Cablegate: Syria/Italy, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Peace
DE RUEHDM #0802/01 2191326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 071326Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3999
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 7029
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4711
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3373
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7840
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1942
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5269
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1471
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7566
UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000802
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/Italy, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Peace
1. Summary: Syrian papers on August 7 reported that President Asad
received a phone call from the Italian Prime Minister on August 6
focusing on the situation in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian
On Iraq, papers continued to report the increasing number
casualties in Iraq. Independent al-Watan featured a Congressional
investigation on the loss of one third of the weapons provided to
the Iraqi army by the Pentagon which increased fear that these
weapons are used by armed militias to kill US soldiers. Al-Watan
also reported the meetings of the security committee on Iraq that
emerged from the Sharm al-Sheikh Conference that will be held in
Damascus on August 8.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad receives a phone call from Italian Prime Minister
Prodi on developments in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 8/7)
"Meetings of the security committee on Iraq that emerged from the
Sharm al-Sheikh conference will be held in Damascus on August 8"
(Independent al-Watan, 8/7)
"Sixteen US soldiers killed and injured in Iraq since the beginning
of August. The cycle of violence reaps more victims. The political
crisis is on the rise" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 8/7)
"The loss of one third of the weapons provided to the Iraqi army by
the Pentagon" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/7)
"America and Iran discuss security in Iraq. Americans are killed by
their own weapons" (Independent al-Watan, 8/7)
"The Lebanese by-elections in the Metin region end with a resounding
failure for the governing team. Lahoud confirms commitment to the
constitution and calls for a salvation government" (Government-owned
"Abbas and Olmert discuss general issues without touching upon
substantive issues. Hanieh considers a the meeting a cover for US
policies" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 8/7)
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"One Who Lacks Something Cannot Give it"
Muhammad Khair al-Jammali, an editorialist in government-owned
Al-Thawra, wrote (8/7): "No one can believe that President Bush,
who pursues a policy of destructive wars, can turn overnight into a
man of peace working for a settlement in the Middle East.... There
is political trickery in President Bush's call for a Middle East
peace conference.... The conference is intended to deepen the
division among Arabs and countries of the region through axes and
alliances and push them toward new conflicts that serve the
interests of Israel and neoconservatives for decades to come....
"This view is substantiated by the fact that the call for the
conference was accompanied by diplomatic and military activity led
by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates.... The US Administration, through this activity, wants
to classify countries of the region into moderates and extremists
and conclude suspicious arms deals as a prelude to igniting
destructive regional conflicts....
"Bush's call for a peace conference at a time when he promises to
ensure Israel's strategic superiority over all Arabs and countries
of the region and at a time when he refuses to stop the war in Iraq
and abandon the policy of threats, which is the antithesis of peace
and the call for it, is almost similar to his false call for the
liberation of Iraq and the promotion of democracy in it, a call that
ended with the destruction of Iraq....
"The proposed conference lacks the bases, principles, and terms of
reference that make it a peace conference.... We wish that those who
welcomed Bush's call would realize that those who chase after wars,
conflicts, chaos, and seditions cannot make peace."
"They Have Only Themselves to Blame"
Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (8/7): "Some Arabs still insist on calling President Bush's
offer regarding the region an initiative, although the White House
clearly explained that the offer does not amount to an initiative
and that it is only a call for a meeting under American chairmanship
to discuss peace in the region....
"What makes things worse is that the so-called moderate media
outlets -- which are in fact outlets of money and subservience --
never cease trumpeting Bush's meeting and its privileges and
positive reflections on the region.
"So it is natural for a general state of fear and caution to
dominate the Arab public, which, by virtue of its awareness,
intuition, and experience, read Bush's offer well and realized its
ulterior motives and dangers....
"In fact, all this American activity is meant to normalize Arab
relations with Israel, not to bring about peace. The evidence is
the secret and public plans to drag as many Arabs as possible to a
meeting with Bush and take pictures of them beside the Israeli
"Observers are also mindful of the fact that the matter does not
stop with Israel's rejection of peace, a rejection that is known and
tangible. It goes beyond that: The US Administration applies
pressure on Israel to maintain this rejection of peace and to
prevent it from entering into peace talks. This has been
acknowledged by informed American and Israeli authorities.
Bush's call does not carry peace signals. This is what Syria and
most of the Arab countries have stressed. Those who praise,
cooperate, and go for gratuitous normalization will have only
themselves to blame."
"A US Development Plan for Ten Years to Come"
As'ad Abbud, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(8/7): "The weapons the United States is sending to the region are
sufficient to continue the destruction of the region for years to
come. Only Israel will be spared the terrorism of the American
terrorist plan, as the weapons are given on condition they are not
used against Israel....
"Are weapons what the region needs for life, democracy, environment,
future, and the fight against terrorism? We are not begging, but we
are drawing attention to the fact that the region needs development,
"They offer all these [weapons] to fight Syria, Iraq, and Iran while
they prevent the export to Syria of a small machine for an operation
room in a hospital in a remote village! Do you see what kind of
democracy they want for us? It is the democracy of killing, death,
and destruction. This is their plan to develop the region."