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Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Arms Smuggling

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FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2314
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6348
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4152
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2739
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INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7068

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 005187

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: Arms Smuggling
Accusations/Lebanon, Peace Process, Iraq, Palestinian Territories
(11/2)
1. Summary: Syrian newspapers today reacted to statements by Terje
Roed-Larsen, the UN Secretary General's envoy to Lebanon, and John

Bolton, US Ambassador to the United Nations, saying that weapons
continue to be smuggled to Lebanon from Syria.

Papers featured a statement on Wednesday by Lebanese PM Fuad
Al-Siniora denying that the Lebanese government has informed Terje
Road Larsen of weapon smuggling taking place on the border with
Syria.

Papers also cited a statement by Lebanese FM Fawzi Salloukh denying
the statement in Larsen's report that the Lebanese government
informed him about weapons smuggling to Lebanon from Syria.
Salloukh said that "no weapons cargo may escape capture and these
are facts confirmed by the leadership of the Lebanese army."

A third statement on the same topic was issued by a Lebanese
military source, categorically denying that any weapons had been
smuggled across the Syrian border since the Lebanese army assumed
the mission of controlling the borders.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:
"Hilary Clinton calls for dialogue with Syria and Iran in order to
achieve stability in the region" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 11/2)

"Chinese President: 'Land for Peace' is the main solution to
problems in the region" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 11/2)
"Calls to change the Lebanese government and confront all attempts
to create sedition continue. Lebanon denies Larsen's claims about
weapons smuggling to Lebanon across borders with Syria. Israel: We
will continue our violations of Lebanon's airspace; Let Lebanon and
the UN keep protesting" (Government-owned Tishreen, 11/2)
"The Lebanese army denies smuggling of arms across Syrian borders.
Al-Saniora and Salloukh: The Larsen report is untrue; we did not
feed such information to Larsen" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 11/2)
"The Wall Street Journal: Americans are bitter about the war in
Iraq. Opinion polls show that Democrats are approaching control of
the Congress" (Government-owned Tishreen, 11/2)
"Intelligence report shows Iraq sinking in chaos. Killing of a US
solider and scores of Iraqis in Baghdad and Al-Anbar"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 11/2)
"A new Israeli massacre with a US green light: Ten Palestinians
martyred, 50 injured, as a result of the Israeli aggression against
Gaza. One Israeli solider killed, six settlers injured"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 11/2)
3. Editorial Block Quotes:

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

"Why Fabricate Allegations against Syria?"
-------------------------------------------
Isam Dari, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen, commented
(11/2): "In a suspicious harmony between Roed-Larsen and John
Bolton, both talked about continued smuggling of arms from Syria to
Lebanon.... We wonder if Roed-Larsen received his information,
which he attributed to the Lebanese Government, from the Lebanese
prime minister personally or from one of the ministers who are known
for their adoption of American and Israeli positions....
"Has this new dirty game been concocted by Roed-Larsen, Bolton, and
some of those who carry Lebanese identity by name and
American-French identity by word and deed? Why this new lie at this
particular time? Is it to mar and abort Parliament Speaker Nabih
Birri's call for consultations by showing Hizbollah as arming itself
when the February 14 team is calling for disarming the party as a
precondition to any successful dialogue, and rejecting in advance
any government change or reshuffle to accurately reflect the
political balance on the ground and the desire of the Lebanese
people? Is the fabrication of this new lie at this particular time
related to the midterm elections that will take place in the United
States within days, with the aim of diverting the attention of the
American public, which is complaining about the policies of the Bush
administration, toward a foreign 'threat,' whether in Iraq,
Afghanistan, or Lebanon, in an attempt to pull the rug from under
the feet of the Democrats, who, according to American opinion polls,


will achieve a big election win? Why this return to the fabrication
of lies against Syria? Is it because the international community
and its big powers, like Russia and some European countries, have
started talking about the crucial Syrian role in the peace process
and about the need to revive this process...?
"Irrespective of the true objective of such leaks and false
information and their sources, origins, and tools, and irrespective
of the fact that Hizbollah stressed that it does not need weapons,
perhaps for the next two years the Bush administration and those who
benefit from it and implement its orders in the world and in Lebanon
want to hide facts with lies and to change the course of history.
Through what it did and is still doing, together with its partners,
this administration proves that it is enemy number one for Syria,
the Arabs, and other nations. But this is no longer useful: lies
and masks have fallen forever."
------------
"A New Tune"
------------
Ali Qasim, a columnist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote (11/2):
"While Israeli planes were flying low over the Lebanese capital,
Beirut, and the south, staging mock raids, Terje Roed-Larsen
repeated his tune about the smuggling of weapons to Hizbollah....
"John Bolton, the US representative in the United Nations, did not
let this opportunity pass. He immediately announced that he, too,
has information about the smuggling of weapons. He said he obtained
the information from parties in the Lebanese government, but added
that the information is not detailed because the parties that gave
it fear assassination. Condoleezza Rice, for her part, went
further, saying she has information about a plan to assassinate
Lebanese figures, including Al-Saniora.
"Since Rice has the information, why doesn't the US Administration
reveal these plans? Or is it that no one else knows about these
plans, and perhaps no one else is drawing up these plans other than
this administration, in order to level new accusations against
Syria, now that all previous accusations have reached a deadend and
lost their credibility?
"This harmony shows the gravity of what is being prepared for the
region after the failure of Lebanese parties to implement what they
were asked to implement. And it largely reflects a bankruptcy in
the American agenda that relied on those parties. Consequently,
those parties are now a burden to US policy itself, and there might
be a need to get rid of them, and this is why the way is being paved
with elaborate talk about and warning against the return of
assassinations, especially in the identification of the targeted
persons....
"It is no secret that such warnings might be a cover for alternative
scenarios aimed at creating confusion inside Lebanon, and an attempt
to save Al-Saniora's government and obstruct the consultation
meetings for which Parliament Speaker Birri has called. While the
nationalist Lebanese figures welcomed Birri's call, other parties
are working hard to put spokes in the wheels and push things toward
the unknown."
--------------------------------------------- --------
"Will Spain Succeed in Convening a Middle East Peace Conference?"
--------------------------------------------- --------
Dr. Sa'id Musallam, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote (11/2): "The idea of a new international conference on peace
in the Middle East enjoys the support of the EU, Russia, and
China.... Although the United States played down the significance
of the Spanish call for such a conference, some people believe that
the US Administration, suffering under its many crises, might
ultimately agree to the idea....
"Will the Spanish initiative succeed in creating a new international
climate from which the countries of the region in general will
benefit, or will the American intransigence and the major ambitions
of the oil cartels in the United States, France, and other
countries, in temporary alliances forged to serve personal
interests, spoil the climate of diplomacy and escalate the tone of
blackmail and arrogance up to the use of force, in which case no one
will benefit?"
---------------------------------------


"Changing Policies, or Changing Tools?"
---------------------------------------
Khalid al-Ashhab, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra,
commented (11/2): "Would Democratic domination of the US Congress
after the midterm elections next week mean a qualitative change in
US foreign policy, preventing the Bush administration over the next
two years from bringing the world, primarily Arabs, back to the
state of coercion and anxiety that it has been experiencing for
years? Is it just a change in tools and methods while policies
remain the same...?
"Arabs need to answer this question and then search for a salvation
that is not linked to the fluctuating whims of American elections."
Corbin

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