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Cablegate: Synopsis of Tunisian Media Response to the President's New

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTU #0891 3390906
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 050906Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7051
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TUNIS 000891

SIPDIS

R/PPR FOR DAVIDSON; ALSO FOR NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO AF TS
SUBJECT: SYNOPSIS OF TUNISIAN MEDIA RESPONSE TO THE PRESIDENT'S NEW
AFGHANISTAN STRATEGY

Ref: STATE 122234

1. (U) Per paragraph four of Reftel, Embassy disseminated widely
electronic copies of President's speech about his new strategic
direction in Afghanistan delivered at West Point on December 2. The
Information Officer (IO) emailed Arabic and French copies of the
speech to post's media contacts and bloggers, and featured the
speech prominently with accompanying background information and
photos on Post's public, trilingual website. The IO also posted a
link to the speech on Post's Facebook page and invited viewers to
post their thoughts or opinions about the new strategy in the
comments section of the Facebook page. After talking to some of our
Tunisian interlocutors, the impression we have formed is that
Tunisians are more seized with the Israel/Palestinian problem than
with the new Afghanistan policy unveiled by the President.

2. (U) Coverage of President Obama's new strategy in Afghanistan has
run the spectrum from wary to pessimistic. La Presse, Tunisia's
most widely read French-language daily, reported December 3 on its
front page that the President affirmed that "Afghanistan is not
lost", and that "American strategists expect that 30,000 additional
troops will play a crucial role in weakening the Taliban." An
editorial in the same newspaper said that President Obama's strategy
is similar to Bush's strategy on Iraq at the end of his time in
office, and wondered, "But will this strategy, which has succeeded
to cut Al Qaeda wings in Iraq, succeed to stifle Al Qaida in
Afghanistan?" The author then opined that Obama's strategy differs
in that Al Qaeda in Iraq is a foreign entity while "the Taliban are
an integral part of Afghani society and culture". Another editorial
asked "Would the 30,000 additional soldiers succeed to help achieve
in eighteen months what could not be done in eight years?" and said
that "With a corrupted Afghanistan and a population alienated from
the Taliban, Afghanistan seems to be much more complicated than
Vietnam."

3. More negatively, As-Sabah Arabic-language daily opined on its
front page December 4 that Obama's new strategy is wrong, and that
"Once again American President Obama has confirmed that the hopes
set on him by the Nobel Peace Prize committee was a mistake." The
author continued: "Here is Obama choosing to continue the same
trend by using the same speech to justify continuing the strategy of
aggression, killing and destruction through his decision to send new
reinforcement to Afghanistan.... it is certain that U.S. interests,
its power and hegemony in the world will suffer the most from this
policy." Another As-Sabah commentary grimly opined that "Obama's
adventure in Afghanistan is a repetition of the Soviet defeat" in
that country.

DESJARDINS

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