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Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Russia, Syria/Lebanon,

VZCZCXYZ0007
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #5341/01 3311331
ZNR UUUUU ZZH (508)
O 271331Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2517
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6397
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4195
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2790
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7376
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1408
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4760
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 0975
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7110

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 005341

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: Syria/Russia, Syria/Lebanon,
Syria/Cyprus, Iraq, Palestinian Territories (11/27)


1. Summary: Syrian papers on Nov. 27 reported President Asad's and
VP Shara's meetings on Nov. 26 with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Alexander Sultanov, focusing on the tension in the region caused by
foreign interference. In statements following the meeting,
Sulatanov described his meetings as "fruitful and frank." He
stressed that views were exchanged on various challenges, noting
that there is a joint desire for dialogue in the interest of
realizing security and peace in the Middle East.

On Syrian-Lebanese relations, papers reported that VP Shara received
on Sunday (Nov. 26) a delegation from the Regional Command of the
Baath Party in Lebanon, headed by the Party's Regional Secretary,
Mohammad Mohamadia. Talks focused on current regional developments
and the tense situation in Lebanon. Papers also reported that
Lebanese security forces assaulted Syrian workers on the pretext
that they were working in an illegal building in the al-Awzai suburb
of Beirut.

On Syrian/Cypriot relations, papers reported that Cypriot Parliament
Speaker Dimitris Hristofyas visited Syria to develop cooperation and
relations of friendship between Syria and Cyprus. In a statement to
a SANA reporter upon arrival in Damascus on Nov. 26, Hristofyas said
that he would talk with senior Syrian officials about parliamentary
and bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as the
situation in the region.

Syrian commentators on Nov. 27 continued to comment on the
assassination of Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre al-Jumayyil and
the Lebanese government's endorsement of the UN plan for the
international tribunal that will try suspects in the killing of
former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"President Asad discusses regional developments with Russian Deputy
Foreign Minister Sultanov. Sultanov confirms joint efforts to find
solutions to regional crises. Syria and Russia express satisfaction
over bilateral cooperation. President Asad accepts an invitation to
visit Moscow" (Government-owned Tishreen, 11/27)

"Vice-President Shara discusses the critical situation in Lebanon
with Lebanese Party delegation. Mohamadia, Regional Secretary of
the Baath Socialist Party in Lebanon: Syria's role is very
important in ending sedition" (Government-owned Tishreen, 11/27)

"Hizbollah resorts to cooldown to correct the course of the
government. Nationalist powers reiterate rejection of government
practices, confirming President Lahoud's central role"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 11/27)

"Lebanese Security Forces assault Syrian workers in al-Awzai suburb
of Beirut" (Government-owned Tishreen, 11/27)

"Spain calls on Israeli forces to withdraw from the West Bank"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 11/27)

"Israel builds a dam in occupied Golan to steal its waters"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 11/27)

"Speaker of Cypriot Parliament arrives in Damascus"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 11/27)

"Assault against a military base in Baghdad. Three US soldiers
killed. Number of US casualties rises to 2876" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 11/27)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

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

"The February 14 Team"

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

Ahmad Dawwa, a columnist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(11/27): "The February 14 forces in Lebanon insist on fabricating
further political and social tension without heeding local, Arab,
and international warnings that the Lebanese situation might reach
the brink of the abyss....

"This group pushed its supporters after Al-Jumayyil's funeral to
harm the opposition political forces and insult religious beliefs.
This proves that it intends to block any national reconciliation and
present Lebanon with two options: accepting its monopoly on power
and its association with foreigners, or descending into chaos. This
proves that its decision-making is abroad, not in its own hand....

"Al-Jumayyil's assassination, in the way he was assassinated and the
political exploitation of the crime, indicates that the government
in Lebanon implements foreign instructions and that some parties to
this government were involved in the assassination....

"What happened during Al-Jumayyil's funeral clearly points to the
culprits. Instead of investigating the crime, the team of the
illegitimate authority began leveling accusations and allowed the
criminals to escape. This in itself must motivate all Lebanese, not
only the opposition, to openly accuse this team of bearing political
and criminal responsibility for the crime...."

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

"Traders in Blood"

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

Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
commented (11/27): "Leaders of the February 14 group worked to
prepare the climate in Lebanon for murder weeks before Minister
Pierre al-Jumayyil was assassinated....

"These leaders carefully distributed roles in order to level
accusations against Syria and hurl abuse and threats at the Lebanese
opposition, primarily the Free Patriotic Movement, Amal, and
Hizbollah....

"You traders in blood: Pierre al-Jumayyil was killed in order to
advance your plan, not the plan of the opposition. The
assassination was carried out at a time that serves your plans, not
the plans of anyone else. It was a stab at the Lebanese opposition
in all its shades, and also a stab at Syria, which wants stability
for the Lebanese...."

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

"Trial of Tribunal"

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

Burhan Bukhari, an op-ed writer in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(11/27): "Everyone now knows that the establishment of the
international tribunal is not aimed at revealing the truth of the
Al-Hariri assassination, but is being used as a sword at Syria's
neck and a pressure card to stop Syria's opposition to US
hegemony....

"The tribunal will either condemn Syria, or acquit Syria, or leave
the issue in a gray area.... None of these three possibilities can
in any way serve the higher strategic relations between the two
sisterly countries.... Condemnation of Syria will not end the issue,
and it will make the situation tenser. Syria's acquittal will mean
full estrangement with effective political forces. And continuation
in the gray area will further complicate matters....

"We believe that the third possibility -- no decisive verdict but
continuation in the gray area -- is the most likely, as evidenced by
the extension of Judge Serge Brammertz' mandate until June and the
announcement that the tribunal will need a few years to make a final
judgment....

"Can Syrian-Lebanese relations tolerate a few more years of tension?

Can the bad and nearly collapsed economic situation in Lebanon
tolerate the continuation of hostility toward a sisterly country
that encloses Lebanon from almost every side....?"

----------

"Sedition"
----------

Ali Nasrallah, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(11/27): "The US Administration and its cheap tools in the region
are publicly working to create domestic sedition and discord after
the retreat of the American plan in the face of the nationalist
plans in Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine....

"This has been happening in Palestine since HAMAS won the
parliamentary elections. The same is also happening in Lebanon now
that the Lebanese government is about to fall under the pressure of
the nationalist popular will....

"In Iraq, the number of victims and displaced people is always on
the rise.... Are these pure coincidences, or is this an official
policy pursued by the arms of the US Administration and Israel to
keep the American-Zionist plan alive, living off sedition....?"

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

"Two Readings of the US Failure in Iraq"

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

Muhammad Kanaysi, a commentator in government-owned Al-Ba'th, wrote
(11/27): "While the first reading says this failure will drive the
US Administration to withdraw its troops from Iraq quickly, the
second believes that it is too early to talk about an American
defeat and that the Bush administration will try, through the
Baker-Hamilton committee's recommendations, to address this failure
and find new plans and mechanisms to help it achieve its strategic
objective in Iraq, which remains unchanged....

"The second reading appears more objective, as it is not likely that
the United States will easily accept defeat and, consequently, harm
its vital interests in the region. In light of this, the next stage
will be extremely serious because it will witness the implementation
of new American political and military plans that will try to avoid
the mistakes and flaws of the previous plans and that will be more
capable of realizing the major American goal, namely, subjugating
Iraq to the American-Zionist will as a prelude to subjugating the
entire region....

"Hence the need for Arabs to be alert to the gravity of this stage,
during which the US Administration will use all possible new
methods, no matter what the price, to compensate for the failure it
has reaped so far. The Iraqi resistance, which continues to
confront the hateful American occupation, needs Arab political
support more than ever before to strengthen its ability to foil the
next American plans."

Corbin

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