|07DAMASCUS257||2007-03-13 15:33:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Damascus|
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UNCLAS DAMASCUS 000257
1. Summary: Syrian papers on Mar. 13 reported Deputy Foreign
Minister Faisal Miqdad's meeting on Mar. 12 with Ellen Sauerbrey, US
Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and
Migration. Talks focused on developments in Iraq and the suffering
of Iraqis at home and abroad as a result of the situation in their
country. Dr. Miqdad stressed that the problem of the Iraqi refugees
is a result of the war on Iraq. Therefore, he said, the
community must turn full attention to the suffering of
Iraqis who were forced to leave their homes and country to escape
from the instability and lack of security that Iraq has experienced
in recent years. He said the Iraqi government and Americans must
shoulder their responsibility and enable Iraqis to return to their
homes in a stable and secure climate. A SANA (official SARG news
agency) release reported that the US Assistant Secretary of State
praised Syria's efforts regarding the issue of Iraqi citizens who
have taken refuge in Syria, that she stressed the need for the
international community to assist Syria as it bears the burden of
fulfilling the refugees' basic needs, and that she stressed the need
to create a climate of safety and stability in Iraq to help the
Iraqi refugees return to their country.
Papers also featured a statement in Beirut on Mar. 12 by Javier
Solana, The European Union's High Representative for the Common
Foreign and Security Policy, reiterating the importance of Syria's
role in the Middle East and referring to the EU countries' desire to
cooperate with Syria. "We want our relations with Syria to be
positive and fruitful," Solana said, expressing hope that former and
future meetings "will give new mechanisms in this regard."
He added he will visit Syria "with great amity because the EU
believes that Syria is an important country in the region and one of
the Mediterranean countries that has common interests and programs
with the EU". Solana stressed the need to achieve a comprehensive
peace in the region on all tracks, including the Syrian and Lebanese
On Syrian/Iranian relations, papers reported a final session of
talks on Mar. 12 between Deputy Commander General of the Army and
Armed Forces and Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. Hassan Tourkmani and
his Iranian Counterpart, Gen. Moustafa Mohammed Najjar. During the
final session, the two sides stressed the need for further deepening
and boosting of relations between their armies.
End of summary.
2. Selected Headlines:
"Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad discusses sufferings of Iraqi
refugees with Ellen Sauerbrey, US Assistant Secretary of State for
Population, Refugees and Migration. Miqdad: Problem of Iraqi
refugees is caused by occupation... Issues of the region are
intertwined... Permanent solutions come through comprehensive
dialogue" (Government-owned Tishreen, 3/13)
"European Union's High Representative for the Common Foreign and
Security Policy Javier Solana: We seek positive and fruitful
relations with Syria" (Government-owned Al-Thawra, 3/13)
"France considers the Arab peace initiative as best peace formula.
Paris: Solana will head to Damascus equipped with a collective
Roadmap" (Independent Al-Watan, 3/13)
"Minister of Defense Hassan Tourkmani and Iranian Defense Minister
Gen. Moustafa Mohammed Najjar concluded talks by signing a memo of
understanding. Turkmani and Najjar stress the need for further
deepening and boosting of relations between the armies of the two
friendly countries." (Government-owned Tishreen, 3/13)
"Killing of five US soldiers in Iraq. The Pentagon prepares a plan
for withdrawal. Scores of bodies scattered in Baghdad and Mosul"
(Independent Al-Watan, 3/13)
"Secret Palestinian-Israeli contacts to resume negotiations"
(Government-owned Al-Ba'th, 3/13)
"Al-Saniora confers with his ministers today to discuss formation of
a second delegation to the Arab summit" (Government-owned Tishreen,
3. Editorial Block Quotes:
"Towards a New Iraq"
Muhammad Khayr al-Jammali, an editorialist in government-owned
Al-Thawrah, wrote (3/13): "In its statement to the Iraq conference,
Syria explained how Iraqis can be saved and how a new Iraq can be
"The main problem in Iraq is the American occupation and its
misguided policies. The drafters of these policies do not
understand the nature and culture of the Iraqi people, which are
based on rejection of foreign occupation no matter what pretexts it
uses to justify its invasion of their country....
"Out of its deep understanding of Iraq's current situation and the
reasons for the crisis, Syria, in its statement, explained the way
out of the crisis clearly and transparently: First, scheduling the
withdrawal of the foreign forces to end the occupation because it is
the main reason behind the deterioration in Iraq. Second: Working
to build a new Arab and Islamic Iraq that can only be achieved
through national reconciliation foiling the policy of sedition that
the occupation has pursued to sow strife among the one people...."
Umar Jaftali, a commentator in government-owned Tishreen, wrote
(3/13): "The announcement that 4,400 additional American troops
will be sent to Iraq shows that President Bush does not intend to
discuss or schedule a withdrawal from Iraq, and that he is
determined, apparently until the end of his term, to perpetuate the
occupation of Iraq and steal the last barrel of oil in the
"The American announcement also means that the Bush administration,
although it attended the Baghdad conference, is not in the business
of rendering the political process in Iraq successful. It will
torpedo every national accord based on liberating Iraq and
safeguarding it as a united and stable country within its Arab
"The Backyard Garden's Lesson"
Abd-al-Fattah al-Awad, Chief Editor of government Al-Thawra, wrote
(3/13): "Change by the Bush administration is compulsory, dictated
by the results it achieved from its intransigent policy....
"Here we see the Bush administration, which rejected the part that
called for dialogue with Syria and Iran in the Baker-Hamilton
report, backtracking and accepting the report....
"But it is important for the United States to realize that sitting
at the dialogue table is not a concession it is making; rather, it
is a requirement to satisfy the needs of the other side.... Syria
believes that the problems of the region are inseparable.
"Visits to Damascus by world officials constitute a kind of public
admission that the Syrian vision was largely correct. This
necessarily means that the proposed Syrian solution is the one with
the greatest chance to succeed....
"If we notice the amount of Israeli anger at Solana's visit, as
expressed by the Israeli foreign minister, we realize the extent to
which Syrian diplomacy has succeeded. It has forced everyone to
recognize the Syrian role and Syrian wisdom. In other words,
correcting the mistakes that were made against Syria requires
serious and tangible work that takes into consideration the Syrian
formula for a solution. This formula, clearly, calls for peace.
Those who do not listen to it continue making mistakes...."
Dr. Buthaina Sha'ban, Expatriate Affairs Minister, commented in
government-owned Tishrin (3/13): "No one in the 'civilized' or
'democratic' world dares to raise his voice on international women's
day to condemn the brutal crimes against female prisoners and
bereaved and displaced mothers in Palestine and Iraq.... Israeli
massacres against Arabs are nothing new, and they have included
burying prisoners alive and trading in the organs of dead
prisoners.... The revelation about the killing of Egyptian prisoners
did not anger the 'free' international media....
"The world remains silent against such crimes because the Bush
administration practices psychological terrorism against the
"The psychological terrorism that the administration of the world's
sole superpower is practicing against leaders, peoples, countries,
governments, and international organizations that are supposed to be
free and independent is worse, in its tragic results, than the
physical terrorism that the Bush administration claims to be
fighting, but which it is also practicing...."