Cablegate: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Palestine, Syria/Italy,
DE RUEHDM #5361/01 3381429
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 041429Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2557
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
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UNCLAS DAMASCUS 005361
DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ARN, INR/IC/CD, INR/S:STHIBEAULT AND
JMCCARTER, VOA NEWS CA, NEA/PPD:CBOURGEOIS, DBENZE AND AFERNANDEZ,
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Damascus Media Reaction: Syria/Palestine, Syria/Italy,
Lebanon, Syria/Finland, Iraq (12/4)
1. Summary: Syrian papers on Dec. 4 reported the visit to Damascus
by Palestinian PM Ismail Hanieh and his meeting with PM Ottri on
Dec. 3, focusing on bilateral relations and regional developments.
Papers also reported FM Mouallem's meeting on Sunday with Mr.
Chizari Maria Raghalini, Director General of the Directorate for the
Mediterranean and the Middle East of the Italian Foreign Ministry.
Talks during the meeting dealt with developments in the region,
including Iraq, Lebanon and the occupied Palestinian territories.
On the Lebanese front, Syrian commentators expressed support for the
demands of "the overwhelming majority" of the Lebanese people, as
expressed in the Beirut demonstrations, and they rejected the
accusation that Syria interferes in Lebanese domestic affairs.
Papers cited a meeting in Helsinki between Dr. Mohammad Habash,
member of the Syrian Parliament, and Cibu Risanin, Archbishop of
Finland, who condemned the latest Israeli aggression against
Lebanon, describing it as an aggression against spiritual values.
The Archbishop of Finland also pointed out his people's anger over
Israel's aggression against the headquarters of the Finnish
peacekeeping battalion, stressing that Syria represents a brilliant
example of coexistence, and the place where religious tolerance
reflects the country's original human civilization.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"PM Ottri reviews regional developments and bilateral relations with
Palestinian PM Ismail Hanieh, underscoring the importance of
Palestinian unity to foil Israeli schemes" (Government-owned
"FM Mouallem reviews the situation in the region with Mr. Chizari
Maria Raghalini, Director General of the Directorate for
Mediterranean and Middle East of the Italian Foreign Ministry"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 12/4)
"Israel is worried about al-Saniora government. Franjieh and
Arslan: Syria protected Lebanon and we are proud to have relations
with her. Al-Saniora government turns the security forces into
armed Militia. A member of the opposition is killed by a government
security element. The February 14 team obtains Israeli weapons"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 12/4)
"Speaker of the People's Assembly Mahmoud Abrash discusses means of
boosting bilateral parliamentarian relations, with Nicholas
Tolayiev, Member of the Russian Federal Committee for Defense and
Security. Tolayiev: Moscow is keen to support Syria's positions"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 12/4)
"Israel shells Beit Lahia, paving the way for more violations of the
cease-fire: Self-restraint is difficult. French presidential
candidate Segolene Royale from Gaza: Palestinians have the right to
an independent state and to receive aid" (Government-owned Tishreen,
"President Talabani rejects an international conference on Iraq.
Three US soldiers killed in Baghdad and al-Anbar. An assault
against a British patrol in Basra" (Government-owned Tishreen,
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
Abd-al-Fattah al-Awad, Chief Editor of government-owned Al-Thawra,
commented (12/4): "What is happening in Lebanon is a correction of
a wrong situation. It is a democratic expression of opinion that is
clearly and loudly asking Al-Saniora and his team to pack their
things and leave the government....
"Al-Saniora's team receives support from Olmert, Bush, Rice, and
always Bolton.... This being the case, the division in Lebanon is
between a group that has agreed to support the person who is
supported by Olmert, and a group -- which includes most of the
Lebanese -- that prevailed over Olmert and his war machine and
recorded an epic in resistance....
"It is astonishing that Washington gives two contradictory
descriptions to the same situation.... If people take to the streets
to support a group that follows US policies, then this is a great
democratic practice. If, on the other hand, people take to the same
streets to oppose American policies and those who adopt them, then
this is chaos and riots, or even a coup.... The United States
supports a government against which people demonstrate in Lebanon
while it opposes a government for which people demonstrate in
"The team that has bet on the American plan in the region and
planned all its steps on the assumption that the Americans would
succeed, has not yet understood that the American banner of failure
has been raised, declaring a humiliating loss. We do not know how
they still rely on the illusion of foreign support when they see the
squares of Beirut full of people demanding their departure....
"The sense of responsibility and logical human reaction make it
unacceptable for a person to insist on staying while millions of
people want him to go.... Above all, no one can reject the principle
of a national unity government and participation in the Lebanese
decision-making process.... A weak government at home seeking
support from foreigners is the best recipe for the fall of the
"The Governing Team's Intentions"
Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (12/4): "The situation in Lebanon is a conflict between a
popular majority wanting Lebanon to be in control of its own affairs
and a minority wanting to join the American-Israeli plan fully;
between a majority comprising known and recognized nationalist
forces wanting to serve the interests of all the Lebanese and
concerned about Lebanon's Arabism and power, and a minority
concerned about leadership, investments, selfish interests, and
exposed suspicious connections....
"The opposition's peaceful and democratic activity is not expected
to be easy. What the other team has shown so far, directly or
through its allies, stresses that it is going ahead with its
non-Lebanese agenda and that it is up to its ears in guilty
connections and that it is ready to ignite sectarian strife at the
end of the day. This is what the opposition has warned against,
drawn attention to, and stressed that it will not be dragged into,
no matter what the provocations, fabrications, and foreign
"The government team wants to take revenge against the opposition,
particularly Hizbollah, after the resounding victory it achieved
against Israeli in the July/August war.... However, the biggest
guarantor of the opposition is that it has the support of the
majority of the street and the determination to express its opinion
Ali Nasrallah, a columnist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(12/4): "The fact is that the pro-government forces in Lebanon are
turning a blind eye to the demands of the huge popular protests in
Beirut. This proves that these forces are not in control of their
decision and that domestic calculations are not on their agenda....
"Hatred has blinded the leaders of the February 14 team in Lebanon
to the fact that Washington is no longer able to proceed with its
policy and is now too weak to fulfill its promises to them.... These
leaders will discover that they were nothing but cheap tools and
small players in a big American project that has failed and died."
"Accusations for Consumption"
Ahmad Dawwa, a columnist in government-owned Al-Thawra, said (12/4):
"American and French accusations that Syria interferes in Lebanon's
affairs are meant to play down the mammoth demonstrations that the
Lebanese opposition, in all its groups, organized to form a national
unity government and draft a new electoral law. These accusations
reflect the impotence and political bankruptcy of America's tools in
Lebanon and, consequently, of what the Bush administration was
planning against this country and the entire region....
"It is disgusting that the United States, which claims respect for
democracy, supports an illegitimate and unconstitutional government,
and more importantly, a government that is rejected by the majority
of the Lebanese people.... What is more disgusting, however, is the
doubt that is being cast about the motives of this Lebanese
majority, which demonstrated peacefully and in a civilized manner,
in favor of a group that reached the parliament through exploitation
of blood, use of money, mortgage to foreigners, and involvement in
the implementation of agendas that are hostile to Lebanon and all
the Arab countries....
"Syria is honored by US accusation that it supports the overwhelming
majority of the Lebanese people.... Syria has always supported the
Lebanese people, in all their groups. It does not hide its support
for Lebanese accord and for everything that leads to the restoration
of security and stability and the return of power to the