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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

May 7, 2003

May 7, 2003





**  Toned-down U.S. rhetoric indicates that Syria is not "the next target."


**  Doubts persist that Syria will embrace "the new reality" and stop supporting terrorists.


**  Arab media criticize Powell's visit as meant "to serve Israel's interests over the Arabs."




Europeans detect a "change in tone" in U.S. rhetoric towards Syria, see potential for regional "dialogue"--  Analysts contended the "unexpectedly quick victory" in Iraq has offered "U.S. diplomacy a chance to alter" the Mideast geopolitical situation.  Romania's independent Cotidianul said Powell's trip to Syria and Lebanon was "the beginning of a new stage" of U.S. involvement in the region and noted the U.S. had toned down the "warlike rhetorical statements" it had been directing at Damascus.  Germany's left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau agreed it was a "good sign" that Powell came to "pursue diplomacy" and judged a process could begin in which "the Mideast quartet counters the skepticism in the region towards U.S. unilateral moves."  Papers in Germany, Russia and Turkey ascribed the trip to "Powell's personal initiative" and stated U.S. "hawks" were "unhappy" to have been "put aside."


Israeli, some Euro papers remain skeptical that Syria will ever change its spots--  Noting that "making and breaking promises" to the U.S. is "business as usual" for Syria, Israel's conservative, independent Jerusalem Post stated that U.S. credibility would be "eroded" if Syria did not end its support for terrorism entirely.  Independent Ha'aretz concluded that Powell had "set out to explain the new reality" to Assad but averred that "Syria will probably make gestures" but no comprehensive policy changes.  A French paper concluded that Syria, faced with "the toughest pressure in its modern history," has chosen "to be pragmatic by giving in to several U.S. demands while hoping to avoid giving in on the essential."  An Argentine outlet held that the U.S. demand for a "radical change" in Syrian behavior is "not an easy request for the young Bashar," while Russia's reformist Vremya Novostey stated flatly that "Damascus is not going to stop supporting Hezbollah" until the Palestinian issue is settled.


To Arabs, Powell came to dictate terms as "Sharon's envoy"--  While Syria's government-owned Tishreen termed the U.S.-Syrian talks "constructive...and positive," Lebanon's Arab nationalist As-Safir spoke for most Arab papers by claiming Powell's trip was "more of an Israeli than an American mission."  Egypt's leading pro-government Al-Ahram remarked that clearly Powell had come "not for dialogue, but for dictating specific conditions" that "reflect only Israel's priorities."  Powell's agenda, the UAE's pan-Arab Al-Khaleej agreed, "is to remove all factors threatening the security of the Zionists."  A moderate Saudi daily observed that "the pressure exercised by Washington" on Syria would not work, because "peace can't be accomplished via just one party" and warned of "a new confrontation" in the area if Washington continued to press "the Israeli agenda."

EDITOR:  Steven Wangsness

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 38 reports from 21 countries, May 2 - 7, 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




FRANCE:  "Secretary Powell Puts Pressure On Damascus"


Sibylle Rizk concluded in right-of-center Le Figaro (5/5):  “Even if Secretary Powell appears to have replaced threats with dialogue, the American demands set forth are non-negotiable.  Secretary Powell is counting on the power of intimidation of the U.S. troops stationed in Iraq....  Faced with the toughest pressure in its modern history, Syria has chosen, as always, to be pragmatic by giving in to several U.S. demands while hoping to avoid giving in on the essential.”


GERMANY:   "Post-War Diplomacy"


Rolf Paasch argued in an editorial in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (5/5):  “Colin Powell was in Damascus ’to pursue diplomacy’--and this alone is a good sign after taking refuge to war, but only if it turns into a dialogue with the Arab world and not into a neo-colonial diktat....  If the Bush administration is now demanding from Syria’s President Assad the withdrawal of all its forces from Lebanon and the stop of its support for all Hezbollah militia forces operating from Lebanon, we can only welcome this, since there can be no solution of the Palestinian problem without an independent Lebanon and without ending the terror of Hezbollah.  But the issue is not only what to demand from the regime but also how to treat it....  It is one thing to exert pressure on the regime, but what is Powell’s answer to a solution to the conflict over the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights?  If even France is pressing for the withdrawal of Syrian soldiers from Lebanon, Powell’s trip could mark the beginning of a policy with which the Mideast quartet counters the skepticism in the region towards U.S. unilateral moves.  Provided U.S. post-war diplomacy in the Mideast is based on the will to implement demands towards the Arab nations but also towards Israel, and that it is not a unilateral, neo-conservative diktat.”


RUSSIA:  "U.S. Advises Syria To Break Off With Extremists"


Yevgeniy Shestakov wrote in reformist Izvestiya (5/5):  "What happened in Damascus the other day--the U.S. secretary of state and the Syrian leadership having a friendly and constructive conversation about numerous terrorist organizations and weapons of mass destruction in Syria--could hardly have happened only a couple of weeks earlier.  Then a mere mention of those topics automatically put Damascus among Washington's immediate military targets.  Today they are objects of a dialogue between not-quite-allies who are no longer sworn enemies.  In fact, what has been suggested by the Pentagon hawks by way of substituting Syria for Iraq in the 'axis of evil,' far from being tossed, has just been put aside for now.  The unexpectedly quick victory in Iraq offers U.S. diplomacy a chance to alter the geopolitical situation in the Middle East.  Given that, it seems logical what the State Department's doves have been doing, trying to draw Damascus into their 'game' of a new Middle East.  Maybe for the first time the White House, using non-violent methods, has a real chance to destroy the Lebanon-Syria-Iran Troika of the 'sponsors of terrorism' by making the former two fall off....  Of course, Damascus might profit politically from participation in the talks on an Israeli-Palestinian settlement on the basis of the Roadmap.  With luck, it could regain the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, but not before it resolves the problem of terrorist organizations."


"Damascus Isn't Going To Stop Support For Hezbollah"


Aleksandr Samokhotkin stated in reformist Vremya Novostey (5/5):  "Damascus is not going to stop supporting Hezbollah before the territorial issue is settled.  Arriving in Beirut, Powell acknowledged that his talks with Assad had produced no results....  One can understand the young Syrian leader having been so reserved--right before the negotiations, Powell stated that now is no time to implement Damascus' idea of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.  Many Arab leaders, urging the resumption of the international inspections in Iraq, point to a need for the total elimination of weapons of mass destruction in all of the Middle East, including Israel."


ROMANIA:  "Powell's Tour"


Costin Ionescu commented in independent daily Cotidianul (5/5):  “The U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell ended a tour he made in the Middle East at the end of last week on an optimistic note, which is the beginning of a new stage of direct U.S. involvement in the expanded peace process in the region.  This tour also marked a relative change of tone in U.S. relations with Syria, which was the target of several warlike rhetorical statements coming from Washington after the war in Iraq.”   


TURKEY:  "Pax-Americana In The Middle East"


Sami Kohen wrote in mass appeal Milliyet (5/6):  “In the aftermath of the Iraq war, we have been observing the steps taken by the U.S. in the Middle East as its new strategy....  Syria is the new target for the U.S., which was pronounced as part of axis of evil.  Yet it seems things are moving to a direction where Washington sees no point for a military operation at least for the moment as proven with the SecState Powell visit....  All of this indicates that President Bush’s doctrine or the Pax Americana in a broader sense, is now coming true.”


"Ankara And Damascus"


Yasemin Congar opined from Washington in mass appeal Milliyet (5/5):  "Both the Ankara and Damascus visits by Secretary Powell have something in common:  They resulted from Powell's personal initiative and justification.  Powell made the decision personally as well as suddenly, and he made all the efforts to persuade the administration of the urgency of the visits....  However, signs from the Pentagon tell us that the U.S. defense side is not unhappy only about the Damascus visit, but the Ankara visit as well....  When Secretary Powell visited Ankara, it was interpreted as a strong message to underline the U.S. position on northern Iraq and to underline the bilateral ties with Turkey.  Yet the way the decision mechanism worked on the visit indicates that the Bush administration is still preserving a certain degree of disappointment.  Given that fact, one can understand even better the reason for Secretary Rumsfeld's avoiding contact with Ankara even though he came to Incirlik airbase."




ISRAEL:  "No More Mr. Nice Guys"


Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (5/4):  "In an unorthodox move that enraged Syria and Lebanon, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell held a press conference even before meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Lebanese President Emile Lahoud.  Powell was making the point that if Syria is inviting him for 'dialogue,' as Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara put it, Syria had better be informed publicly of the rules of this dialogue and of who exactly it is who's setting them.  Therein lies the difference between Powell's meeting with Assad in February 2001, their encounter in April 2002 and this time round.  In the first two, Powell came to ask Syria to cooperate and to offer it to embrace the sanctions against Iraq.  He was also talking about the vision he had for the Middle East and about the possibility of convening an international conference that would start peace talks.  This time, Powell set out to explain the new reality to Syria, as he himself put it, and to present demands: shut down the terror organizations, particularly Hamas and Islamic Jihad; give Lebanon the green light to fully deploy its army along the Israeli border; stop meddling in Iraq; extradite Iraqi fugitives and disarm Hezbollah....  Syria will probably make gestures, but not a comprehensive policy change."


"End Plausible Deniability"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (5/5):  "Making and breaking promises to Americans is business as usual for Syria, which committed to Powell two years ago to shut down the oil pipeline to Iraq and did not.  There is also a history of Syria opening and closing terrorist offices, and making symbolic withdrawals from Lebanon, as needed to release momentary diplomatic pressure.  So none of this is surprising, except that Powell, by going to Damascus in the first place, is not showing signs that the rules of the game have really changed....  If U.S. credibility is not to be eroded, Syria must shut down its support for terrorism entirely, including the planeloads of weapons that flow to Hizbullah via Damascus, and the blocking of the deployment of the Lebanese army on Israel's border, displacing Hizbullah.  Even a total end to support for terror would only begin to ameliorate Syria's sins.  Lebanon would still be occupied and the Syrian people still oppressed.  But it would be a start.  It would also be no more than what Turkey demanded and received regarding the PKK terrorists that tormented Ankara, following the massing of the Turkish army on the Syrian border.  There is little doubt that Damascus has taken note of the American divisions in Iraq, not to mention their mobility.  The only question is whether Syria can continue its rogue behavior without being paid a visit."


WEST BANK:  "Powell’s Visit And New Developments After Damascus Talks"


Samieh Abu Shubieb opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (5/5):  “The United States has publicly threatened to wage war against Syria if the latter fails to fulfill the American demands.  Powell has directly or indirectly stated that Syria should learn from what has taken place in Iraq and recalculate its policy based on the new developments and requirements in the Middle East, especially the proposed ‘roadmap.’”


"The Arabs Facing Two American Choices"


Hassan el-Kashif commented in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (5/4):  “American Secretary of State Colin Powell ended his visit to Syria and Lebanon after reminding Syria, Lebanon, Hizbullah, the Palestinian factions and all Arabs of the American military triumph in Iraq.  He stressed that the American position is proposed to be implemented, not negotiated.  The Secretary of State decided not to be diplomatic in his statements to the media.  He intended to be clear and so used forceful language.”


"Powell’s Tour And The Logic Of Force"


Independent Al-Quds judged (5/4):  “When one observes the tour of U.S. Secretary of State Powell to the region, mainly to Damascus and Beirut, it is clear that it is partly to show off the 'military victory' and what it achieved through the Anglo-American aggression against Iraq.  There is an America desire to use the colonial occupation of Iraq psychologically and politically to achieve gains and concessions that can change the geopolitical map of the Middle East.  The United States wants to realize these goals by marginalizing the Syrian role.… The U.S. can exert all the pressure it wants and it can use the logic of force and power but the force of righteousness and justice will eventually prevail.  Washington needs to reconsider its policies which are based fully on force because earning the respect of other nations and countries does not come from using force and occupation.”


"Implementation Of The Roadmap"


Hani Habeib opined in independent, pro-Palestinian Authority Al-Ayyam (5/4):  “Colin Powell’s demand to Damascus to change its policy towards the roadmap' is a clear sign of the necessity of the Arabs to pressure the Palestinian side to respond practically to the implementation of the terms of the ‘roadmap’ regardless of the commitment of the other side.”


EGYPT:  "Bush Dictates His Conditions!"


Leading pro-government Al Ahram senior columnist Salama Ahmed Salama observed (5/5):  "Before Secretary Powell arrived in Damascus, there was a long list of American demands discussed with Israel through one of Condoleezza Rice’s envoys to Tel Aviv.  It was clear that Powell’s visit [to Syria] was not for dialogue, but for dictating specific conditions....  Bush may have a true desire to calm Arab anger over American bias towards Israel and over its [U.S.] use of military force to invade Iraq.  However, it is not enough to announce a roadmap and send congratulations to Abu Mazen while Sharon’s hand is still free to commit crimes against the Palestinian people...and while he dictates conditions not only on Abu Mazen but also on Syria and Lebanon....  If Powell came to Syria to dictate Israeli conditions...and the U.S. fails to push Sharon to implement Israeli obligations under this paper roadmap while Likudish elements control Bush’s thinking, no one expects the region to witness any of that calm or stability to which Bush aspires so he can be freed up for a presidential election campaign which he thinks he can win.”


"A Mission For Israel’s Sake?"


Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar contended (5/5):  “After an illegitimate invasion of Iraq, it is good for Washington to try and lessen tension, which appeared because of the murderous and destructive operations of coalition forces.  Undoubtedly Powell's tour of the Middle East, including Syria and Lebanon, is a part of this U.S. effort despite its concentration on demands, which serve Israeli interests.  From the talks and issues discussed by the Secretary in these two countries, mere dictates of Zionist Israeli interest groups [in the U.S.], Powell can be described as Sharon's envoy.”




Wagdy Zein Eddin warned in leading opposition Al Wafd (5/5):  “Syria is asked to declare full allegiance to the cowboys...and to resume dialogue with the entity, which occupied Syrian territories in the Golan....  This is typical terrorism against Arab powers that reject American barbarism.  A strike against Syria is inevitable.  America no longer cares to provide reasons for launching a war....  Who will confront the new Moguls?  As an Arab, I am frustrated at the deteriorating situation of Arabs.  It seems the only way to confront the Moguls is with their own weapon and, consequently, I do not rule out seeing in the near future a repeat of the September 11 incidents which shook the Americans to the core."


"Separating Lines"


Small circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya held (5/2):  “There is only one way for Arabs, that is to unite.  The U.S. is threatening Syria.  It may not attack her the way it did Iraq, but it may give Israel the support it needs to attack Syria.  We know it is difficult for Arabs to unite but they will gain much with such unity especially after the U.S. has grown intoxicated with victory.  Mubarak is taking in the whole scene and knows the consequences.”


SAUDI ARABIA:  "A Little Courage Desired"


Abha's moderate, Al-Watan editorialized (5/6):  "Israel views the Syrian presence (in Lebanon) as a threat to its security and considers the (Lebanese) resistance, which is represented in Hizbullah, as an extension of the Syrian presence on its northern borders....  Some groups in Lebanon continuously demand withdrawal of the Syrian troops while other groups want those troops to remain....  Powell has demonstrated high skills of diplomacy in this regard; he had singled out neither Syria nor Israel.  He left for both sides the decision to leave that country, but it is extremely important that the U.S. administration take into consideration, justifications for the Syrian presence in Lebanon and the Israeli invasion of that country.  Diplomacy also needs more wisdom, just as peace demands justice."




Jeddah’s moderate Al-Madina maintained (5/5):  "The bulk of the U.S. demands given by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to Syria and Lebanon reflect only Israel’s priorities.  For many years, Israel fought wars with Arab countries on behalf of Washington.  Today it seems there is a change in roles.  Now America is fighting the war on behalf of Israel and according to Israel’s wishes.  The war on Iraq was without international legitimacy.  Current American foreign policy lacks practical, political, and moral considerations.  Washington allegedly invaded Iraq to topple a dictator’s regime and to liberate the Iraqi people.  Using the momentum of its victory to empower the Israeli dictator will only lead to additional escalation in their backyard.  Is this what Washington wants?


"The American Mission And The Israeli Agenda"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira commented (5/4):  "A country like the U.S. is looking at the region through the Israeli vision.  When the American secretary of state deals with the Arab countries, and Syria in particular...the American demands jumping over the Arab facts and criteria, by asking Damascus to modify its policy in order to comply with the American views toward the Middle East, which in turn reflect the Israeli views.  American pressure through accusing this country or another of terrorism will not work in changing their stances, since the Arab countries consider it to be a fact.  The pressure exercised by Washington on countries looking for peace will not work, since the peace can’t be accomplished via just one party.  As the U.S. insists on implementing the Israeli agenda through this impressive manner, as well as the display of its huge military presence, such acts will push the region towards a new confrontation, as long as the American move is breaking international resolutions which demand Israeli withdrawal and the return of the refugees."


"Damascus And The Language Of American Escalation"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (5/3): "Mr. Powell has the capability to engage in dialogue and to appear to be understanding during his visit to Syria....  He realizes that Syria, among all of the region’s nations, holds a strong and important strategic position towards the U.S.  The peace process with Israel is not hindered because of Damascus’s hard line, but because of American support for the views of Sharon, which is the language of domination.  It is true that Syria has views that contradict American policies, but Syria does not support terrorism.  Peace with Israel could succeed or fail, depending on U.S authority and no one else.  All are hoping that Mr. Powell will listen carefully to the Syrians, since it will be the same rhetoric that he has heard from the other Arabic capitals."


SYRIA:  "Language Of Dialogue"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned Tishreen maintained (5/4):  "Contrary to what Israel desired, Secretary Powell carried ideas on different issues for the American-Syrian dialogue....  He noted during his talks with President Asad that Washington is concerned about Iraq's territorial integrity and about having good relations with Iraq's neighbors, especially with Syria.  He also noted that the Roadmap is part of a comprehensive solution that includes Syria and Lebanon and confirmed the US Administration's interest in cementing a just and comprehensive peace in the region.  In brief, the Syrian-American talks were constructive, frank and positive; both sides agreed on following up contact and coordinating to serve U.S. and Syrian interests and security and stability in the region."


"Constants Of The Syrian Stand"


An unsigned editorial in government-owned Al-Ba'th held (5/4):  "Syria believes that all issues pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict including the closure of the Palestinian information offices, will be solved parallel to the primary issue.  Of course, these information offices are run by Palestinians in Damascus to explain their cause to world opinion, which is a natural right as stated by the Geneva Convention and international resolutions....  On Iraq, Syria rejects foreign occupation of any Arab country....  Syria calls for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq as soon as possible."


LEBANON:  "Powell In Damascus And Beirut: Adaptation (Normalization) Syria?"


Ali Hamade wrote in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (5/4):  "The focal point of Secretary Powell's visit to Syria and Lebanon was the one he stated during his press conference in Beirut: 'We want to cooperate with Syria in adapting to the new strategic situation.'  This is the core of the visit....  Powell repeated the list of his traditional demands, but these demands are no longer traditional.  Powell expects Syria to take off its ideological dress and put on a pragmatic one.  He also expects Syria and give up willingly, all the trump camps they accumulated for 30 years....  Powell came to Lebanon and Syria supported by the radical change in the strategic situation in the Middle East.  He came to tell Syria in particular that...America wants a new ally in the region which is Syria.  The key for this new alliance is Syria's adaptation."


"Powell's Mission In Damascus And Beirut"


Nicolas Nassif penned this in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (5/5):  "Lebanese officials said...that Secretary Powell's discussions in Damascus were extremely important and his words expressed accurately what he wanted Damascus to do.  In this short tour, Powell gave Damascus top priority...and in turn, Damascus dealt with Powell positively, however, Powell said that he intends to follow up on what Damascus is doing....  As for Lebanon, it focused on the U.S. demands regarding Hizballah and the Lebanese Army....  President Lahoud spoke to Powell in his capacity as a 'general talking to a general' and...avoided repeating what he used to repeat in the past, about his support for the intifada, stressing instead on a just and comprehensive settlement and the Palestinian right of return."


"The Outstanding Position Of The Two Little Countries"


Talal Salman opine in Arab nationalist As-Safir (5/5):  "It is logical for Powell's mission to be described as more of an Israeli rather than an American mission because, so far, Lebanon and Syria do not represent any danger to Iraq....  Powell's orders are clear: Arabs have to protect the American occupation of Iraq, they also have to protect the Israeli occupation of Palestine....  Today, the storm is strong and cannot be confronted eye to eye.  It is not wrong to leave the Israeli occupation the task of thwarting the roadmap; it is not wrong to leave the American occupation the task of creating  public resistance in Iraq.  Occupation will definitely lead to resistance--and if resistance is not born on its own land, then there is no benefit in instigating resistance from afar."


ALGERIA:  "Powell Refuses The Syrian Proposal To Ban WMD"


French-Language independent Le Maghreb reported (5/5):  “The American secretary of state, Collin Powell, refused yesterday to support the Syrian proposal aiming to ban weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.  Before having a talk with Syrian President Bashar Assad, the head of American diplomacy, Colin Powell, acknowledged to the journalists that the elimination of WMD in the region is an American objective in the long run, but the time of this issue is yet to come.  ‘I think that it is an objective to be pursued over time, but not the moment of a particular declaration which could be put forward for political purposes or simply to broach the question,’ Colin Powell declared.  Syria has presented a resolution to the UN Security Council referring to the prohibition of WMD in the Middle East.  According to the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, this project will maximize the chances of achieving peace, after the publication of the Roadmap, which aims to calm the Israeli-Palestinian conflict....  The American secretary of state had to engage the Syrian president on American allegations according to which Damascus would have supported terrorism, sent technologies and fighters to Iraq and given shelter to Iraqi officials during the collapse of Saddam’s regime.”


QATAR:   "Israel's Security Tops the U.S. Agenda"


Ali Toemat, columnist wrote in semi-independent Al-Watan (5/5):  "Powell's quick visit to Syria and Lebanon looked like the visit of the victor who wants to utilize his victory to serve Israel interests over the Arabs.  Powell presented a list of demands, which included the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, disarming Hezballah and its military presence in the South, and, of course, closing down Palestinian resistance offices in Damascus.  This list could really disappear if the Americans stop their blind support for Israel.  Powell made a mistake when he bluntly showed that the American invasion of Iraq wasn't actually to help the Iraqis get rid of Saddam, but to serve Israeli security by changing the geopolitical scene on the ground."


 "The Reward-Punishment Policy "


Semi-independent Al-Watan observed (5/5):  "A/S Burns arrived in the Middle East and urged the Israelis to improve the Palestinians situation....  The Burns visit synchronized with Secretary Powell's visit to Syria in which he warned the Syrians that their actions not their words would be under the magnifying glass in the coming days.  Powell also played the American old sick game of Reward and Punishment.  Powell said that Syria's cooperation would serve the Syrian interests in the Golan Heights.  This policy failed in the past and surely will fail in the 21st century.  The simple thing to do is to solve the Arab Israeli conflict according to the UN resolutions, which Israel has ignored since 1947."




Abu Dhabi-based semi-government Al Ittihad editorialized (5/5):  "The sudden change of tone between Washington and Syria, which changed from that of a debate and mutual understanding to that of threats and intimidation through the media is very regrettable....  The U.S. realizes that any new tremors in the region will have negative consequences not only on plans for Iraq but also for Palestine and the Middle East."


"Powell And Israel's Security"


Sharjah-based pan-Arab daily Al-Khaleej editorialized (5/4):  "As we thoroughly ponder these demands, we realize that these are issues that have nothing to do with the bilateral relationships between Syria and Lebanon on one hand and the U.S. on the other.  These issues are related to the Arab-Israeli conflict and directly to 'Israeli security,' which has nothing to do with U.S. security, and the U.S. has summed up the world's security as 'Israeli security.'   Powell's visit is to achieve this goal, which is to remove all factors threatening the security of the Zionists, and this is also one of the major reasons for the occupation of Iraq.  So saying that the major aim for the U.S. war against Iraq was on behalf of Israel is not far from the truth; it is the reason behind Powell's visit to Damascus and Beirut."




CHINA:  "Powell Shuttled Around The Middle East"


Xu Ping commented in the official Communist Party People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao)(5/4):  "Powell has his reasons to divide his Middle East trip into two phases.  Firstly, Powell separated his visit to Syria from his visit to Palestine and Israel, which shows the U.S. intended to express its emphasis on Syria.  Obviously, the U.S. feels it is more urgent to put pressure on Syria than on Palestine and Israel.  Secondly, this shows Powell’s discretion.  If the Palestine-Israel situation is not good enough, it is possible that Powell will postpone his second phase of the Middle East tour.”


INDONESIA:  "U.S.-Syria Tension Could Affect Road Map to Peace"


Leading independent daily Kompas commented (5/5):  “The U.S. again made a statement threatening Syria for supporting Palestinian militant groups.  Secretary of State Colin Powell over the weekend urged President Bashar al-Assad to stop supporting anti-Israel groups and accept the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government.…  The Syrians were cooperative by closing down the offices and training camps of the militant anti-Israel groups.   But the U.S. is not satisfied.  It seems the U.S. does not seek to hold dialogue with Syria and resorts to ultimatums.  Apparently, the U.S. wish to corner Syria is not over yet.  It has long urged Syria to stop its support of the Palestinian guerrilla fighters but this time it looks more serious.  Tensions mounted when the U.S. threatened Syria by accusing it of harboring Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi leaders...and of providing a place for Iraq to hide its WMD.  All the U.S. charges have been denied, but this does not reduce the threats to Syria, although the U.S. is not able to provide concrete evidence for its allegations.”


MALAYSIA:  "U.S. Is Not Interested In Creating Peace"


Government-influenced Malay-language daily Berita Harian editorialized (5/5):  “Peacekeeping should be the sole focus of America's efforts in support of an Israel-Syria peace agreement.  'Side-agreements' between the United States and Israel on the one hand, and the United States and Syria on the other, are also important.  To offset Israeli risks for peace, the United States should enhance Israel's deterrent and early-warning capabilities and reassure its people through tangible steps to bolster its military strength.  Likewise, the United States should offer Syria the prospect of a new, more normal relationship, entailing improved political coordination, increased trade and investment, and American efforts to solicit international financial and technical assistance to the Syrian economy.  And the United States could also help build a framework of incentives to create mutual interests in peace by encouraging joint Israeli-Syrian development projects, contributing to the creation of a 'zone of economic cooperation,' and promoting regional water development efforts.  Together, these initiatives will help lay the basis for a more lasting peace.”


THAILAND:  "Syria And U.S. Psywar"


Pichien Kurathong commented in elite, Thai language Matichon (5/5):  “Colin Powell’s meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad...clearly confirms the success of George Bush’s ‘carrot and stick’ approach....  To be the U.S.’ good boy, the Syrian government must support the Bush administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.  Particularly, it must end its backing for several anti-Israeli groups whom the U.S. consider terrorists....  The talk was successful to a certain degree albeit the Syrian president’s non-committal stance in the beginning....  Such is the ongoing U.S. psyops with Syria.  The problem is whether Syria would be able to talk the U.S. into pressuring Israel to surrender the Golan Heights occupied by Israel since the war in 1967.” 




PAKISTAN:  "Target: Syria"


The centrist national daily, The News held (5/7):  "If U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is to be believed then Syria may be the next target to undergo the kind of treatment Iraq experienced.  Mr. Powell's visit to Damascus has not produced the kind of reaction that was expected.  There was none of the desired cringing obsequious acceptance of American thralldom, with Syrian leader Bashar Al Asad failing to fully understand what he was being told by his American visitor....  American inability to heap any great sin on Syria, except possibly a linkage with the Lebanese Shia organization, Hezbollah, might not be sufficient to drag it before the UN Security Council on charges framed under one of the recent resolutions.  Unlike Iraq, which labored under the twin iniquities of fighting Iran and committing aggression against Kuwait, Syria has a clear record.  Given such a situation, it will be interesting to see how the U.S. will go about initially preparing a case against Damascus and, next, undertaking the enterprise....  It will be difficult to see America retiring from the scheme it has worked as an adjunct to its overall war on terror.  Afghanistan was the first chapter, followed by Iraq.  Syria, Iran, North Korea, et al are in the pipeline.  Uprooting terror means demolishing states and recreating new ones shaped in America's image."




CANADA:  "Syria Thumbs Its Nose"


Editorialist Serge Truffaut wrote in the liberal Le Devoir (5/6):  "After a three-hour meeting with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, the top American diplomat said he had received assurance that the offices of radical Palestinian groups located in Damascus would be closed.  Forty-eight hours later, Hamas, Hizbullah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) issued press releases saying no such measures were envisioned.  Worse, they said they were certain the Syrian government would not cede an inch to the Bush administration....  Both Hizbullah, supported by Iran, and Hamas hammered home the point that packing up was totally out of the question since their goal was to create an Islamic state in Palestine."


ARGENTINA:  "Powell Arrives In Syria"


Silvia Pisani commented in daily-of-record La Nacion (5/3):  "In just a few countries can one feel so clearly the rejection of Washington as in Syria....  There is nothing in Syria, the country that Washington so much suspects, that could represent the U.S. way and policy of expansion, and the U.S. will ask from Baashar Al Assad nothing less but a radical change in his policy on the conflictive Middle East.  Or else, suffer the consequences....  Syria is the Arab country that most strongly rejected the invasion of Iraq and rejects Israel's pretensions....  But the U.S. request is not an easy request for the young Bashar, who rides a wave of popularity thank to his lively discourse against the invasion and in support of the Hamas."


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