Cablegate: Syria/Iraq, Syria/Iran, Middle East Peace Conference,
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DEPARTMENT FOR PA, NEA/ELA, INR/IC/CD, INR/R/MR: JPAUNESCU AND
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TAGS: KMDR PREL KPAO OPRC SY
SUBJECT: Syria/Iraq, Syria/Iran, Middle East Peace Conference,
Non-Allied States Ministerial, Syria/US, Lebanon (9/4-5)
1. Summary: Syrian papers on September 4 reported that President
Asad chaired a meeting the Central Leadership of National
Progressive Front. During the meeting, President Asad briefed the
Front's members on the latest political developments in the region.
He referred to the role played by "some superpowers to instigate
conflicts instead of finding serious solutions to them as a result
of lacking objective vision of the real situation in the region and
prospects of solution to it in a way that realizes development and
preserves stability." President Asad pointed out to efforts exerted
by Syria in all different circumstances to contain disorder and
frustration fed by "powers hostile to the Arab nation."
Papers on September 5 reported FM Mouallem's participation in the
Arab League Ministerial meeting held in Cairo on September 4 in
preparation for the upcoming peace conference organized by the US in
the fall. Papers featured two press statements by Egyptian FM
Abul-Ghait in Cairo, and another statement by Austrian Chancellor
Gusenbauer in Vienna reiterating the importance of involving Syrian
in any effort to revive Middle East peace. All papers reported that
FM Shara will be visiting Rome on September 5 and will meet with FM
Prodi and Lamberto Dini, Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee at
the Italian Senate. He will also convey a message from President
Asad to the Pope Benedict XVI. Apparently Italy is mediating to
involve Syria in the upcoming peace conference in the fall.
On Syria-Iranian relation, papers on September 4 reported that
Iranian President Ahmedinejad's meeting with FM Mouallem on
September 3 who conveyed a message from President Asad on bilateral
relations and latest regional developments. Earlier, Minister
Mouallem chaired Syria's delegation to the Ministerial meeting of
Non-Aligned Countries opened in Tehran on September 3.
As for developments in Lebanon, papers on September 5 reported a
press conference in Beirut on September 4 by General Shawqi
al-Masri, Lebanese Chief of Staff and George Khouri, Head of
Lebanese Army Intelligence, denying any connection between Fateh
al-Islam group and Syria or Syrian intelligence, saying that Fateh
al-Islam is entirely connected with al-Qaeda organization.
On Iraq, papers on September 4 reported President Bush's sudden
visit to Iraq on September 3 and his meetings with Iraqi officials
and American military commanders. Papers noted that the US
president, accompanied by senior administration officials, arrived
in the American military base in Al-Anbar "in complete secrecy"
while the British forces were withdrawing from the southern Iraqi
city of Basra.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad presides over a meeting by the National Progressive
Front and briefs on latest political developments in the region:
Some superpowers instigate conflicts in the region and Syria strives
to contain factors of disorder and frustration" (Government-owned
"US Senator Dennis Kucinich: Syria has presented a lifeline for
millions of Iraqis. The UN calls for supporting Syria. The UN
calls for supporting Syria's efforts in hosting Iraqi refugees"
(Independent al-Watan, 9/4)
"President Asad sends a message to Pope Benedict XVI.
VP Shara visits Rome today to meet the Pope and Italian FM Prodi"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/5)
"Foreign Minister Mouallem participates in the Arab League
Ministerial in Cairo. Egyptian FM Abul-Ghait reiterates the
importance of involving Syria in any effort to revive Middle East
peace" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 9/5)
"Iranian President Ahmedinejad receives a message from President
Asad convoyed by Foreign FM Mouallem" (Government-owned Tishreen,
"Ahmedinejad: We have proof that no country will dare launch attack
against Iran" (Independent al-Watan, 9/4)
"Deputy Foreign Minister Miqdad to the Non-Aligned Countries
Ministerial in Tehran: Israel seeks to obliterate the history of
occupied Golan" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/5)
"Austrian Chancellor Gusenbauer calls for involving Syria in the
Middle East peace conference. Mubarak, Blair, Italian FM D'Alima
and Jordanian Monarch Abdullah prepare for the Bush conference"
(Independent al-Watan, 9/5)
"Few hours after the pullout of British troops from al-Basra, and
few days before the Petraeus-Crocker Report, Bush suddenly in
Baghdad: Reducing US forces is feasible" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th,
"Lebanese calls to investigate into the emergence Fateh al-Islam
group and exposing perpetrators. Lebanese warnings against
repercussions of rejecting the Parliament Speaker's initiative"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 9/4)
"The Lebanese Army: Fateh al-Islam group is entirely connected to
al-Qaeda organization" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 9/5)
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"Figures of Failure"
Ezz-Eddin Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
wrote (9/3): "The rising number of Iraqi and American deaths in the
past few months show the failure of the American strategy in Iraq,
contrary to the claims of American war theorists, who are trying to
convince the world that progress is being made.... We do not expect
the Petraeus-Crocker report in the middle of this month to be in
favor of the US Administration.
"Iraq was plagued by the American invasion. It was fully destroyed
as a result of this invasion. It lost more than one million of its
sons as direct victims. Four million Iraqis were displaced at home
and abroad. Killing and destruction continues to be the main
headline in Iraq more than four years into the occupation. So what
more does the Bush Administration wants to end its occupation and
leave the Iraqis determine their future...?
"What was not achieved in four years cannot be achieved in months.
This means that an end to this tragedy begins with the removal of
occupation and the launch of a genuine Iraqi political process to
unify all Iraqi groups, consolidate the country's territorial
integrity, and provide comprehensive security and stability. This
is what the Bush Administration is supposed to acknowledge, today
Ali Qasim, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote (9/4):
"The US campaign against Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is the
beginning of the US Administration's attempt to find a way out of
its Iraq predicament....
"It is no secret to anyone that the American search for an exist
appears futile at a time when the administration of President Bush
is getting more confused, especially after the series of setbacks it
suffered and the departure of most of the war hawks from the White
"In light of this, the US nervousness is at its worst ever leading
to further blunder and offhandedness in both decisions and practice.
"The world that faced the grave consequences of the US
Administration's decisions when it was not under the pressure of
time and embarrassment, now expects more disastrous decisions than
those the repercussions of which it is experiencing today...."
"What A Fall Bush Expects!"
Dr. Sa'id Musallam, a columnist in government-owned Al-Thawra, wrote
(9/4): "As fall begins, US President Bush and those who remain with
him, hawks or doves, are in a hurry to score any victory to cover
their defeats in Iraq....
"Bush's call for a Middle East peace conference in Washington is
part of this effort.... Preparations for the conference coincide
with the start of the British withdrawal from Iraq, the announcement
by the American ambassador in Iraq about the difficult position of
his country there and the failure of the US policy and strategy in
Iraq, the growing criticism of the Iraq war inside the United
States, and attempts to blame the Al-Maliki government for the
failure in Iraq....
"So the Bush team is left only with the fall opportunity. Some
believe it is the only option left for him, whether through fire or
dialogue. Some fast-food meals would be enough to prepare the last
supper to celebrate the lost peace to the tune of the withdrawing
troops from Iraq, the fall of the lackeys and followers in Lebanon
and the region, and the outcry of the free peoples of the region:
Leave our countries, good riddance, and call it victory anyway you
"Persistence in Mistake"
Umar Jaftali, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(9/4): "The US Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich heard from
President Asad important words about US -Syrian relations and the
possibility of advancing the peace process and maintaining security
and stability in the region....
"The US Congressman praised Syria's important role in the region and
reiterated the need for dialogue with Damascus.... Similar
arguments were made by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and many other
American politicians who visited Syria, as well as by the
Baker-Hamilton report.... Yet, the US Administration continues to
look at the issues of the region with an Israeli eye and to insist
on completing the Zionist-American plan that embroiled the United
States in a unilateral policy that led to a clear failure
unbefitting of the role and reputation of this superpower....
"The policy of the Bush administration, which is built on the
principle of force, hegemony, and promotion of 'creative chaos,
presented models of failures and tragedies and brought the hatred of
peoples and the resentment of a large sector of the American
officials who hope their country will play a constructive role in
the whole world, unlike the ugly role it played in Iraq. They hope
the United States will adopt neutral positions and respect the
options of nations, not control them based on colonialist whims and
tendencies and Israeli plans that violate Arab rights...."