Cablegate: Syria/Iraq, Syria/Palestinians, Syria/Israel, Lebanon,
DE RUEHDM #0853/01 2340439
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 220439Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4073
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC IMMEDIATE
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UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000853
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
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TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Syria/Iraq, Syria/Palestinians, Syria/Israel, Lebanon,
Bush's Strategy in Iraq, US/Israel (8/20-21)
1. Summary: Syrian papers on August 21 reported the visit to
Damascus by Iraqi PM Nouri al-Malki and his meeting with PM Mohammad
Naji Ottri on August 20. Talks focused on bilateral relations and
mutual cooperation between the two countries and means to improve
them. PM Ottri expressed Syria's readiness to offer support and aid
to the Iraqi people, participate effectively in rebuilding Iraq and
construct what has been destroyed by wa
r. "Syria spared no effort
to offer aid to Iraqis, and did her best to support and realize
Iraqi national reconciliation, security and stability," Ottri said.
He held the occupation forces responsible for the deteriorating
social, economic and security situation there, saying "the presence
of occupation forces in Iraq attracted extremist powers and led to
escalating blind violence which claims the lives of scores of
innocent people every day in Iraq." "Putting a timetable for the
withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq will boost opportunities of
reconciliation among Iraqis and provide suitable atmosphere for a
serious dialogue among different Iraqi parties," PM Ottri went on.
Iraqi PM al-Maliki reiterated the importance of re-evaluting all
former agreements between the two states through a joint technical
commission. Members of the Iraqi delegation expressed appreciation
of Syria for providing suitable conditions to Iraqi refugees in
Independent al-Watan on 8/20 featured a message addressed by Ismail
Hanieh, PM of the PA caretaker government, to President Asad calling
on him to help in solving the ordeal of Palestinian refugees fleeing
persecution in Iraq and trapped at its common borders with Syria.
Hanieh hailed President Asad's positions regarding the Palestine
cause and his "incessant effort in service of the Palestinian
people". The premier then hoped that Assad would personally
intervene to end those refugees' tragic conditions and to allow them
to live in Syria, explaining that such a step would be a mere
extension of the president's national measures in support of
Pan-Arab causes. Hanieh appealed to Asad to personally follow up on
the issue by appointing a special envoy for this purpose.
All papers on August 21 featured a call on Israel by the "Reporters
without Borders" Organization on August 20 to release Syrian
Journalist and TV correspondent in the Occupied Syrian Golan Ata
Farhat. "Israeli authorities have not given any justification
regarding the arrest of Farhat who doesn't know the accusations
directed against him," Italian AKI news agency quoted the
Organization as saying. Israeli occupation forces on July 30th
stormed Farhat's home in Bakata, north of the occupied Syrian Golan,
taking him to unknown place after searching his house.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"Syrian and Iraqi talks tackle mutual cooperation, reactivation of
past agreements, and the issue of Iraqi refuges. Ottri: We are
grieved by Iraqi suffering; we support any effort contributing to
national reconciliation. Al-Maliki: We are keen on enhancing
relations to serve joint interests. The Iraqi side expresses
appreciation for Syria's efforts toward Iraqi refugees confirming
concern to create a suitable atmosphere for their return"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 8/21)
"General Petraeus [Commander of Multi-National Force in Iraq] and
Ambassador Crocker submit their report on Iraq on September 11. A
Pentagon official: Bush, the loser, prepares to announce his
failure in front of the pubic opinion" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th,
"British Newspaper "The Guardian: Smell of failure hovers over the
White House" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 8/21)
"Anti-occupation demonstration in Sadr city. News circulated about
a visit to Baghdad by Iranian President Ahmadinejad. French Foreign
Minister Kouchner hints at a French role in Iraq in the future"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 8/21)
"French Foreign Minister Kouchner suddenly in Baghdad to express
solidarity with Iraqis. A military adviser to Bush: British forces
will be forced to a horrendous and embarrassing withdrawal from
Iraq" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/20)
"Hanieh addresses a message to President Asad about the suffering of
Palestinian refugees coming from Iraq" (Independent al-Watan, 8/20)
"Palestinian refugees in Syria: Responding to Syria's call for
dialogue is necessary" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/20)
"Amid continuing darkness in Gaza, six Palestinians martyred in an
Israeli air strike" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/21)
"A new video tape exposes Israeli humiliation of Palestinians on
border crossings. Palestinians worry about nuclear leakage from the
Demona reactor" (Independent al-Watan, 8/20)
"Israeli occupation denies stopping to chase Palestinian activists
in the West Bank. The occupation suspends providing the Gaza Strip
with fuel and electricity" (Government-owned Tishreen, 8/20)
"Confrontations in Nahr al-Bared enter the fourth month. The
Opposition studies all possibilities with President Lahoud and
Speaker Berri" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 8/21)
"The Lebanese crisis... between independent resolution and US
accounts. Lebanese Ministers and MPs: The governing team's betting
on foreign powers sabotages the country" (Government-owned Tishreen,
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"The House of Arabism"
Abd-al-Fattah Awad, Chief Editor of government-owned Al-Thawra,
wrote (8/21): "Damascus receives Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri
al-Maliki while it is aware of the amount of pain the Iraqi people
are suffering and of the magnitude of the complications the
situation in sisterly Iraq is witnessing.
"With this realization of the tragedies Iraq is experiencing, Syria
believes that there is no option other than political
reconciliation, which constitutes the foundation stone on which the
other solutions can be built. It also fully believes that
occupation is the essence of the problem and that setting a
timetable for the withdrawal of the occupation from Iraq would be
the main step in the right direction....
"The agenda of the Iraqi brothers here will be rich with frank
discussions, reflecting the fact that Damascus is always the
beautiful house of Arabism, the house that believed in the sanctity
of Arab affiliation....
"This is why Syrians are now grieved by this Arab rift, which we see
in various forms, the most prominent of which, perhaps, is our
excessive sensitivity toward one another and the great deal of
tension in which we deal with what is said here or there.
"It is obvious that there is a very pressing need now for sincere
Arab efforts to put Arab solidarity on its right track. Although
Arab countries have many interests in common, we see the opposite.
And at the same time we do not see sufficient Arab efforts to mend
the Arab home from the weakness it suffered and the differences that
turned--thanks to certain parties--into useless shouting...!
"Syria's message to all Arab countries is that what brings us
together is greater than what drives us apart, that we have common
interests and hopes, and that departure from Arabism promises of
nothing but destruction."
Muhammad Khair al-Jammali, a commentator in government-owned
Al-Thawra, wrote (8/21): "Indications of failure of Bush's new
strategy in Iraq came not only from the increasing number of deaths
among US troops in Iraq, or from the rise in suicide cases among the
American soldiers, as recently announced, or from the failure of the
military campaigns, which were often crowned by war crimes against
the Iraqi people, but also from the White House announcement that
plans are being made for a gradual pullout of the troops from Iraq
in what will be presented as a new strategy....
"Will the White House's new strategy succeed in containing failure
in Iraq and its political repercussions, which threaten the future
of the Republicans in the next presidential election...?
"This strategy might succeed only if the American policy that
neoconservatives are pursuing is changed in favor of a new policy
abandoning the logic of force and interference in the internal
affairs of other countries and the tendency for arrogance, threats,
and creation of chaos and sedition, and adopting dialogue as the
only language to solve problems of the region and present an
acceptable image of the United States in the region and the rest of
"Withdrawal, Most Useful US Option in Iraq"
Ahmad Dawwa, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(8/21): "It is likely that the US Administration will withdraw US
troops from Iraq in light of the growing domestic and foreign
pressure and the fact that the victory Bush is talking about will
not be achieved before or after the end of his term in office....
"The United States will certainly not withdraw from Iraq because it
accomplished its mission. Nor will it withdraw in response to the
demands of the Iraqi people and the American and world public or to
please Arabs. It will withdraw because the Bush administration has
come to realize that the mission was not and will not be
accomplished in the way Bush wanted...."
"Before It Is Too Late"
Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, "The United States is providing Israel with
additional military aid while Tel Aviv is not only rejecting the
peace of the international legitimacy, but also directing threats
around the clock and holding military exercises in preparation for a
new round of wars....
"Washington is pushing Israel toward a military adventure to regain
some of the prestige it lost after the defeat it suffered at the
hands of the Lebanese national resistance last year....
"Arabs, therefore, need to be aware of what they are doing in their
American relations. If they like divisions and do not want
solidarity, they have no excuse whatsoever to get closer to the
current US Administration and to cover its positions. As for Syria,
it knows exactly what it wants. It has sufficient experience and
ability to confront all eventualities. We hope that all Arab
brothers will work to revive Arab solidarity and be alert to the
dangers of this stage before it is too late."