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Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Post-War Maneuvering, Assad

VZCZCXYZ0023
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #4733/01 2751234
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021234Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1817
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6308
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4124
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2705
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7310
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1322
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4690
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0906
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7041

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 004733

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Damascus Media Reaction: Post-war Maneuvering, Assad
interview, Lebanon, (09/29-30 - 10/01-02)


1. Summary: The Syrian press on October 1 and 2 focused on the
interview President Assad gave to Spanish daily El Pais. The
papers covered Assad's call to start peace negotiations from the
point they stopped in 2000. He said that peace could be
achieved in 6 months if negotiations resume from that starting
point. Assad said that Hezbollah is defending a national cause
and not only a religious one. On the international court for
the Hariri case, he said that the results of the investigation
will determine if such a court is needed. Assad said that the
American example of democracy has harmed democracy itself. He
added that a European role is essential and the US is not an
honest broker of the Peace Process.

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Papers also covered the speech given by Syria's ambassador to
the UN Bashar Jaafari at the UNSC, regarding the Brammertz
Report. Jaafari said that Syria's cooperation with the
International Commission is further proof that Syria is keen to
uncover Hariri's murderers. He called for double checking of
all evidence and for trial of those who gave false testimony to
the Commission and those who collected such witnesses to mislead
public opinion.
Papers also covered statements of Lebanese President Emile
Lahoud regarding the importance of having a national government
in Lebanon. Lahoud described all of those who call for
disarming the Lebanese Resistance as "traitors."

The press also covered the visit that US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice is planning to the region starting Monday.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:


In an interview with El Pais, Assad: Trusting Syria is an
unavoidable option.... Monitoring the border is just a waste of
time because it avoids the Big Solution (Government-owned al
Baath, October 2, 2006)

Peace will need no more than 6 months if it starts where we
stopped (Government-owned Tishreen, October 2, 2006)
Asking about the UNSC's ignoring of Israeli crimes against
humanity, our UN Ambassador: Brammertz report included positive
points. Syria's cooperation with the International Commission
underlines its keenness to discover those behind the Hariri
assassination (government owned Tishreen 09/30/2006)

Israel isolates the town of Anjar under the eyes of UNIFIL, and
Ben Eliezer threatens to kill Nasrallah; Lahoud: we shall not
accept a French Mandate. He who seeks to disarm the Resistance
is a traitor (government owned Tishreen 10/01/2006)

Washington doubles financial aid to the Israeli military
establishment (government owned Tishreen 10/01/2006)

A tough campaign against the Republicans and tough elections
await them (government owned Tishreen 10/01/2006)

Iraqi President Jalal Talibani: Syria has always been good to
us, and I am looking forward to visiting it (government owned
Tishreen 10/01/2006)
General Hasan Turkmani receives an UNDOF delegation (government
owned al Thawra 09/29/2006)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:


--------------------------------------------- ---

"Merchants of War Do Not Make Peace"

--------------------------------------------- ---


Issam Dari, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen wrote
(9/30/2006)

"US Secretary of State Miss Condoleezza Rice is coming to the
region on Monday, charged by President George Bush to revive the
peace process.

"This is a nice, attractive title for the visit. But the truth
makes us feel pessimistic rather than optimistic, since we have
become accustomed to a crystal clear fact that says: 'Whenever
there is a catastrophe, search for America.'

"We don't believe that Miss Rice and the Bush Administration are
really interested in a just and comprehensive peace. Otherwise,
how can we explain the fact that the US has given up its support
for the MEPP for six years."

"Rice is coming to a region that has been burned by US policy and
devastated by US arms. And behold: here is the Bush
Administration, that is only good at the language of war and
chaos, talking now about peace and stability. But is there
anybody who will believe it?"

"We do hope that the US Administration is honest, when talking
about peace, but all indications show the opposite, since US
policies have not changed.... We do not think that the merchants
of war are capable of making peace. That is why we only expect
from Rice's visit more escalation against all forces that refuse
US dictates.... Will Rice and its Administration disappoint us
this time?"
---------------------

"What does Rice have in her Bag?"
---------------------

Mohamad Kheir al Jamali, an op-ed writer in government-owned al-
Thawra, wrote (10/02)

"Rice's trip to the region does not aim to deal with the region's
problems or to revive the Peace Process. It aims only to rescue
US policy and extricate it from the difficult calamity that it
finds itself in after its Middle Eastern project has failed in
Iraq and Lebanon and is about to fail in Sudan. It also aims to
abort the historic victory which the resistance has achieved
against Israel."

"The US tactic to achieve this goal is divide Arabs into two
camps: moderates and extremists, hoping that this will deepen
the division in the Arab world, which might help the US and
Israel to revive the Middle Eastern Project and to overcome its
defeat."

Corbin

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