that the
valiant national resistance inflicted a miserable defeat on the
occupation forces, what is important is that the United States,
which supported the war militarily and politically, counted
heavily on its forward policeman in the region to implement its
colonial plans. But the policeman stood impotent before the
will of the owners of the land and the cause, and he failed to
achieve what the US Administration was hoping to achieve in
Lebanon first and in the region second.

"If President Bush is disturbed by the results of the brutal
Israeli aggression, then this is his problem. But his repeated
claim that the victim is the terrorist and the aggressor is the
freedom fighter no longer fools anyone in the world, except the
followers of the American-Zionist policy who still claim that
Israel is an oasis of democracy and freedom in the Middle East,
while those around it are 'barbarians' who have no connection
with civilization.

"At the end of the day, no one in our region cares about Bush's
opinion and extremist positions in support of the Israeli
aggression. What matters is the result, which proved that the
national resistance waged the most honorable fight against
Israel and taught it a lesson it will not forget. As for the
'heroic' Israeli acts, they were against women, children, and
old people in their homes, and against Lebanese roads and
bridges. History will undoubtedly record what the resistance
did in its bright pages, and it will record nothing but shame
and disgrace for the aggressors."


"Bush Refuses to Acknowldge Defeat"


Hanan Hamad, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(8/17): "President Bush was not expected to admit that Israel
suffered a bitter military defeat in Lebanon. Over six years of
his rule, Bush has never admitted his repeated defeats in
Afghanistan and Iraq or even in his open war on what he calls
terrorism. How, then, can he concede defeat in the war that
Israel launched on his behalf...?

"Perhaps the most dangerous thing in Bush's twisted vision about
the results of the Lebanon war is that he has failed to learn
the lessons of the repeated defeats and reconsider the reckless
policies that his administration has adopted toward the Arab and
Islamic region. These reckless policies are a result of the
lack of balance between Washington's formidable military and
material power and the modest mental abilities that control the
power. These modest mental abilities made the head of the US
Administration and his aides and advisers think that the war
against the Resistance in Lebanon would be inexpensive and would
bring huge benefits. The fact that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld
talk about success in Lebanon indicates that the adventuristic
mentality that governs the US administration continues to push
them to make more mistakes...."


"A New Era"


Ali Qasim, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(8/17): "A new era has emerged in the Middle East after
Hizbollah's victory....

"Assessments might agree or disagree, but in the end they
acknowledge the victory of the Resistance and see it as the most
important transformation in the region, on the basis of which a
new Middle East will be built. This was one of the facts that
President Asad mentioned in his speech.... The new era, the era
of Resistance, has abolished the myths that the official Arab
fear created.

"The Resistance continued the series of its surprises even after
the victory, when it announced on the day it fulfilled its
'True Promise', that it will reconstruct what the barbaric war
and the rancorous aggression destroyed.... The achievements of
the Resistance, during and after the war, contemplate thus
setting another precedent through which the features of the new
Middle East are drawn as desired by the will of those who stood
fast, bore the burden, and were stronger than tyranny, not as
planned by the United States, Israel, and those who move in
their orbit....

"This is why we see all this activity and these attempts by the
defeated parties to compensate for what they missed or to
correct what they misread, in parallel with their determination
to beautify the face of a defeat whose features no one in the
world can change, a defeat that is exploding into crises that
will not be confined to Israel, but that will also affect all
the parties to the defeat, including the United States, where
voices critical of the logic of war are growing louder than ever


"Hysteria of Defeat"


Dr. Sa'id Musallam, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote (8/17): "The violent Israeli air raids and attacks
against Lebanon during the last day of the war were a
manifestation of the hysteria of defeat.... Israel will not let
Lebanon get away with its victory. Israel will certainly use
trickery and devious ways, as well as its influence with the
proponents of the New Middle East plan, to take revenge against
Lebanon and its resistance. It is a new wave of circumvention

aimed at pushing Lebanon into the trap and playing the tunes of
partition, sectarianism, and division of the unified national
position. This mission will be delegated to followers and
agents in the hope they will be able to do what the Zionist
military machine failed to do. Here, there is need for caution
and vigilance...."


© Scoop Media

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