Cablegate: Syria/Us, Syria/Russia, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestinian
DE RUEHDM #5452/01 3621708
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 281708Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2712
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6466
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4250
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 2855
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7427
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1474
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 4809
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1036
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7159
UNCLAS DAMASCUS 005452
DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ARN, INR/IC/CD, INR/R/MR:STHIBEAULT AND
JMCCARTER, VOA NEWS CA, NEA/PPD:CBOURGEOIS, AZAIBACK, AND
AFERNANDEZ, IIP/G/NEA-SA MDAVIDSON
WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
CENTCOM FOR CCPA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Syria/US, Syria/Russia, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestinian
1. Summary: Syrian papers reported the Dec. 19-20 visit to
Damascus by US Senators Christopher Dodd and John Kerry and their
meetings with President Asad and FM Mouallem. Talks focused on the
level of relations between Syria and the United States and ways to
activate the comprehensive peace process in the Middle East. The
Baker-Hamilton report recommendations were also reviewed. President
Al-Asad renewed Syria's firm position toward the peace process and
its permanent readiness to achieve peace under fair international
sponsorship. The situation in Iraq was also reviewed. Support for
the ongoing political process in Iraq was stressed with a view
toward setting a timetable for withdrawing foreign troops from Iraq,
maintaining Iraq's unity and stability, and ending acts of violence
in Iraq. The two sides reviewed the deteriorating situation in the
occupied Palestinian territories and stressed the need to achieve
national unity among Palestinians. The two senators briefed
President Asad on the results of their tour of the region.
President Asad renewed Syria's support for everything the Lebanese
agree upon without any foreign intervention.
Papers also reported that Senators Dodd and Kerry met with Foreign
Minister Mouallem who called upon the United States to assume its
role as an honest sponsor of the Middle East peace process.
Mouallem emphasized Syria's concern about cementing security and
stability in the region and underscored the need for the
international community to shoulder its responsibility to achieve a
just and comprehensive peace in the region based on the UNSC
resolutions and Madrid conference as well as the land for peace
formula. Talks during the meeting included the exchange of views on
the latest international and regional developments, mainly
developments in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq.
On Syrian-Russian relations, papers reported Russian Foreign
Minister Serge Lavrov's December 20 statement calling for an
international conference in order to resume the peace process in the
Middle East. The Russian Minister stressed the necessity of working
hard to solve the region's pending issues through dialogue and
negotiations and with the participation of all concerned parties.
Papers also reported that on December 20 Russian President Vladimir
Putin issued a decree appointing Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander
Sultanov as special envoy of the Russian President to the Middle
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad briefs US Senators Kerry and Dodd on Syria's
positions regarding peace under honest international sponsorship,
setting a timetable for withdrawal of troops from Iraq, maintaining
Iraq's unity, and supporting everything the Lebanese parties agree
upon without foreign intervention" (Government-owned Tishreen,
"Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta: The Summit between President Asad
and President Putin confirms deep-rooted cooperation between the two
countries. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov reiterates his country's
desire to tackle all aspects of the peace process" (Government-owned
"Putin assigns Sultanov as a special envoy to the Russian President
to the Middle East. Russia emphasizes its desire to hold an
international conference, with the participation of all parties in
the region, in order to solve all pending issues " (Government-owned
"President Lahoud receives AL Secretary General Moussa: A national
unity government is the key to solving the crisis. Lebanese
political figures and MPs: The governing team is a tool for the US
project in the region" (Government-owned Tishreen, 12/21)
"A new scandal for the al-Siniora government: A warplane from
Israel landed illegally in Beirut on the same day Pierre Jumayyel
was assassinated" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 12/21)
"Two US soldiers killed, six injured in attacks in Baghdad.
President Bush admits his defeat in Iraq and his new Defense
Secretary makes a sudden visit to Iraq" (Government-owned Tishreen,
" Islamic mediation among Palestinian parties reinstates debate on a
national unity government at the negotiating table. Washington and
Israel pretend neutrality" (Government-owned Tishreen, 12/21)
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"The Russian Role"
Isam Dari, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen, commented
(12/21): "Perhaps the decision-makers in Washington believed they
would be able to neutralize the roles of big countries with
political, economic, and military weight in the world, chief of
which is the Russian Federation, the heir of the Soviet Union, the
country with major interests in the region and the world, and the
co-sponsor of the peace process that the US Administration and the
leaders of Tel Aviv have buried.
"The results of the efforts of the American hawks, who wanted to
unilaterally make the world's policies and decisions, came to shock
this American team, which has yet to admit that the new world order
is a dream of the past, and the New Middle East is following
"If the United States is playing a major role in today's world, a
role dictated by its political, economic, and military power, the
Russian role is no less important than the American role if we are
talking about the world's security, stability, and peace.
"... Syria wagers on a Russian role, in addition to a European and a
UN role, so that this region will not remain a hostage to Americans,
who are biased toward Israeli aggression and terrorism."
"Chaos to Achieve Goals"
Ziyad al-Munajjid, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote from Baghdad on (12/21): "The occupation forces are promoting
chaos in Iraq as a prelude to a sectarian war threatening to divide
the country as part of a plan to fragment and rearrange the Middle
East.... Hence the idea of death squads in Iraq, which were formed
under the full supervision of the occupation and which used the
Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense as a cover.
"Former American officer James Steel was assigned to supervise these
squads in the Interior Ministry, and their aim is to kill Sunnis.
While Officer Stephen Castle was assigned to form these squads in
the Defense Ministry, and their aim is to kill Shiites. Former US
Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte, who is specialized in guerrilla
warfare, directly supervised the formation of these squads....
"There are 66 death squads in Iraq, with its members wearing the
uniform of the Interior Ministry and the Defense Ministry. They are
led by two Iraqi officers, one in the Defense Ministry and one in
the Interior Ministry. These officers coordinate directly with the
national security agency. Most of the killings and terror operations
in Iraq are committed by these squads with cover from the occupation
"How Could a Military Defeated Behave Like a Winner? Changing Goals,
not Means Is What Counts"
Mahdi Dakhlallah, former Information Minister in Tishreen, commented
(12/21): "The Baker-Hamilton report proposes a change in the US
tactics and methods but not in the strategies and objectives of the
United States. The American objective remains the same: to control
the region and its potential. The report is certainly important,
especially when it criticizes military solutions and calls for
diplomacy and dialogue. But, is it really possible to change the
tactics without changing the objectives in the complicated world of
international relations? Is it possible to use peaceful and
dialogue-based methods to achieve aggressive and hegemonic
"What kind of dialogue can be opened with Syria if the objective is
to facilitate American hegemony on the region? How can people
accept the logic that what Israel failed to achieve in the
aggression on Lebanon it can achieve by political means, and what
the United States failed to achieve through its military operations
in Iraq it can achieve through diplomacy and dialogue?
"We hope that the United States will amend its objectives so that a
dialogue can be useful...."
"Democracy and Double Standards"
Ahmad Dawwa, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(12/21): "President Bush and Prime Minister Blair pursue double
standards when they support the call for early elections in
Palestine and reject it in Lebanon. Through such policies the United
States and Britain jeopardize the security and stability of the
region and cause further tension and serious trouble that would
ultimately harm American and British interests in the region....
"The call for early elections in Palestine deserves support because
the results of the previous election were not to the liking of
Israel, the United States, and Britain. This is why the Palestinian
government was besieged....
"But the call for early election in Lebanon is rejected as a coup
d'etat against legitimacy because its expected results will exclude
the ruling team and, consequently, the sedition plan that the
American and Israeli circles are preparing for Lebanon....
"Those who believe that the Bush administration, in its current
makeup where a small group of neoconservatives controls the
decision-making centers, will adopt the Baker-Hamilton report are
mistaken. This administration is a hostage to a destructive plan
threatening world peace and security. Its retreat from this plan is
linked only to the ability of the peoples of the region to confront
the sedition schemes that this administration manages through local
tools that turned themselves into fuel for this plan."