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Cable de la Embajada de EEUU sobre la participación del Gobierno sirio en las protestas por las caricaturas de Mahoma

Una influyente autoridad suní relata que el primer ministro sirio instruyó al gran muftí para que los imanes endurecieran sus sermones

ID: 51937
Date: 2006-02-06 16:05:00
Origin: 06DAMASCUS427
Source: Embassy Damascus
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Dunno:
Destination: VZCZCXYZ0000
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHDM #0427/01 0371605
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 061605Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6893
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0616
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L DAMASCUS 000427

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

PARIS FOR ZEYA; LONDON FOR TSOU

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/12/2015
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, SY
SUBJECT: SHEIKH CONFIRMS SARG INVOLVEMENT IN ESCALATING
SITUATION IN DAYS PRIOR TO RIOTING


Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Stephen A. Seche, per 1.4 b,d.

1. (C) Summary: An influential Sunni sheikh provided
details February 6 that seem to confirm SARG involvement in
escalating the situation that led to the violent rioting in
Damascus two days earlier, including communications between
the PM's office and the Grand Mufti. He also noted that SARG
authorities now seem intent on identifying a few scapegoats
to be blamed for the incidents. The Danish Ambassador
confirmed to us separately that the Minster of the Awqaaf had
inflamed the situation the day before the rioting, with his
remarks at Friday prayers in a mosque. End Summary.

2. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX, head of the Abu Noor Islamic
Institute and one of the most influential Sunni religious
figures in Damascus, provided PolChief February 6 with his
assessment of SARG involvement in the run-up to the violent
February 4 demonstrations (and its reaction in their
aftermath). He noted that PM Naji al-Otri several days
before the demonstrations instructed the Grand Mufti Sheikh
Hassoun to issue a strongly worded directive to the imams
delivering Friday sermons in the mosques of Damascus, without
setting any ceilings on the type of language to be used.
Hasson complied with the order. (Note: Several Muslim
contacts have confirmed that sermons based on these
instructions were delivered, criticizing the publishing of
the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, and condemning the
actions of the Danish, Norwegian, and French governments. An
Egyptian diplomat reported that the sermon he heard was
critical but not inciteful.)

3. (C) PM Otri also instructed Hassoun and Minister of the
Awqaf Ayoubi that if diplomatic representatives from the
Danish and Norwegian Embassies attempted to deliver apologies
to them and to seek their assistance in defusing the
situation, they were to take a hard line and insist that the
only way forward was for the PM's of the two countries to
issue official apologies.

4. (C) The banners put up in Rawda Square were obviously put
up with SARG permission. When XXXXXXXXXXXX had attempted to put
up banners in that area on a previous occasion, to announce
some Muslim-Christian dialogue effort, they were removed
immediately and he was told it was a "security area" and he
needed permission from the governorate of Damascus to put up
such banners because of all the diplomatic missions and
protective security forces in the area.

5. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX noted that one of the key organizers of the
march was Ammar Sahloul, a wealthy businessman (money trader)
with close ties both to the regime and to the Grand Mufti.
XXXXXXXXXXXX suspects him of being an agent for the SARG. He said
that Sahloul had been one of the people involved in sending
out text messages a few days before the demonstrations,
inviting people to come.

6. (C) After the Danish Embassy was attacked (along with the
Swedish and Chilean missions housed in the same building) and
the Norwegian Embassy was torched, Syrian security officers
acted much more resolutely to prevent damage at the French
Embassy. XXXXXXXXXXXX's friend Ayoubi, the Minister of the
Awqaaf, was on the scene trying to calm the demonstrators and
get them to disperse. Ayoubi told XXXXXXXXXXXX that the senior
Syrian security officer then informed him "That's it. Tell
them to disperse or we will use live ammunition" to stop the
rioting and to prevent them from storming the Embassy.

7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX assessed that the SARG allowed the rioting to
continue for an extended period and then, when it felt that
"the message had been delivered," it reacted with serious
threats of force to stop it. He described the message to the
U.S. and the broader international community as follows:
"This is what you will have if we allow true democracy and
allow Islamists to rule." To the Islamic street all over the
region, the message was that the SARG is protecting the
dignity of Islam, and that the SARG is allowing Muslims
freedom on the streets of Damascus they are not allowed on
the streets of Cairo, Amman, or Tunis.

8. (C) After the rioting, XXXXXXXXXXXX said he was visited by
representatives of several SARG security agencies, including
Political Security and Syrian Military Intelligence. He was
summoned by director of the General Intelligence Directorate
Ali Mamluk. The tone of all the questioning indicates the
SARG is now energetically looking for scapegoats to blame for
the rioting, said XXXXXXXXXXXX. He said he surprised Mamluk by
acknowledging that a number of students from his institute
had participated in the early stages of the demonstrations
but had withdrawn before the violence started at the Danish
Embassy.

9. (C) The Danish Ambassador told Emboffs February 6 that he
had met with the Minister of the Awqaaf on February 2 (and
separately with the Grand Mufti) to explain the Danish
position and ask for help in cooling tempers. He noted that
the while the Mufti issued a helpful statement, the ministers
reported comments on Friday in a mosque in the upscale Malki
neighborhood only served to inflame the situation. His
repeated efforts to with the MFA the days before the rioting
to get beefed up security for the Embassy proved fruitless,
he noted.
SECHE