Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Venezuela, Syria/Italy,
DE RUEHDM #4271/01 2421140
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301140Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
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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
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CENTCOM FOR CCPA
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TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Venezuela, Syria/Italy,
Syria/Germany, Syria/Denmark, Kofi Annan's Middle East Tour
1. Summary: Syrian papers today led with the visit to Syria by
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Banner headlines reported the
warm welcome prepared for President Chavez and featured the press
statements made by President Asad and President Chavez at
Damascus airport during which Chavez noted that both Venezuela
and Syria share the same political vision saying "we are two
countries and two peoples resisting and confronting the United
States' imperialistic aggression." "We are here in Damascus to
call for peace," Chavez told Syrian state television. Chavez
said that during his visit to Syria officials of both governments
will sign a document opposing Washington's aggression" in the
Papers also reported that President Asad received a telephone
call from Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi. The conversation
dealt with the latest developments in Lebanon in light of the
start of the deployment of international forces in south Lebanon.
The talks dealt also with the situation in the region and issues
of mutual concerns and the circulating ideas regarding peace in
the Middle East. Prime Minister Prodi explained Italy's decision
to take part in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
(UNIFIL) and stressed the importance of concrete gestures to
restart dialogue and cement stability in the region."
Papers also reported FM Walid Mouallem's meeting with Christian
Hop, personal representative of the Danish Foreign Minister to
the Middle East, who called for preserving cease-fire in
Lebanon, achieving a full Israeli withdrawal, and ending Israeli
siege on Lebanon. Talks focused on the situation in the region
especially, in Lebanon, in the light of UN 1701 resolution.
Papers also reported that Foreign Minister Mouallem received a
phone call German FM Frank-Walter Steinmeier, which touched upon
the situation in Lebanon particularly after the UN UNSC
resolution 1701. Viewpoints were identical regarding gearing
efforts to establish a just and comprehensive peace in the
Middle East and Syria's role to realize stability in the region.
Papers also reported that Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem talked
on the phone with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier. Discussion focused on the situation in Lebanon in
light of UNSC Resolution 1701 and the need to maintain the cease-
fire. The two sides agreed to intensify efforts to bring about
a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. The two
sides agreed also on the importance of continuing dialogue and
contacts in light of Syria's constructive role in achieve
stability of the region.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad receives President Hugo Chavez. President Asad:
Chavez's visit is historical; we are looking forward to see its
outcome. President Chavez: We have the same political vision; we
resist the imperialist aggression together. President Asad talks
on the phone with Italian PM Prodi and receives Egyptian
delegation" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/30)
"Foreign Minister Mouallem reviews developments in the region
with Special Envoy of Danish Foreign Minister, and discusses with
German Foreign Minister the situation in Lebanon and necessity of
intensifying efforts to establish a just and comprehensive peace"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 8/30)
"UN SecGen Annan departs Lebanon with no guarantees on lifting
siege the Israeli siege on Lebanon. Annan considers the Israeli
siege on Lebanon as humiliation" (Government-owned Al-Thawra,
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"A Last Minute Chance"
Ali Qasim, a columnist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(8/30): "UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's visit to the region
provides a real opportunity for the international community to
regain the initiative that it accepted to leave to American
whims and to the extremist team in President Bush's
administration, which dedicated the organization and the entire
international community to serving Israel's ambitions and
justifying its aggressiveness and occupation....
"The United Nations is facing a real credibility problem,
especially among the peoples of the region, which felt, beyond
any doubt, a clear imbalance in its principles and a declared
double-standard approach toward the resolutions it adopts,
especially when it comes to Israel.... Annan's tour comes after
a series of events and developments that deeply affected the
position toward the international organization, which appeared
unable to play its role....
"UN Secretary General will sense, as the peoples of the region
sensed, the extent of the threat that Israel poses through its
aggressiveness and barbarism.... The UN impotence will only
heighten the tension in the region.
"Reactivating the UN Role"
Adnan Ali, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(8/30): "Kofi Annan's Middle East tour will mark the beginning
of a serious and effective presence for the international
organization within the effort to establish peace and security
in this troubled region, which long suffered, and is still
suffering, from the negative and unfair interventions by the
superpowers that have no respect for UN principles and
"Annan, as a person, enjoys much integrity and understands well
the issues of the region, but the superpowers that control the
fates of nations, gave the United Nations a little chance to
play an active, effective, and balanced role to resolve pending
issues in the world, especially in this ever-volatile region....
"UN SecGen must adopt clear positions.... He must distinguish
between the culprit and the victim.... We assume that Annan
realizes that Israel is the source of all evils in the region
and that its insistence to occupy Arab lands and its continuous
attempts to subjugate the region and terrorize its peoples by
force, are behind tensions and crises...."
"Syria Cannot Be Isolated"
Omar Jaftali, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (8/30): "Every foreign visitor to Damascus underlines
Syria's vital role in the region and its peace....
"If we exclude the official American position, which served
Israel's interests and not America's real interests, and which,
therefore, caused anger and resentment among the peoples of the
region and the world, the American, European, and international
delegations that visited Damascus agreed with Syria that there
is a major flaw in the American policy, one that prevents the
United States from playing its supposed role as a superpower
responsible for protecting the world's security, stability, and
"Dialogue and exchange of views is very important to achieve a
just and comprehensive peace in the region.... Syria cannot be
isolated, and its constructive and pivotal role is understood
and appreciated by broad international circles, and this will
definitely produce positive results in the future."
"They Are Afraid of the Volume of Victory"
Dr. Turki Saqr, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (8/30): "Some people are still inflating the damage that
Israel inflicted on Lebanon as a way of saying that Hizbollah
did not win the battle with Israel.... Marginalizing Hizbollah's
victory and heroic actions only serves Israel and its effort to
impose capitulation on Arabs....
"These skeptics are disturbed not by the magnitude of the
destruction, as they claim, but by the magnitude of the
victory.... Their views can never affect the greatness of the
victory that was achieved.... These people must have the courage
to admit that much of the destruction that was inflicted on
Lebanon was a result of their governments' negligence and
inability to make the natural decision; namely, standing in the
face of the aggression and the occupation form the beginning....
"Israel and the United States would not have continued with the
aggression for 34 days without the suspicious silence of those
Arabs and their blame for Hizbollah...."