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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Lebanon - Cease-Fire Violation -

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Lucia A Keegan 08/22/2006 10:18:19 AM From DB/Inbox: Lucia A Keegan

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS PARIS 05595

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

DISSEMINATION: PAOX
CHARGE: PROG

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

VZCZCFRI668
OO RUEHC RUEAIIA RUEATRS RHEFDIA RUEKJCS RHEHAAA
RUCPDOC RUEHRL RUEHRO RUEHMO RUEHNO RUEHVEN RHMFIUU
DE RUEHFR #5595/01 2331011
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INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC//ASD/ISA//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
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RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 3142
RHMFIUU/COMSIXTHFLT

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 005595

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 - Lebanon - Cease-Fire Violation -
UNIFIL U.S. Foreign Policy: Middle East - Iran
PARIS - Monday, August 21, 2006

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(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:

Lebanon - Cease-Fire Violation - UNIFIL
U.S. Foreign Policy: Middle East - Iran

B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:

Front-pages this Monday are overwhelmingly devoted to Segolene
Royal, the Socialist hopeful for the 2007 Presidential elections,
after Sunday's Socialist Party's traditional "Rose Fest." Le Figaro
reports her attacks on Interior Minister Sarkozy, "mainly about his
immigration policy." Electronic media are replaying her sound-bite
on "immigration choisi" (selected immigration): "After taking the
natural resources of these countries - former colonies- we are now
taking their brains? This is unbearable." The harsh editorial in Le
Figaro, entitled "Segolene's Blabbering," contends that "it is
difficult to figure out what her plans for France are: we keep
looking in vain for them." Liberation announces on its front page
that "she gets her inspiration for 2007 from Mitterrand." In his
editorial, Jean-Michel Thenard says "she is in a favorable position
to get the Socialist party's nomination this November." A separate
article explains that "her being a woman in a party dominated by men
is an absolute weapon." Le Parisien's optimistic headline reads:
"She's Off." Results of a Le Parisien poll indicate that 54% of the
French give her their support.

International news is dominated by Israel's cease-fire violation in
Lebanon and the confusion about UNIFIL's leadership, after Israel
called on Italy to be the lead. A report in Le Figaro emphasizes:
"Once again there is no love lost between Israel and France." In Le
Monde, Philipe Bolopion describes France's offer of "200 men
disappointing for the UN." (See Part C) Le Figaro announces that a
EU-25 meeting is scheduled "probably" for Wednesday, after FM
Douste-Blazy called for "European solidarity" and "clarification" on
each nation's contributions. TF1 television also reported on FM
Douste Blazy's call for "an effort" to be made by other European
countries, while governments are insisting on clarification of the
chain of command and the rules of engagement before sending
soldiers. FR2 television reported Washington's insistence for "a
rapid deployment of the UNIFIL in Lebanon."

In La Croix, France's General Pellegrini is quoted: "I see the
future with apprehension... Everything is frozen. Everyone has kept
their weapons, but no one is using them.

La Croix reports "the truce is in danger in Lebanon" after Israel's
"murderous expedition" there and quotes Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora as
calling the raid a "crime against humanity," while UNSG Kofi Annan
qualified the attacks as "a violation of the cessation of
hostilities." Le Parisien's weekend edition asks "What Purpose Do
the Blue Helmets Serve?" The article enumerates four flaws of the
"'thing' that de Gaulle decried." For Le Parisien, "the blue helmets
do not prevent massacres," "their presence in a country does not
avoid war," "they are often incapable of defending themselves," and
"they do not hasten the settling of crises." The article notes that
the UN's good intentions are often succeeded by setbacks and
failures.

Communist L'Humanite devotes its front page to America's foreign
policy in the Middle East and headlines: "We Need to Stop Bush!" and
adds: "Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon: The U.S. President programmed
these conflicts... Tomorrow, Iran?" In Le Journal du Dimanche an
analysis entitled "Iran Flexes Its Muscles" contends: "The Lebanese
conflict was a dress rehearsal for a U.S. attack on Iran." Both
l'Humanite and Le Journal du Dimanche quote Hershel's analysis in
the New Yorker. (See Part C)

Georges Malbrunot in Le Figaro on Saturday reveals that Lebanese
investigators looking into the assassination of former Lebanese PM
Rafic Hariri "are onto a new trail that leads straight to
Hezbollah." The new elements in the investigation, however, do not
lessen the fact that Syria continues to be the main focus... "but
Hezbollah obviously had a role to play: 'who else could have brought
1200 kilos of TNT into Lebanon?' sources close to Hariri's son Saad
wonder... In any event, by implicating Hezbollah in the
assassination of Hariri, Syria has a way of keeping a hold on
Nasrallah." The article goes on to assess the possible involvement
of Iran in the murder and concludes that in the "current context in
the region, the findings of the investigation could be explosive by
aggravating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites."

All networks reported on "the reinforcement of security in Baghdad."
FR2 television said that the situation in Iraq was "chaos," a term
echoed in L'Humanite's extended report on U.S. foreign policy:
"Iraq, the other 'created chaos...' is plunged in civil war, an
avowal of failure for Washington's 'war against terrorism.'"

TF1 and Fr2 television mentioned the resumption of Hussein's second
trial for crimes against humanity. TF1 said that he will be defended
by twelve lawyers who will plead "self-defense."

(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:

Lebanon - Cease-Fire Violation - UNIFIL

"The UN Calls on the Europeans"
Philipe Bolopion in left-of-center Le Monde (08/21): "On Friday, the
pressure on France was intensified with the UN clearly stating that
France's contingent was 'disappointing...' President Bush, whose
assistance to the UNIFIL will be strictly logistical, said "France
said it would send soldiers. We hope it will send more of them.' In
an interview in regional Ouest France, Jean-Marc Guehenno, who is in
charge of peacekeeping forces at the UN, declared that 'France must
be the backbone. And even if France must not shoulder the entire
burden, it needs to give the signal of a significant contribution,
because everyone is observing France before making a commitment...'
And as Europe's media lashed out at France for its meager offering,
MOD Alliot-Marie on Friday said on RTL radio that 'France needed
extremely precise missions and that it had not forgotten the painful
experience of Bosnia.'"

"Dissipating Ambiguity"
Left-of-center Le Monde's editorial (08/19): "For the past month
France was seriously committed to finding a solution to the Lebanese
conflict other than military. It managed to get the support of the
U.S. and impose its views on a UN resolution unanimously accepted.
These results came about because of France's commitment regarding
the UNIFIL. Washington relented only because France accepted to play
a major role in the force... France's subsequent attitude has caused
some confusion. The idea that France would takeover command of the
force, a given in New York, has been undermined, leading the
Washington Post to title 'Where Have the French Gone?' While Chirac
and France have a right to expect a clearly defined mission, Lebanon
is not Bosnia... It is essential to worry about disarming Hezbollah.
If France were to renege on being the backbone of the force, it
would be giving free rein to Hezbollah to rebuild its 'state within
a state.' This signal would be all the more dangerous because it
would mark Iran's victory. If on the other hand France's present
attitude is simply to ensure the safety of its troops, it is a
legitimate stance. President Chirac needs to clarify this
ambiguity."

"A Disappointing French Offer"
Marc Henry in right-of-center Le Figaro (08/21): "Israel has asked
Italy to lead the UNIFIL although France had declared itself ready
to take command. In the tumultuous relations between France and
Israel, once again there is no love lost... Israel's bitter
disappointment is all the more painful because France was to be the
'core' contingent of the force... This initial 'lack' on the part of
France is a hard blow for Olmert who was hoping for a 'credible'
presence in Southern Lebanon to curb Hezbollah's bellicose
intentions. Israel's pullout plan is now somewhat compromised... by
France's tepid stance, which has awakened the old reflexes of
distrust and hostility between France and Israel. While it is
difficult to see where the truth lies, one thing is certain: France
is playing the role of scapegoat."

U.S. Foreign Policy: Middle East - Iran

"Iran Flexes Its Muscles"
Antoine Malo in right-of-center Le Journal du Dimanche (08/20):
"Iran is proceeding with important military maneuvers. Important
forces are being deployed throughout the country... Iran knows that
in America's neo-conservative circles, the push is for a military
attack (on Iran) to destroy its nuclear installations. And time, for
Iran, is short: on Tuesday, Tehran will probably announce it is
rejecting the UNSC's proposal to suspend its uranium enrichment.
According to Seymour Hersh, the war which opposed Israel to
Hezbollah was but a dress rehearsal to a possible preemptive U.S.
attack on Iran. According to him, Americans and Israelis had planned
this even before the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers... The
only hitch is that the operation failed. As of Tuesday, a reinforced
Iran will be opposing the international community."

"Choosing Bloody Disorder"
Patrick-Apel-Muller in communist l'Humanite (08/21): "The U.S. is
pursuing its strategy of domination which has led to reviving
tensions: Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon - by proxy- and
tomorrow Iran. With the multiplication of conflicts, the White House
is looking to remodel a Greater Middle East that will be under its
boot, with total control of its oil reserves... The new world order
is a bloody disorder. Never has the image of the U.S. been so
tarnished... And as a new source of tension emerges with Iran's
probable answer tomorrow, the U.S., while threatening to impose
economic sanctions, dreams of a military intervention. France must
be Europe's engine to counter this madness." HOFMANN

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