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Cablegate: Syria/India, Britain, Italy, Lebanon, Iraq, Peace

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DE RUEHDM #0824/01 2261254
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 141254Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4024
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 7035
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT 4717
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 3381
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 7846
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 1950
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 5278
RUEHJM/AMCONSUL JERUSALEM 1475
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA//
INFO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 7570

UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000824

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/India, Britain, Italy, Lebanon, Iraq, Peace
Conference (8/14)

1. Summary: Syrian papers on August 14 reported the visit to India
by FM Mouallem on August 13. Mouallem conferred with Indian Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh who praised President Asad saying that
"Syria has achieved remarkable progress (which) showed wisdom in
dealing with the developments of the region." Singh's talks with FM
Mouallem touched upon bilateral relations and regional issues,
particularly in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. FM Mouallem also held
official talks with his Indian FM Pranab Mokherjee on bilateral
relations between Syria and India and means of enhancing them in the
interest of both countries. The two ministers also discussed the
latest developments in the Middle East and Indian Peninsula. FM
Mouallem briefed his Indian counterpart on what he called the
positive Syrian role to achieve security and stability in the region
through urging Palestinians to return back to dialogue and form a
national unity government, support concordance among the Lebanese
and realize national reconciliation in Iraq.

Papers also reported that Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi has
reiterated the importance of the role played by Syria in the Middle
East under the leadership of President Asad. In a speech on August
13 to an international youth meeting on the international policy in
the Italian city of Grosseto, Prodi said that "peace in the Middle
East will not be achieved without the participation of Syria as part
of the peace process." "The Middle East crisis requires collective
commitment for being a world crisis and the peace process can't
succeed unless it includes all parties along with the Arab
countries, the EU, China, Russia and the US," Prodi concluded.

On the Lebanese issue, all papers headlined a speech by Lebanese
Army Commander Michel Suleiman on August 13 during a meeting with
Lebanese officers stressing that the "Fatah al-Islam" organization
is linked to al-Qaeda, adding that the "Syrian security apparatus
has no relation to it".

All papers featured a report prepared by the Foreign Affairs
committee at the British House of Commons calling on the British
government to develop relations with Syria, which plays a major role
in the region's key issues. Al-Jazeera Satellite TV Channel on
August 13 quoted the report as saying "British foreign policy has
harmed the country's reputation and credibility in the Arab and
Islamic worlds," calling for direct contacts not only with Hamas but
with Hizbollah through its MPs in the Lebanese parliament. The
report also expected the failure of US strategy concerning
increasing the number of US and British forces in Iraq. Al-Jazeera
Clarified that the report goes in the direction of strengthening
efforts to press the British government to withdraw forces from
Iraq, pointing out that the change is required by British Prime
Minister Gordon Brown not only in Iraq but in other places.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

Vice-President Al-Shara meets journalists today.

"Foreign Minister Mouallem confers with Indian Prime Minister Singh,
his Indian FM Mokherjee and the Indian Minister of Trade and
Industry in New Delhi. Mouallem confirms to the Lebanese satellite
TV Channel NBN: America pursues illusion. The arms race does not
serve peace" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/14)

"Indian Prime Minister Singh hails the wisdom of President Asad and
Syrian reforms" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 8/14)

"A British report calls for the restoration of credibility to
Britain's policy. The report calls on the government of British
Prime Minister Gordon Brown to develop its relations with Syria"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 8/14)

"Lebanese warnings against the US role in prolonging the Lebanese
crisis continue. Lebanese Army Commander Michel Suleiman: The
'Fatah al-Islam' organization is linked to al-Qaeda, and Syria has
no connection with it" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/14)

"Israel arrests Hamas supporters in occupied Jerusalem"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 8/14)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

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

"Peace of False Promises"
-------------------------

Muhammad Khayr al-Jammali, a commentator in government-owned
Al-Thawra, wrote (8/14): "The Middle East peace for which President
Bush is calling is based on false claims meant to mislead Arabs and
cover for the successive American failures in Iraq and Lebanon....

"Washington seeks to achieve a distorted settlement of the conflict
between Israel and Palestinians and create a rift in Arab and
Palestinian ranks by dividing Arabs into moderates and extremists.

"Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel will not
withdraw from the West Bank before at least five years.... This
proves the misleading talk about peace by American and Israeli
leaders....

"Barak's statements show the true Israeli thinking about peace,
which the Bush administration cannot disregard or change...."

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

"A Peace Conference or Another Oslo?

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

Khurshid Dalli, a commentator in independent al-Watan, worte (8/14:
"Israel is the biggest winner from the Middle East peace conference
that President Bush called for later this year.

"For Israel, the conference will be a second Oslo, producing a state
with no sovereignty, real capital, or specific geographic
border....

"The conference will also deepen Palestinian differences and pave
the way to normalize relations between Arabs and Israel. For the
United States, the conference will divert attention from what is
happening in Iraq and get the so-called moderate Arab countries
involved in the American strategy against Iran...."

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

"What Kind of Victory Is This?"

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

Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (8/14): "President Bush tries to inflate marginal things that
take place in Iraq and present them to Americans as major
victories.... An example of this is Bush's talk in his recent radio
address about the killing of an Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, which he
described as a victory for free Iraq....

"Iraq was completely free from Al-Qaeda and any other terrorist
organization when it was occupied. The terrorists about whom Bush
constantly talks and from whom he promises to free Iraq would not
have arrived in Iraq and tampered with its security had it not been
for the American occupation of the country. In other words,
terrorism in Iraq is one of the results of the US occupation....

"President Bush also remarked in the same radio address that
American forces have killed and arrested 1,500 terrorists since the
beginning of the year. Many of these are innocent Iraqis.... When
Bush says that his troops killed and arrested 1,500 people in Iraq
since the beginning of the year, this is an open admission that the
American Army is involved in the killing of Iraqis.... The Bush
administration is directly responsible for the killing of about one
million Iraqis since the invasion....

"Based on these facts, President Bush cannot convince Iraqis or
Americans that he has achieved victory in Iraq. He cannot even cover
his failures in this country, which is almost turning into rubble
and which is losing dozens of its people every day as a result of
the occupation and Bush's insistence on achieving victory. So what
kind of victory is this?"

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

"Seeking a Solution or a Partner in Failure?"

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

Charles Kamilah, a columnist in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(8/14): "President Bush gave the United Nations an expanded role in
Iraq not because he recognizes the importance and role of the
international organization or because he seeks a solution to the
Iraqi problem, but because he is searching for a solution to the
aggravating crisis of the occupation....

"Bush wants to perpetuate occupation with international supervision
covering the cost of the occupation and the repercussions of its
failure....

"Everyone wants the United Nations to play a role in Iraq, but
concurrently with US withdrawal or ending occupation."

Corbin

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