|06DAMASCUS313||2006-01-30 12:08:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Damascus|
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UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000313
1. Summary: Syrian papers today reported President Asad's
meeting on January 29 with Khalid Mashaal, Chief of HAMAS'
Political Bureau. Talks dealt with the results of the
Palestinian elections. President Asad congratulated Mashaal on
the HAMAS victory and stressed that the results of the election
will enhance Palestinian unity. Both Asad and Mashaal reiterated
the importance of respecting the will of Palestinians as
expressed at the ballot box, and called upon the various Arab,
regional, and international parties to respect this will and
deal with the outcome of the election as the legitimate
expression of the Palestinian will. Commentators focused on the
results of the Palestinian election and called on Americans and
Europeans to respect the will of the Palestinian people.
Commentators saw in HAMAS' triumph a victory for the option of
"resistance" and adherence to Palestinian rights. They called
upon the world to apply pressure on Israel to end its occupation
of the Palestinian territories.
Papers also featured a Foreign Ministry statement that expressed
Syria's shock at the cartoons in a Danish newspaper. The source
said that while Syria strongly condemns the encroachment upon
the highest symbol of the Arab and Islamic nations, it stresses
that respect for the symbols and values of others is what gives
the Arab and Islamic culture its human nature and constitutes
the basic pillar of dialogue and interaction among
civilizations, based on the common values of humanity. The
source said Syria calls on the Danish government to take the
necessary measures to punish the offenders and prevent the
recurrence of such offenses.
On Syrian/Russian relations, papers reported the visit to
Damascus by Russian Chief-of-Staff, Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky. The
two sides exchanged viewpoints on ways enhance and develop
cooperation and friendship between the two friendly armies, and
on issues of mutual interest.
2. Selected Headlines:
"President Asad congratulates Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah on
the occasion of his oath as Emir of Kuwait and discusses the
results of Palestinian elections with Khaled Mashaal, Chief of
HAMAS Political Bureau. President Asad confirms that the outcome
of the elections will consolidate the unity of Palestinians"
(Government-owned Al-Thawra, 1/30)
"Ali Habib, Chief-of-Staff of the Syrian Army, discusses with
Russian Chief-of-Staff Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky ways of strengthening
cooperative relations between the Syrian and Russian armies"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 1/30)
"Syrian Foreign Ministry official source: Syria was shocked by
cartoons in a Danish newspaper insulting Arab Prophet Muhammad,
God's peace and prayers be upon him. Syria calls on the Danish
government to take the necessary measures to punish offenders"
(Government-owned Tishreen, 1/30)
"Former Lebanese Minister We'am Wahab: Some Lebanese MPs are
carrying out orders from western embassies" (Government-owned Al-
"Olmert calls on HAMAS to respect the Oslo Accord and the
Roadmap. HAMAS confirms: No change on our charter. We will
discuss fulfillment of justice with Bush" (Government-owned
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"A Message of Victory"
Ali Nasrallah, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra,
commented (1/30): "The HAMAS' election victory was a message
from the Palestinian people to the world that the problem lies,
first and foremost, with the Israeli occupation and that the
approach to a peace settlement, therefore, should be
different.... The Western world, which claims to be civilized,
free, and democratic, has rejected this Palestinian message and
threatened to boycott the next Palestinian government and to
stop aid to the Palestinian people....
"US President George Bush suggested that Palestinians voted for
leadership change and for better services.... Palestinians voted
for the right of return, for independence, for the creation of a
state, and for the restoration of rights, of Jerusalem, and of
the occupied territories. They voted for the resistance that
will achieve all their objectives."
"The United States and the rest of the Western world, which are
calling on HAMAS to change its policy so that they can deal with
the movement, should change their policy toward the Palestinian
question and the Palestinian people. The United States should
respect the results of the election and the will and options of
the Palestinian people and refrain from interfering in their
"Before and After HAMAS"
Izz-al-Din al-Darwish, an editorialist in government-owned
Tishreen, maintained (1/30): "Israel stated that it will not
cooperate with any HAMAS government.... Israel has never
cooperated seriously with any Palestinian force representing the
"The current Palestinian Authority, for example, was established
on the basis of agreements and understandings concluded with
Israel that the international community, particularly the United
States, sponsored. Have the successive Israeli governments
seriously cooperated with this Authority? Definitely not; there
are thousands of pieces of evidence to prove this. Everyone in
the region and beyond realizes this fact....
"When Palestinians went to the polls and voted so extensively
for HAMAS, they must have borne in mind all Palestinian and
Israeli probabilities and must have chosen what they saw as more
appropriate for them under the circumstances of the occupation
and its practices.... They understand what Israel is planning on
all levels, primarily on the level of negotiations. And they
know what their current Authority offered them and what HAMAS
might be able to offer. In the final analysis the choice was
definitely their choice, as certified by all local, Arab, and
"The current stage dictates opening a new chapter in Palestinian
life based on strong national unity and adherence to national
rights. There are positive signals in this regard based on
statements by HAMAS and other Palestinian leaders."
"One Who Claims Democracy must Respect its Results"
Ahmad Dawwa, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra, said
(1/30): "The American and European positions toward HAMAS'
election victory show the falsehood of their claims that they
support democracy in the region. Those who raise the slogan of
democracy need to respect its results....
"Those who criticize HAMAS over its program and rejection of the
agreements with the Israelis must ask this question: Is Israel
committed to the agreements that resulted from the Oslo Accord
and to subsequent accords, so that HAMAS can be asked to abide
by them? Why are successive Israeli governments allowed to
reject agreements they have signed with the Palestinians while
the Palestinian governments are not allowed to do that? Should
HAMAS and others be criticized for their adherence to the rights
of the Palestinian people and the will of the voters?
"It is unfair to say that HAMAS won because the Palestinian
voters were punishing Fatah for its conduct and monopoly on
power. "The Palestinians voted for a political, social, and
economic program that HAMAS offered in its election campaign.
They trust that the movement will continue to work to implement
this program, especially since the movement has effectively been
implementing this program on the ground since its establishment.
"If the international community is really eager to consolidate
democracy in the region, as it claims, then it must, firstly,
respect the will of the peoples of the region and, secondly,
apply pressure on Israel, which occupies land and practices
aggression, to end the occupation and aggression."
"HAMAS has an interim political program that is not different,
in essence, from the programs of the other factions, namely, the
establishment of a Palestinian state on all the territories that
were occupied in 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital. It is not
HAMAS' right, or the right of anyone else, to shut the door in
the face of future Palestinian generations regarding crucial
issues that the Palestinian people at home and abroad must
determine when the right time comes."
"Power of Joint Action"
Maha Sultan, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(1/30): "HAMAS asserted that it will engage in a domestic
dialogue and will not monopolize power.... These positions,
undoubtedly, deserve a bow of respect.... HAMAS, which the
people gave the power to act unilaterally, without a partner,
preferrs to see its enormous victory as a victory for everyone
and to share this victory, with its positive and negative
aspects and responsibilities, with everyone. Only then will the
relationship with the foreign world, regionally and
internationally, and the management of the conflict with Israel,
be based on a correct and sound foundation."