When Tayyar.org Misquote the Constitution

Tayyar.org constitution article

Here’s a lovely screenshot of the article

Since the expiration of the term of Former President Michel Suleiman, and the Parliaments failure to elect a successor, the constitution stipulates that all ministers in the government must unanimously agree to a law in order for it to be considered as passed.

I understand Lebanon has other more important things to focus on these days (like a garbage crisis, militants on our eastern border, a refugee emergency, and a cabinet that might fall and paralyze the whole country with it), but this is bad. This very, very, very bad. Tayyar.org, the FPM’s main media mouthpiece, published yesterday an article (link) in which they said that the constitution stipulates that all ministers in the government must unanimously agree to a law in order for it to be considered as passed.

The constitution doesn’t even mention what happens with the cabinet voting mechanism when a presidential vacancy happens (by all means, look for yourselves, and if you find anything, tell me). In fact, for the voting mechanism, the constitution only stipulates that:

5. The Council of Ministers shall meet periodically in a special seat, and the President of the republic shall chair its meetings when he attends. The legal quorum for a Council meeting shall be a two-thirds majority of its members. It shall make its decisions by consensus. If that is not possible, it makes its decisions by vote of the majority of attending members. Basic issues shall require the approval of two thirds of the members of the government named in the Decree of its formation. The following issues are considered basic: The amendment of the constitution, the declaration of a state of emergency and its termination, war and peace, general mobilization, international, long-term comprehensive development plans, the appointment of employees of grade one and its equivalent, the reconsideration of the administrative divisions, the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies, electoral laws, nationality laws, personal status laws, and the dismissal of Ministers.

(Article 65)

and for the presidential vacancy, the article that we can relate to is this one:

Should there be a vacancy in the Presidency for any reason whatsoever, the Council of Ministers shall exercise the authorities of the President by delegation.

(Article 62)

I usually come across brainwashing in most media outlets and I often choose to smile and ignore them, but this is huge (I’m not picking sides here). This is the constitution we’re talking about, and quoting articles that don’t exist  is the worst kind of brainwashing there is. It’s already bad enough that the different parties interpret the constitution in different ways and barely stick to its rules, the last thing we need right now is a made up constitutional article to be used as a political maneuver.

Not cool, Tayyar.org. Not cool.

Oh and by the way Tayyar.org, they’re called decrees, not laws.

431 days since the 25th of May. 267 days since the 5th of November.

To Fall or not to Fall: What’s Next for Salam’s Cabinet?

I was in doubt whether to put a picture of Gebran Bassil and Salam together or a vintage image of Saeb Salam during the 1958 revolution, but you  just can't say no to Angelina Jolie. Image source: AP

I was in doubt whether to put a picture of Gebran Bassil and Tammam Salam together or a vintage image of Saeb Salam during the 1958 revolution, but you just can’t say no to Angelina Jolie. Image source: AP

This is the 13th post in a series of monthly posts covering the presidential elections. This post is about the month of July 2015.

For the past two months, things have been very rough in Lebanese politics. Aoun and Geagea signed a declaration of intent, a mini-feud erupted between two Future movement ministers, a new era started in the Kataeb, and the FPM launched a full-blown maneuver in the cabinet in order to secure the appointment of Shamel Roukoz as commander of the army. All of this was also accompanied by a prison scandal and a garbage crisis. Can Lebanon get even more creative?

But this week’s rumor beats all the other political events of this month (Aoun’s interview in which he said he would vote for Frangieh, Jumblatt’s statements, and FPM rallies): In the dark alleys of the Lebanese republic, they say that Lebanon’s Prime Minister Tammam Salam is threatening to resign this week.

No President + No Cabinet = No Parliament

According to article 75 of the constitution, The Chamber meeting to elect the President of the Republic shall be considered an electoral body and not a legislative assembly. It must proceed immediately, without discussion of any other act, to elect the Head of the State. In other words, the parliament becomes an electoral body when it meets 10 days before the expiration of the president’s term, by virtue of law (yeah, right), in order to elect the president. The founding fathers probably meant that the parliament also loses all its legislative powers once a presidential vacancy happens, but since it’s not clearly written there, the Lebanese parliament meets sometimes during presidential vacancies in order to legislate (the biggest example is when the parliament convened on November 5, 2014 in order to extend its term till 2017 ).

According to another article (article 69), When the Council resigns or is considered resigned, the Chamber of Deputies shall automatically be considered convened in extraordinary session until a new Council has been formed and has gained the Chamber’s confidence. When a cabinet usually resigns, the parliament is also discouraged to legislate because the founding fathers probably meant that the extraordinary session was for the vote of confidence and nothing else. But since it’s also not clearly written there, the Lebanese parliament meets sometimes during cabinet vacancies in order to legislate (the biggest example is when the parliament convened on May 31, 2013 and extended its term for 17 months).

What I mean here by these awfully complicated paragraphs is that Tammam Salam’s threat of resignation is huge: Once he leaves office, the parliament, and due to the two – two is too much – articles of the constitution, would probably be forced (for good this time) not to legislate until a president is elected, and since the two coalitions don’t seem to agree on any candidate right now and the parliament isn’t assuming its electoral responsibilities, that means that the Prime Minister’s resignation would not only stop the executive power from functioning, it would also entirely paralyze the parliament.

(And to make things even more complicated, the parliament needs its legislative power in case it wants to amend the constitution and elect a civil-servant like Kahwaji president.)

The bigger picture…

To be clear here, the parliament barely meets during the regular days, and  meets even less now with the presidential vacancy. Aoun and Geagea had previously agreed that they would not attend any legislative session as long as there is no president in power (although they are arguably the main politicians to blame for the vacancy since they are refusing to agree on anyone else other than themselves). This mini-maneuver that both politicians had agreed on – by freezing the parliament in order to pressure the election of a president – will hence heavily backfire: Not only will they lose their blackmailing power, their stubbornness will also be now responsible for one of the biggest deadlocks Lebanon has ever seen: No parliament, no cabinet, no general elections and no president for a record time (Lebanon broke the 1988 record of presidential vacancy three weeks ago). The only thing that could solve this major deadlock is an agreement on a president, and the March 8 alliance, being the one that is officially denying the quorum (probably since M8 fears a last-minute agreement between M14 and Jumblatt on a candidate such as Henri Helou), will mainly be responsible for the deadlock.

…and the smaller one

One must not forget why Salam wants to resign: The FPM ministers want participate in putting the cabinet’s agenda, something the Sunni PM does on his own. They argue that the Maronite president is constitutionally authorized to introduce, from outside the agenda, any urgent matter to the council of Ministers (article 53), and as the biggest Christian party represented in the cabinet, they should hence be allowed to introduce matters from outside the cabinet’s agenda (in order to propose the appointment of Roukoz as commander of the army). They say the rules should change when there is no president in power: An earlier agreement was previously reached according to which a veto right was given to all the ministers (in normal times it’s the absolute majority of the ministers that takes decisions). When the PM refused to let them introduce matters from outside the agenda, they considered that Salam was stepping on the Christian rights and establishing his own “Daesh dictatorship”. But unlike the former agreement, it is political suicide the FPM are asking from Salam: When the deal was reached in May on giving every minister veto power, the PM was giving up the cabinet‘s authority and giving it to the cabinet. Now the FPM was asking Salam to give up the Sunni Prime Minister‘s authority and give it to a Maronite minister. The FPM has been talking about being denied their “Christian rights”, but for Salam, it’s the “Sunni rights” that are at stake here, as well as his powers as president of the executive power: Unlike the popular myth in Lebanon, most of the president’s authorities were mainly transferred after Taef to the cabinet and not the Prime Minister (for example, the army answers to the cabinet, etc..). The only “real” authority the Prime Minister has is the one figuring in article 64, 6: He shall call the Council of Ministers into session and sets its agenda, and he shall inform the President beforehand of the subjects included on the agenda and of the urgent subjects that will be discussed. Everything else is either shared with the cabinet or the president, double-checked by the parliament or too general to be considered as a true power.

Tammam Saeb Salam

The FPM are asking Tammam Salam to give up his powers in the name of a vacancy they are helping to maintain. But Lebanon tends to forget who Salam’s father was. Here’s a small reminder: Saeb Salam resigned in 1973 because the president, Sleiman Frangieh, refused to dismiss the commander of the army. Do the FPM really think that Salam Jr will give up his powers, appoint their candidate as commander of the army and live happily ever after with them because he fears that the resignation of M8 ministers might bring the cabinet down?

What the FPM are failing to see, year after year, cabinet after cabinet, is that their feud with the different Prime Ministers – Siniora, Hariri, Mikati and Salam – does not only make them look like the protectors of Christian interests: It makes of every Prime Minister a hero among his community and strengthens him. Lebanon forgot how Mikati resigned in 2013 because there was a veto within his cabinet on keeping Rifi in his position. If the 2013 parliamentary elections had happened, Mikati would have probably won in his district.

If Mikati, who was M8’s ally, refused to cross such red lines, why would Salam, who isn’t even a direct ally to M8, and whose father had a history of disagreeing with Lebanese Maronite presidents, concede defeat?

So what happens if Salam resigns?

His cabinet – that already assumes the role of the president – becomes a caretaker one, the parliament loses the remainder of its legislative power and the FPM’s demands in the government become useless (since a caretaker cabinet cannot theoretically meet). The FPM lose their chance of making a scene by throwing Salam outside like they did to Hariri in 2011,  and instead of showing themselves as victims, they become the ones responsible for literally everything: Every institution in Lebanon becomes paralyzed because of the M8 boycott of the presidential elections, and the only one who would still keep a bit of influence is Tammam Salam as president of the caretaker cabinet. Also if no solution is reached by September, the commander of the army will probably see his term extended (= bye-bye Shamel Roukoz as LAF commander), since a caretaker cabinet doesn’t officially have enough authority to discuss such an important post, especially that the country would become highly unstable once we cease to have a functioning government alongside a paralyzed parliament and a non-existent president.

If he resigns, Tammam Salam will make everyone else lose everything: The cabinet and the parliament. All the tough responsibilities (The refugee crisis and the garbage crisis to name a few) will now be in the parliament’s hands that will also be forced to elect a president before seeking to vote on any law or cabinet. Salam, on the other hand, has nothing to lose: His cabinet would become a caretaker one anyway the first minute a president is elected.

429 days since the 25th of May. 265 days since the 5th of November.

The WikiLebanon Files (Part VI): Garbage Crises and the Lebanese Civil War

A parking meter is seen between a pile of garbage on a Beirut street, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

A parking meter is seen between a pile of garbage on a Beirut street, Lebanon, Tuesday, July 21, 2015. (AP/Hassan Ammar)

This is the sixth post in a series of monthly posts covering Lebanese WikiLeaks cables.

On July 17, activists in the town of Naameh, just south of Beirut, forcibly closed Lebanon’s largest landfill, halting trash collection in Beirut and its environs and flaring tempers this summer.

Earlier this year, the government finally agreed that the landfill would be shut down for good this July. But they never agreed on an alternative way to handle the massive amounts of waste produced by Beirut and surrounding communities.

As Beirut drowns in its own garbage and corruption, I’m publishing four 40-year-old U.S. diplomatic cables  mentioning similar garbage crises the country suffered from during the chaotic days of the Lebanese civil war.

Ironically enough, the last two cables date from May 1976 and talk about the presidential election’s deadlock as well as the garbage crisis. 2015 much?

Unless you really, really enjoy reading about the battles of 1975 and the forgotten presidential elections of 1976, look for the mentions of the garbage crises in bold.

Hope you enjoy Lebanon’s 20th century trash-talk.

0900 LEBANON REPORT
1975 October 18, 07:57 (Saturday)
1975BEIRUT12952_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIEDFrom:
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006
YESTERDAY’S RELATIVE PEACE AND QUIET SLIPPED A BIT YESTERDAY AFTERNOON WITH KIDNAPPINGS INCREASING THE UNEASINESS OBVIOUSLY EXISTING BOTH SIDES. LAST EVENING WAS QUITE NOISY IN RAS BEIRUT. CONSIDERABLE AUTOMATIC WEAPONS FIRE AND EVEN A FEW MORTARS AND/OR ROCKETS GOING OFF. TRAFFIC INTO AND IN THE CITY THIS MORNING NOT QUITE AS HEAVY AS YESTERDAY BUT ALL ACCESS ROADS ARE OPEN. PALL OF SMOKE OVER CITY BUT DUE TO SYSTEMATIC GARBAGE BURNING ABOUT EVERYWHERE AND NOT REPEAT NOT DUE ARSON OR BOMBINGS. FOR THE FIRST WEEKEND IN OVER A MONTH WE ARE PERMITTING EMBASSY PERSONNEL TO GO TO DAMOUR, JUNIEH AND INTO THE MOUNTAINS BEHIND BEIRUT.
LATEST TIME AND WEWSWEEK COPIES REACHED BEIRUT YESTERDAY. HAVE OBVIOUSLY CAUSED CONSTERNATION IN MOST COMPANIES’ HOME OFFICES. AMERICAN BUSINESSMEN HERE CURRENTLY FREQUENTLY MORE WORRIED ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON IN HOME OFFICES THAN WHAT IS TRANSPIRING IN BEIRUT. ZAHLE AGAIN DICEY. PRESS REPORTS SEVEN DEAD PRINCIPALLY DUE KIDNAPPING.
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0900 LEBANON REPORT
1976 January 5, 12:01 (Monday)
1976BEIRUT00055_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. WEEKEND SAW MUCH KIDNAPPING AND LOOTING. THIS MORNING, MON., JAN 5, CALLED ON MARONITE PATRIARCH (SEPTEL), SO DROVE DIRECTLY FROM HOUSE VIA AIN RUMMANEH, ASHRAFIYEH, QARANTINA, BORJ HAMMUD, DORO TO BKIRKE. MANY PHALANGE ROADBLOCKS, SOME ARMENIAN (VIGILANTE TYPE) KEEPING ARMED MEN OUT OF ARMENIAN PORTIONS OF CITY. NO REPEAT NO MOSLEM, EVEN IN PORT AREA, THROUGH WHICH I RETURNED. CONSIDERABLE TRAFFIC IN AND OUT OF TOWN, NOTWITHSTANDING RADIO WARNINGS THIS MORNING RE DANGER DRIVING. NEVERTHELESS, BEIRUT IS A JUNGLE OR BEDLAM; NO ONE FOLLOWING TRAFFIC RULES, ARMED LOCAL MEN TRYING DIRECT TRAFFIC; STREETS POTHOLED AND FULL OF WATER DUE GARBAGE BLOCKING SEWERS AND HEAVY RECENT RAINS. NO GARBAGE HAS BEEN COLLECTED FOR WEEKS.
2.AUG OPENED THIS MORNING, AS DID BUC, IC AND ACS. AUB ATTENDANCE BETTER THAN EXPECTED, BUT EVERYONE VERY, VERY NERVOUS. PAN AM RESUMING ONCE WEEKLY FLIGHTS. BANKS CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 BEIRUT 00055 051228Z
NOT REPEAT NOT OPEN.
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1. LEBANON IS QUIETER 5 MAY WITH NOTICEABLE REDUCTION IN CLASHES AND SHELLINGS OBSERVED BEGINNING AFTERNOON 4 MAY AND CONTINUING THROUGH HOURS OF DARKNESS. CLASHES IN PORT AREA HAVE FALLEN OFF AND PLA FORCES HAVE REPORTEDLY BEGUN MOVING INTO BUFFER ZONE BETWEEN ALLENBY AND PATRIARCH HOYEK STREETS TO SEPARATE AND DETER COMBATANTS. PUBLIC INDICATIONS HAVE BEEN THAT THESE FORCES WILL FIRE UPON EITHER SIDE BREAKING CURRENT TRUCE TO WHICH ALL MAJOR FACTIONS, RIGHT AND LEFT, HAVE NOW PUBLICLY ENDORSED. REMAINS TO BE SEEN, HOWEVER, WHETHER PLA WILL BE ABLE OR WILLING TO FUNCTION AS EFFECTIVE AND IMPARTIAL DETERRENT FORCE ALONG CONFRONTATION LINE AND IN DOWNTOWN BUSINESS DISTRICT.
2. EXCEPTIONS TO OVERNIGHT QUIET WERE TRADITIONAL TROUBLE ZONES– SHIAH, HADATH, AND LAYLAKI–IN BEIRUT SUBURGS. NO GROUND MOVE- MENTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED THERE, BUT SUBSTANTIAL SHELLING AND MORTARING OCCURRED IN EARLY MORNING HOURS OF 5 MAY. BEIRUT AIR- PORT WAS AGAIN RECIPIENT OF MORTAR FIRE MID-AFTERNOON 4 MAY AND AT APPROX. 0100 HOURS LOCAL 5 MAY, POSSIBLY AS RESULT OF OVERSHOTS ORIGINATING IN HADATH.NO DEATH AND LIMITED MATERIAL DAMAGE RESULTED FROM LATEST SHELLING, BUT AIR FRANCE HAS ANNOUNCED THAT IT IS SUSPENDING REGULAR SERVICE TO BEIRUT AND WILL CONSIDER LANDING HERE ON CASE BY CASE BASIS. FRAGMENTARY REPORTS INDICATE THAT CLASH OCCURRED IN AKKAR AREA OF NORTH YESTERDAY BUT INIT AL INDICATIONS RECEIVED BY DATT SUGGEST THIS DUST-UP MAY HAVE BEEN RESULT OF INTERNAL SQUABBLING WITHIN LOOSELY STRUCTURED LEBANESE ARAB ARMY (LAA) ADHERENTS IN THAT REGION.
3. NO PALPABLE PROGRESS HAS BEEN ACHIEVED ON THE POLITICAL FRONT DESPITE THE RAPID APPROACH OF SCHEDULED PARLIAMENT SESSION ON
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 BEIRUT 04026 051456Z
MAY 8. THERE ARE GROWING ANTICIPATIONS THAT ELECTION OF PRESIDENT AT THAT TIME WILL NOT RPT NOT BE POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF FAILURE OF BROAD SPECTRUM OF LEBANESE POLITICAL OPINION TO COALESCE BEHIND SINGLE CANDIDATE ACCEPTABLE TO SYRIA. AMIN AL HAFEZ HAS RETURNED FROM DAMASCUS, HELD NON-ILLUMINATING PRESS CONFERENCE, AND SCHEDULED MEETING TODAY WITH HIS COHORTS IN SPEAKER ASSAD’S “INDEPENDENT” BLOC TO REPORT RESULTS OF HIS MISSION. IT IS WIDELY ACCEPTED THAT HIS EFFORTS TO CONVINCE SYRIANS TO ACCEPT “THIRD” CANDIDATE FOR PRESI- DENCY MET STONE WALL. ADDITIONALLY, PRIMIN KARAME AND SHIITE IMAN MUSA SADR HAVE EXPRESSED OPPOSITION TO COMPROMISE CANDIDATE CONCEPT–A PRETTY GOOD INDICATION OF WHERE SYRIA STANDS.
4. AT MOMENT, THEREFORE, EDDE AND SARKIS REMAIN ONLY SERIOUS CONTENDERS AND STALEMATE BETWEEN THEM PERSISTS. EDDE IS CAMPAIGNING HARD, ISSUING HARD-CHARGING STATEMENT AGAINST SYRIA 4 MAY IN WHICH HE PREPARED GROUND FOR HIS DEFEAT BY STATING THAT,IF HE NOT ELECTED,HIS FAILURE DUE TO SYRIAN INTERFERRENCE. NEWSPAPERS CON- TINUE MEANWHILE TO REPORT FAITHFULLY ACTIVITIES OF MINOR HOPEFULS, INCLUDING NEWCOMER SAID AKL.
5. STATEMENTS OF BOTH KARAME AND JUMBLATT FOLLOWING 4 MAY MEETINGS WITH AMBASSADOR BROWN WIDELY CARRIED IN PRESS. BOTH POLITICIANS EMPHASIZED USG POSITION THAT ELECTION OF PRESIDENT IS PURELY LEBANESE DECISION AND JUMBLATT TOLD REPORTERS THAT AMB. HAD ASSURED HIM THAT USG HAS NO RPT NO CANDIDATE IN PRESIDENTIAL SWEEPSTAKES. JUMBLATT ALSO REPORTED TO PRESS THAT AMB HAD EXPRESSED HIS CONCERN ABOUT INDISCRIMINATE SHELLING BY BOTH SIDES OF RESIDENTIAL AREA AND JUMBLATT ADDED THAT HE AGREED WITH AMB. THAT THIS SHOULD CEASE FOR HUMANITARIAN REASONS.
6. ON BRIGHTER SIDE, MANY AREAS OF RAS BEIRUT RECEIVED 5 MAY FIRST VISITS FROM NEWLY PAINTED CITY GARBAGE TRUCKS IN MANY MONTHS AS CONCERTED EFFORT APPARETNLY BEING MADE TO REMOVE HUGE HEAPS OF ACCUMULATED REFUSE WHERE LARGE COLONIES OF RODENT REFUGEES HAD MADE THEIR ABODE. EYEWITNESS HAS TOLD US THAT SIMILAR EFFORT IN AL HOUT STREET AREA WAS ABORTED WHEN ARMED ELEMENTS FIRED ON GARBAGE TRUCKS.
7. KARIM PAKRADOUNI OF PHALANGE POLITBURO HAS JUST INFORMED EMBOFF THAT HE IS TRAVELLING 5 MAY TO DAMASCUS FOR CONSULTATIONS. TRIP APPARENTLY DECIDED DURING HIGH-LEVEL MEETING OF PHALANGE LEADERSHIP
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AT NOON TODAY.
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1. FURTHER ELEMENTS OF UNCERTAINTY WAS INTERJECTED INTO LEBANESE POLITICAL PROCESS EVENING 6 MAY WHEN KAMAL JUMBLATT, SPEAKING ON BEHALF OF “PROGRESSIVES”, PUBLICLY OPPOSED CONVENING THE PARLIAMENT TO ELECT A NEW PRESIDENT BEFORE “ALL FORMS OF PRESSURE ARE LIFTED AND ALL INTERFERENCE IS ENDED.” WHILE JUMBLATT’S REMARKS DO NOT RPT NOT CONSTITUTE A FORMAL DEMAND THAT THE 8 MAY SESSION BE POSTPONED, THEY DO INDICATE THAT JUMBLATT AND THE SYRIANS HAVE NOT YET BEEN RECONCILED. AS FURTHER EVIDENCE, SYRIAN-SPONSORED DAILY, “AH SHARQ”, UNLEASED 7 MAY BROADSIDE AGAINST JUMBLATT.
2. WHETHER SOME OF ‘ARAFAT’S UNDERLINGS HAD SECRETLY JOURNEYED TO DAMASCUS PREVIOUSLY OR NOT, IT NOW SEEMS CLEAR THAT ‘ARAFAT HIMSELF DID NOT RPT NOT DEPART LEBANON UNTIL 6 MAY, WHEN HE FLEW TO SYRIA. IF HE IS SEEKING, AS SOME OBSERVERS BELIEVE, TO MEDIATE BETWEEN JUMBLATT AND THEY SYRIANS, IT DOES NOT APPEAR THAT HE WILL BE ABLE TO PUT THE FROSTING ON THE CAKE IN TIME FOR SATURDAY’S PARLIAMENT SESSION TO PROCEED ON SCHEDULE. WE BELIEVE THAT JUMBLATT MIGHT BE WILLING NOW TO REACH SOME COMPROMISE WITH SYRIA BECAUSE OF INTERNAL WEAKNESSES IN HIS POSITION. THERE HAVE BEEN SOME INDICATIONS THAT SECOND-ECHELON DRUZE AND PSP PARTY LEADERS CLOSE TO JUMBLATT HAVE BECOME DISENCHANTED WITH REPEATED DELAYS IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS, FOR WHICH JUMBLATT HIM- SELF BEARS A SHARE OF THE BLAME. SIMILARLY, ‘ARAFAT AND HIS FATAH COLLEAGUES ARE CHAFING UNDER PRESENT PRECARIOUS SITUATION WHICH THEY PROBABLY BELIEVE LEAVES JUMBLATT (AND HIS EVEN LESS RELIABLE LEFTIST COHORTS) WITH CONSIDERABLE LEEWAY TO REHEAT THE MILITARY SITUATION AND PULL THE PALESTINIANS BACK INTO A CONFLICT WHICH COULD THIS TIME INCLUDE THE SYRIANS.
3. WE WOULD EXPECT SOME INDICATION FRIDAY, MAY 7 OF WHETHER OR NOT PARLIAMENT WILL ATETEMPT TO MEET 8 MAY. GEN. AHDAB, SELF-ANNOUNCED MILITARY GOVERNOR OF LEBANON, HAS
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 BEIRUT 04081 071338Z
ANNOUNCED THE IMPOSITION OF A CURFEW IN A PROSCRIBED AREA AROUND THE VILLA (WHERE PARLIAMENT WILL ONCE AGAIN GATHER IN EXILE) EFFECTIVE AT 1400 HOURS LOCAL TODAY. PREPARATIONS THUS CON- TINUE FOR THE SESSION WHILE THE POLICOS DECIDE WHETHER TO ATTEND OR NOT. WE UNDERSTAND THAT MOST CHRISTIAN DEPUTIES AREPREPARED TO ATTEND, GIVEN MINIMAL SECURITY WHICH AT PRESENT EXISTS, BUT ALMOST NONE OF THE OTHER PARLIAMENTARIANS, INCLUDING THOSE CON- TROLLED BY JUMBLATT, HAVE YET CALLED THEIR SHOTS.
4. SINCE THE ADMINISTRATIVE AND JUDICIARY COMMITTEE OF THE PARLIAMENT DECIDED TWO DAYS AGO THAT AMINIMUM OF 66 DEPUTIES MUST BE PRESENT BEFORE GAVEL FALLS, “INDEPENDENT” GROUPING LED BY SPEAKER ASSSAD PROBABLY CAN DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT SESSION COMES OFF. THIS GROUP, WHICH AS WE NOTED IN REFTEL, MAY BE COMING APART AS MEMBERS CHOOSE UP SIDES, HAS SLATED A MEETING FOR TODAY WHICH PROBABLY WILL GIVE AN INDICATION OF THE DIRECTION OF THE WIND. THERE STILL SEEMS TO BE SOME MOVEMENT WHITHIN THE UNCOMMITTED TOWARD SARKIS IP RESPONSE TO WHAT STIMULI WE CAN ONLYSPECULATE AT THE MOMENT, BUT CAMPAIGN POSTERS PROCLAIMING THAT “EDDE IS THE MAN” HAVE GONE UP OVERNIGHT IN SOME PARTS OF WEST BEIRUT. FOR ANALYTICAL PURPOSES, THEREFORE, PARLIAMENTARY MEMBERSHIP BREAKS DOWN INTO THREE BASIS GROUPS TODAY AS FAR AS WE CAN DETERMINE: PRO-SARKIS (LARGEST BUT NOT YET DETERMINANT); INDEPENDENTS (SECOND AND KEY); AND PRO-EDDE. PRECISE NUMBERS ARE ANYBODY’S GUESS BUT WE WOULD PLACE SARKIS VOTES IN HAND TODAY AT SLIGHTLY OVER 50 RPT 50 AND, THEREFORE SUFFICIENT FOR ELECTION ON SECOND BALLOT IF SESSION GOES AHEAD. ELECTION BY THIS SLIM MARGIN, HOWEVER, WOULD LEAVE THE NEW PRESIDENT IN A RELATIVELY WEAK POSITION AND FACING A DIVIDED ELECTORATE–NOT A HAPPY PROSPECT.
5. SECURITY SITUATION CONTINUED TO HOLD FAIRLY WELL IN BEIRUT WITH SOME EXCHANGES OF FIRE IN METN. LAST NIGHT, FURN ASH SHUBAK WAS HEAVILY SHELLED FROM DIRECTION OF RAS AN NABA ACCORDING TO LOCAL RESIDENT; THIS COULD BE WORK OF SPOILERS SUPPORTING “REJECTIONISTS”. PHALANGE SOURCES ALSO REPORT LIMITED GROUND ACTION (TWO PHALANGISTS KIA) IN VICINITY OF TAYOUNE CIRCLE, WHICH CONSTITUES ONE OF OUTER LIMITES OF SECURITY ZONE SURROUNDING PARLIAMENT SITE. ON OTHER HAND, SAME SOURCE IN AL HOUT STREET THAT TOLD US OF BATTLE OF THE GARBAGE TRUCKS TWO DAYS AGO REPORTS THAT TRUCKS THRUST INTO NEIGHBORHOOD THIS MORNING WITHOUT ENCOUNTERING ARMED RESISTENCE.
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 04 BEIRUT 04081 071338Z AIRPORT
ALSO ESCAPED SHELLING YESTERDAY AND THIS MORNING FOR FIRST TIME IN SEVERAL DAYS.
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Christian Rights and Political Maneuvers

Free Patriotic Movement protesters shout at soldiers in Downtown Beirut, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Azakir)

Free Patriotic Movement protesters shout at soldiers in Downtown Beirut, Thursday, July 9, 2015. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Azakir)

It has been two busy weeks for the Christian leaders. Two very busy weeks. In September, and in case things stay the same, the second most important Christian-allocated post, the Lebanese army command, becomes vacant. And the idea of having the presidency and the command of the army vacant is making all the Christian leaders change their tactics this month with their political maneuvers.

The first “Christian right”: Surveys, polls and strong presidential candidates

One of the very first political maneuver we saw this month was the LF and FPM’s decision to go through with an initial deal of polling Lebanese Christians in order to see who is the most popular Christian leader. For a country that didn’t even do a census since its independence and that postponed its parliamentary elections twice in the last three years, the idea of a census is both ridiculous and useless: Parliamentary elections would be far more accurate, include all Lebanese, and actually produce a parliament that would fairly represent the Lebanese. The only thing a poll could give us are results that no one will trust and that will be used by the winning Christian leader to spam us with till the rest of his life (because, as Geagea and Aoun believe, the strongest Christian leader should become president). Both leaders think that they could use a win in the poll in order to pressure Lebanon’s parliament to elect them. You know, since a parliament that extended his terms twice, postponed democratic elections, and barely convenes, will be surely pressured by a 4600-person poll made by Statistics Lebanon.

“Marada Movement leader Sleiman Frangieh, an ally of Aoun, said that while he supported the poll, its outcome would not affect his voting choices. He said that he would vote for Aoun no matter what the result.”

So to be clear here, no one cares about the poll, and the poll doesn’t matter. In fact, quasi-replacing the elections with a poll is an insult to our intelligence.

The only relevant reason the poll was proposed by Aoun and endorsed by Geagea is that both leaders want to keep the monopoly of Christian leadership to themselves. The increasing threats of a new young influential president of the Kataeb and an aspiring feudal leader from the north probably pushed the two Christian leaders to go through with the poll. While the poll won’t get us anywhere regarding the presidential deadlock, it would be a smart maneuver by Aoun and Geagea to acknowledge the supremacy of one another as Christian leaders in their respective camps. So in other words, the agreement to ask the Christians “who is more popular, Aoun or Geagea” was actually a treaty between the FPM and the LF to confirm Sami Gemayel and Sleiman Frangieh as minor players. And how do we know that? Gemayel voiced remarks on the initiative.

The second “Christian right”: Federalism, decentralization and presidential elections

The Kataeb’s response came quick. The two major Christian leaders were trying to isolate Gemayel by using a Christian right known as “strong Christian president” as an alibi. Gemayel’s response was very accurate as he responded with another Christian right: “Federalism”. Gemayel played his cards well here: The two major Christian players have major ties with Lebanon’s main Muslim parties, and they cannot risk losing support from them by openly supporting such an initiative. One of the main characteristics of the Taef constitution – and in order to suppress the Christian wartime separatist sentiment – is that it confirms the unity of the state, indirectly forbidding any attempt of federalism, while on the other hand promoting “decentralization”. Like most of the articles of our clear constitution, you can interpret that word in many ways. Among Muslim parties, federalism is a big no-no. Sami Gemayel is offering the Christians something the FPM and LF could never support (If they would like their presidential candidacies to remain intact). Gemayel is quickly understanding the rules of the game: When to play the sectarian card, and when to keep it on hold.

99%

Gemayel and Geagea also tried to undermine Aoun’s intiative of Christian polling by confirming that they were still allies on the second of July.

We agree with Kataeb on 99 pct of matters

(The 1% are probably the constitution, the electoral law, the presidential elections, the cabinet formation, the parliamentary elections and everything else that matters in this life and the other)

99% = Pissing off the FPM?

The third “Christian right”: Protests, sons-in-law and early deals

But the most important event this week was the FPM’s decision to take the streets in order to ask for Christian rights.

But what were the protests about? No one precisely knows. The parliament extension? The presidential elections? The new commander of the army? The fact that Salam is trying to be in charge? Christian rights? The poll?

According to Aoun,

“They are eradicating Christian existence in the East through the use of swords, and are trying to abolish our presence through politics.”
“For this reason we are preparing for a popular movement to confront all that is happeningWhat is going on inside the cabinet, as well as prolonging of the Parliament Council’s term, are actually intended for two aims, namely to take control of the government’s decision and to control Christian representatives’ positions, namely the Presidency and Army Command.”

I don’t know if that made things clearer, but Aoun’s protests, which turned out to be a big failure, and were accompanied by a mini-clash with the army and a faux-pas by Gebran Bassil in the cabinet  – video – (although some might praise the FPM’s number 2 and consider standing up to the PM in the council and screaming on one another a great achievement) were intended for one purpose: Separating the presidential elections from the appointment of the new commander of the army.

As I said in a post last month, the appointment of Shamel Roukoz as commander of the army means that Kahwagi, who will no longer be commander of the army, will slowly lose momentum as a presidential candidate in favor of other candidates, while at the same time Roukoz seems the man to fulfill the legacy of Aoun. Once Roukoz becomes commander, he will likely be the FPM’s potential candidate for the presidency – while maintaining a consensual image. That would mean that if the FPM plays its cards well in the next general elections and Roukoz succeeds as commander, the FPM could be looking in 2021 at a party whose Roukoz is leading its men in the executive power as president, and whose Bassil is leading its MPs in parliament, while Aoun would remain the “Godfather of the party”.

The problem however for the FPM is that it does not wish to make concessions in order to bring Roukoz into the army command. The more the FPM waits till September (that’s when Kahwagi’s term expires), the more Kahwagi’s term is likely to be extended, and the more the FPM will be in a weaker position to appoint Roukoz. The FM will ask for concession in exchange for backing Roukoz, and we all know that the concession is going to be Aoun dropping his candidacy.

This is what all of  these maneuvers have been about. Aoun wants the cabinet to discuss the commander of the army’s appointment from now, in order to avoid any deal that could be forced upon him in September. This is why he is also calling for the demonstrations, and trying to prove that he is the most popular leader with the Geagea polling deal. He wants the appointment of Roukoz as soon as possible and is playing the sectarian card by saying that Salam is abusing his powers via refusing to discuss the matter. Constitutionally speaking, it’s the Sunni PM that sets the agenda in the cabinet meetings (article 64) although the Maronite president is allowed to “introduce, from outside the agenda, any urgent matter to the council of Ministers” (article 53). But there is no president right now which gives the FPM the chance to play a double sectarian card: The FPM leaders are arguing that the PM doesn’t want to discuss the Maronite commander of the army, and is refusing to let the biggest Christian party in the cabinet use the authorities of the Maronite president (Ironically, it’s the Aounists who are boycotiing the election of the Maronite president). Anyway, Aoun doesn’t want to be put in a position where he’ll have to choose between his presidential candidacy and the appointment of his son-in-law as commander of the army, and the panic of these last few days is only a small sample of what we’re about to experience in the next couple of weeks (Aoun actually used the English word  “unpredictable”).

With a double vacancy in the Christian posts on the horizon, expect the Christian parties to become hyperactive. Everyone wants to win the Maronite lottery, and they’re going to use every Christian right (whatever that means) they can find in order to maneuver and gain the upper Christian hand by mid-September.

Even Frangieh undermined his major ally’s demonstration, and that means a lot: (1) He wants a piece of the cake too, and (2) Aoun and Geaga were right to be cautious and contain their minor allies. The Maronite patriarch’s say should also be emphasized: He undermined the poll, and warned Aoun against the protests. A major inter-Christian fight on the Maronite posts is about to begin, and the Muslim allies’ opinions are surely going to matter: Just look how Berri remained silent on the stormy cabinet session.

Meanwhile in Arsal, terrorists were fighting over cherries.

413 days since the 25th of May. 249 days since the 5th of November.

Lebanon’s Youngest Presidential Candidate and a Prison Feud

Meet the latest president of the Kataeb

Meet the latest president of the Kataeb

This is the 13th post in a series of monthly posts covering the presidential elections. This post is about the month of June 2015.

It’s been a weird month: Three important events happened in the thirteenth month of presidential vacancy, but they’re not really related to one another, so let’s check them anyway.

Lebanon’s youngest presidential candidate?

Perhaps the main event of this month was the election of Samy Gemayel as the new leader of the Kataeb party. While last month’s post focused mainly on the succession war that is about to happen in the FPM and on the importance of naming Shamel Roukoz commander of the army for M8’s largest Christian party, the transfer of power in the Kataeb was already underway: Gemayel officially declared his candidacy for the Kataeb presidency on the third of June, and was officially elected to succeed his father on the 15th of June. I could act shocked that such a young leader was elected president of such an old party, but then again, it was always too obvious that the presidency of the Kataeb would eventually be given – even if by elections – to the eldest heir of the eldest heir of Pierre Gemayel. What is shocking here is Gemayel’s speech on the third of June. While announcing his nomination for the top Kataeb post, Gemayel said, among other cliché sentences most Lebanese politicians use (Like ending corruption and seeking dialogue), the following sentence:

“And because it is a Lebanese project, then it is not sectarian, and should be open to all Lebanese sects.”

Actually, there’s more:

“The MP said he would exercise all efforts to show Muslims that the Kataeb, which was once seen as one of the most sectarian collectives in Lebanon, is open to their membership, noting that he was seeking to reform the Christian party into a pluralistic entity.”

A day may come when Lebanese political parties will lose their sectarianism, unite together in secular coalitions, and laugh on the years they fought one another in brutal religious civil wars, but that day was not the 3rd of June 2015. (And yes, I just quoted Aragorn from The Lord of the  Rings)

Samy Gemayel’s speech/press conference was not a call for Muslims to join his party as much as it was his way of saying that he would serve both Muslim and Christian interests if elected president. And when I say president, I mean president of the Lebanese republic, and not the president of the Kataeb party. It is said that when his grandfather Pierre Gemayel wanted to become Lebanese president, he was told that he couldn’t be at the same time the leader of Lebanon’s Christians and the head of state: It would have seemed as if Christians were solely in power. Gemayel’s speech was beautifully written, and it was beautifully written for a reason: He might be the youngest Christian leader among the Maronite four (if he is to replace his father), but he now heads Lebanon’s oldest, most organized (and arguably third biggest) Christian party. His father’s chances were relatively high after Samir Geagea suffered the humilation of losing the first round of the presidential elections to no one in April 2015, but one year after the presidential vacancy, his father is likely to remain a former president. His father’s candidacy is likely to be transferred to him and it seems he’s not playing it like Aoun and Geagea, who are showing themselves as consensual candidates because they ally themselves to Muslim parties. He is playing a much more advanced consensual card: He wants to show that he comes from a party that would gladly accept – and even encourage – Muslim membership, and that not only is he one of the Maronite four, but a truly centrist and non-sectarian politician.

The right last name

Sometimes in Lebanese politics, all you need is the last right name.  The right last name is what Sleiman Frangieh and Kamal Jumblatt used to undermine Saeb Salam in the early 70s, by naming Takieddine Al-Solh in 1973 and Rachid Al-Solh in 1974 as Prime Ministers in order to curb the Salam/Karami influence. And ironically, the right last name is what gave Tammam Salam the upper hand in 2014. Salam had other worthy centrist competitors – even billionaire ones –  yet it is him who currently presides over the cabinet.

Like Salam, Samy Gemayel has the right last name. Like Salam, Samy Gemayel is a member of a coalition, but at the same time leads a faction of the coalition that arguably has the most ties with the other side. The only thing he does not have is a “consensual advantage” over his opponents. We all know that the likelihood of the Kataeb becoming secular is equal to the possibility of aliens forming sectarian parties and colonizing the Sun. And even if he insists on enforcing the decision of making the party wide open to Muslim membership, his authority as a young a leader of the Kataeb will be challenged. So until proven otherwise, Gemayel’s call for the Lebanese Muslims is nothing but a political maneuver he’s using to prove his centrism and become an accepted candidate to the presidency.

The month of leaks: WikiLeaks and TortureLeaks

It has been a tough month on M14. WikiLeaks leaked its Saudi Cables, and while the leaks weren’t very kind to both camps, they were naturally harsher on M14 (since its leaders naturally tend to talk more with the Saudi officials). But the much bigger problem for the Future Movement this month was the leak of torture videos from Roumieh prison. Here’s a brief summary of everything that is politically relevant about that issue:

“I accuse Hezbollah of leaking the videos,” Rifi told a joint news conference with Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk. “The people have seen two videos. There are about four videos, and only Hezbollah had access to some of them.”

Machnouk did not seem to support Rifi’s allegations, saying he had “no accurate information” regarding the source of the leak.

[…]

Rifi visited Machnouk at the Interior Ministry in an apparent move to defuse tensions following media reports that accused the justice minister of leaking the footage and orchestrating the ensuing street protests in Beirut, the northern city of Tripoli and other areas in a bid to undermine the interior minister’s reputation.

Rifi dismissed rumors of a feud with Machnouk, saying he enjoyed a “fraternal” relationship with the interior minister.

Machnouk also denied reports of a power struggle with Rifi. “There is no disagreement in the broad lines of main politics or in personal ties. Our friendship has been going on for a long time,” Machnouk said. “We are in agreement that what is happening served only extremism and would lead only to undermining moderation. No one has an interest in undermining moderation.”

The FM has always had very different ways of doing politics, depending on its electorate. In the North and in the rural regions, where the electorate tends to be more Islamist-friendly and more religiously homogeneous – Sunnis are 85% in Donniyeh, 80% in Tripoli, and 66% in Akkar – the FM’s politicians tend to use a more sectarian discourse  (Rifi is a perfect example since it is well-known by now that he intends to lead the FM’s Northern parliamentary fight in the next elections). In Beirut, where the Sunni electorate is less than 50%, more moderate, and actually shrinking, and where a large number of Christian MPs are affiliated with the movement, the Sunni Beiruti FM politicians are by far the most moderates among the Sunnis of their party. The smart double standards of the FM have permitted them to keep their electorate in check for more than ten years now – even Hariri often switches from one side to another depending on the context – but the clash between the two wings of the party was bound happen eventually. Do not be fooled by both politicians’ denial of the power struggle. The power struggle is there and it’s real. And the very fact that, in a joint press conference, Mashnouk refused to accuse Hezbollah while Rifi took pride in blaming M8’s leading party tells us that a mini-war is underway in the Future Movement, and that the relation with Hezbollah will be a key element in this rivalry.

Turns out it was a smart move from Hezbollah to give the FM both the justice and interior ministries after all.

Roumieh and Baabda

So as the FPM tries to make Roukoz commander of the LAF without giving in too much to M14’s demands, and as Geagea tries to disrupt those plans with the declaration of intentions, and as Hezbollah continues its fight in Syria, and as an internal mini-struggle for power starts to unravel in the Future Movement, only one thing is constant: We still don’t have a president, and no politician has ever cared less about that fact.

 399 days since the 25th of May. 262 days since the 5th of November.

Lebanon’s Saudi Cables – Part III: Hariri, the Kataeb, Amal, Hezbollah, Siniora, and Sleiman

In case you still haven’t known by now, WikiLeaks began publishing on Friday The Saudi Cables: More than half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry that contain secret communications from various Saudi Embassies around the world.

This post is the third of a series of leaks I found worth sharing here on the blog.

So, what do we know by now?

We know that, according to the cables (and among other minor things), the Saudis asked for the release of members from Fatah Al-Islam, that the Saudi Government paid MTV (doc83763), that MP Boutros Harb requested money from Saudi Arabia in order to create a political party (doc32628), and that the Lebanese Forces asked for funding from Saudi Arabia.

Yesterday there was a huge debate on whether some of the cables are legit or no (since a number of them share a same code on the upper left). It could be photoshopped, or it could be for filing purposes. We’re a free democratic independent country so you can make what you want of it (I wisely suggest, like I said yesterday, that you all stick to the propaganda of your parties because you’ll feel safe, warm and cosy). The only purpose here is to find anything interesting related to Lebanon among the Saudi cables and put it on the blog.

Anyway, here are some new/other cables that are worthy of sharing. According to them, the CIA infiltrated Hezbollah via Ali Bazzi of Amal, there’s a plan (around 2012) to pressure Sleiman into becoming more M14-ish, the Kataeb, Geagea and Siniora are praised,  and the Saudi Foreign Minister said that he wanted Hariri’s Saudi critics to be censored.

Voila:

Ali Bazzi Saudi Cables

According to this cable, a source close to Hezbollah told the embassy that Hezbollah is currently in a bad shape because they got infiltrated by the CIA via Amal’s MP Ali Bazzi. (Original Link on WikiLeaks)

 

Kataeb Geagea Saudi Cables

According to this cable, the Saudi ambassador is praising Samir Geagea and a Kataeb politician (Joseph Hashem) for not heavily criticizing Saudi Arabia and a mufti. (Original Link on WikiLeaks)

 

Siniora Saudi Cables

According to this cable, Siniora wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia and meet the King, and the ambassador roots for him saying that he is the most important Sunni politician outside the cabinet, especially that (a Prime Minister, most likely) Hariri is absent.

 

Sleiman Saudi  Cables

This cable discusses how Michel Sleiman is going to convince M8 and M14 to attend the dialogue he’s hosting. The importance of this document is towards the end, where the Cable mentions that there might be a plan to pressure the President to side “with the right coalition” and that he’ll be invited to visit the Kingdom if things work out.

And last but not least, according to this cable (It’s a word file), Hariri gave the ambassador some articles in Saudi media criticizing him and the Saudi foreign minister subsequently asked for censoring the writers of those articles. Yay for freedom of speech?

Here’s the document in arabic:

صاحب السمو الملكي وزير الدولة عضو مجلس الوزراء

رئيس ديوان رئاسة مجلس الوزراء

صورة / لمعالي وزير الثقافة والإعلام

        إلحاقاً لبرقيتي رقم 92/16/61393وتاريخ 25/2/1432هـ    التي تشرفت برفعها للمقام الكريم بشأن مقابلة سفير المقام السامي في بيروت لفخامة رئيس الجمهورية اللبنانية ميشال سليمان .

        أفادت سفارة المقام السامي في بيروت بأن سعادة السفير تسلم من دولة الرئيس سعد الحريري خلال الزيارة التي قام بها لدولته نسخ من مقالات لكتاب سعوديين ولآخرين نشرتها بعض الصحف السعودية تناولت بصورة سلبية دولته وتيار المستقبل وضد المحكمة الدولية (مرفقة طيه) ، وقد عبر للسفير عن إستيائه خاصة وأنها نشرت في أوج الأزمة الحالية إضافة الى ما يتعرض له من حملات في وسائل إعلام (8) آذار التي أبرزت تلك المقالات خاصة تلفزيون المنار وإذاعة النور التابعة لحزب الله . أشارت السفارة أنه بالنظر الى بعض تلك المقالات لكتاب بارزين كعبدالرحمن الراشد (صحيفة الشرق الأوسط) وداوود الشريان (صحيفة الحياة) فقد فسرها البعض على أنها تعبر عن وجهة نظر في المملكة تنتقد أداء سعد الحريري وتدعوا إلى التخلي عنه ، وقد لاحظت بعد استقالة حكومة الرئيس سعد الحريري صدور مقالات كثيرة تنتقد تيار المستقبل والرئيس سعد الحريري ، وبعضها ينتقد التزام المملكة بلبنان، وبنت وسائل إعلام حزب الله وحلفائه على تلك  المقالات استنتاجات بأن المملكة لم تعد ترعى الرئيس الحريري وتوجهاته حول معالجة الأوضاع في لبنان، وأن هناك فريقين سعوديين أحدهما يرغب بالتعاون مع سوريا والآخر متأثر بوجهات النظر الأمريكية ، وهذا هو أحد الأسباب التي أدت إلى تأخر ظهور موقف سعودي واضح مما يجري ، نتج عنه ارتباك داخل الصف السني نتيجة لتلك الآراء والتي قد يكون لها انعكاسات سلبية على وحدة صفه وهذا بطبيعة الحال ما تأمله قوى (8) آذار.

        ترى السفارة أنه قد يكون من المناسب وقف مثل هذه الكتابات التي لاتخدم الأهداف المنشودة للمملكة.

        آمل العرض عن ذلك على النظر الكريم للتفضل بالإطلاع والتوجيه. مع أطيب تحياتي.،،،،

سعود الفيصل

وزير الخارجية

Lebanon’s Saudi Cables – Part II: The Diplomatic Proof That Saudi Arabia Funded The Lebanese Forces

UPDATE: The cable in this post has the same ID as this cable, so until further notice, this cable could be a fake one.

UPDATE II: As one of the blog’s readers argues, many documents share the same ID code which means that maybe it’s not a unique code but some label for filing purpose with the Saudi ministry. Anyway, you can make what you want of it (I wisely suggest that you all stick to the propaganda of your party because you’ll feel safe and cosy). The only purpose here is to find anything interesting related to Lebanon among the Saudi cables and put it on the blog.

In case you still haven’t known by now, WikiLeaks began publishing on Friday The Saudi Cables: More than half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry that contain secret communications from various Saudi Embassies around the world.

This post is the second of a series of leaks I found worth sharing here on the blog.

This cable is the diplomatic proof that Saudi Arabia helped the Lebanese Forces in their finances. In it, the Saudi foreign minister Saoud Al Faisal tells us that Samir Geagea’s man Elie Abou Assi met the Saudi ambassador and told him that the LF are struggling financially especially that they are countering two pro-Syrian foes (the Maronite patriarch and Aoun) and that Geagea is ready to travel to the KSA in order to solve the financial issues. The ambassador also said that the LF were ready to do as the Kingdom says. The wise Foreign minister also suggested that Sunni politicians be invited too (probably so that it doesn’t look fishy).

I think I just broke a record here by publishing two posts in less than an hour, but this is huge. There’s finally proof that Lebanese politicians (presidential candidates even!) are funded by the embassies.

In case you read Arabic, enjoy it:
Saudi Arabia Funding Samir Geagea

يرقبن صادرة البرفبة :………………………………………………………….. رف٢٠ اللف : …………………….. التاديخ ; ٧٠٠٠٨٧٣٨٧٢ للرففات: خادم اكرمين ١كريغين رسس جس الوزراء حفظه الله اتشرف بالرفع للنظر الكريم ان السفير في بيروت الئش ايلي ابو عاصي موفد الدكتور سمير جعجع أرنيس حزب القوات اللبنانية” الذي تحدث عن صعوبة الأوضاع المالية التي يمرون بها في القوات وعجزهم عن تأمين رواتب العاملين لديهم والوفاء بتكاليف حماية رئيسهم الدكتور جعجع لاسيما في ظروف المواجهة الحالية ٠ع بعضى الزعامات المسيحية المتعاطغة مع النظام السوري مثل ميشال عون والبطريريك الماروني ٠ مشيرا الى ان الدكتور جعجع جاهز للسفر للمملكة لعرضن وضعهم المالي المتدهور على قيادتها ٠ ونقل السفير ان القوات اللبنانية تعد القوة الحقيقية التي تقف امام مخططات حزب الله وموقف قائدها ثابت ضد النظام السوري ويبدي استعداذ للعمل بتوجيهات المملكة . وارى اذا استحسن المقام الكريم انه اذا كان هناك رغبة لدى المملكة لدعوة زعامات مسيحية ان يتم ايضا دعوة زعاماتا سنية . أرجوإنضل بالتوجيه اطال الله عمركم وادام عزكم . If1″ V سعود الفيصل وزير الخارجية

(Link to the original cable on WikiLeaks)