Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Annan's Visit, Syria/Lebanon,


DE RUEHDM #4341/01 2490422
O 060422Z SEP 06





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Damascus Media Reaction: Annan's Visit, Syria/Lebanon,
Syria/Egypt, Iraq (9/1-4)

1. Summary: Syrian papers led with reports of the visit to
Damascus by UN SecGen Kofi Annan and his meeting with President
Asad, Vice President Shar'a, Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem,
and Deputy Foreign Minister Dr Faysal al-Miqdad. Talks focused
on the need to consolidate the Lebanese cease-fire, enforcement
of an Israeli withdrawal from all Lebanese territories, lifting
of the Israeli siege on Lebanon, and bringing about a just and
comprehensive peace in the region. Papers reported Annan's press
statement at Damascus airport in which he described his talks
with President Asad as "fruitful and constructive".

On Syrian-Lebanese relations, papers reported that President Asad
gave directions to rebuild three Lebanese towns, Qana, Sidqein
and al-Qulila in a step to support the Lebanese people's
steadfastness. The Lebanese National News Agency said that
Speaker of the Lebanese parliament Berri and Lebanese PM al-
Saniora were informed about the Syrian decision. Papers also
reported that Dr. Mahmud al-Abrash, Speaker of the People's
Assembly, called on members of the Assembly to stage a sit-in at
the Assembly's headquarters on Tuesday, 5 September, in
solidarity with the sit-in that the Lebanese Parliament is
staging to protest the Israeli siege on Lebanon.
On Syrian-Egyptian relations, papers reported that President
Mubarak underscored the importance of maintaining Syrian-Egyptian
relations. "Syria is a sisterly country. Syria and Egypt cannot
do without each other," Middle East News Agency (MENA) quoted
President Mubarak as saying during a meeting with army generals.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:

"President Asad reviews with UN SecGen Annan the situation in
Lebanon; the Israeli withdrawal and lifting of the Israeli sea
and air siege of Lebanon, which violates UNSC Resolution 1701;
and the opportunity of achieving a just and comprehensive peace
in the region. Annan: The international community looks for
Syria's important role... It is time to revive the peace process
on the basis of UN resolutions" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/2)

"Syria rebuilds what Israel has demolished in Lebanon. President
Asad gives directions to rebuild three Lebanese towns: Qana,
Sidiqin and al-Qalila" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/4)
"President Mubarak: Syria and Egypt can't do without each
other. Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Meqdad: My visit to
Cairo is for consultation and coordination between the two
countries" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/4)
"Lebanese MPs stage an open-ended sit-in. Nabih Beri, Chairman
of the Lebanese Parliament: The Israeli siege on Lebanon is an
act of war, in violation of UNSC Resolution 1701" (Government-
owned Al-Thawra, 9/3)

"Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament talks about breaking Israeli
siege on Lebanon by sending Arab ships and flights to Lebanon"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/4)

"Minister of Information Mohsen Bilal confers with members of the
Peace Cycle Campaigners. In an interview with Al-Akhbar daily,
Bilal: Annan has heard Syria's viewpoint that Israel's
continuing occupation of the Arab territories is the main cause
of the problem" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/3)
"Information Minister Bilal meets a delegation of citizens of
occupied Golan: Syria is determined to restore her occupied
territories" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/2)
"Three Palestinians martyred, 8 wounded, and 6 homes destroyed by
continuing Israeli terrorism in the Gaza Strip" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 9/3)

"The international community continues to ignore cluster bombs
that threaten Lebanese civilians. The Olmert government is split
by fiasco of the war against Lebanon. The Lebanese Parliament
stages a sit-in today. Former Lebanese PM Al-Hoss criticizes al-
Saniora for not condemning the US participation in the war
against Lebanon" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/2)
"EU Foreign Ministers call for reviving the peace process on
basis of return to 1967 borders" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/2)
"10 Palestinians wounded in Bel'in. The Stockholm doners
conference: More than $500 million has been allocated to

Palestinians, that will reach Palestinians directly apart from
the Palestinian government" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/2)
"FM Mouallem holds talks with UN SecGen about the situation in
the region in the wake of UNSC Resolution 1701, and about the UN
role in building peace and lifting Israeli siege on Lebanon"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/2)

"Israel responds to Annan's demands: Our weapons are legal; No
pullout from Lebanon except on our conditions" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 9/2)

"The Pentagon warns against a civil war in Iraq and US President
George Bush dismisses this possibility" (Government-owned
Tisrheen, 9/3)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:


"It is Time to Go Back to Damascus"


Abd-al-Fattah al-Awad, chief editor of government-owned Al-
Thawra, wrote (9/3): "When the time to talk peace comes, the
road will always lead to Damascus....

"Those who have tried to isolate Syria with their barriers have
undoubtedly discovered, albeit late, that their barriers
prevented them from seeing things correctly and deprived them of
an opportunity to learn the facts without distortion....

"Many in the world have now started to talk about peace in light
of the failure of wars, pressures, and threats.... In the past
few years, Syria has come under heavy pressure in the form of a
vicious war against Syria's principles and adherence to dignity
and right.... But Syria has succeeded in overcoming all pressure
and has achieved political victories through the credibility of
its positions and the proven soundness of its views about
regional developments.... All attempts to isolate Syria have
failed miserably.... The UN secretary general described Syria as
an 'important regional power'....

"Israel is the main cause of problems in the region.... Any
peace effort must force Israel to implement UN resolutions and
accept the land-for-peace principle.... If Syria opens the doors
wide for any proposal leading to an international commitment to
the peace plan, it knows very well that this is not the only way
to regain its rights. The demand and quest for peace proceed
from the understanding that this is the best solution, but it
will not be the only solution.... If the American policy has led
to disasters in the region, then listening to Syria helps
everyone avoid these disasters, because listening to Damascus
means listening to wisdom and peace."


"Accusations and Siege"


Ali Nasrallah, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote (9/3): "In his latest speech, President Bush, who feels
endangered as the election draws near and his popularity drops
to unprecedented lows, talked about defeat. For the first time
the vocabulary of victory and the show expressions were absent.
This reflects his anxiety and his true inside feeling of failure
and defeat....

"Through its mistaken policies, erroneous notions, and Zionist
ideological extremism, the Bush administration has undoubtedly
harmed the United States and its interests. Its loss in the
forthcoming Congressional election might be the result of its
foolish policy. Perhaps this loss will be the biggest service
the US Administration renders to the American people, who will
definitely reject the idea of ideological struggle and support

the principle of dialogue among cultures and civilizations."


"Living in a Great Illusion"

Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned
Tishreen, commented (9/3): "In the past two years it was clear
that some Western countries, specifically the USA and France,
were publicly working to isolate Syria through attempts to
distort its role. They obtained UN resolutions for that purpose
and they delegated to Israel the greatest part of the job. And,
regrettably, some Arab voices quickly lined up behind this
Western-Israeli campaign. These Arab voices went too far in
their fantasies and they promoted the idea that Syria's role was
coming to an end. Naturally, the Lebanese bigmouths were at the
head of those discordant Arab voices.

"But the advocates of Syria's isolation soon found out that they
were living inside a big illusion. The number of visitors to
Syria by presidents, heads of governments, ministers, and
official and popular delegations is ever increasing, and so is
the number of those who are convinced that it is impossible to
bypass Syria. Last week, for example, Damascus was the center of
meetings, talks, contacts and visits, culminating in the visits
of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and UN Secretary-General Kofi

"Syria has not been and cannot be isolated. People must return
to Syria in order to address the issues of the region because
Syria's role is pivotal, its positions are firm and its defense
of right and international legitimacy is principled. The time
when Israel dominated the affairs and capabilities of the Arab
region is over, or is almost over. New facts have emerged on
the ground - facts that have led to radical changes, entrenching
the policy of Arab resistance and opposition to all forms of
Israeli aggression. These are facts to which Israelis came very
close after their latest war against Lebanon and about which many
Americans, although from outside the administration, have spoken.
These are facts to which the French have referred clearly and of
which the hesitant or 'neutral' Arabs, who were overwhelmed by
the 'extraordinary' Israeli power, have became convinced...."


"Syria and Its Constructive Role"


Samir al-Shibani, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
commented (9/2): "No one disagrees that Syria's approach to UN
principles and resolutions over the past decades has been
sincere and serious. Syria leads the world in its concern about
the credibility, effectiveness, and independence of this
international organization and the need for it to stay away from
any alliance and to reject any attempt to absorb or usurp it to
serve this party or that. The international organization
asserts and entrenches its role and maintains its fairness and
credibility to the extent that it rejects the storms of hegemony
and the frost of unilateralism.


"Syria's belief in and commitment to international law has never
been shaken. In all its positions, Syria often, indeed always,
demanded the implementation of all resolutions. Some
resolutions are decades old. Had they been implemented and
their objectives and clauses translated into action, the
international organization would not have needed to pass many
new resolutions. It would have saved much effort and ended the
suffering of peoples and the tremendous injustice done to them.
UN SecGen Kofi Annan's statements after his meeting with
President Asad prove that Syria is an important regional player
and that the international community is looking to it and hoping

it will play a constructive role at this delicate stage....

"Through its constructive and civilized role, which is
consistent with its historical fate, Syria will remain at the
head of those who abide by UN resolutions and who care about the
prestige and reputation of the international organization."


© Scoop Media

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