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Tue, Aug 30, 2011 | WikiLeaks

The M-600 is an improvement on the Iranian Fatah-110 missile, carrying a thousand pound warhead to ranges in excess of 300 kilometers. What makes these missiles a military, versus terror, threat is that they are fitted with GPS-aided inertial navigation. While the Scud is liquid fueled, which means it’s vulnerable to air strikes while fueling before launch, the M-600 is solid fuel and can be fired without preparation. Reports of Fatah-110 deliveries to Hezbollah first appeared in the Israeli press in 2007. (Source: http://defensetech.org)

 

WikiLeaks: Syria Denies Supplying Ballistic Missiles to Hizballah

Syrian Vice Foreign Minister Miqdad expressed surprise the U.S. was sharing such a strong message in the wake of Under Secretary (US) William Burns’ positive February 17 visit. He argued Israel represented the major threat to stability in the region and that the U.S. should be directing its message toward Israeli officials. Syria, he claimed, wanted peace and was working with Turkey and the U.S. toward that end. Flatly denying any Syrian role in the supply of weapons to Hizballah, The most sophisticated weapons Damascus supported Lebanese independence while Israel violated Lebanese sovereignty on a daily basis. Miqdad argued Syria wanted to preserve the positive results of US Burns’ recent visit and promised to convey the message.


 

Source: WikiLeaks

Reference Created Classification Origin
10DAMASCUS168 2010-02-25 13:43 SECRET Embassy Damascus

 

VZCZCXYZ0002
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0168/01 0561343
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 251343Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7419
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 7727
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 5921
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT PRIORITY 5240
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0012
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0889
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0888
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0842
RUEHTV/AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 2497
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0807
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC PRIORITY

S E C R E T DAMASCUS 000168

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA
NSC FOR SHAPIRO/MCDERMOTT
LONDON FOR LORD
PARIS FOR NOBLES

EO 12958 DECL: 02/25/2019
TAGS PTER, PREF, PREL, IS, LE, SY
SUBJECT: V/FM MIQDAD DENIES SUPPLYING BALLISTIC MISSILES TO
HIZBALLAH, DIRECTS U.S. DEMARCHE TO ISRAEL
REF: A. STATE 17307 B. TEL AVIV 404

Classified By: CDA Charles Hunter, for reasons 1.4 b,d.

¶1. (S) Summary: Responding to Ref A demarche, Syrian Vice Foreign Minister (V/FM) Miqdad expressed surprise the U.S. was sharing such a strong message in the wake of Under Secretary (U/S) William Burns’ positive February 17 visit. He argued Israel represented the major threat to stability in the region and that the U.S. should be directing its message toward Israeli officials. Syria, he claimed, wanted peace and was working with Turkey and the U.S. toward that end. Flatly denying any Syrian role in the supply of weapons to Hizballah, The most sophisticated weapons Damascus supported Lebanese independence while Israel violated Lebanese sovereignty on a daily basis. Miqdad argued Syria wanted to preserve the positive results of U/S Burns’ recent visit and promised to convey the message. He also pledged to review our request for assisting the Center for Victims of Torture and agreed to follow up Charge’s request for official written notification of the government’s decision to allow the Damascus Community School (DCS) to reopen. End Summary

————————————–
Miqdad: Direct Your Message to Israel
————————————–

¶2. (S) Charge and Pol/Econ Chief delivered Ref A demarche to Syrian Vice Foreign Minister (V/FM) Faisal al-Miqdad on February 25. A clearly surprised Miqdad listened attentively and took detailed notes, interrupting twice to confirm whether the demarche concerned the transfer of ballistic missiles and to clarify whether the message represented a U.S. or an Israeli “warning.” Charge explained the message reflected Washington concerns that SEMEP Mitchell and U/S Burns had shared previously with President Asad. Addressing the substance of the demarche, Miqdad argued that Israel itself could not have sent a stronger warning. The message, he continued, “shows the U.S. has not come to a mature position (that would enable it) to differentiate between its own interests and Israel’s.” Syria was “of course” not in the mood to increase tensions or escalate, “because we believe in peace.” Toward that end, Syria was doing its best with Turkey and the U.S. to achieve peace. Syria was not taking steps to escalate. Unless Israel had plans to escalate against Syria or Lebanon, “there’s no need to worry,” said Miqdad.

¶3. (S) Referring to Hizballah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s February 16 speech, Miqdad emphasized that Hizballah was responding to Israeli threats and clearly conveyed Hizballah’s intent to respond only if Israel attacked first. Syria believed in and supported the role of UNIFIL, and was using its contacts with the Lebanese Government to “insist” on Lebanon’s full cooperation with UNIFIL. Miqdad insisted Israel, not Syria or Lebanon, was issuing provocative threats and using Hizballah as a pretext. The Syrian government had been pleased to hear Lebanese PM Hariri’s remarks expressing concerns about Israeli provocation, including the violation of Lebanese airspace and assassinations. The U.S. message, summed up Miqdad, “should be directed to Israel not to escalate.”

—————————————-
Denial of Supply of Weapons to Hizballah
—————————————-

¶4. (S) Charge replied that the U.S. message had come in the context of improving bilateral relations, which depended on a frank and candid exchange of assessments of regional developments. The U.S. was issuing neither threats nor
ultimatums, but rather it sought to convey what it believed to be a shared interest in avoiding conflict. Miqdad commented that it was “strange” the U.S. had chosen to deliver “harsh words while we’re trying to build better relations.” He promised to convey the message to his superiors but reiterated Syria’s desire to avoid escalation. “You may hear about weapons going to Hizballah,” he claimed, “but they are absolutely not coming through Syria.” The real threat to stability was coming from Israeli officials who had threatened recently to attack Damascus and to change the Syrian regime. “Please convey to Washington, while we take note of your demarche, this message should be directed at Israel,” he said.

¶5. (S) Charge replied that, as U/S Burns had conveyed to President Asad, the U.S. was urging all parties in the region, including Israel, to exercise restraint and support Lebanese independence. “This is our commitment,” Miqdad responded, “we shall not interfere (in Lebanon).” The Lebanese should be allowed to decide for themselves on how to resolve their own issues; those who would interfere want to disturb the peace after Lebanon successfully conducted national elections and formed a consensus government. “We’re confident the Lebanese can deal with their own situation,” he said. Charge rejoined that the military capabilities of a non-state actor like Hizballah represented a major concern because Hizballah responded only to its own leadership and not to government authorities.

¶6. (S) Miqdad said this issue should be discussed in the overall framework of the situation. He then contended the provision of U.S. weapons to the region represented a destabilizing factor. “The most sophisticated weapons are coming to Israel, to be used against whom?” he asked. When the U.S. pressed Israel to stop threatening its neighbors, the situation would stabilize. “We want peace. It’s the only solution. We are the ones who are threatened,” he declared. Charge replied the whole region was threatened. Miqdad said the U.S. and Syria needed to worked toward peace. “You should address your message to the people who don’t want peace,” he added, noting the results of U/S Burns’ visit should be preserved and continued to improve relations. Syria had responded positively to U/S Burns’ message because it felt more confident of Washington’s desire to move forward.

———————
CVT and DCS Follow-Up
———————

¶7. (C) Charge affirmed the U.S. shared this intent and wanted to maximize the opportunity by staying in close contact. In that context, he raised PRM’s pending request to Miqdad to assist the Center for the Victims of Torture to receive approval to begin a proposed project in Syria; Miqdad agreed to look at the matter and requested Embassy follow-up. Likewise, on the issue of visas for the next group of DHS circuit riders, Miqdad asked that the circuit riders not apply for visas until he had had a chance to intervene. (Note: Embassy will provide Miqdad with a list of the circuit riders.)

¶8. (C) Charge also asked Miqdad for advice on how to proceed regarding Damascus Community School (DCS). FM Muallim had instructed the Embassy to “start hiring teachers,” but the MFA had not yet provided any written notification of President Asad’s decision to allow the school to re-open. There also remained the issue of whether Syrian students would be allowed to enroll. Miqdad agreed that this matter required a response and advised the Charge to follow up with him in the coming week. (Note: Miqdad reported he would be traveling to Libya for two days to discuss bilateral
relations.)

——-
Comment
——-

¶9. (S) In the midst of hosting a quick-notice visit by Iranian President Ahmedinejad (who openly criticized the Secretary’s Congressional testimony expressing concern about Syria and Hizballah), the SARG might interpret our demarche as an attempt to divert the spotlight from the show of mutual support between Tehran and Damascus. Miqdad’s surprise that we would raise this issue so forcefully on the heels of U/S Burns’ visit may have been genuine, but the abject denial of any Syrian role in supplying arms to Hizballah and the verbal counter-attack against Israeli provocation were standard (if disingenuous) responses. Yet even a seasoned diplomat like Miqdad could not restrain a raised eyebrow at our mention of the transfer of ballistic missiles to Hizballah. We expect the specificity of this concern could well prompt further discussions among Syrian officials, Hizballah, and the visiting Iranian delegation.

¶10. (S) Miqdad notably did not respond to our concern about a possible Hizballah revenge operation for the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh. While Miqdad and Syrian officials might take some comfort in UNIFIL’s role in preventing the spillover of recent tensions in south Lebanon, a Hizballah operation against Israeli targets could easily result in a situation in which UNIFIL found itself unable to contain rising escalation. One point we might stress in the future: Syria’s desire for a deterrent against Israeli military action — presumably a motivation for the transfer of ballistic missiles to Hizballah — will not increase stability because there are no mechanisms or rules of the road to prevent and/or manage unanticipated escalation. Not having control over Hizballah’s missiles or influence over Hizballah’s military plans to avenge Mughniyeh increases this danger. Our demarche might resonate more fully here if we can persuade other key countries, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, France, and others, to underscore their concerns about regional instability, to which Syria’s supply of ballistic missiles to Hizballah is directly contributing.

¶11. (S) Leaving aside the substance of Miqdad’s response to the demarche, his agreement to meet us on two hours’ notice on a Syrian holiday (the Prophet’s birthday) and during the Ahmedinejad visit is worth noting. Miqdad’s Chief of Staff is typically the recipient of Embassy demarches; CDA’s only other meeting with Miqdad apart from appointments involving Washington visitors was to discuss the Vice Minister’s trip to the U.S. last September. His future willingness to meet directly with us — which FM Muallim instructed him to do to follow up on DCS issues — will serve as one more barometer of the SARG commitment to engagement in the weeks and months ahead.

HUNTER


2 Comments to “WikiLeaks: Syria Denies Supplying Ballistic Missiles to Hizballah”

  1. WikiLeaks: Syria Denies Supplying Ballistic Missiles to Hizballah | Middle East, Israel, Arab World, http://t.co/FjQIFq8V

  2. avatar Elisabeth says:

    WikiLeaks: Syria Denies Supplying Ballistic Missiles to Hizballah | Middle East, Israel, Arab World, http://t.co/FjQIFq8V


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