Cablegate: Mousa, Bilal, Aboul Gheit, Lebanon, Palestinian
DE RUEHDM #0694/01 1901333
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091333Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3832
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
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UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000694
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
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TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Mousa, Bilal, Aboul Gheit, Lebanon, Palestinian
Territories, Iraq, Bush (7/9)
1. Summary: Syrian papers on July 9 reported the July 8 arrival in
Damascus from Riyadh of Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa, for
a two-day official visit to Syria. Mousa will meet with senior
Syrian officials about the latest developments in Lebanon. He will
discuss the Lebanese crisis with Syrian President Asad and brief him
on efforts of the Arab League to find a solution.
Papers also featured an interview with Minister of Information
Mohsen Bilal on al-Jazeera TV on July 8. Bilal stressed Syria's
commitment to a just and comprehensive peace that guarantees the
return of the occupied Syrian Golan, Shebaa farms, and the hills of
Kfar Shoba, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state
with Jerusalem as its capital, and the Palestinian refugees' right
of return. He said that "Syria stands by Lebanon's interest, unity
and national accord," and asserted the necessity of dialogue among
the Lebanese people and formation of a national unity government.
"Syria helps Lebanon and supports the brotherly Lebanese people with
whom we share strong ties and national and pan-Arab relations," he
said. He added that "the visit of Arab League Secretary General
Mousa to Syria aims to discuss the situations in the Arab arena,
particularly in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq." On relations with
France and Britain, Dr. Bilal expressed hope that the upcoming
period will witness positive developments.
On Syrian-Egyptian relations, papers cited an interview with
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit published in Egyptian
daily Algomhoria on July 8, describing Syrian-Egyptian relations
as "deep," and confirming that both countries are continuing
consultations regarding issues of the Middle East. Aboul Gheit
hailed cordial and continuing dialogue between Syria and Egypt. He
called on all Palestinian parties to work for national
reconciliation and conduct a dialogue on all disputes. He expressed
his country's desire to build relations with Iran on a solid basis.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"Arab League Secretary General Mousa arrives in Damascus to hold
talks on latest developments in the region" (Government-owned
"Bilal: Mousa will discuss developments in Palestine, Lebanon and
Iraq" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 7/8)
"Information Minister Dr. Bilal: Syria stands by Lebanon's unity
and calls for dialogue among its citizens" (Government-owned
"Egyptian Foreign Minister Aboul-Gheit: Our relations with Syria
are friendly and our consultations are continuing" (Government-owned
"Speaker of Lebanese Parliament Berri: We will not permit Lebanon
to be turned into an arena for settling scores. Lebanese circles
describe US Ambassador in Beirut as babysitter" (Government-owned
"The Olmert government initially agrees to release 250 Fateh
prisoners while it ignores 10,500 Palestinians in Israeli jails"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 7/9)
"US President Bush witnesses a difficult week at the Congress.
Death toll of US soldiers reached 28 in July" (Government-owned
"Egyptian Foreign Ministry warns Egyptians not to sneak into Syria"
(Independent al-Watan, 7/9)
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"Take the Wisdom from Feltman"
Muhyi-al-Din al-Muhammad, a commentator in government-owned
Tishreen, wrote (7/9): "US Ambassador in Beirut Feltman made an
insolent remark when he said that Hizbollah is a terrorist
organization posing a threat to the region.
"US officials reject every form of resistance against their plans,
occupations, and hostile policies. They reject every form of
resistance against Israel, which occupies Arab lands in the West
Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan, and south Lebanon, and which
disregards the Security Council resolutions that have for four
decades been calling for withdrawal from those occupied
"Israel has been practicing state terrorism since its establishment,
while Hizbollah directed its weapons only against the occupier and
managed to smash Israel's arrogance...."
"Repercussions of the Gaza Events; Present and
Future Threat to The Palestinian Cause"
Dr. Sayyah Azzam, a columnist in government-owned Al-Ba'th, wrote
(7/9): "The United States and Israel planned the bloody fighting in
Gaza between Fateh and HAMAS.... Palestinian divisions help Israel
overcome the difficult situation it has been experiencing since its
defeat in the Lebanon war and provide it with an opportunity to
continue its repression of the Palestinian people and its usurpation
of their land and rights....
"Palestinians must realize the enormous threats that the Gaza events
pose to their present and future....
"The Israeli steps, like the release of some funds to the government
in Ramallah, are only meant to deepen the division among
"Realization and Precaution"
Maha Sultan, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(7/9): "The Republican opposition to President Bush's Iraq policy
is widening.... This is a result of the realization that the
September evaluation of the progress in Bush's strategy in Iraq will
not be positive, no matter what plastic surgeries Bush and his team
may perform on it....
"With the presidential election at the doorstep, Republicans,
especially the prominent figures, want to distance themselves from
"So this is not a realization of the extent of damage and
destruction that Bush's policies have caused to Iraq and the Iraqis,
but an attempt to evade damage to their electoral chances...."