Keep Us Strong WikiLeaks logo

Currently released so far... 2497 / 251,287

Articles

Browse latest releases

Browse by creation date

Browse by origin

A B C D F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z

Browse by tag

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
QA
YE YM YI

Browse by classification

Community resources

courage is contagious

Viewing cable 08DAMASCUS427, FRENCH CONSIDER THEIR DAMASCUS VISIT A SUCCESS

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs

Understanding cables
Every cable message consists of three parts:
  • The top box shows each cables unique reference number, when and by whom it originally was sent, and what its initial classification was.
  • The middle box contains the header information that is associated with the cable. It includes information about the receiver(s) as well as a general subject.
  • The bottom box presents the body of the cable. The opening can contain a more specific subject, references to other cables (browse by origin to find them) or additional comment. This is followed by the main contents of the cable: a summary, a collection of specific topics and a comment section.
To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.

Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol). Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #08DAMASCUS427.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08DAMASCUS427 2008-06-16 16:04 2010-12-07 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Damascus
VZCZCXRO0539
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHDM #0427/01 1681625
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 161625Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5083
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV 2169
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0426
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DAMASCUS 000427 

SIPDIS 

NEA/ELA 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL PTER SY
SUBJECT: FRENCH CONSIDER THEIR DAMASCUS VISIT A SUCCESS 

Classified By: CDA Todd C. Holmstrom for reasons 1.5 b/d 

1. (C) Summary. The SARG worked to portray the June 15 visit 
by two French presidential envoys as a vindication of Syria's 
hard-line policy of "resistance." The French themselves say 
the visit was successful as it furthered the GOF's priority 
of ensuring President Asad participate in the Mediterranean 
Union summit in Paris on July 13. According to our French 
colleagues in Damascus, Asad told them that he was optomistic 
a new cabinet would be formed in the next week or two in 
Beirut; the SARG supported both the Egyptian effort to broker 
a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, and would soon host 
Abu Mazen in an effort to heal the Fatah - Hamas rupture. 
Asad declined to be engaged on human rights and detained 
political prisoners. And he stated flatly that the SARG 
would make no effort to engage the USG until after the 
election in November. End summary. 

2. (U) The June 15 one-day visit of secretary general of 
President Sarkozy,s office, Claude Gueant, and Sarkozy,s 
chief diplomatic advisor, Jean-David Levitte, was front page 
news in Syria,s state-owned papers. The lead editorial in 
Al-Thawra commented that the visit showed that the SARG,s 
policy &of resistance8 had succeeded and France was 
therefore compelled to reengage Syria on the SARG,s terms. 
The reporting of the quasi-independent Al-Watan, which 
coordinates its political commentary closely with the 
security services, implied the visit highlighted a fracture 
in U.S. ) French policy towards Syria. 

3. (C) In contrast, Nicolas Suran, DCM at the French 
embassy, categorized the visit as a success and offered us 
the following readout. The two presidential advisors had a 
one and a half hour meeting with President Bashar Al-Asad 
followed by a meeting and then lunch with FM Walid Muallem. 
Both meetings were focused on Syria,s participation in the 
upcoming July 13 Mediterranean Union summit in Paris. 
According to Suran, Levitte and Gueant were able to answer 
Asad and Muallem,s concerns regarding the proposed 
Mediterranean Union making Asad,s participation more likely. 
Suran said, baring unfavorable regional developments, Asad 
would attend the summit next month in Paris. It was agreed 
that FM Muallem will visit Paris in early July to prepare for 
Asad,s visit later the same month. Suran qualified the SARG 
commitment as &progress8 given the fact that just a month 
and a half ago Asad was not planning to attend and was 
echoing others, criticisms of both the summit and the 
proposed Union. 

4. (C) Suran said discussions covered the full range of 
regional issues as well. On Lebanon, Asad said the SARG had 
very little ability to influence the political process at 
this point and that a failure would be a result of internal 
maneuvering by Lebanese politicians. Nonetheless, both Asad 
and Muallem were optimistic that a new cabinet would be 
formed in the next week or two. Asad said Syria would remain 
committed to the Turkey brokered talks with Israel. Asad 
reportedly told the French that Syria was actively supporting 
Egypt,s attempt to conclude a cease fire between Hamas and 
Israel. Syria was also working at Palestinian reconciliation 
and would host Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas in the next 
four or five days in an attempt to further the process, 
according to Suran. 

5. (C) Suran said Gueant and Levitte raised human rights and detained political prisoners with Asad. Following his now  standard practice, Asad demurred and asserted that both  issues were &internal affairs8 and not to be discussed with visitors. Suran commented that, nonetheless, neither Gueant nor Levitte were put-off by Asad,s answer but were instead encouraged that Asad,s manner seemed to allow the issue to  remain on the table. Suran reminded us that when then 
President Chirac visited Damascus in 2000 Asad did release Riad Turk from jail in answer to Chirac,s direct appeal. Suran commented that a similar result would be possible if Asad,s July 13 visit to Paris were to be successful. 

6. (C) Suran said the only area the Syrians were not responsive on was a request to stop arms shipments to Hezbollah, and to take more positive actions to improve Iraq,s security. According to Suran, Asad linked the requests to the USG and asserted the SARG felt no need to 
provide concessions to the current Administration. According to Suran, both Asad and Muallem were adamant that they had 

DAMASCUS 00000427 002 OF 002 

written off the Bush Administration and would make no gesture 
or concession towards the U.S. until a new administration was 
in the White House. 

7. (C) Comment. Based on both their public and private statements, it is apparent that the Syrians believe they are dealing from a position of strength not only with the French but also the western world writ large. Still the Syrians are ready for their isolation to end. As Suran commented, Asad has not visited a western capitol in years and so is 
obviously anxious to be received in Paris for the PR value if nothing else. HOLMSTROM