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Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Plo, Pope Anti-Islam


DE RUEHDM #4534/01 2611425
O 181425Z SEP 06





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/PLO, Pope Anti-Islam
Statement, NAM Summit, Syria/Europe, Attack on the US Embassy in
Damascus, Lebanon, Iraq (9/15-18)

1. Summary: Syrian papers reported the visit to Damascus by
former Palestinian PM Ahmad Qurei, who met with President Asad
and conveyed a message from President Abbas. He also met with
VP Shara and held a press conference in which he expressed hope
that a Palestinian national unity government would be formed
soon, noting that the government should be based on the National
Accord document from which an agreement between Hamas and Fatah
has emerged.

Papers also covered the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Havana
with the participation of FM Minister Mouallem. On the sidelines
of the NAM summit, Mouallem met with Jose Ramon Fernandez, Cuban
Deputy Prime Minister, Marta Lumas, Cuban Minister of Foreign
Investments and International Cooperation, President Leonel
Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, and Iraqi Deputy President
Tareq al-Hashemi. Mr. Mouallem confirmed to Al-Hashemi Syria's
keenness to enhance relations with Iraq and to make the political
process in Iraq a success, in order to achieve security,
stability and territorial integrity in Iraq.

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On the controversy over the Pope's anti-Islam statement, papers
featured a statement by Syrian Grand Mufti Ahmad Badr Hassoun
calling for a Christian-Muslim religious summit to prevent
eruption of a religious war between Christians and Muslims.
Papers also featured Hassoun's statement accusing some Western
and Zionist public figures of preparing the ground for a war
between Christianity and Islam. He called on the Ulama and
religious authorities to "act cautiously and realize that a
third party is trying to ignite a war in order to turn
international attention away from the Palestinian and Iraqi

On Euro-Syrian relations, papers reported the visit to Damascus
by European MPs, who met Mahmoud Al-Abrash, Speaker of the
People's Assembly, and Abduallah al-Dardari, Deputy Prime
Minister for Economic Affairs. The European MPs reiterated the
importance of consummating the Syrian-European association
agreement due to its important role in achieving human and
economic development that will contribute to the peace process
and security and stability in the region. The delegation said
that Europe has become more convinced of the need to further the
peace process and that Syria is an important element of the
process. The EU MPs asserted the need for Israeli withdrawal to
the June 4, 1967, borders and for restoration of Palestinian

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"Qurei conveys a message to President Asad from Abbas. Syria
calls on Palestinians to adhere to national unity in these
circumstances. Qurei: We aspire to a national unity government"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 9/18)

"The NAM summit unanimously rejects US hegemony. Mouallem:
Israel has aborted the peace process; the co-sponsor has turned
into a defender of Israeli aggression" (Government-owned Al-
Thawra, 9/17)

"The NAM summit in Havana salutes the Lebanese National
Resistance. Mouallem: Sponsor of the peace process protects
Israeli assaults" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 9/17)
"The NAM summit elects Syria as vice president and decides to
hold its next conference in Cairo. The NAM summit calls for
finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and for a full
Israeli withdrawal from occupied Golan" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 9/18)

"Syrian Mufti calls on Vatican to make clarifications on the anti-
Islam statement" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/16)

"Pope Benedict repeats apology to Muslims in Sunday ceremony.
The Christian-Islamic Action Committee in Syria calls to correct

what happened.
"Speaker of the People's Assembly reviews with European MPs the
horizon of bilateral cooperation between Syria and Europe. The
EU reiterates the importance of consummating the association
agreement with Syria" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/17)

"Nasrallah calls for a rally on Friday evening to mark the
Resistance victory. Changes to the Blue Line by UNIFIL raises
suspicions among Lebanese about the UNIFIL role. Lebanese MPs
and figures call for changing the government, holding the
imaginary majority responsible for the deteriorating situation"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 9/18)

"Lebanese circles say that Resolution 1701 has failed to prevent
Israeli violations" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/17)

"Lebanese fear from trespassing by the UNIFIL forces and the
possibility of using them to protect Israel" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 9/16)

"The new government formed by Hanieh will not recognize
agreements with Israel" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/17)
"Former Palestinian PM Qurei is in Damascus today. Abdul-Hadi,
PLO spokesman: Syria is keen for national Palestinian unity"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 9/16)

"Chief of Marine Intelligence admits incapability of controlling
the Iraqi area of Anbar. A number of casualties and injuries
during attacks in Mosel and Baghdad" (Government-owned Tishreen,

"Former CIA official accuses the CIA of assassinating Hariri,
Houbeiqa and Garange" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/16)

"Washington says change in the EU position on the Palestinian
government is not a justification to lift embargo. The EU
announces support for a national Palestinian government.

"Additional Australian forces to Iraq. The US army acknowledges
killing of four soldiers and loss of fifth. 2680 US soldiers
killed in Iraq" (Government-owned Tishreen, 9/16)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:


"Combating Terrorism is a Syrian Course"


Muhyi-al-Din al-Muhammad, a columnist in government-owned
Tishreen, said (9/15): "The attack against the US Embassy in
Damascus was a terrorist act that targeted not only that
specific place but also security, stability, and national
cohesion in Syria, especially since some sleeping or transitory
terrorist cells found in the chaos that resulted from the
American invasion of Iraq, in the arrogant policy that the
United States pursues toward the peoples of the world, in the
flagrant American support for the Israeli aggression on the
Palestinian and Lebanese peoples and in the state of anger and
resentment that dominates the Arab street, an appropriate
climate to recruit followers and incite them to carry out
terrorist actions against US interests even if these actions
result in dozens of innocent victims who mostly oppose the US
Administration's reckless policy....

"It is obvious that the terrorists who attacked the US Embassy
in Damascus on September 12 have adopted the takfiri ideology
that has explicitly announced, in many countries, that it is
engaged in open war with the United States and its interests....

"The foiling of the attack on the US Embassy is not a Syrian
message to the US Administration seeking approval and praise.

Rather, it reflects a clear Syrian approach in combating terror
wherever it exists....

"Americans know quite well that the intelligence information
that Syria gave them helped foil many terrorist operations in
the United States, Canada, and elsewhere after 9/11. I believe
the estrangement between Syria and the United States is due to
Syria's opposition to the American occupation of Iraq and to the
American support for Israel in its ongoing aggression against
the Arab peoples in Palestine and Lebanon and in its continuing
occupation of Arab territories. It is also due to the US
Administration's reckless policy, which leads only to further
instability and to the growth of extremist and violent movements
and the revival of the terrorist and takfiri organizations that
will spare no place in the world from their operations.

"That Syria has managed to thwart the attack on the US Embassy
and to foil other operations in the past two years, and to be
constantly vigilant to confront anyone targeting its security
and the security of its citizens does not mean that radical
treatment of terrorism does not require that the United States
reconsider its policies, incursions, preemptive wars, and
absolute bias toward the Israeli aggression, which leads to the
expansion and growth of terrorism despite the money that has
been spent and the weapons that have been used to eliminate it."


"US Gratitude"


Michel Khayyat, a columnist in government-owned Al-Ba'th, wrote
(9/15): "Through the gratitude that it expressed to Syria over
its handling of the attack on the US Embassy in Damascus, the
United States appeared to be dotting the i's and admitting the
truth for the first time since the events of September 11....

"We as Syrians were not surprised by the success of Syrian anti-
terror forces in their heroic performance against the
terrorists. Perhaps the secret behind this lies in the fact
that the United States, in particular, must not forget from now
on that every Syrian citizen, whether a soldier or a civilian,
is against mad, criminal, blood-thirsty terrorism....

"Syria deserves a reward from the world because it works in the
interest of the world and its security and peace....

"Perhaps this fact will convince the United States that it is
mistaken when it directs unjust accusations against Syria. As
it expressed itself through spontaneous performance, Syria is a
hospitable country that respects international laws and norms
and cares about the lives of its citizens and guests."


"Does This Atmosphere Encourage Terrorism?"


Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned
Tishreen, said (9/16): "The United States has devoted many
aspects of its war on terrorism to an open war against Arab and
international efforts to bring about a just and comprehensive
peace in the Arab region....

"Establishing peace in the region on the basis of a just
solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict appeared in the eyes of
the Bush Administration as a kind of terrorism. This
Administration, therefore, unleashed Israeli aggression,
obstructed peace efforts, and asked Israel to adopt more hard-
line positions....

"The final result of this American war on terrorism was as
follows: The United States occupies, directly and through

military force, an Arab country and an Islamic country and
dominates other countries in the region. Moreover, it strikes
in more than one place in the region. Israel also occupies and
attacks. Terrorists deals stronger blows. And there are no
signs of hope that this situation will end. Indeed, there is
strong frustration in the Arab and Islamic street, resulting in
further estrangement from the US Administration and lack of
trust in its policies and positions. It is no exaggeration to
say that the Arab street is boiling in its rejection of the
policy of the Bush administration and its unlimited support for
Israel's aggression. The question is: Does this climate help
the fight against terrorism?"


"UNFIL Tasks"


Ahmad Dawwa, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra,
commented (9/17): "Neither the United Nations Interim Force in
Lebanon UNIFIL nor the Security Council is doing anything
against Israel's repeated violations of Resolution 1701....

"It is natural for this to cause much apprehension and suspicion
among the Lebanese people.... The inaction of the Security
Council and UNIFIL shows either inability to deter Israel as a
result of the American position, or a desire to return the
situation in south Lebanon to tension and war....

"In either case, the Lebanese government must act. This
government closes its ears and eyes to the Israeli violations
without giving a justification for this position. This raises
many questions about the content of the agreements and
understandings that this government concluded publicly and
secretly with the parties that worked on Resolution 1701

regarding the mission of the international forces.

"The German Chancellor's statement that the mission of the
German forces operating within UNIFIL is to protect Israel does
not appear to be a slip of the tongue, as a Lebanese official
termed it.... What is happening on the ground now proves that
these forces came to protect Israel, not to prevent violations
of Resolution 1701.

"The Security Council must put an end to this major defect by
announcing clearly and explicitly UNIFIL's mission, in order to
avoid the consequences of the Israeli interpretations."


© Scoop Media

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