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05DAMASCUS6226 2005-11-29 13:07:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Damascus
Cable title:  

Damascus Media Reaction: Euro-Med Summit, Al-Hariri

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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAMASCUS 006226 



E.O.12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Damascus Media Reaction: Euro-Med Summit, Al-Hariri
Investigation, Iraq (11/29)

1. Summary: Syrian papers today reported in banner headlines
FM Shara's address at the Euro-Med Summit in Barcelona and
carried the full text of the final communique of the
conference. Papers also reported FM Shara's meeting with
Lebanese FM Al-Saniora in which Shara said that Syria has
opened a new page in its relations with Lebanon and that the
Shebaa Farms are Lebanese territory.

Syrian papers also continued to focus on the story of the
masked witness Husam in the Al-Hariri assassination, citing
the press conference held in Damascus in which he disclosed
more details about his arrest by Lebanese intelligence and
his false testimony. Headlines also featured statements by
some Lebanese figures demanding dismissal of Lebanese
Minister of Interior Al-Saba' and the arrest of Lebanese
journalist Fares Al-Khashan. Headlines also cited an
acknowledgement by the International Investigation
Commission that it had listened to Husam's testimony.

End of summary.

2. Selected Headlines:

"Husam reports in a press conference details on forcing him
to give false testimony: I was exposed to temptation,
bargaining and torture. I met twice with Saed al-Hariri, who
directed me to cooperate with Khashan. Confused reactions by
the forged testimony crew. Speculation about the position of
Lebanese judiciary towards detainees. The International
Investigation Commission acknowledges hearing the masked
witness. Other masks are expected to fall. The witness shows
readiness to appear before an international court. Wahab
[former Lebanese Minister] calls for dismissal of Al-Saba'
and arrest of Khashan, and warns against a gang that is
exploiting Lebanese establishments and apparatus to serve
its interests" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 11/29)

"The masked witness exposes more details about the
conspiracy to implicate Syria in the Al-Hariri
assassination. A group of politicians dictated information
to him and arranged for him to go to Vienna. The car of the
masked witness is found near Lebanese customs. Lebanese
calls to dismiss the Lebanese Minister of Interior Al-Saba'
and to arrest Khashan" (Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 11/29)
"On behalf of President Asad, FM Shara delivers a speech to
the Euro-Mediterranean Summit held in Barcelona. The Summit
voices commitment to achieve a just, comprehensive peace in
the Middle East in accordance with the principles of the
Madrid conference. Mr. Shara discusses latest regional
developments with King Juan Carlos of Spain, and meets
Lebanese Premier Al-Saniora and other senior officials in
Barcelona" (Government-owned Tishreen, 11/29)
"Protests and sit-ins continue in the Syrian provinces in
rejection of pressure and threats against Syria and in
assertion of national unity" (Government-owned Tishreen,
"The UN demands that Al-Jafaari cabinet halt operations in
Western Iraq. The Saddam trial is postponed until mid-
December" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 11/29)

3. Editorial Block Quotes:

"Will our People Be Relieved?"

Dr. Khalaf al-Jarrad, Chief Editor of government-owned
Tishreen, commented (11/29): "Syria, through its agreement
with the international investigation commission into the Al-
Hariri assassination, once again proves, in words and deeds,
that it respects international legitimacy and complies with
international resolutions and requirements even if it has
reservations and substantive observations about some of
them, such as Security Council Resolution 1636....

"When Syria insisted on changing the proposed place for
questioning the Syrian officials, it proceeded from a deep
desire to preserve the dignity of its citizens on the one
hand and to safeguard Lebanon's stability and avoid tension
and negative repercussions on the other."

"The agreement will not prompt Syria to relax, but to
demonstrate further vigilance and caution against the plans
targeting it...."

"Not to Be Charged with Bias"

Umar Jaftali, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen,
commented (11/29): "The EU took no action against Israel
despite a reported British Foreign Office memorandum saying
that Israel is working to Judaize Jerusalem through
activities that conflict with international law.

"We believe that the EU has lost enthusiasm for the
memorandum after an Israeli threat to boycott Europe and
exclude it from the peace process if any measures were taken
against Israel....

"Is it conceivable that the advocates of democracy and human
rights retreat after a simple Israeli reprimand and turn
into false witnesses with respect of violations of
Palestinian human rights...?"

"The Barcelona Conference and the Demanded Cooperation"

Muhammad Khair al-Jammali, an editorialist in government-
owned Al-Thawra, said (11/29): "The success of the Euro-
Mediterranean summit is contingent upon a solution to the
real problems the Middle East is facing, notably the Israeli
occupation of Arab territories and the American occupation
of Iraq....

"Some countries want to make terrorism the central issue on
the summit's agenda.... The issue of terrorism is very
important and must be confronted, but the fact is that
terrorism is an effect, not a cause, and its definition is

"Arabs reject terrorism, but the double-standard policy
toward issues of the region does not help solve the

"If controversial issues are solved, Euro-Mediterranean
cooperation will be a model of civilized interaction and an
element of regional and international stability."