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Cablegate: Syria/Iran, Syria/Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories,

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0746/01 2041009
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 231009Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3908
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6975
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4666
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3319
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7799
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1894
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5219
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1430
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7539

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000746

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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/Iran, Syria/Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories,
Peace Process (7/23)

1. Summary: Syrian papers on July 23 featured a statement by
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad Ali Husseini on July 22
reiterating the importance of the recent talks between President
Asad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad which aimed to
improve the strong relations between the two countries and unite
views regarding regional and international issues. During a press
conference, Husseini stated that talks during the visit stressed the
necessity of consultation and exchange of opinions regarding
regional issues and finding solutions to them through cooperation of
the region's countries without foreign interference. Husseini also
stressed the importance of dialogue about Iran's peaceful nuclear
program, saying that talks between Iran, the International Atomic
Energy Agency and the European Union are currently underway, and
that these talks are constructive and are making progress.

Independent al-Watan reported a release issued by the Iraqi Foreign
Ministry that states that Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari
discussed, in a phone call with FM Mouallem on July 22, the upcoming
meeting of the security committee on Iraq and preparations for the
meeting of the committee formed at the conference of Iraq's
neighboring countries held in Sharm Al-Sheikh. The upcoming meeting
is set to take place in Damascus in August. Meanwhile, FM Mouallem
said Syria will participate in a meeting about Iraqis living in
neighboring countries to be held in Amman on July 26.

Independent al-Watan reported that Iran denied any pact to sell
Russian weapons to Syria if Damascus does not initiate peace talks
with Israel. During a press conference on July 22, Foreign Ministry
spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini rejected the claim against Tehran,
terming it "a media game and propaganda." "The claim targeted the
good ties between Iran and Syria that agree on many critical issues,
such as Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon," he added.

Independent al-Watan reported an interview with Hizbollah leader
Hassan Nasrallah that will be aired by Al-Jazeera TV. Nasrallah is
reported to have said that his party "has the military capability to
strike any area of Israel, whether within Tel Aviv or outside it.
Every corner and every spot in occupied Palestine was certainly
within the reach of Hizbullah rockets during last summer's 34-day
war with Israel," he said. "And even now, it can certainly be
reached," he added, in a short excerpt of the interview to be
broadcast in its entirety on July 23.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"The Iranian Foreign Ministry reiterates the importance of
Asad/Ahmadinejad talks" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 7/23)

"Iran denies Saudi news on an arms deal with Syria" (Independent
al-Watan, 7/23)

"The most recent US accusation: Chinese missiles to Iraq through
Iran. The US-Iranian meeting on Iraq security will be held
tomorrow" (Independent al-Watan, 7/23)

"FM Mouallem discusses the security situation in Iraq with Iraqi
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari" (Independent a-Watan, 7/23)

"In an interview with al-Jezeera TV, Hizbollah SecGen Hassan
Nasrallah: We have the military capability to strike any area of
Israel" (Independent al-Watan, 7/23)

"As clashes in Nahr al-Bared enter their third month, Kousheran
arrives in Beirut today to finalize discussion on the political
crisis in Lebanon" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 7/23)

"Abbas confers with Chairwoman of the Israeli Knesset. Blair heads
to the region today. Four Palestinians martyred in Gaza. The
resistance shells Sedrout with missiles" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th,
7/23)

"British circles: Blair markets the US vision and his mission is
doomed to failure" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 7/23)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

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

"Bush and Olmert Seek an Exit"

------------------------------
Ahmad Dawwa, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(7/23): "President Bush proposed an international peace conference
on the Middle East to divert the attention of the American and world
communities from what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan....

"As for the Israeli objective, Israel at this stage seeks to hinder
any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations leading to a discussion of the
key and basic issues and also to push the Palestinians toward
further domestic division and split as a prelude to civil war, which
would enable Israel to change the rules of the game and portray the
Palestinian people to the world as a people not deserving the state
it hopes to build....

"The US Administration and the Israeli government are both in the
position of the defeated. The former moves from one failure to
another in Iraq, and the latter is haunted by the repercussions of
the July war. The two have a common goal: finding a way out, to
save themselves at the expense of the region's security and
stability and Arab rights....

"No one will believe that Bush proposed the international conference
without consulting with Israel. And no one will believe that Israel
and the United States are not in agreement on the objectives,
results, and ways out. But the question is: Are Arabs aware of the
real situation, or are they, like always, moving from one trap to
another to waste time?"

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

"An Honorary Appointment"

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

Maha Sultan, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(7/23): "Tony Blair has not yet shown that he is annoyed with the
US Administration's announcement that he is an envoy to the region
under an American ceiling and that he is working within the
framework of a specific mission, namely, supporting one Palestinian
team against another. Nor did he react to the announcement that he
will be working under American-Israeli supervision, not the
supervision of the Quartet....

"It is not known if Blair listened to 'The Financial Times' advice
on the need for him to learn the lesson of the failure of the
mission of his predecessor, James Wolfensohn, or if he listened to
the advice but ignored it because he already knows the situation....


"Palestinians and Arabs in general cannot express much optimism
about Blair's mission despite his neutral statements and his
attempts to present himself as neutral. This neutrality, if
positive, is negated by US statements and Israeli practices on the
ground. It is also abolished by the fact that Blair did not react
to those statements and practices. His appointment as the envoy of
the Quartet appears more of an honorary appointment than a serious
effort aimed at achieving something on the ground."

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

"Syria and Iran: A Solid Front that Will Remain Unified"

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

Muhammad al-Khafaji, a commentator in independent al-Watan, wrote
(7/23): "The message that the Iranian president's visit to Syria
conveyed to the world is that the Syrian-Iranian strategic
cooperation and coordination is continuing, contrary to reports that
there are differences between the two countries over some

issues....

"The Asad-Ahmadinezhad summit refuted all arguments that the United
States and Israel may succeed in separating Syria and Iran.... The
Iranian President's meetings with Hizbollah SecGen Hasan Nasrallah
and HAMAS Political Bureau Chief Khalid Mish'al in Damascus were
also messages of support for the resistance option....
"The Iranian president's visit to Syria undoubtedly gave impetus to
the strategic alliance between the two countries and the alliance
with the resistance forces in Lebanon and Palestine. This requires
that Americans, Israelis, and their followers once again think well
before engaging in any adventure...."

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

"No Answer to Be Heard"

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

Ali Nasrallah, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(7/23): "All the security plans in Iraq have ended with failure....
The achievement of any progress is impossible, as Iraq is suffering
from a series of complicated and intertwined political and ethnic
conflicts....

"Americans and some Iraqi parties ignore the fact that Iraq is
suffering under the yoke of occupation and that it is only because
of the occupation and its continuation that these conflicts erupted
and Iraq became threatened with more ethnic and sectarian
divisions.

"The US ambassador to Baghdad and the commander of the American
forces in Iraq said that it will be difficult to achieve significant
progress by September.... This means that the demand by Democrats
and Republicans for a speedy disengagement and withdrawal from Iraq
is legitimate because time is running out and the ability to
maneuver is diminishing...."

Corbin

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