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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Lebanese Crisis - Iran And

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Lucia A Keegan 08/02/2006 03:10:26 PM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

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UNCLAS PARIS 05216

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 005216

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DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY; BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU;
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TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR

SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - Lebanese Crisis - Iran and
Diplomacy Transition in Cuba
PARIS - Wednesday, August 02, 2006


(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

Lebanese Crisis - Iran and Diplomacy
Transition in Cuba

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

Fidel Castro's "twilight" and temporary "handover of power to his
brother is today's leading international story. As part of its wide
coverage on Cuba, Le Figaro reports that "Washington is following
developments closely." (See Part C) The situation in southern
Lebanon continues to be a major story, as France turns to Tehran "to
stabilize" the situation, according to Le Figaro's front-page. A
regional editorial harshly criticizes Secretary Rice's handling of
the crisis. (See Part C). In Le Monde, Alain Frachon describes
Israel's war against Hezbollah as "an indirect but fundamental
conflict with Iran" while Daniel Vernet explains that common sense
dictates that "an international force can be implemented only after
the end of hostilities." (See Part C)

Liberation reports on 'milblogs' sprouting in the U.S. Army, "where
soldiers' reports are often in contradiction with the media." "The
reports aim to present a vision of the war without intermediaries,
directly from the front."

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

Lebanese Crisis - Iran and Diplomacy

"In Lebanon, France Puts Its Hopes In Iran"
Georges Malbrunot in right-of-center Le Figaro (07/02): "France is
looking to strengthen the dialogue with Iran in the hopes that it
will help find a solution to the present crisis... For Tehran, the
fact that Paris is no longer asking for Hezbollah to disarm, as a
prerequisite to an agreement, represents a 'positive move...' Iran
would be amenable to an international force in Southern Lebanon, in
exchange for 'western concessions' on the nuclear issue. Tehran is
no longer hiding the fact that it is linking its nuclear issue to
the Lebanese crisis... Clearly, Paris wants to play a double role in
Lebanon: reinforcing the Lebanese government and establishing a
dialogue with Iran. In return, France expects Tehran to demonstrate
a sense of responsibility... The meeting in Beirut between the
French and Iranian Ministers confirms the recent rapprochement
between Paris and Tehran... With this renewed dialogue, Paris hopes
to climb back to the front of the international scene in the Middle
East... But many observers are underscoring the contradictions of a
diplomacy which is ready to talk to Iran but not to Syria in order
to resolve the Lebanese crisis. Paris's response is that it is
better to speak to Iran, who is the one making the decisions, rather
than to its Syrian vassal."

"Europe Encourages Dialogue With Syria"
Alexandrine Bouilhet in right-of-center Le Figaro (07/02): "France's
European partners do not share France's stance. Europe is
encouraging a dialogue with Damascus... a position strongly upheld
by Great Britain and Germany. France's boycotting of Damascus leaves
its partners bewildered..., as does FM Douste Blazy's comment that
'Iran plays a stabilizing role in the region...' Some diplomats
think France's game of pitting Iran against Syria is dangerous."

"Diplomatic Abyss"
Regional Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace in its editorial (07/01):
"Secretary Rice was persona non grata in Beirut. Not FM Douste-Blazy
and his Iranian counterpart. For the Americans, seeking Iran's help
to resolve the crisis is anathema: Iran is the devil. Beyond the
anecdotal aspect of the incident, France's demarche proves the
extent of the abyss that separates its diplomatic efforts from
Washington's. But the question that comes to mind is whether there
is still an American diplomacy. Secretary Rice, who has been upheld
as the Bush administration's most brilliant asset, has to date been
a disappointment. Faced with her first major crisis since her
nomination, she managed only to mumble a few stilted words after the
Qana tragedy, before returning to Washington for new orders. We are
almost tempted to regret the likes of Kissinger, Baker and Albright,
who had strong personalities and who were trained negotiators as
well as pragmatists, fundamental requirements of diplomacy.
America's diplomacy has changed: it is defined by neo-conservative
ideology rather than realism. The White House would rather keep the
war going, with the regional risks it entails, and 'remodel' the
Middle East to its liking... France's diplomacy will be hard-pressed
to be convincing at the UNSC."

"Israel's Indirect Confrontation With Iran"
Alain Frachon in left-of-center Le Monde (07/02): "Israel's fight
against Hezbollah represents the antechamber to an indirect but
fundamental conflict with Iran... Jerusalem intends disarming what
it calls Iran's armed extension of itself... But one cannot help
but wonder whether Hezbollah's provocation elicits such reprisal...
The present war will determine Iran's future role in the region.
Many Arab nations, (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) would like to see
Hezbollah crushed by Israel: they all fear the birth of a radical
Shia crescent going from Tehran to Baghdad and passing through a
Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon. Saddam Hussein's fall has unleashed an
Iraqi Shia power very close to Iran's regime. And the role the Shia
crescent will play in the region is largely dependent on the outcome
of this umpteenth Lebanon war."

"The United States Applies Pressure, Negotiates, But Does Not Bend."

Stephanie Fontenoy in Catholic La Croix (07/02): "Secretary of State
Rice's plan for resolving the conflict is the U.S. 'throwing its
weight' in the UN, where it is 'isolated' for refusing to support an
immediate ceasefire. In light of competing proposals- among them the
French call for an end to hostilities as a prerequisite for
political negotiations- the talks at the UN Security Council will be
long and stressful before any resolution comes to a vote. CSIS think
tanker Haim Malka dismisses any fundamental change in the American
strategy with Secretary of State Rice's plan. By its apparent
willingness to advance the diplomatic process at the UN, the
American administration is only pursuing its premier objective: to
establish, in accordance with its principal ally, Israel, a lasting
peace in the region."

"What International Force for the Middle East?"
Daniel Vernet in left-of-center Le Monde (07/02): "Everyone agrees
that an international force is needed, albeit for different
reasons... But practical and strategic issues are at stake...
Chirac's three-prong proposal: a ceasefire, a political agreement
and the deployment of an international force makes perfect sense,
because no state wants to send troops if the fighting has not ceased
and Hezbollah has not agreed to disarm. But this is also an
admission of weakness, because it means that to implement the
solution, one needs the problem to be already practically resolved."


Transition in Cuba

"A Wind of Hope for Cuba"
Luc de Barochez in right-of-center Le Figaro (07/02): "Finally,
change for Cuba is a possibility... Castro is a survivor... His
exceptional resistance in the face of the U.S. has often been
described as a battle between David and Goliath. But the truth is
much more different. Castro, listed by Forbes as one of the world's
richest men, compromised himself in drug trafficking. Meanwhile his
country's people have had to fight to survive. Political repression
has been ferocious... Castro's illness represents a rare opportunity
to put an end to this communist regime. But the exercise is risky.
Castro's brother heads the military and chaos could erupt. The
champagne corks popping in Miami may be premature: Castro and his
followers have strong backers: namely Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. The
U.S., whose interventionism in Cuba has been ineffective, will be
facing a major challenge, in Cuba but also in Latin America: keeping
a continent, which is hesitating between reformism and
radicalization, on the path of democratization." STAPLETON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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