US Embassy Cable: (2008) al-Asad tacitly acknowledged that he is not preventing arms from transiting Syria to Hizballah. #Syria
Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Kathleen H. Allegrone, reas ons 1.4 (b) and (d). ¶1. (S) Summary: “We think Syria is delivering on the key dossier,” French Presidency Advisor for the Middle East Boris Boillon said December 5, as he recapped his November 30 visit to Damascus with Presidency Secretary General Claude Gueant and NSA-equivalent Jean-David Levitte. In contrast to his colleagues at the MFA (ref A), Boillon predicted that Syria would name an ambassador to Beirut by the end of the year, although he conceded that the Syrians might delay until the first few days of January “just to show that they are independent.” Such a delay would not begin to affect the relationship unless it extended beyond President Sarkozy’s January 6 visit to Lebanon and, even more gravely, beyond Lebanese President Michel Sleiman’s state visit to Paris in March. He added that Lebanese diplomat Michel Khoury has been tapped to be Lebanon’s ambassador to Syria. Boillon agreed with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad’s argument that Sleiman should not run an independent bloc of candidates in Lebanon’s parliamentary elections on the grounds that Lebanon’s president should remain above politics. In a startling admission, al-Asad tacitly acknowledged that he is not preventing arms from transiting Syria to Hizballah, although the French read his comment as an indication that Syria would end weapons shipments if it were to conclude a peace agreement with Israel. Boillon said the French team encouraged the Syrians to be transparent with the IAEA, adding that it would be “catastrophic” for Syria’s dispute with the IAEA to escalate. End summary.