INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Muslim World: Anti-American

Published: Mon 23 May 2005 12:50 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 003504
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY; BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU; AF/PA;
EUR/WE /P/SP; D/C (MCCOO); EUR/PA; INR/P; INR/EUC; PM; OSC ISA
FOR ILN; NEA; WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE; DOC FOR ITA/EUR/FR
AND PASS USTR/PA; USINCEUR FOR PAO; NATO/PA; MOSCOW/PA;
ROME/PA; USVIENNA FOR USDEL OSCE.
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - MUSLIM WORLD: ANTI-AMERICAN
DEMONSTRATIONS - KORAN DESECRATION - AFGHANISTAN - LAURA BUSH
TO MIDDLE EAST EUROPEAN ISSUES - REFERENDUM - NATO AND DARFUR
PARIS - MONDAY, MAY 23, 2005
(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:
1. MUSLIM WORLD: ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS - KORAN
DESECRATION - AFGHANISTAN - LAURA BUSH TO MIDDLE EAST
2. EUROPEAN ISSUES - REFERENDUM - NATO AND DARFUR
B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:
WHILE EUROPEAN ISSUES DOMINATE FRONT PAGES, EDITORIALS AND
COMMENTARIES AS THE MAY 29 VOTE ON THE EU REFERENDUM NEARS,
REPORTS AND COMMENTS ON ANTI-AMERICAN PROTEST ABOUND, LINKED
TO THE NEWSWEEK ARTICLE BUT ALSO TO THE NEW YORK TIMES REPORT
ON INCIDENTS IN BAGRAM. ARTICLES ABOUT PRESIDENT KARZAI'S TRIP
TO WASHINGTON WEIGH HIS NEED TO "WALK A FINE LINE" BETWEEN
DOMESTIC POLITICS AND HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH "HIS AMERICAN
ALLIES." (SEE PART C) THE POPPY INDUSTRY IN AFGHANISTAN AND
THE DIFFICULTY IN REDUCING THE COUNTRY'S OUTPUT IS THE BASIS
FOR A MAJOR ARTICLE IN LE JOURNAL DU DIMANCHE TITLED: "THE
OPIUM WAR HAS BEGUN." CORRESPONDENT ERIC DE LAVARENE WRITES:
"WHILE THE AFGHAN AUTHORITIES ARE BENT ON PUTTING AN END TO
DRUG TRAFFICKING, THE TASK IS DIFFICULT BECAUSE FARMERS DEPEND
ON THE OPIUM INDUSTRY FOR THEIR LIVELIHOOD AND THOSE FIGHTING
THE ANTI-DRUG WAR ARE ALSO ACCOMPLICES OF THE DRUG
TRAFFICKERS." A DOUBLE PAGE PHOTOGRAPH IN WEEKLY L'EXPRESS
SHOWS A "HAPPY AFGHAN" AMIDST HIS POPPY FIELDS.
TWO POLLS ON THE FRENCH EU REFERENDUM SHOW THE `NO' STILL IN
THE LEAD WITH 52 PERCENT (IFOP- JOURNAL DU DIMANCHE AND LOUIS-
HARRIS/ LIBERATION). WASHINGTON'S ATTITUDE TO THE REFERENDUM
IS THE BASIS FOR A REPORT IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO. (SEE
PART C) A SEPARATE ARTICLE ON DARFUR REITERATES THE
CONTROVERSIAL APPROACH TO NATO'S INVOLVEMENT IN AFRICA,
WHETHER SEEN FROM BRUSSELS OR FROM WASHINGTON. (SEE PART C)
(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:
MUSLIM WORLD: ANTI-AMERICAN DEMONSTRATIONS - KORAN DESECRATION
- AFGHANISTAN - LAURA BUSH TO MIDDLE EAST
"CONTROVERSY OVER U.S. BEHAVIOR IN AFGHANISTAN GROWS"
MARIE-FRANCE CALLE IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO (05/23): "THE
REPORT IS DAMNING FOR THE U.S. . WHILE PRESIDENT KARZAI WAS
PUTTING THE LAST TOUCHES TO HIS TRIP TO WASHINGTON. THE REPORT
COULD HAVE DARKENED WHAT WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN A CLOUDLESS
VISIT. BUT THERE WILL BE NO DIPLOMATIC INCIDENT. KARZAI REALLY
HAS VERY LITTLE CHOICE. HE IS THE ENDURING AMERICAN ALLY AND
HE KNOWS WHAT HE OWES THE AMERICANS: IN SHORT HE OWES THEM
EVERYTHING. HE ALSO KNOWS THAT WITHOUT THE AMERICANS,
AFGHANISTAN WOULD QUICKLY GO BACK TO CHAOS. WITH LEGISLATIVE
ELECTIONS SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER, CHAOS WOULD BE THE WORST
POSSIBLE SCENARIO. AND WITH VIOLENCE ERUPTING ONCE AGAIN IN
AFGHANISTAN, PRESIDENT KARZAI WILL HAVE TO WALK A FINE LINE."
"THE AFGHAN GREAT GAME"
JACQUES HUBERT-RODIER IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LES ECHOS (05/23):
"IS NEWSWEEK'S RETRACTION ENOUGH? THE CONTROVERSY, WHICH ITS
ARTICLE TRIGGERED, IS FAR FROM HAVING BEEN QUELLED. IN
AFGHANISTAN AND IN THE MUSLIM WORLD IN GENERAL, THE INCIDENT
HAS RE-IGNITED ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENTS WHICH ARE BEING
EXPLOITED BY EXTREMISTS. IN KABUL, DESPITE THE PRESENCE OF
INTERNATIONAL TROOPS, THE SITUATION REMAINS VOLATILE. WARLORDS
REMAIN AT THE CENTER OF AFGHANISTAN'S SECURITY CONCERNS.
MEANWHILE OPIUM PRODUCTION PROSPERS. YET THERE ARE AREAS WHERE
THINGS HAVE IMPROVED. BUT ONLY A FRACTION OF THE POPULATION
CAN ENJOY THESE IMPROVEMENTS, AND THE SLIGHTEST SPARK, LIKE
THE NEWSWEEK ARTICLE, IS ENOUGH TO SET THINGS AFIRE. TODAY'S
QUICK SPREAD OF INFORMATION, WHETHER PROVEN OR NOT, TRIGGERS
DEMONSTRATIONS IN THE MUSLIM WORLD, WHERE MANY OF THE FAITHFUL
HAVE THE FEELING THAT THEIR RELIGION HAS BECOME THE TARGET OF
WESTERN ATTACKS. AFGHANISTAN, WHICH HAS GIVEN SANCTUARY TO BIN
LADEN UNDER THE TALIBAN, IS AT THE HEART OF THE REGION'S POWER
GAME."
"THE U.S. ANGERS MUSLIM WORLD"
THIERRY DE ROCHECHOUART IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER FRANCE SOIR
(05/23): "DESECRATED KORAN, PHOTOS OF SADDAM. AND TORTURE IN
AFGHANISTAN: EVERY TIME, STORIES REVEALED BY THE WESTERN PRESS
IGNITE THE MUSLIM WORLD. AND THE MOVEMENT KEEPS GROWING. ON
FRIDAY, THE GREAT IMAM OF MECCA DEMANDED THAT WASHINGTON
APOLOGIZE FOR THE ALLEGED DESECRATION OF THE KORAN. BUT THE
WHITE HOUSE APPEARS TO BE HELPLESS IN ITS ATTEMPTS TO DOUSE
THE FIRES. THE FIRST LADY'S TRIP WAS SUPPOSED TO BE PART OF
THE WHITE HOUSE CHARM OFFENSIVE IN THE MIDDLE EAST.
UNFORTUNATELY SHE WAS HECKLED IN JERUSALEM. FURTHER PROOF THAT
WASHINGTON HAS BEEN CAUGHT IN A WIND OF PANIC IS THE FACT THAT
IT HAS CALLED FOR AN IMMEDIATE INVESTIGATION FURTHER TO THE
PUBLICATION OF SADDAM'S PHOTOGRAPHS. NUMEROUS ARAB PAPERS ON
SATURDAY WONDERED ABOUT THE AMERICAN MILITARY TROOPS' DESIRE
TO `HUMILIATE' ARAB SOCIETY IN GENERAL."
"LAURA BUSH HECKLED IN JERUSALEM"
PHILIPPE GELIE IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO (05/23): "LAURA
BUSH TOOK HER FIRST STEPS AS A DIPLOMAT IN A MINEFIELD. AS SHE
VISITED JERUSALEM, SHE WAS SUCCESSIVELY HECKLED BY JEWISH
DEMONSTRATORS AT THE WAILING WALL AND LATER BY MUSLIMS AT THE
DOME MOSQUE. HER WELCOME GIVES THE MEASURE OF THE DIFFICULTIES
WHICH THE WHITE HOUSE IS FACING IN THE MIDDLE EAST. LAURA BUSH
CAN NO LONGER IGNORE THE TENSION IN THIS REGION AND THE LEVEL
OF RESENTMENT WHICH AMERICA TRIGGERS HERE. THIS TRIP, HER
SECOND OF THIS NATURE, IS CLEARLY POLITICAL. THE GOAL IS TO
IMPROVE HER COUNTRY'S IMAGE AND TO ENCOURAGE REFORMS IN HOST
COUNTRIES. WHILE THE IDEAS SHE IS PROMOTING HAVE BEEN HERS FOR
A LONG TIME, THE FACT THAT SHE IS EXPRESSING THEM ON THE
INTERNATIONAL ARENA IS SOMETHING NEW. LAURA BUSH HAS ADOPTED
THE PRESIDENT'S CAUSE TO DEMOCRATIZE THE MIDDLE EAST AND IS
FAST BECOMING HIS NUMBER ONE EMISSARY."
EUROPEAN ISSUES - REFERENDUM - NATO AND DARFUR
"THE EU CONSTITUTION: WASHINGTON'S INTEREST AND MISTRUST"
PHILIPPE GELIE IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO (05/23): "SEEN
FROM THE U.S., EUROPE IS AN ILL-DEFINED ENTITY. WHICH IS NOT
OVERLY PROFILED IN THE U.S. MEDIA. WHILE SECRETARY RICE HAS
REITERATED WASHINGTON'S SUPPORT FOR EUROPE'S CONSTRUCTION, THE
TERMS USED ARE OFTEN VAGUE, POSSIBLY BY DESIGN. WASHINGTON IS
ESSENTIALLY WONDERING WHERE THE EUROPEAN ADVENTURE WILL LEAD.
THE ATTITUDE OF THE U.S. ADMINISTRATION IS DETERMINED BY TWO
MAJOR QUESTIONS: CAN THE EUROPEAN PROJECT CHALLENGE AMERICA'S
POWER AND CAN IT HARM NATO. IN A CAPITAL WHERE OPPOSITION TO
MULTIPOLARITY DOMINATES, EUROPE'S JOINT FOREIGN POLICY IS
PERCEIVED AS BEING `HOSTILE TO AMERICA'S VISION OF THE WORLD,'
AND EUROPE'S DEFENSE INITIATIVE AS A WAR MACHINE AGAINST THE
ATLANTIC ALLIANCE. FRANCE IN PARTICULAR IS ACCUSED OF
NURTURING PLANS FOR A `EUROPE POWER' MEANT TO RIVAL THE U.S.
RATHER THAN BE ITS PARTNER."
"EUROPE, NATO AND DARFUR"
ALEXANDRINE BOUILHET IN RIGHT-OF-CENTER LE FIGARO (05/23):
"WHILE NATO IS ABOUT TO SET FOOT IN AFRICA FOR THE FIRST TIME
IN ITS HISTORY, THE EU IS REFINING ITS STRATEGY. THE EU, WHICH
HAS BEEN PRESENT IN DARFUR FOR THE PAST SIX MONTHS, DOES NOT
WANT TO SEE NATO, THE NEWCOMER, STEAL ITS THUNDER. EUROPE'S
ALL-OUT EFFORTS TO HELP DARFUR COMES DAYS BEFORE THE MEETING
OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC COUNCIL WHICH PLANS TO GIVE THE GREEN
LIGHT TO THE FIRST NATO SUPPORT MISSION IN AFRICA. URGED BY
WASHINGTON, THIS INTERVENTION, EVEN IF IT IS A DISCREET ONE,
IS CLEARLY A DIPLOMATIC VICTORY FOR SECRETARY RICE. FRANCE
FINALLY GAVE ITS OWN GREEN LIGHT, EAGER AS IT IS NOT TO MAKE
DARFUR A NEW CAUSE OF CONFLICT WITH WASHINGTON. BUT THE
SHARING OF RESPONSIBILITIES WILL BE A MAJOR HEADACHE: THE
BATTLE WITH THE EU WILL MAINLY BE FOUGHT BETWEEN THE AMERICANS
AND THE FRENCH OVER AIR SURVEILLANCE. THIS NEW EAGERNESS BY
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS TO HELP DARFUR REVEALS THE RIVALRY
BETWEEN MAJOR POWERS WHICH ALL WANT TO REVAMP THEIR IMAGE
AFTER THE RWANDA GENOCIDE AS MUCH AS THEY WANT TO SECURE THEIR
OWN PROFITS FROM SUDAN'S OIL RESERVES." WOLFF
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