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Cablegate: Lebanon, Syria/Ukraine, Syria/Iraq, Syria/Israel, Peace

VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0751/01 2050948
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 240948Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3914
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 6981
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4669
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3326
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7804
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1899
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5225
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1434
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7543

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000751

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: Lebanon, Syria/Ukraine, Syria/Iraq, Syria/Israel, Peace
Process, Palestinian Territories (7/24)


1. Summary: Syrian papers on July 24 reported the July 23
broadcast by al-Jazeera television of an interview with Hizbollah
Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah. Nasrallah said that Syria was

SIPDIS
ready to engage in the July 2006 war on Lebanon, but Hizbollah did
not see any reason for Syria to do so. He said that Israel took the
Syrian readiness into account and did not take any military action
in the "triangle area," which could have led to Syrian action.
"Keeping the war within the Lebanese domain me
ant that it remained
under control. A regional expansion of the war could definitely
have led to uncontrollable limits and unknown results. However,
what I know for sure is that Syria informed the enemy's government
via mediators that in the case of any ground advance into the
Al-Urqub area on the way to the Hasbayya and Rashayya areas that are
adjacent to the eastern mountains -- the guarded security boundary
for Damascus -- Syria would not stand idly by and would enter the
war. I also know that the Israelis took this message very
seriously. Hence, you notice that no ground advance took place in
that area," Nasrallah said.

Papers reported that FM Mouallem met on July 23 with the Ukrainian
Deputy Foreign Minister, Yuriey Kostenko, to discuss
Syrian-Ukrainian bilateral relations and means to strengthen and
develop them, in addition to recent developments in the Middle East.
FM Mouallem affirmed the necessity of increasing consultations and
visits between the two countries and exchanging points of view
regarding various issues. Kostenko expressed his country's desire
to improve relations with Syria, pointing out Syria's supportive
role in achieving peace and stability in the region, and stating
that what happens in the region affects his country's national
interest due to its geographic proximity to the Middle East.

Papers also reported that delegates said that a large meeting of
Iraqi rebel groups that was due to be held in Damascus July 23 was
canceled at the behest of Syria. Hundreds of delegates, including
members of the banned Iraqi Baath Party, officers in Saddam
Hussein's now defunct security forces and anti-US tribal leaders,
had gathered in Damascus to work out a joint program for groups
opposed to the continued presence of US forces in Iraq. "The
Syrians gently made it clear that this is not the time for this," a
senior Baath Party member said. He was speaking at a meeting to
announce the cancellation of the conference at a hotel in the
outskirts of Damascus. The decision did not go down well with most
participants, especially those who had traveled from Iraq. Some
delegates linked the meeting's cancellation to the visit last week
to Syria by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"Hasan Nasrallah, Hizbollah Secretary General: Our missiles are
capable of hitting any target in Israel. Syria threatened to enter
the war in the case of any ground advance into the Al-Urqub area on
the way to the Hasbayya and Rashayya areas" (Government-owned
Al-Thawra, 7/24)

"Foreign Minister Mouallem and Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister
Kostenko discuss the latest developments in the region and means of
boosting bilateral relations" (Government-owned Tishreen, 7/24)

"Kim Howells, British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth
Affairs, stresses the need to include Syria in efforts to revive the
Peace Process" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 7/24)

"A peace-demolishing statement by Israeli Vice President Haim Ramon:
We might stay in the Golan indefinitely" (Government-owned
Al-Thawra, 7/24)

"A Syrian decision postpones indefinitely a planned meeting of Iraqi
opposition delegations in Damascus" (Independent al-Watan, 7/24)

"A US delegation confers with President Lahoud: The Bush
Administration does not aim at maintaining Lebanon's sovereignty and
stability" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 7/24)

"Blair in the region. Hamas expects failure of his mission if he

boycotts Hamas" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 7/24)

"US disappointment at failure to endorse the Oil Law. Four soldiers
killed, and a helicopter crashed, in Mosul" (Government-owned
Tishreen, 7/24)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:
--------------------------------------

"Where Are the Impossible Conditions?"

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

Muhammad Khair al-Jammali, an editorialist in government-owned
Al-Thawra, wrote (7/24): "Every time Syria reminds people of its
firm positions toward peace and its goal -- a goal thwarted by
negative Israeli positions and the unjustified American bias toward
them -- the Israeli officials rush to misinterpret the Syrian
position with a view to distorting its essence and objective,
namely, reviving the peace process and leading it toward its
declared objective on clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal bases....

"Although this Syrian position is very clear, Olmert said in his
comment that Damascus is setting impossible conditions through its
demand for withdrawal from the entire Golan before the start of the
negotiations!

"Where are the impossible conditions in Damascus' position? Do they
lie in Syria's attempt to correct the course of the negotiations and
prevent them from turning into futile marathon negotiations as
former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhaq Shamir wanted them to be so
that they would fail, which indeed happened?

"Or do they lie in Damascus' right to know that the negotiations
will be resumed -- if they are to resume -- on the specific basis of
the peace process, namely, the return of the land in full in return
for peace?

"Damascus does not set impossible conditions, and Olmert alone
misunderstands its sound vision on peace. Why? Because he does not
want to implement full withdrawal from the occupied territories and
give relevant guarantees similar to Rabin's pledge. If that were
not the case, he would have the courage to say that he is ready for
full withdrawal from the Golan in return for a genuine peace with
Syria. Olmert's statement, therefore, is a deliberate
misunderstanding of Damascus' clear position, which does not
tolerate any erroneous interpretation."

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

"Syrian Solution and Regional Stability"

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

Ahmad Suwwan, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(7/24): "Syria has always been part of the solution, never part of
the problem....

"When Syria makes continuous efforts to achieve security and
stability in the region, it proceeds only from its firm belief that
peace alone can lead the region toward security and stability. This
peace cannot be achieved without a full end to the Israeli
occupation of all the occupied Arab territories and the withdrawal
of the Israeli forces to the 4 June 1967 lines in the Golan, the
West Bank, Gaza, Sheba Farms, and Kafr Shuba hills....

"Those who tried to isolate Syria suffered a setback and ended up
isolating themselves...."

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

"A Game of Procrastination"

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

Umar Jaftali, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(7/24): "Six years have passed since President Bush announced his
two-state vision without anything happening on the ground....

"We wonder what Tony Blair, Bush's closest ally in the aggression on
Iraq and in many positions that frustrated the peace process in the
region, can do as envoy of the Quartet.
"James Wolfensohn, former Quartet envoy, said that Washington never
stopped interfering in the negotiations and imposing its decisions
on the committee....

"What will Blair, the new sponsor of the Quartet, do? Is he up to
this sensitive responsibility that has to do with the fate of a
people that was wronged and persecuted by Great Britain before any
other country...?

"Will Bush keep his promise of two states, which he did not fulfill
even when he wielded wide powers at home and with the allies...?

"We do not want to anticipate things, but what we see on the ground
is not promising. It does not indicate that there is an
international effort to end the Palestinian tragedy and Israel's
painstaking attempts to destroy the Palestinian society, abolish its
identity, and Judaize its land...."

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

"An Emergency Case"

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

Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (7/24): "Israel and the United States occupy Arab lands, kill
Arab peoples, and tamper with the unity and stability of Lebanon and
Sudan.... What are the Arabs doing to confront all this....?
Nothing useful at all. Not only this, but some Arabs push in this
American-Israeli direction, and here lies the danger....

"Certainly, nothing like this would have happened without US
political and media cover, which portrays rapprochement with Israel
as the ultimate achievement on the security, political, and
democratic levels....

"Yet there is an Arab conviction among the broader sectors --
peoples and governments -- that this deteriorating Arab situation is
a passing phenomenon and will come to an end at any moment,
especially at the time of hardship. This is what the distant and
recent Arab past has proven."

Corbin

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