The War Files (Part XIII) – Lebanon In The Valley Of Despair

A U.S. Marine uses a mirror on a stick to check underneath a car in front of the building used as the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Oct. 25, 1983. (Associated Press)

A U.S. Marine uses a mirror on a stick to check underneath a car in front of the building used as the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Oct. 25, 1983.

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War that started on the 13th of April 1975. This is why I’ve decided to publish WikiLeaks cables from the war era, every day till the 13th of April. I think it would be interesting to look at things from a different point of view, and since it’s not the Lebanese who are telling the stories, I believe it offers a unique insight on the civil war. Although there are a lot more cables on WikiLeaks, I won’t republish them all  in order to focus on the most relevant ones. I hope you enjoy reading them.

For the past two weeks, I have been publishing WikiLeaks cables about events during the Lebanese Civil War. But there is something I did not mention well enough: The Lebanese Civil War was more about destruction than politics. This is why in this post, the WikiLeaks cables are about the killing, the bombs, the explosions, the shelling and the fighting. You’ll find 13 cables in this last entry of the series. The title of this last post is actually a title of one of those WikiLeaks cables (Yep, we were in despair).

The summary of a cable from November 1976 says it all: “LIKE A BOXER PUNCH-DRUNK FROM FOUR GRUELING ROUNDS OF PUNISHMENT, BEIRUT CONTINUES TO RISE FROM THE CANVAS; THE LEGS ARE WOBBLY, THE VISION BLURRED. THERE ARE RISING HOPES BUT AS YET LITTLE CONFIDENCE, THAT THE CITY WILL NOT HAVE TO ANSWER THE BELL FOR ROUND 5 (They’re talking about another round of infighting in beirut)

Is it me, or do we still repeat that same sentence at least once every two to three years?

Wars should not be political maneuvers.

I repeat, 15 year civil wars should not be political maneuvers.

Tenzakar W Ma Ten3ad.

RENEWAL OF TENSION IN SIDON AND ELSEWHERE IN LEBANON
1975 March 6, 15:47 (Thursday)
1975BEIRUT03028_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 05 JUL 2006
1. TENSIONS GENERATED THROUGHOUT LEBANON OVER PAST WEEK BY CLASHES BETWEEN LEBANESE ARMY AND “ARMED ELEMENTS” INSIDON (REFTELS) HAD BEGUN TO LESSEN PERCEPTIBLY LATE MAR 5, FOLLOWING COUNTRY-WIDE MANIFES- ATIONS BY CITIZENS (MOSTLYCHRISTIANS BUT SOME SHI’A) DEMONSTRATING IN SUPPORT OF ARMY AND GOL. DEMONSTRATIONS WENT OFF MORE OR LESS PEACEFULLY, WITH ONLY ONE PERSON REPORTED KILLED (ACCIDENTALLY BY STRAY BULLET). COUNCIL
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OF MINISTERS MEETING EVENING MAR 5 RESULTED IN DECISION BY SOLH CABINET (BACKED BY PRES FRANGIE) TO CONTINUE IN OFFICE, ALTHOUGH MIN OF WATER AND ELECTRICITY MALIK SALAM CARRIED OUT HIS THREAT TO RESIGN AND WALKED OUT OF MEETING. STAGE THUS SEEMED SET FOR FURTHER DIMINUTION OF TENSIONS AND PROGRESSIVE RETURN TO NORMALITY MAR 6, THANKS TO TYPICALLY LEBBANESE SOLUTION IN WHICH NO PROBLEMS WERE REALLY SOLVED BUT WERE MERELY TO BE BRUSHED UNDER RUG FOR TIME BEING.
2. UNFORTUNATELY, WIDESPREAD APPREHENSION RE POSSIBLE ISRAELI RETALIATION AGAINST LEBA ON FOR LAST NIGHT’S TERRORIST OPERATIN IN TEL AVIV, FOLLOWED BY NEWS AT MID-DAY MAR 6 OF DEATH IN AUB HOSPITAL OF EX-DEPUTY MAAROUF SAAD (WHO HAD BEEN WOUNDED IN FEB 26 CLASHES IN SIDON (SEE BEIRUT 2611) HAVE CHANGED ALL THIS. PLO OFFICES IN BEIRUT APPARENTLY HAVE BEEN EVACUATED, AND FEDAYEEN ARE REPORTEDLY ON FULL ALERT IN AND AROUND COUNTRY’S 15 REFUGEE CAMPS, INCLUDING THOSE NORTH OF TRIPOLI WHERE TRIGGER-HAPPY ELEMENTS THIS MORNING ACTUALLY OPENED FIRE ON OVERFLYING LEBANESE AIR FORCE PLANES, PROBABLY ON ASSUMPTION THEY WERE ISRAELI. AS NEWS OF SAAD’S DEATH SPREAD DURING AFTERNOON, OTHER DISRUPTIVE INCIDENTS BEGAN OCCURRING AT VARIOUS POINTS IN BEIRUT, WHERE GROUPS OF HIS LEFTIST AND SUNNI MOSLEM SYMPATHIZERS (ACCOMPANIED IN SOME PLACES BY FEDAYEEN) HAVE TAKEN TO BLOCKING ROADS, BURNING TIRES, SHOOTING IN AIR, ETC. SIDON REPORTEDLY IS AGAIN GRIPPED BY TENSION, WITH LARGE NUMBERS OF “ARMED ELEMENTS” (I.E., FEDAYEEN AND THEIR LEFTIST ALLIES) HAVING REOCCUPIED STREET BARRI- CADES AND POSITIONS ON ROOFTTPS. LEBANESE ARMY AND INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES HAVE CANCELLED ALL LEAVES AND UNITS ARE CURRENTLY ENGAGED IN TRYING CLEAR CROWDS AND BARRICADES FROM SEVERAL ARTIERIES IN BEIRUT, INCLUDING ROAD TO AIRPORT. MOST SHOPS AND BUSINESSES CLOSED EARLIER THAN USUAL, AND LATE AFTERNOON RUSH-HOUR TRAFFIC AP- PEARS LESS THAN NORMAL.
3. CONDITIONS DESCRIBED ABOVE HAVE CREATED PALPABLE ATMOSPHERE OF PUBLIC NERVOUSNESS AND FOREBODING. GENERAL FEELING SEEMS TO BE THAT FURTHER TROUBLE
— CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 BEIRUT 03028 061643Z
GENERATED INTERNALLY OR BY ISRAELIS, OR BOTH–IS STILL TO COME. I HAVE TAKEN PRECAUTIONOF ADVISING EMBASSY’S AMERICAN STAFF TO AVOID UNNECESSARY MOVEMENT AT LEAST DURING NIGHT MAR 6-7.
HOUGHTON
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BEIRUT SECURITY SITUATION DETERIORATES–ONCE AGAIN
1975 June 26, 15:05 (Thursday)
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UNCLASSIFIED
1. FIRM RESPONSE OF INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES TO INCIDENTS BEGINNING JUNE 23( REFTEL) FAILED TO RESTORE RELATIVE CALM. WHILE PERSISTENT CLASHES CONTINUE TO BE RELATIVELY RES- TRICTED GEOGRAPHICALLY, NIGHT OF JUNE 25/26 SAW FIERCE EX- CHANGES IN AIN RUMANNEH, SHIAH, FURN AS SHUBAK. RESIDENTS OF SURROUNDING AREAS HAVE DESCRIBED FIRING OF BOTH AUTOMATIC AND HEAVY WEAPONS (MORTARS,RPGS, ETC.) AS HEAVIEST SINCE APRIL TROUBLES AND ARE BRACING FOR RES- URGENCE OF HEAVY FIRING ONCE DARKNESS DESCENDS ON CITY TONIGHT
2. CLASHES, WHICH BEGAN TUESDAY AND SPUTTERED ALONG WEDNESDAY. PICKED UP CONSIDERABLE STEAM AFTERNOON JUNE 25 AND CONTINUED THROUGH HOURS OF DARKNESS.SECURITY FORCES PERSISTING IN EFFORTS TO CONTAIN SITUTATION AND APPARENTLY HAVE ORDERS TO OPEN FIRE ON FRANC TIREURS, USING AS MUCH FIRE POWER AS NECESSARY TO SILENCE SNIPERS. LEBANESE ARMY SOURCE REPORTS CASUALTY FIGURES OF 11 KILLED, 46 WOUNDED AND WE UNDERSTAND SUBSTANTIAL MATERIAL DAMAGE HAS OCCURRED IN AFFECTED AREAS. SAME ARMY SOURCE TOLD DATT THAT UP TO 60 ROUNDS OF 120MM MORTAR FIRE WERE RECEIVED IN AIN RUMMANNEH DURING NIGHT OF 25/26 JUNE. SOME STRAY ROUNDS FELL OUTSIDE AIN RUMMANNEH AND RELIABLE LEBANESE OBSERVER RE PORTS SHELL OR ROCKET, WHICH FAILED TO EXPLODE, STRUCK WALL OF MAIN MILITARYS HOSPITAL. SAME SOURCE COUNTED TWENTY HEAVY EXPLOSIONS DURING HALF HOUR.
3. EVIDENCE WHICH HAS ACCUMULATED SINCE NOON JUNE 25 POINTS FINGER OF RESPONSIBLLITY FOR OUTBREAK AT PALESTINIAN “REJECTION” FROM AND THEIR LEBANESE LEFTIST ALLIES. OFFICIAL GOL SOURCE STATES THREE SERIOUSLY WOUNDED BY SECURITY FORCES (PARA 1, REFTEL ) HAVE NOW BEEN IDENTIFIED AS PALES TINAINS AFFILIATED WITH IRAQI-SPONSORED ARAB LIBEATION
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 BEIRUT 08149 261721Z FRONT (ALF)
. OTHER INFORMANTS CLAIM BULK OF FIGHTING HAS BEEN BETWEEN LEBANESE GENDARMES AND ARMED ADHERENTS OF PFLP, ALF, AND PFLP-GC (ALLIES IN THE “REJECTION” FRONT) AND RAG-TAG COLLECTION OF LEBABESE LEFTISTS REPRE- SENTING LEBANESE COMMUNIST PARTY, PRO-IRAQI BAATH PARTY INDEPENDENT NASSERISTS, ETC,. SUCH ALIGNMENT SUGGEST LIBYAN AND IRAQI HAND BEHIND OUTBREAK (GEORGE HABBASH AND OTHER “REJECTIONIST” NOTABLES ARE CURRENTLY ENJOYING IRAQI HOSPITALITY— FBIS JN250640Y AND JN251945Y)
4. PHALANGE APPARENTLY HAS NOT RPT NOT BEEN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN RECENT FIGHTING. LATEST REPORTS INDICATE THAT, ALTHOUGH MOBILIZED AND IN POSITION IN NEIGHBORHOODS WHICH THEY CONTROL, PHALANGE MILITIAMEN ARE PRIMARILY OBSERVERS IN CURRENT CLASHES. IT IS IN OUR VIEW, EXTREMELY UNLIKELY THAT PHALANGIST LEADERS WOULD SEEK CLASHES AT THIS TIME. SO FAR AS WE DETERMINE, PHALANGIST FORCES ARE CRITICALLY SHORT OF CERTAIN KINDS OF AMMUNITION, ESPECIALLY MORTARS ROUNDS AND BELTED MACHINEGUN AMMO, POSSIBILTIY WHICH IS SOURCE OF CONCERNTO SECURITY OFFICIALS, EXISTS THAT PHALANGISTS AND OTHERS COULD BE DRAWN IN, IF CLASHES CONTINUE.
5. OVER LAST SEVERAL DAYS, WE UNDERSTAND THAT JOINT GOL/PLO PATROLS AND LIAISON GROUPS HAVE CONTINUED TO OPERTATE. IN VIEW OF ‘ARAFAT’S JUNE 23 MEETING WITH PRES FRANGIE AND FORMER’S JUNE 25 STATEMENT REGARDING PLO RESPECT FOR LEBANESE SOVEREIGNTY (SEPTEL), ACTIVITIES OF “REJECTIONISTS” AND THEIR LEBANESE COHORTS APPEAR AS MUCH A CHALLENGE TO ‘ARAFAT’S AUTHORITY AS THAT OF GOL. WE HAVE NO RPT NO REASON TO BELIEVE AT THIS TIME THAT ITS NOT RPT NOT COOPERATING WITH GOL TO CONTAIN AND SUPRESS FIGHTING. PLO APPARENTLY PARTICIPATED IN JOINT EFFORTS TO ARRANGE CEASFIRE JUNE 25 (FBIS JN251737) WHICH PROBABLE BROKE DOWN BECAUSE IN STIGATORS OF CURRENT OUTBREAKS DID NOT CONSIDER THEMSELVES BOUND BY AGREEMENT. SINCE EVENING JUNE 25, GOL SECURITY OFFICIALS HAVE INFORMED US SEVERAL TIMES THAT FATAH RPT FATAH UNITS ARE FIGHTING ALONG SIDE GENARMES AGAINST “RE- JECTIONIST” PALESTINIANS. WE HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO CONFIRM THIS STORY WITH PALESTINIAN CONTACTS. IF TRUE, HOWEVER, “REJESTIONISTS” INCREASING OPEN CHALLENGE TO PLO LEADER-
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SHIP IN PAST TEN DAYS MAY HAVE FORCED ‘ARAFAT TO TAKE MEASURES WHICH HE HAS HERETOFORE BEEN RELUCTANT TO ADOPT.
6. SO FAR AS WE ARE AWARE, ALL AMCITS ARE SAFE. BOTH LEB- ANESE AND FOREIGN RESIDENTS, HOWEVER ARE STILL BEING WARNED TO AVOID AIN RUMMANNEH/SHIAH AREAS AND OLD DAMASCUS ROAD THROUGH FURN AS SHUBAK IS CLOSED TO TRAFFIC.
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BEIRUT TRIES HARD TO RETURN TO NORMAL, BUT FIGHTING WON’T GO AWAY
1975 September 27, 10:37 (Saturday)
1975BEIRUT12041_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
1. FIGHTING TOOK PLACE IN MANY OF THE USUALLY HOT QUARTERS OF EAST BEIRUT NIGHT OF SEPT 26-27 AT ABOUT SAME INTENSITY AS PREVIOUS NIGHT. SLOW DROP IN LEVEL OF STRIFE THUS HOPEFULLY REMAINS PATTERN, BUT PERSISTENCE OF FIGHTING CAUSING SOME OBSERVERS TO FEAR ROUND 4 WILL DRAG ON FOR SOME TIME.
2. AS OF 1200 HOURS (LOCAL) SEPT 27, USUAL DAY- LIGHT LULL IN HEAVIEST FIGHTING PREVAILS. SNIPERS ARE CITY’S MAIN DAYTIME PROBLEM. TRAFFIC IS UP EVEN FROM IMPROVED LEVEL OF DAY BEFORE. AIR- PORT ROAD IS OPEN. AIRPORT ACTIVITIES ARE MORE OR LESS NORMAL, DESPITE CONTINUING FUEL SHORTAGE. CITY IS MAKING DETERMINED EFFORT TO NORMALIZE.
3. ACCORDING TO INTERNAL SECURITY HQ, TREND TOWARD DISARMING OF BARRICADES IS OCCURRING AS POLICE AS- SUME CHARGE OF MANY OF THESE STRONGPOINTS FROM PRIVATE MILITIAMEN. BUT THIS IS CLEARLY A CON- TINUING PROBLEM FOR HARASSED INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES. APPARENTLY, IT IS NOT RPT NOT TRUE THAT ARMY HELPING INTERNAL SECURITY IN CITY, CONTRARY TO SEPT 25 ANNOUNCEMENT (REFTEL), ALTHOUGH LOANS OF ARMY’S ARMORED VEHICLES TO POLICE–A LONG- STANDING PRACTICE–HAVE BEEN STEPPED UP.
4. ANOTHER HOPEFUL SIGN IS THAT THE DORMANT CEASE- FIRE COMMITTEE COMPOSED OF SECURITY FORCES REPRE- SENTATIVE, PLO REP TEWFIQ SAFADI, AND DANY CHAMOUN (WHO REPLACED HIS BROTHER) WILL BE BEEFED UP WITH A PHALANGE REP AND A MEMBER OF RAYMOND EDDE’S NA- TIONAL BLOC PARTY.
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5. CEASEFIRE VIOLATIONS ALMOST CERTAINLY BEING COMMITTED BY BOTH SIDES. PREDICTABLY, MOSLEMS AND LEFTISTS BLAME PHALANGE STUBBORNESS WHILE CHRISTIANS SEE MALEVOLENT HAND OF LIBYANS AND OTHERS BEHIND EXTREME LEFT. THE PREVIOUSLY RE- PORTED FIGHT BETWEEN PHALANGE AND LEFTIST PPS IN METN AREA IS TAKEN BY CHRISTIANS AS SIGN OF LEFTIST PLOT TO KEEP TROUBLE BOILING. THIS BATTLE STILL CONTINUING AT SOMEWHAT LOWERED INTENSITY WITH IN- TERNAL SECURITY NOW TRYING TO DISARM MILITANTS OF PPS.
6. A SHARP VERBAL ATTACK BY LEFTIST LEADER KEMAL JUMBLATT AGAINST THE PHALANGE SEPT 26, PUBLISHED IN
CONFIDENTIAL NNN CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 01 BEIRUT 12041 02 OF 02 271208Z 53 ACTION NEA-10 INFO OCT-01 EUR-12 ISO-00 OPR-02 AID-05 OMB-01 SAB-01 SCCT-01 A-01 SY-05 SCS-03 SCA-01 OC-05 CCO-00 EB-07 COME-00 AGR-05 FEA-01 OES-03 TRSE-00 IO-10 ACDA-05 SSO-00 NSCE-00 USIE-00 INRE-00 PM-04 H-02 INR-07 L-03 NSAE-00 NSC-05 PA-01 PRS-01 SP-02 SS-15 USIA-06 /125 W ——————— 021933 O P 271037Z SEP 75 FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6414 INFO AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY USINT BAGHDAD AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY AMCONSUL JERUSALEM PRIORITY AMEMBASSY JIDDA PRIORITY AMEMBASSY KUWAIT PRIORITY AMEMBASSY LONDON AMEMBASSY MOSCOW AMEMBASSY PARIS AMCONSUL STUTTGART AMEMBASSY TEHRAN AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY USUN NEW YORK IMMEDIATE 2973 USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GER CINCUSNAVEUR LONDON UK COMSIXTHFLT CTF SIX ZERO CTF SIX ONE CTF SIX TWO FOSIF ROTA SPAIN FICEURLANT NORFOLK VA DIA WASHDC CIA WASHDC CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 BEIRUT 12041 02 OF 02 271208Z C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 2 OF 2 BEIRUT 12041
BEIRUT PRESS TODAY, HAS REKINDLED POLITICAL TEMPERA- TURE. HE SAID THERE WOULD BE NO RECONCILIATION WITH THE PHALANGE, WITH HE CLAIMED WAS POLITICALLY ISOLATED, BEFORE BASIC LEFTIST DEMANDS ARE MET. HE ALSO ATTACKED LONG-TIME MOSLEM LEADER SAEB SALAAM FOR “WISHING TO EXTEND HIS DOMINION OVER THE MOS- LEMS OF BEIRUT.” JUMBLATT SAID THESE MOSLEMS WERE MORE PROPERLY REPRESENTED BY JUMBLATT HIMSELF. THESE REMARKS MAKING OBSERVERS WONDER WHAT THE ATMOSPHERE WILL BE WHEN “NATIONAL DIALOGUE COMMITTEE” RENEWS TALKS SEPT 29.
7. A PARTICIPANT IN LAST THURSDAY’S OPENING SESSION OF THE “DIALOGUE” TELLS US THAT THE 20-MAN GROUP MAY BE ENLARGED, THOUGH NOT NECESSARILY BEFORE THE SEPT 29 SESSION. PRIMIN KARAME HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITY OF EXPANSION THROUGH PRIVATE CONTACTS. SAME SOURCE TELLS US THAT REASON SECOND SESSION NOT SCHEDULED UNTIL SEPT 29 WAS TO AVOID SPECTACLE OF DEADLOCK–A STRONG POSSIBILITY IN EARLY SESSIONS–WHILE FIGHTING HAD STILL NOT DIED DOWN.
8. NEWSPAPERS REPORT FOOD SUPPLY IN BEIRUT IS GOOD IN ALL AREAS AND THAT FOOD PRICES ARE ONLY SLIGHTLY ABOVE NORMAL. TO ALLEVIATE FLOUR SHORT- AGE IN SOUTH, GOVERNMENT IS TRUCKING GRAIN TO SIDON. ARMY IS BOTH CLEARING TRACKS AND PROVIDING ESCORT FOR TWO-THREE TRAINLOADS OF FUEL OIL DAILY FOR BEIRUT’S POWER GENERATING PLANTS. GASOLINE TANKER SHIP IS BEING UNLOADED TODAY AT MOBIL PORT AT DORA NEAR BEIRUT, AND DISTRIBUTION WILL BEGIN IM- MEDIATELY. MOBIL, WHICH IS COORDINATING GASOLINE AND FUEL OIL DISTRIBUTION, BELIEVES “GIFTS” FROM EAGER FILLING STATION OPERATORS WILL OVERCOME RELUCTANCE OF TANKER TRUCK DRIVERS TO CROSS CON- FESSIONAL LINES. ALTHOUGH SOME AREAS OF BEIRUT ARE UNLIKELY TO HAVE GASOLINE AS LONG AS ANY FIGHTING CONTINUES, THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE
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COUNTRY, THE MOUNTAIN AREAS, AND THE BAKAA VALLEY ARE NOW WELL-SUPPLIED FROM MEDRECO RE- FINERY NEAR SIDON. IPC REFINERY IN TRIPOLI IS MAKING SOME DELIVERIES IN THAT AREA. BUTANE AND AVIATION FUEL TANKER SHIPS REMAIN OFF SHORE.
9. IN OTHER AREAS OF THE ECONOMY, PORT AUTHORITIES HAVE ASKED WORKERS TO REPORT TO DUTY ON MON, SEPT 29. BECAUSE BANKS HAVE NOW BEEN CLOSED FOR TEN DAYS, MONEY IS IN SHORT SUPPLY. MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION HAS ASKED GOVT INDEMNIFICATION FOR LOSSES. TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND LEBANESE REFUGEES NOW REPORTEDLY IN SYRIA. 10. TH BEST OF EMBASSY KNOWLEDGE, ALL AMCITS ARE SAFE EXCEPT AS PREVIOUSLY REPORTED. IBM HAS CON- TINGENCY PLANS TO EVACUATE SOME EMPLOYEES ON MON. IF BEIRUT OFFICE IS STILL UNABLE TO FUNCTION. SMALL SALES STAFF WILL WORK OUT OF PARIS AND FINANCIAL OPERATIONS WILL MOVE TO KUWAIT.
GODLEY
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BEIRUT FIGHTING ESCALATES AGAIN
1975 October 8, 14:20 (Wednesday)
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UNCLASSIFIED
SUMMARY: SECTIONS OF BEIRUT WITNESSED HEAVY CLASHES NIGHT OF OCT 7-8 AND INTO OCT 8. PROGRESS ON THE POLITICAL FRONT AWAITS TOMORROW’S SCHEDULED MEETING OF THE “DIALOGUE”. HOW- EVER, AS BEFORE, PARTICIPATNS IN THAT MEETING MAY HAVE TO FOCUS ON SECURITY PROBLEM IF MAJOR CLASHES OCCUR AGAIN TONIGHT. END SUMMARY.
1. A RESUMPTION OF HEAVY SHOOTING AND EXPLOSIONS OCCURRED NIGHT OF OCT 7-8 IN SEVERAL PARTS OF BEIRUT, CONTINUING INTO OCT 8. CHIYAH AND AIN EL-RUMANNEH WERE THE SCENE OF CLASHES WHICH AT TIMES RIVALED IN INTENSITY THE HOTTEST PERIOD A FEW WEEKS AGO. A MORTAR ROUND KILLED AND WOUNDED MANY PEOPLE ON STREET IN FRONT OF BAKERY IN MOSLEM AREA DURING EARLY MORNING HOURS, RAISING EMOTIONS AMONG CITY’S MOSLEMS. AT MID-MORNING TODAY THE FIGHTING SUBSIDED, BUT IT PICKED UP AGAIN LATER IN CITY CENTER WHERE CLASHES CONTINUE AS OF 1400 HOURS (LOCAL). A CURFEW WAS REES- TABLISHED COVERING ALL OF BEIRUT STARTING TONIGHT. THE ELABOR- ATELY CONSTRUCTED CEASEFIRE ARRANGEMENTS ARE IN JEOPARDY AS MANY PRIVATE MILITAMEN ARE REPORTED PREPARING TO RETURN TO BARRICADES.
2. REPORTS FROM NORTH LEBANON INDICATE CONTINUED FIGHTING IN THE ZGHORTA AREA. INTERNAL SECURITY HQ IN BEIRUT TOLD US AT 0900 HOURS (LOCAL) TODAY THAT THE NORTH WAS QUIET AS OF THAT TIME, BUT PICTURE IS MURKY.KIDNAPPINGS AND EXCHANGES OF FIRE BETWEEN MOSLEM AND CHRISTIAN AREAS ARE KEEPING TENSIONS HIDH THERE. THE FLUCTUATING CLASHES ARE PROVING HARD TO STOP DESPITE THE PRESENCE OF THE ARMY.
3. RENEWED VIOLENCE AGAIN BROUGHT INCIDENT ECONOMIC REAWA- KENING TO HALT, AND FEW SHOPS AND NO BANKS OPENED. TODAY’S
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MEETING OF BUSINESS AND LABOR LEADERS TO DISCUSS OPERATING PRO- BLEMS UNDER CURRENT SECURITY CONDITIONS WAS CANCELLED. CATHOLIC EDUCATION LEADERS MET YESTERDAY TO CONSIDER OPENING OF CATHOLIC SCHOOLS. ANNOUNCEMENT SAID A SPECIAL COMMITTEE WOULD DECIDE ABOUT OPENING OF SCHOOLS ON A REGION BY REGION BASIS AS SECURITY CONDITIONS PERMIT. ALTHOUGH NEWSPAPERS ANNOUNCED ABOUT A WEEK AGO THAT LOCAL ARABIC SCHOOLS WOULD OPEN ON SCHEDULE ON OCT 15 IF SECURITY CONDITIONS PERMIT, WE UNDERSTAND MINISTRY OF EDUCATION IS NOW CONSIDERING POSTPONE- MENT. TO PERMIT CONTINUATION OF ESSENTIAL SERVICES, THE NEW CURFEW EXEMPTS HOSPITAL EMPLOYEES, BAKERY WORKERS, AND SIMILAR PERSONNEL. SO FAR, ROUND FOUR HAS NOW SERIOUSLY DIS- RUPTED MOST ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES FOR THREE WEEKS.
4. THERE IS LITTLE VISIBLE PROGRESS ON POLITICAL FRONT PENDING TOMORROW’S RESUMPTION OF “NATIONAL DIALOGUE COM- MITTEE”. IF FIGHTING FLARES TONIGHT, LEADERS BOTH INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE “DIALOGUE” ARE APT TO BE PREOCCUPIED WITH IMMEDIATE SECURITY ISSUE. THE “DIALOGUE” HAS NOT YET BEEN ABLE TO ADDRESS THE LONG-TERM ISSUES FOR WHICH IT WAS CREATED. 5. THE MARONITE PATRIARCH CONFERRED YESTERDAY WITH CAMILLE CHAMOUN, RAYMOND EDDE, AND PIERRE GEMAYEL IN A WIDELY PUBLICIZED MEETING AT BKERKE. THESE THREE TOP MARONITE POLITICIANS ARE PERENNIAL RIVALS, AND THE PATRIARCH APPARENTLY MADE AN EFFORT TO RECONCILE THEM. THE MAIN RESULT OF THE MEETING WAS AN ANNOUNCEMENT THAT ALL PARTICIPANTS WERE OPPOSED TO THE IDEA OF PARTITIONING LEBANON. ASKED AFTERWARD IF THE QUESTION OF PRES FRANGIE’S RESIGNATION HAD BEEN DISCUSSED, THE PATRIARCH SAID IT HAD NOT ARISEN “BECAUSE WE DID NOT ENVISAGE THIS EVENTUALITY”. MEANWHILE, FRANGIE HAD LUNCH YESTERDAY AT THE HOME OF PRIMIN KARAME IN A SHOW OF CORDIAL RELATIONS BET- WEEN THE TWO. OTHER GOVT LEADERS INCLUDING CHAMOUN AND GEN HANNA SAID WERE ALSO GUESTS. GODLEY
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FIGHTING ERUPTS AGAIN IN BEIRUT
1975 October 25, 11:22 (Saturday)
1975BEIRUT13277_b
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UNCLASSIFIED
1. SUMMARY: FIGHTING ESCALATED SHARPLY IN BEIRUT LATE OCT. 24 AND NIGHT OCT. 24-25. IT CONTINUES AS OF 1100 HOURS (LOCAL) OCT. 25, AT SLIGHTLY REDUCED INTENSITY. CAPITAL’S ECONOMY REMAINS VIRTUALLY PARALYZED. ALL THREE SUB-COMMITTEES OF “NATIONAL DIALOGUE” MET YESTER- DAY. PARLIAMENT IS SCHEDULED TO CONVENE TODAY, AND IF IT DOES MEET INTEREST CENTERS ON WHETHER KARAME WILL SPEAK AGAIN ON RECORD OF HIS GOVERNMENT. END SUMMARY.
2. AN UPSURGE OF VIOLENCE TOOK PLACE IN BEIRUT LATE OCT. 24 AND NIGHT OF OCT. 24-25. FIGHTING ERUPTED BETWEEN CHIYAH (SHIITE) AND AIN EL RUMANEH (CHRISTIAN), TWO QUARTERS THAT HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN CLASHES ONLY SPORADICALLY DURING LAST TWO WEEKS OR SO. FIGHTING ALSO CONTINUED AROUND RAS EL-NABA, SOUTH OF CITY’S CENTER, AND BETWEEN LAILEKE (MIXED MOSLEM- CHRISTIAN) AND HADATH (CHRISTIAN) IN SOUTHERN OUTSKIRTS OF CAPITAL. IN ADDITION, THREE FACTORIES WERE BURNED IN DIFFERENT AREAS – THE SECOND NIGHT THIS PRACTICE HAS OCCURRED, GIVING RISE TO SPECULATION THAT CERTAIN UNKNOWN GROUPS ARE DELIBERATELY AIMING AT ECONOMIC SABOTAGE.
3. BY MORNING OCT. 25, THE FIGHTING HAD SUBSIDED SLIGHTLY INTO WHAT AN OBSERVER AT INTERNAL SECURITY HQ IN BEIRUT CALLED A “RELATIVE CALM, BUT NOT A REAL CALM.” SNIPERS REMAINED ACTIVE IN VARIOUS PLACES AND THERE CONTINUED TO BE EXCHANGES OF FIRE, WHICH AT LAST REPORT AS OF 1100 HOURS (LOCAL) HAD BECOME SERIOUS IN KANTARI AREA OF WEST CENTRAL BEIRUT.
4. ARMY TODAY IS MANNING CHECK POINTS AT VARIOUS ENTRANCES TO THE CAPITAL, PATROLLING SEBMENTS OF
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OUTLYING ROADS ANDPROTECTING FUEL DEPOTS AND GRAIN MILLS IN THE VICINITY OF DORA.
5. THE BEKAA VALLEY REMAINS TENSE, BUT APPARENTLY THE ARMY IS STILL ABLE TO KEEP THE SITUATION UNDER CONTROL.
6. ECONOMY OF BEIRUT REMAINS VIRTUALLY PARALYZED FOR SEVENTH DAY. IN MEETING YESTERDAY, CHAMBER OF COMME CE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE EXPRESSED CONCERN AT FACT THAT FACTORIES AND OTHER BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENTS ARE INCREASINGLY TARGET OF SABOTEURS.
7. YESTERDAY’S MEETING OF THE POLITICAL SUB-COMMITTEE OF THE “NATIONAL DIALOGUE” ASSIGNED EDMOND RABBATH, ONE OF ITS MEMBERS WHO SPECIALIZES IN CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, TO DRAW UP A SUTDY ON CONFESSIONALISM, ITEM NO. 1 ON THE SUB-COMMITTEE’S AGENDA. THE CONOMIC AND SOCIAL SUB-COMMITTEES ALSO HELD A JOINT SESSION YESTERDAY WHICH REESULTED IN A DECISION TO INVITE WRITTEN OPINIONS FROM VARIOUS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL ORGANS, SUCH AS THE BEIRUT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY AND THE LABOR FEDERATION. THE MEMBERS ALSO AFFIRMED THEIR BELIEF THAT THE WORK OF THESE TWO SUB-COMMITTEES DEPENDS ON PROGRESS IN THE POLITICAL SUB-COMMITTEE.
8. POLITICAL INTEREST CENTERS ON TODAY’S SCHEDULED PARLIAMENTARY SESSION. THERE IS CONSIDERABLE QUESTION WHETHER THE SESSION WILL OCCUR, NOT ONLY BECAUSE IN- SECURE CONDITIONS MAY FORCE DEPUTIES TO STAY AWAY BUT ALSO BECAUSE SOME POLITICAL LEADERS ARE TRYING TO KEEP THE EMERGING FEUD BETWEEN PREMIER KARAME, ON ONE HAND, AND PRESIDENT FRANGIE AND INTERIOR MINISTER HCAMOUN, ON OTHER, FROM BREAKING IRRETRIEVABLY INTO THE OPEN. IT ALMOST ERUPTED LAST THURSDAY WHEN KARAME DEFENDED HIS RECORD AS HEAD OF GOVERNMENT AND CRITICIZED CHAMOUN AND FRANGIE IN INDIRECT FASHION.
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STILL NO LETUP IN BEIRUT FIGHTING
1975 October 28, 13:55 (Tuesday)
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CONFIDENTIAL
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1. COMBAT CONTINUED THROUGH NIGHT OF OCT. 27-28 AND UP TO LATE MORNING TODAY, OCT. 28, IN MANY QUARTERS OF BEIRUT. LEVEL OF FIGHTING VARIES CONSIDERABLY. SEVERAL OF THE TRADITIONALLY ACTIVE AREAS IN EAST BEIRUT HAVE BEEN INVOLVED, AS WELL AS THE INTERNATIONAL HOTEL SECTION IN THE WEST CENTRAL PART OF CITY. FIGHT IN HOTEL AREA IS IN ITS THIRD DAY AND PITS KATAEB AGAINST NASSERITES OF IBRAHIM QULAYLAT AND PALESTINAIANS. LATTER ARE ADVANCING FROM KANTARI REGION (UP HILL FROM HOTELS) AND ALSO FROM AIN MREISSEH QUARTER FURTHER WEST (NEAR U.S. EMBASSY). OUR CURRENT IMPRESSION IS THAT KATAEB AT DISADVANTAGE AND LOSING GROUND.
2. EFFORTS STILL UNDERWAY TO PUT SUBSTANCE INTO LATESTCEASEFIRE APPEAL. KARAME HAS MET WITH SUCCESSION OF POLITICAL LEADERS AND ANNOUNCED ABOUT NOON TODAY THAT A HIGH-LEVEL “SECURITY COMMITTEE” IS TO BE FORMED WHICH WILL SIT IN THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE UNTIL THE CEASEFIRE IS OBSERVED. THE COMMITTEE CONSISTS OF HIMSELF, SAEB SALAM, ABDALLAH YAFI, RAYMOND EDDE, PIERRE GEMAYEL, ADEL OSSEIRAN, PHILIPPE TAQLA, GHASSAN TUEINI, KAMAL JUMBLATT, AND CAMILLE CHAMOUN. IN ADDITION, MARONITE PATRIARCH KREISH YESTERDAY ISSUED APPEAL TO ABIDE BY CEASEFIRE, AND TODAY WAFA PLO NEWS AGENCY) SUPPORTED PATRIARCH’S CALL IN STATEMENT OF ITS OWN.
3. TENSION CONTINUES HIGH IN ZAHLE AFTER A SERIES OF CLASHES. THE ARMY’S EFFORTS TO KEEP LID ON THESE HAVE NOT STOPPED FIGHTING BUT HAVE MANAGED TO DAMPEN LEVEL. COMPARED TO FIERCE COMBAT IN PARTS OF BEIRUT, SIMMERING BEKAA STRIFE UNDERSTANDABLY DRAWING RELATIVELY LITTLE ATTENTION IN PRESS. 4. PARLIAMENT FAILED TO MEET YESTERDAY FOR LACK OF QUORUM. IT IS TRYING AGAIN TODAY. SOME OF THE HEAT SEEMS TO BE OUT OF THE KARAME FEUD WITH CHAMOUN AND FRANNGIE. TODAY’S PROJECTED SESSION HIGHLIGHTS A SPEECH EXPECTED
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FROM THE PREMIER PROPOSING “HIS SOLUTION TO THE CRISIS”, A FORMAT DESIGNED TO AVOID A CONFRONTATION. HOWEVER, A QUORUM HAD NOT BEEN REACHED AS OF MIDDAY AND KARAME’S ABOVE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE “SECURITY COMMITTEE” MAY BE IN LIEU OF HIS PLANNED SPEECH. GODLEY
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LEBANON IN THE VALLEY OF DESPAIR
1975 November 1, 14:50 (Saturday)
1975BEIRUT13628_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
SUMMARY: GENERALIZED AND HEAVY CLASHES OVERNIGHT AND CONTINUING INTO NOVEMBER 1, HAVE PERSISTED DESPITE PRIMIN’S FRANTIC EFFORTS TO ARRANGE AN EFFECTIVE CEASE-FIRE (SEVERAL TIMES NIGHT OCT 31/NOV 1). SAVAGERY AND MUTUAL SELF-DESTRUCTION AMONG ARMED BANDS HAS ACHIEVED MOMENTUM AND LIFE OF THEIR OWN WHICH RENDERS POLITICAL EFFORTS THUS FAR INEFFECTIVE OR EVEN IRRELEVANT. GROWING VOLUME REPORTS PLACE ARMED BANDS FROM SYRIAN TERRITORY IN BEKAA VALLEY WHERE ZAHLE IS ONCE AGAIN HOT SPOT. PRIMIN KARAME IS MEETING WITH FAITHFUL FEW OF SECURITY COMMITTEE, BUT THIS IS NOT EXPECTED TO AFFECT DEEPENING DESPAIR AND MANY FEAR THAT KARAME, HIS LINES TO CHAMOUN AND GEMAYEL THREATENED, MAY NOT RPT NOT HAVE IT IN HIM FOR ANOTHER COLLEGE TRY. END SUMMARY.
1. AT TIME OF DRAFTING THIS CABLE, CLASHES IN MAIN HOTEL DISTRICT ADJACENT TO EMBASSY CONTINUE. SMALL ARMS FIRE IS HEARD, PUNCTUATED OCCASIONALLY BY EXPLOSIONS. ELSEWHERE IN CITY, SECURITY SITUATION DETERIORATED AFTERNOON OCTOBER 31 AND HEAVY FIGHTING WAS REPORTED OVERNIGHT. IN ADDITION TO HOTEL DISTRICT, SHIA/AIN RUMANNEH/FURN ASH SHURBAH COMPLEX BROKE DOWN BEGINNING APPROX 1300 HOURS YESTERDAY. CLASHES THERE OVERNIGHT WERE REPORTEDLY AS BAD AS ANY PREVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED AND CASUALTIES IN THAT SECTOR ALONE WERE ALLEGED TO BE BETWEEN 40 AND 100 DEAD. AS OF MID-MORNING TODAY, ONLY MACHINE GUN EXCHANGES WERE REPORTED BETWEEN SHIAH AND AIN RUMMANEH, BUT WE HAVE NO MORE RECENT INFORMATION. EXCHANGES OF UNDETERMINED FEROCITY WERE EXPERIENCED OVERNIGHT ALONG CENTRAL AXIS PARALLELING BESHARA AL-KHOURY STREET (I.E., SODOCE, RAS AN NABEH, NASRA, WESTERN ASHRAFIYAH, ETC.); BETWEEN QARANTIANA AND NORTHERN ASHRAFIYAH; AND BETWEEN SUBURBS OF HADATH
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AND LAYLAKI. IN SUMMARY, DESPITE PERSISTING EFFORTS TO IMPOSE A CEASE-FIRE, WE NOW BACK TO SQUARE MINUS ONE ON SECURITY SCENE.
2. DURING EXCHANGES OF MORTAR AND OTHER HEAVY WEAPON FIRE LAST EVENING, SEVERAL ROUNDS FELL IN VICINITY OF SABRA/SHATILA PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMP (IN NEARBY MARTYR’S CEMETARY, WE ARE TOLD). UNTSO SOURCE STATIONED NEAR KUWAIT EMBASSY TRAFFIC CIRCLE INFORMED UN SECURITY OFFICIALS IN EARLY MORNING THAT NOISE AT THAT LOCATION WAS GREATER THAN PREVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED IN THAT AREA. UN OFFICIALS PRESENTLY ATTEMPTING TO DETERMINE WHETHER EXCHANGES HEAVIER THAN HERETOFORE OR CLOSER. UNRWA OFFICIAL INFORMED EMBOFF MORNING NO. 1 THAT CAMPS NEAR BEIRUT ARE GENERALLY QUIET, ALTHOUGH UNRWA ACCESS TO AREAS LIMITED. HE SAID PALESTINIANS HAVE MOVED MOST FEDAYEEN COUT OF SABRA/SHATILA AND THAT ONLY RESIDENTS AND ARMED MILITIA REMAIN. HE NOT RPT NOT CERTAIN WHERE MAINLINE UNITS HAVE GONE BUT BELIEVES THAT MOVE WAS EFFORT TO AVOID DRAWING DIRE UPON CIVILIAN CAMP POPULATION. IT IS EQUALLY CONCEIVABLE, HOWEVER, THAT FEDAYEEN WERE WITHDRAWN SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT BE PINNED DOWN IN CAMP, SHOULD DECISION TO COMMIT PALESTINIAN FORCES TO BATTLE HAVE TO BE TAKEN.
3. WE ARE RECEIVING INCREASING NUMBER OF REPORTS OF MOVEMENT OF ARMED MEN FROM SYRIA INTO BEKAA VALLEY. IDENTITY OF ALLEGED INFILTRATORS VARIES, WITH THEM IDENTIFIED VARIOUSLY AS SA’IQA, PALESTINE LIBERATION ARMY, OR SYRIAN TROOPS. UNDER PRESENT CONDITIONS, IT IS DOUBTFUL WE WILL EVER BE IN A POSITION TO CONFIRM ALLEGED MOVEMENTS FROM SYRIA IN PERSON. HOWEVER, SOURCES WHICH DATT CONSIDERS RELIABLE HAVE REPORTED SUCH MOVEMENT. ON OCTOBER 29 CHIEF OF STAFF OF INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES, BGEN DAHROUGH, TOLD ARMA THAT A “MASSIVE” INFILTRATION OF SA’IQA FORCES FROM SYRIA INTO LEBANON WAS UNDERWAY. IN LONG TELECON WITH SENIOR LEBANESE ARMY OFFICER IN BEKAA VALLEY ON NOVEMBER 1, DATT WAS TOLD THAT THERE ABOUT 2000 “SYRIAN” TROOPS (THE LEBANESE OFFICER SAID “SYRIAN; NOT LEFTIST, NOT PLO, NOT PLA”) IN THE VICINITY OF
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ZAHLE AND THAT THESE FORCES WERE INVOLVED IN THE FIGHTING AGAINST THE CHRISTIAN INHABITANTS AND THE LEBANESE ARMY UNITS THERE. TO DATT, THESE REPORTS CONSTITUTE CONFIRMATION OF INFILTRATION FROM SYRIA.
4. CONTINUATION OF CIVIL STRIFE HAS LED MANYLOCAL OBSERVERS TO EXPRESS CONCERN THAT PRIMIN KARAME WILL REACH THE END OF HIS ROPE MOMENTARILY. WE WERE ABLE TO REACH PRIMIN’S OFFICE AT APPROX. 1020 HOURS THIS MORNING AND OFFICE DIRECTOR MUSSEIKI INFORMED US THAT KARAME, WHO SPENT SLEEPLESS NIGHT AT SERAIL, WAS AT TIME OF CALL MEETING WITH “SEVERAL MEMBERS” OF SECURITY COMM. MUSSEIKI WAS RELUCTANT TO IDENTIFY THOSE PRESENT (WHICH WE TAKE TO INDICATE THAT CHAMOUN, GEMAYEL AND JUMBLAT HAVE NOT RPT NOT JOINED FORLORN CONVOCATION), BUT HE INDICATED THAT KARAME HAD BEEN “IN CONTACT” WITH ALL SIDES, “INCLUDING THE PHALANGISTS.” MUSSEIKI SAID THAT KARAME HAD ARRANGED SEVERAL CEASE-FIRES OVERNIGHT, BUT ADMITTED THAT NONE OF THEM HAD BEEN “FULLY EFFECTIVE” (A GROSS UNDERSTATEMENT). MAJOR EFFORT WAS ALLEGEDLY AGREEMENT BY ALL PARTIES TO CEASE FIRING AS OF 2130, OCTOBER 31. WHEN THAT HOUR ARRIVED, HOWEVER, EXCHANGES INTENSIFIED RATHER THAN CEASING.
5. KARAME’S RELATIONSHIPS WITH KEY CHRISTIAN LEADERS APPEAR TO HAVE WORSENED SUBSTANTIALLY. LAST NIGHT, KARAME GAVE A TELEVISION INTERVIEW IN WHICH HE SUGGESTED PHALANGE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CONTINUED VIOLENCE, BY INDICATING SNIPING FROM THE HOLIDAY INN AND ASHRAFIYAH WERE PROXIMATE CAUSES. PHALANGISTS HAVE NATURALLY REACTED ANGRILY WITH THEIR DAILY, “AL AMAL” DETAILING ALLEGED CEASE-FIRE VIOLATIONS AND PROVOCATIONS FROM OTHER SIDE AND CALLING UPON KARAME TO REMAIN AN “ARBITER” AND NOT BECOME A PARTY. THIS LATEST ALTERCATION HAS PROBABLY GIVEN A FURTHER SHOVE TO WIDENING GAP BETWEEN KARAME AND CHAMOUN, WHO WERE ALREADY RUMORED TO ON VERY BAD TERMS. IF THIS DANGEROUS TREND CONTINUES, KARAME COULD END UP WITH ONLY THE MOST TENUOUS CONTACTS WITH CHAMOUN AND GEMAYEL, AS WELL AS FRANGIE.
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6. AT 1330 TODAY I TELEPHONED KARAME TO TELL HIM WE HAD DECLARED LEBANON DISASTER AREA TO GET SOME MEDICINES. TOLD HIM WE THOUGHT DOING FINE, PATRIOTIC JOB UNDER TERRIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES, ETC. FIVE MINUTE EXCHANGE DID NOT GIVE ME IMPRESSION HE PLANNING RESIGN AND HIS MOOD APPEARED TO BE ONE OF TOUGH SCRAPPER.
7. IN GENERAL, WE FEEL CONFIDENT IN STATING THAT TODAY, THERE ARE NO RPT NO OPTIMISTS IN LEBANON, UN- LESS THEY ARE AMONG THE GROWING NUMBER OF LOOTERS OPERATING IN ABANDONED (AND SOME STILL OCCUPIED) NEIGHBORHOODS OF THE CITY.
8. ALL AMCITS ARE SAFE AS FAR AS WE AWARE, WITH EXCEPTION THOSE REPORTED SEPTELS AND REV. JIRAIR SOGOMIAN, CHAPLAIN HAIGAZIAN COLLEGE WHO WAS SHOT IN HAND OCT. 31 ON STREET NEAR COLLEGE. HE WAS ADMITTED AUB HOSPITAL AND IS IN GOOD CONDITION. FAMILY NOTIFIED.
GODLEY
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1. SUMMARY: LIKE A BOXER PUNCH-DRUNK FROM FOUR GRUELING ROUNDS OF PUNISHMENT, BKEIRUT CONTINUES NOV 6 TO RISE FROM THE CANVAS; THE LEGS ARE WOBBLY, THE VISION BLURRED. THERE ARE RISING HOPES BUT AS YET LITTLE CONFIDENCE, THAT THE CITY WILL NOT HAVE TO ANSWER THE BELL FOR ROUND 5. END SUMMARY.
2. BEIRUT AND MOST OF LEBANON ENJOYING ANOTHER DAY OF CALM NOV6, WITH ONLY RARE BURSTS OF MACHINEGUN FIRE TO MAR THE FAMILIAR CIVILIAN NOISE POLLUTION OF HAMRA AND OTHER REAWAKEN- ING COMMERCIAL DISTRICTS. TWO ROCKETS WERE FIRED INTO ASHRAFIYEH OVERNIGHT, BUT GENERAL ABSENCE OF BACKGROUND EXPLOSIONS ALMOST EERIE. DESPITE CALM, LEBANESE VENTURING OUT IN FALL FINERY WEAR A WARY EXPRESSION AND COMPETENT OBSERVERS ARE NOT RPT NOT PREPARED TO DECLARE PEACE IN OUR TIME. SOME, IN FACT, ARE PREDICITING A RETURN TO ARMS AS EARLY AS NEXT MONDAY. TRIPOLI REPORTEDLY IS TENSE FOLLOWING DISCO- VERY OF UNIDENTIFIED BODY, BUT WAVE OF KIDNAPPING IN BEIRUT IS APPARENTLY FINISHED AS OF THIS REPORT.
3. TODAY’S NEWSPAPERS CARRY REPORTS OF PRES FRANGIE’S PRAISE FOR “KARAMISM” AND PRIMIN’S PERSISTENCE DURING NOV 5 CABINET MEETING. IT IS NNOT YET CLEAR WHAT PROMPTED THIS UNCHAR- ACTERISTIC OUTBURST, BUT THE CYNICAL OBSERVERS ON THE SCENE ARE DIAGNOSING IT AS A CASE OF “IF-YOU-CAN’T-BEAT-THEM-JOIN-THEM (PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY SEEM SUCCESSFUL)”. ON THIS NOTE, HOW- EVER, CABINET SESSION WAS OFF TO SMOOTH START AND ATMOSPHERE IS DESCRIBED AS “GOOD”. CABINET, WHICH WILL PROBABLY MEET AGAIN NOV 8, INTER ALIA (A) APPROPRIATED LL 18 MILLION FOR ARMORED VEHICLES, ETC., FOR INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES: (B) DISCUSSED INTERNATIONAL (READ FRENCH) INITIATIVES; AND (C) CON- SIDERED MEASURE TO ENSURE RESUMPTION OF NORMAL ECONOMIC ACTIVITY. HIGHER COORDINATION COMM (RECENTLY EXPANDED TO ENCOMPASS ALL IDENTIFIABLE LEBANESE FACTIONS AND “MODERATE”
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ALESTINIANS) CONTINUED ITS WORK AND FOCUSSED NOV 5 ON ENDING KID- NAPPING AND SURRENDERING PERPETRATORS TO CRIMIAL COURTS. LEBANESE ARMY, WHICH HAS ASSUMED RESPONSIBILITY FOR INTER- NATIONAL ROADS, ANNOUNCED ORDERS TO FIE UPON ARMED ELEMENTS ON THESE THOROUGHFARES AND ACTUALL ARRESTED 20 PERSONS IN HAZMIYEH YESTERDAY WHEN THEY ATTEMPTED TO SET UP A ROADBLOCK.
4. NOW THE BAD NEWS. (A) PHALANGIST ELEMENTS REMAIN THIS MORNING IN HOLIDAY INN AND CANADIAN MILITARY ATTACHE REPORTS THAT ENTRY IS FORBIDDEN TO ANYONE NOT HOLDING A PASS FROM THE PHALANGE HEADQUARTERS. BOTH SIDES ARE ACCUSING THE OTHER OF BAD FAITH IN OBSERVING TERMS OF THE CEASEFIRE AND CITY REMAINS MINUTES (ONE HOUR AT MOST) FROM RESUMPTION OF CLASHES AT ANY GIVEN TIME; (B) BOTH SIDES CONTINUING TO REARM AND REPROVISION WITH PUBLIC ATTENTION BEING GIVEN TO VESSEL AT JOUNIEH (PHALAN- GIST) AND A USUALLY-RELIABLE SOURCE REPORTING THAT ANOTHER SHIP OFF-LOADED AT SIDON (PALESTINIAN LEFTIST) WITHIN THE LAST FOUR TO FIVE DAYS; (C) KARAME/CHAMOUN RELATIONSHIP IS PATCHED UP SOMEWHAT, BUT DIFFERENCES, WHICH COULD EASILY SURFACE UNDER STREE, PERSIST, CHAMOUN STILL WANTS ARMY TO ENTER IN FULL FORCE WITH FLAGS FLYINNG WHEREAS KARAME, WHO HAS RECENTLY INCREASED THE ARMY’S ROLE, PERFERS TO INSINUATE IT AS NEEDED AT MORE MEASURED PACE (BEIRUT 12296). OFF-LOADING OF SHIP AT JOUNIEH IS APPARENTLY BONE OF CONTENTION BETWEEN KARAME ON ONE HAND AND FRANGIE/ CHAMOUN ON OTHER. PRIMIN COMPLAINED NOV 6 TO AMBASSADOR THAT ARMY HAS NOT RPT NOT IMPLEMENTED HIS ORDER TO HALT DIS- EMBARKATION OF SHIP’S CARGO. ALL INGREDIENTS OF A FURTHER FLARE- UP CONTINUE TO BE PRESENT AS GOL TURNS ITS HAND TO EFFORTS TO CLEAR AWAY THE FALLOUT FROM RECENT STRIFE.
5. LARGE NUMBER OF SHOPS AND SOME BANKS ARE OPEN. MOST BANKS SET EXCHANGE RATE AT LL2.25 PER DOLLARY (BUYING) AND LL 2.60 PER DOLLAR (SELLING). WIDE DIFFERENCE (NORMALLY ONLY TWO OR THREE PIASTRES) IS MEANT TO DISCOURAGE TRANSACTIONS UNTIL MONDAY IN ORDER TO ALLOW TIME FOR BANKS TO PROCESS BACK- LOG OF PAPERWORK AND FOR MARKET TO STABILIZE. ZGHORTAWI OIL TANK DRIVERS ATTEMPTED TO TAKE DELIVERIES FROM IPC REFINERY IN TRIPOLI, BUT WERE BLOCKED BY TRIPOLITANIANS; IN RETALIATION, ZGHORTAWIS BLOCKED ROAD TO REFINERY. NEVERTHELESS, OIL MINISTRY REMAINS OPTIMISTIC THAT, IF CURRENT LULL CONTINUES,
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THIS DISPUTE WILL BE SOLVED IN TIME FOR DELIVERIES TO BEIRUU ON NOV 10 RPT 10.
6. ALL AMCITS REMAIN SAFE TO OUR KNOWLEDGE. AMERICAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL IS TOYING WITH IDEA OF OPENING MINI-SCHOOL NOV 10, IF CONDITIONS PERMIT.
GODLEY
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BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT PROGNOSIS
1976 July 12, 14:47 (Monday)
1976BEIRUT06147_b
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UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. MEA/BEIRUT SAYS IT HAS NO IDEA WHEN IT WILL BE POSSIBLE REOPEN BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CLOSED JUNE 27 WHEN MEA BOEING 707 HIT ON GROUND DURING RIGHTIST BOMBARDMENT. AIRCRAFT TOTALLY DESTROYED, KILLING PILOT AND SEVERELY BURNING TWO CREW MEMBERS. MEA POSITION REAFFIRMS PESSIMISM OF MINISTER OF PUBLIC WORKS ADEL OSSEIRAN WHO SAID JULY 6 HE DOUBTED AIRPORT WOULD REOPEN SOON. SEE REFTEL.
2. ALTHOUGH MEA SAYS IT WILL RECOMMENCE SERVICE IMMEDIATELY UPON RECEIPT OF “GUARANTEES,” ACTIVITY OF MEA/BEIRUT INDICATES AIRLINE COMPANY HAS LITTLE HOPE OF GETTING SUCH GUARANTEES SOON. GUARANTEES INCLUDE CHRISTIAN DEMANDS THAT LEBANESE FROM EASTERN SECTOR BE PROVWDED SAFE PASSAGE TO AND FROM AIRPORT, THAT AIRPORT NOT BE USED FOR ARMS ENTRY AND THAT JOINT RIGHT/LEFT COMMITTEE SUPERVISE AIRPORT OPERATION. OSSEIRAN, WHO IN REFTEL DESCRIBED THE JUNE 27 SHELLING OF AIRPORT AS BASELESS, NOW SAYS DEMANDS OF RIGHTIST GROUPS ARE “ILLOGICAL.”
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3. AIRPORT HAD REOPENED TO LIMITED SERVICE JUNE 23 AFTER BEING CLOSED SINCE JUNE 7 WHEN AREA BECAME ACTIVE BATTLE GROUND OF SYRIAN BACKED SAIQA FORCES VERSUS FATAH AND LEFTISTS. BUT MEA MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES, MANY OF WHOM LIVED FOR MONTHS AT AIRPORT, UNABLE TO REACH THEIR HOMES AND FREQUENTLY UNDER FIRE, APPEAR WITH DEATH AND WOUNDING OF COLLEAGUES TO HAVE REACHED LIMIT OF ENDURANCE. MEA HAS TEMPORARILY TRANSFERRED HEAD OFFICE TO PARIS.
4. TRANS-MEDITERRANEAN AIRWAYS, ONLY CARGO SERVICE OPERATING OUT OF BEIRUT IN RECENT MONTHS, ALSO REPORTED MOVING HEADQUARTERS FROM BEIRUT TO LONDON AT LEAST TEMPORARILY.
5. MEA EVACUATING PERSONNEL VIA ROAD TO DAMASCUS AND MOST HAVE REPORTEDLY ALREADY LEFT COUNTRY. TWO BURNED CREW MEMBERS, ONE AMCIT AND ONE LEBANESE, EVACUATED BY ROAD TO DAMASCUS ON JULY 4 AND FLOWN TO BURN CENTER IN BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND. CONVOY OF TWO BURN VICTIMS ALSO EVACUATED FIVE OTHER MEA EMPLOYEES.
6. RELIABLE MEA SOURCE REPORTED JULY 6 THAT AIRPORT RUNWAYS STILL USABLE, CONTAINING ONLY EIGHT SMALL RUPTURES DUE BOMBARDMENTS. CONDITION OF RADAR AND CONTROL TOWER EQUIPMENT SUBJECT OF CONFLICTING REPORTS, BUT SAME SOURCE REPORTED JUNE 24 THAT EQUIPMENT STILL INTACT. HOWEVER, IT HAS BEEN DEMONSTRATED SEVERAL TIMES THAT AIRCRAFT CAN LAND AT AIRPORT IN DAYLIGHT HOURS WITHOUT REFERENCE TO CONTROL TOWER. LATEST DEMONSTRATION WAS JULY 8 LANDING OF ICRC DC-6 CARRYING SIX TONS MEDICAL SUUPPLIES.
7. AIRPORT PRESENTLY UNDER CONTROL ARAB LEAGUE FORCE COMPOSED OF SOME 700 SYRIANS, 300 LIBYANS, 500 SAUDI ARABIANS, AND 500 SUDANESE. PERIODIC BOMBARDMENTS CONTINUE. PURPOSE OF ARAB LEAGUE FORCE IS TO SUPERVISE CEASE-FIRE WHICH SO FAR HAS BEEN IMPOSSIBLE TO IMPOSE. AIRPORT WAS PRIMARY RALLY POINT OF SYRIANS ANDLIBYAN ARAB LEAGUE FORCES WHO ACCEPTED CONTROL OF AREA FROM REGULAR SYRIAN ARMY ON JUNE 21. HOWEVER, CONTINUED QUARRELS HAVE KEPT AL FORCES FROM ADVANCING FROM AIRPORT AREA AND JUNE 23 SHELLING SEEN LARGELY LIMITED OFFICIAL USE LIMITED OFFICIAL USE PAGE 03 BEIRUT 06147 130545Z IN RESPONSE TO HEIGHTENED CHRISTIAN FEARS THAT AIRPORT BE USED AS ENTRY POINT FOR ARMS FOR PALESTINIANS AND LEFTISTS. CHRISTIANS ALSO MISTRUST LIBYAN INTENTIONS, HAVING REJECTED LIBYYANS AS LEGITIMATE PARTICIPANTS IN ARAB LEAGUE FORCE.
8. CHRISTIAN ARTILLERY CONTINUES DOMINATE AIRPORT FROM SEVERAL POINTS AND, UNLESS GUARANTEES CAN BE WORKED OUT, IT IS UNLIKELY CHRISTIANS WILL ALLOW AIRPORT REOPEN, ALTHOUGH SOME ICRC AND OTHER MERCY FLIGHTS MAY BE ALLOWED IN. FOR NOW CHRISTIANS QUITE CONTENT WITH JOUNIEH PORT AS SUPPLY ENTRY AND PERSONNEL EXIT PORT. SOME 12 BOATS NOW PROVIDING DAILY SERVICE BETWEEN LEBANON AND CYPRUS.
SEELYE
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SHELLING OF AUB CAMPUS
1976 October 18, 15:45 (Monday)
1976BEIRUT08047_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. EMBASSY HAS JUST BEEN INFORMED THAT DURING GENERAL SHELLING OF WEST BEIRUT OCT 18, FOUR SHELLS EXPLODED ON AUB CAMPUS ITSELF, PLUS TWO ON ABDUL AZIZ STREET ADJACENT TO AUB HOSPITAL, AND TWO ON BLISS STREET NEAR SAUDI EMBASSY. NO ONE WAS KILLED OR SERIOUSLY INJURED IN AUB OR ABDUL AZIZ EXPLOSION, BUT FOUR PEOPLE WERE REPORTEDLY KILLED ON BLISS STREET.
2. AUB ACTING PRESIDENT COWAN AND DEAN ELIE SALEM BELIEVE SHELLING OF AUB CAMPUS AND NEAR HOSPITAL ON ABDUL AZIZ STREET MAY BE RESULT OPENING OF AUB MEDICAL SCHOOL OCT 18, AND AN INDICATION OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF AUB OPENS FULL CAMPUS ON NOV 1 AS SCHEDULED. THEY ARE CONSIDERING DIRECT APPROACH TO CHRISTIAN LEADERS, ASKING THEM TO USE THEIR INFLUENCE TO SPARE AUB/AUH FROM FURTHER BOMBARDMENT.
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3. COMMENT: OUR INFORMATION INDICATES THAT SHELLING TODAY (OCT 18) HAS BEEN UNUSUALLY HEAVY AND WIDESPREAD ON BOTH SIDES OF CONFRONTATION LINE IN BEIRUT, AND WE HAVE NO INFORMATION THAT AUB/AUH IS BEING SINGLED OUT AS A TARGET. HOWEVER, COINCIDENCE OF OPENING OF AUB MEDICAL SCHOOL (NO FIRST-YEAR CHRISTIAN STUDENTS HAVE YET ARRIVED) AND HEAVIEST SHELLING AUB/AUH HAS SUFFERED THIS YEAR CANNOT BE IGNORED. REGARDLESS OF REASON, ANY FURTHER SHELLING OF AUB/AUH, PARTICULARLY IF SOMEONE IS KILLED, MAY MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR UNIVERSITY TO OPEN. CHARGE THEREFORE REQUESTS AUTHORIZATION TO ATTEMPT TO TELEPHONE PRESIDENT SARKIS (WHEN HE RETURNS), FORMER PRESIDENT CHAMOUN, PIERRE GEMAYEL, CHARBEL KASSIS (GUARDIAN OF THE CEDARS) AND LEADER OF THE TANZIM ASAP TO: (A) DESCRIBE RECENT SHELLINGS AT AUB/AUH, (B) EMPHASIZE DANGER TO INNOCENT LEBANESE AND FOREIGN STUDENTS AND FACULTY; AND, (C) SAY HE HAS BEEN INSTRUCTED BY THE DEPARTMENT TO ASK THEM TO USE THEIR INFLUENCE TO PREVENT SHELLING OF AUB/ AUH IN THE FUTURE.
4. IF CHARGE NOT ABLE TO GET IN TOUCH WITH THESE MEN BY PHONE, WOULD PLAN SEND LETTERS ALONG LINES OUTLINED ABOVE. BELIEVE IT WOULD ALSO BE USEFUL IF DEPT COULD ASK AMB GHORRA IN NEW YORK TO PASS SAME MESSAGE TO CHAMOUN.
5. WOULD APPRECIATE REPLY ASAP.
LANE
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1. (U) THERE HAVE BEEN SEVERAL ATTACKS AGAINST CHRISTIAN INSTITUTIONS IN TRIPOLI DURING THE PERIOD JANUARY 8-9. TWO CHURCHES, MARONITE AND GREEK ORTHODOX, WERE BOMBED ON TUESDAY, CAUSING SERIOUS DAMAGE, WHILE ANOTHER GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH AND AN EVANGELICAL INSTITUTION WERE DAMAGED IN ATTACKS WEDNESDAY. A CHRISTIAN CEMETARY WAS ALSO BOMBED WEDNESDAY NIGHT.
2. (U) ISLAMIC UNIFICATION MOVEMENT (TAWHIID) HAS ISSUED TWO CONSECUTIVE CONDEMNATIONS OF THE ATTACKS, NOTING THAT TRIPOLI HAS TRADITIONALLY BEEN AN EXAMPLE OF RELIGIOUS UNITY, AND DEPLORING EFFORTS “TO FRIGHTEN THE CHRISTIANS OUT OF THE CITY.” WEEKLY MEETING OF ISLAMIC DAR AL-FATWA WEDNESDAY ALSO CONDEMNED THE BOMBINGS, AS DID BRIG. OTHMAN OTHMAN, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF INTERNAL SECURITY FORCES DURING A VISIT TO TRIPOLI WEDNESDAY.
3. (C) CHRISTIAN NOTABLE AND LEBANESE FORCES CHARTER MEMBER, CHARLES MALIK, TOLD POLOFF THAT FOUR CHRISTIANS HAVE, AS WELL, BEEN MURDERED ON ROADS NEAR TRIPOLI, AND THAT CHRISTIAN RESIDENTS OF AREA FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES. HE SAID THAT “LEBANESE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY” IS THINKING OF PREPARING A DEMARCHE TO STATE DEPARTMENT ON TRIPOLI VIOLENCE.
4. COMMENT (C): AS ALWAYS IN BEIRUT, LIST OF POSSIBLE PERPETRATORS OF THESE ATTACKS IS A LONG ONE, BEGINNING WITH TAWHIID ITSELF. MANY OBSERVERS ATTRIBUTE BOMBINGS, WHICH COME SOON AFTER RECENT DEPLOYMENT OF LAF INTO TRIPOLI AS PART OF NORTHERN SECURITY PLAN, AS EFFORT TO EMBARASS GOL (WHILE AT SAME TIME INTIMIDATING CHRISTIANS). ELABORATING ON THIS HYPOTHESIS, CHRISTIAN LEBANESE EMBASSY EMPLOYEE FROM KOURA REGION HAS TOLD US THAT MUCH BLAME IS BEING LAID AT FEET OF STILL-ACTIVE COMMUNISTS IN TRIPOLI, WITH RATIONALE BEING THAT LATTER ARE TRYING TO DISRUPT SECURITY PLAN THERE AND PLACE THE BLAME ON TAWHIID “PRINCE” SHA’BAN, WHO RECENTLY BOASTED IN A PUBLIC SPEECH THAT THE COMMUNISTS HAD BEEN CRUSHED IN TRIPOLI. A SIMILAR ARGUMENT, HOWEVER, COULD BE MADE THAT TAWIID’S MAIN RIVAL IN TRIPOLI, THE ARAB DEMOCRATIC PARTY, IS BEHIND BOMBINGS.
BARTHOLOMEW
BOMBS IN WEST BEIRUT
1985 January 14, 14:05 (Monday)
85BEIRUT240_a
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CONFIDENTIAL
— Not Assigned —
1. (C) SINCE THE SMUGGLER’S INN BLAST OF JANUARY 9, THERE HAVE BEEN FOUR MORE BOMBINGS IN WEST BEIRUT, KILLING SEVEN MORE PEOPLE AND INJURING AS MANY AS 80 MORE. IN ADDITION, A LARGE EXPLOSIVE CHARGE PLACED IN FRONT OF THE BUILDING HOUSING THE EMBASSY’S CHIEF POLITICAL SECTION LOCAL EMPLOYEE FAILED TO DETONATE WHEN ITS FUSE EXPLODED SUNDAY NIGHT. DETAILS FOLLOW.
2. (U) THREE PEOPLE WERE KILLED AND 27 INJURED FRIDAY WHEN A BOMB EXPLODED OUTSIDE THE BANK OF BEIRUT AND ARAB COUNTRIES ON CORNICHE MAZRA’ IN WEST BEIRUT. EXPLOSION DEVASTATED THE INSIDE OF BANK, DUG A LARGE CRATER IN SIDEWALK, AND CAUSED EXTENSIVE DAMAGE TO VEHICLES AND OTHER BUILDINGS.
3. (U) THREE BOMBS EXPLODED SATURDAY, KILLING THREE PEOPLE AND INJURING AS MANY AS 60. TWO OF THE BOMBS, BOTH PACKED WITH NAILS, WENT OFF WITHIN FIVE MINUTES OF EACH OTHER IN THE PSP-CONTROLLED MUSSEITBEH AREA WHILE THE THIRD INJURED SIX PERSONS AND DAMAGED PROPERTY ON HAMRA STREET NEAR A PSP CHECKPOINT.
4. (C) EMBASSY POLITICAL SECTION EMPLOYEE GABY AKKAR, A CHRISTIAN, SAID THAT UNLIKE BOMB WHICH DESTROYED HIS CAR LAST MONTH, HE IS CERTAIN THAT LAST NIGHTS ABORTED EXPLOSION WAS IMED AT HIM. HE SAID THAT CHARGE WAS PLACED DIRECTLY UNDER THE BALCONY OF HIS APARTMENT. AKKAR SAID THAT HE IS NOW MAKING PLANS TO MOVE HIS FAMILY INTO THE EAST WHERE IT IS SAFE.
5. (C) COMMENT: LEBANESE PUBLIC FIGURES HAVE INEVITABLY ACCUSED ISRAEL OF BEING BEHIND BLASTS, WHILE THE SYRIAN BA’ATH PARTY HAS SINGLED OUT PRO-ARAFAT PALESTINIANS. JOURNALISTS RESIDENT IN THE WEST VARIOUSLY ATTRIBUTE THE BLASTS TO THE MUR- ABITUN, WHICH THEY SAY IS RETURNING TO THE AREA IN FORCE AND REINVIGORATING THE OLD MURABITUN-PSP FEUD, OR HIZBALLAH,SIGNS OF WHOSE PRESENCE THEY SAY ARE INCREASINGLY DAILY. IN THIS REGARD, U.S. JOURNALISTS DESCRIBED THE QUALITY OF LIFE IN WEST BEIRUT AS HAVING SUNK TO TRULY HOBBESIAN LEVELS OF NASTINESS IN LAST MONTH, WITH THE COMBINATION OF CAR BOMBS AND ARMED ROBBERIES KEEPING MQST PEOPLE LOCKED INDOORS AT NIGHT. THERE ARE PRESENTLY REPRESENTA- TIVES OF ONLY THREE AMERICAN NEWS MEDIA RESIDENT IN BEIRUT (ASSOCIATED PRESS, LOS ANGELES TIMES, AND NEW YORK TIMES); SOME OF THESE ARE THINKING ABOUT LEAVING.
BARTHOLOMEW
INTENSE FIGHTING ALONG BEIRUT’S GREEN LINE
1985 May 7, 10:26 (Tuesday)
85BEIRUT2659_a
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL
— Not Assigned —
1. C-ENTIRE TEXT.
2. THE NIGHT OF MAY 6-7 WITNESSED SOME OF THE HEAVIEST GREEN LINE FIGHTING SINCE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE JULY 4, 1984, BEIRUT SECURITY PLAN. AS ALWAYS, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO RECONSTRUCT THE EXACT SEQUENCE OF EVENTS. HOWEVER IT APPEARS THAT THE FIGHTING BEGAN AS AN EXCHANGE OF SHELLING (TANKS, ROCKETS, AND ARTILLERY BY BOTH SIDES), THEN ESCALATED INTO BLIND SHELLING OF RESIDENTIAL AREAS IN BOTH EAST AND WEST BEIRUT. THE HEAVIEST FIGHTING WAS APPARENTLY CONCENTRATED IN THE PORT AND RAS AL-NABAH AREAS, WITH SHELLS HITTING THE EASTERN RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS OF ASHRAFIYAH AND SIN AL-FIL, AS WELL AS VARIOUS WEST BEIRUT NEIGHBORHOODS. SCATTERED ROUNDS ALSO FELL IN THE GENERAL AREA OF AWKAR, RABIYAH, AND NACCACHE, ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THESE AREAS WERE SPECIFICALLY TARGETED.
3. ALTHOUGH EXACT FIGURES ARE UNAVAILABLE, IT IS CLEAR THAT CASUALTIES WERE HEAVIER THAN IS USUAL IN GREEN LINE FIGHTING. EMBASSY SOURCES REPORT SEEING UP TO TWENTY-FIVE BODIES IN THE PORT AREA, AND THE LAF REPORTS LOSING ONE KILLED AND TWELVE INJURED. THERE ARE UNCONFIRMED REPORTS THAT THE PSP AND AMAL REQUESTED A CEASE-FIRE FOR 1600 HOURS LOCAL TIME IN ORDER TO RETRIEVE THE DEAD AND WOUNDED FROM THE NO-MAN’S LAND SEPARATING THE WARRING FACTIONS. THE RIZK TOWER IN EAST BEIRUT WAS HIT BY A TANK ROUND, DESTROYING GOL REPEATER EQUIPMENT AND DAMAGING THE ANTENNA OF A GOVERNMENT TELEVISION STATION.
4. AUB SOURCES INDICATED THAT THE UNIVERSITY SUFFERED ONLY LIGHT DAMAGE, ALTHOUGH ONE STUDENT SUFFERED INJURIES REQUIRING HOSPITALIZATION. SCHOOL IS OPEN TODAY, MAY 7, BUT ATTENDANCE IS SPARSE. THIS SOURCE REPORTED THAT THE PREVAILING ATTITUDE AMONG AMERICAN CITIZENS IN WEST BEIRUT IS ONE OF “DEPRESSION.” THEY SEE NO DIRECT AND IMMEDIATE THREAT, SUCH AS OF THE LF OR LAF CROSSING THE GREEN LINE TO ATTACK WEST BEIRUT, BUT RECENT EVENTS HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO A FEELING OF HOPELESSNESS ABOUT THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE OF LEBANON. THIS SOURCE SAID THAT ALTHOUGH AUB AMCIT FACULTY MEMBERS ARE NOT PLANNING TO LEAVE BEIRUT NOW IN RESPONSE TO A PERCEIVED THREAT, MANY ARE PLANNING ON LEAVING LEBANON AFTER THE END OF THE TERM IN LATE JUNE, EITHER BY NOT RENEWING THEIR CONTRACTS OR BY TAKING A YEAR’S SABBATICAL.
5. THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND REMAINS TENSE MAY 7, WITH MOST STORES REPORTEDLY CLOSED IN MUCH OF WEST BEIRUT AND THE ASHRAFIYAH SECTION OF EAST BEIRUT. THOSE SHOPS THAT ARE OPEN ARE MOSTLY OF THE MOM AND POP FOOD STORE VARIETY. THE SITUATION APPROACHES NORMAL IN EASTERN AREAS FURTHER FROM THE GREEN LINE. ALL GREEN LINE CROSSINGS ARE OFFICIALLY CLOSED.
6. COMMENT. IT IS STILL TOO SOON TO TELL IF RECENT OUTBREAKS REPRESENT SPONTANEOUS OUTBURSTS OR ARE POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. WE EXPECT THE SHARP FIGHTING ALONG THE GREEN LINE TO CONTINUE. HOWEVER, DESPITE UNSUBSTANTIATED RUMORS OF TROOP MOVEMENTS AND FEARS OF IMPENDING CLASHES, SUQ AL-GHARB HAS REMAINED CURIOUSLY QUIET. END COMMENT.
BARTHOLOMEW
NOTE BY OC/T: HEADING AS RECEIVED.
CORRECTION TO FOLLOW.
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The War Files (Part XII) – Amal, Hezbollah, Syria: Yes, They Were At War

Image taken after the 1988 clashes between Hezbollah and Amal (source)

Image taken after the 1988 clashes between Hezbollah and Amal (source)

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War that started on the 13th of April 1975. This is why I’ve decided to publish WikiLeaks cables from the war era, every day till the 13th of April. I think it would be interesting to look at things from a different point of view, and since it’s not the Lebanese who are telling the stories, I believe it offers a unique insight on the civil war. Although there are a lot more cables on WikiLeaks, I won’t republish them all  in order to focus on the most relevant ones. I hope you enjoy reading them.

When people mention 1990 in Lebanon, the first thing coming to mind is Aoun’s downfall on the 13th of October. But in August 1990, a forgotten war between Syria, Amal, Hezbollah, and (indirectly) Iran was still ongoing. This post includes two cables covering the Shia infighting and the Amal-Hezbollah-Syria peace agreement of 1990. The two cables are organized chronologically

B) DAMASCUS 03433 C) FBIS NC3007112690 D) DAMASCUS E) FBIS NC 2607110790 F) DAMASCUS 4694 G) NICOSIA 4983 H) FBIS NC2907184290 I) NICOSIA 04992
1. (C) DAMASCUS HAS ADOPTED A LOW PUBLIC PROFILE ON THE AMAL-HIZBALLAH FIGHTING IN THE IQLIM AL TUFFAH, DESPITE ITS INTENSITY AND POTENTIAL CONSEQUENCES. SYRIAN MEDIA HAS GIVEN LITTLE ATTENTION TO THE BATTLES AND THE SARG APPEARS TO BE TAKING FEW, IF ANY, STEPS TO TRY TO END IT. THE FLURRY OF PUBLIC DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITY BETWEEN DAMASCUS AND TEHRAN, WHICH FOLLOWED PREVIOUS CLASHES BETWEEN THE TWO SHIA’ MILITIAS HAS NOT OCCURRED. UNLIKE ITS IRANIAN COUNTERPARTS, THE SARG HAS NOT CALLED FOR A CEASE-FIRE AMONG THE COMBATANTS. DAMASCUS IS SUPPORTING THE INTERVENTION OF THE LEBANESE ARMY INTO THE AREA, BUT PROBABLY ALSO REALIZES THE LAF CAN DO LITTLE TO STOP THE FIGHTING WITHOUT THE ACQUIESCENCE OF BOTH AMAL AND HIZBALLAH. INTERESTINGLY, AN ARTICLE IN AN NAHAR, AN INDEPENDENT WEST BEIRUT NEWSPAPER, PORTRAYED THE FIGHTING AS AN “UNDECLARED WAR” BETWEEN SYRIA AND IRAN.
——————— DAMASCUS UNCONCERNED? ———————
2. (C) DAMASCUS HAS PAID LITTLE PUBLIC ATTENTION IN THE MEDIA TO THE FIGHTING THUS FAR, FOCUSING INSTEAD ON THE HRAWI GOVERNMENT’S JULY 11 PLAN TO IMPLEMENT TA’IF. THE SARG HAS TAKEN NO STEPS AIMED AT HALTING THE FIGHTING. EVEN THOUGH, THE FIGHTING IS IN AN AREA OF LEBANON WHERE THERE IS NO CONCENTRATION OF SYRIAN TROOPS, DAMASCUS AND TEHRAN HAVE BROKERED CEASE-FIRES BETWEEN AMAL AND HIZBALLAH PREVIOUSLY. DAMASCUS PROBABLY DOES PERCEIVE AN INTEREST IN STEMMING HIZBALLAH’S ROLE AND ANY GROWTH IN INFLUENCE AS A RESULT OF THE FIGHTING. IRANIAN FORMIN VELAYATI CLAIMED IN HIS LETTER TO LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER HUSS (REF A) THAT IRAN HAS BEEN IN CONTINUOUS CONTACT AND CONSULTATION WITH THE SARG, BUT EMBASSY DAMASCUS HAS NOTED A LACK OF PUBLIC DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITY. WE HAVE DETECTED NO SHUTTLING OF IRANIAN OR SYRIAN DIPLOMATS BETWEEN THE CAPITALS OR INTO LEBANON TO TALK WITH AMAL AND HIZBALLAH OFFICIALS.
3. (S) EMBASSY HAS ALSO DETECTED NO ATTEMPT BY THE SARG TO STOP THE FLOW OF ARMS TO THE COMBATANTS. PRESS ACCOUNTS INDICATE THAT SOME OF DAMASCUS’ OTHER LEBANESE SURROGATES, SUCH AS ELIE HUBAYQA, ARE ASSISTING AMAL, WHICH PROBABLY INCLUDES SUPPLYING ARMS. IF THE SYRIANS CAN PREVENT THEIR PROXIES FROM SUPPLYING GENERAL AWN AT A MOMENT’S NOTICE (REF D), THEY ALMOST CERTAINLY COULD EXERT THE SAME INFLUENCE ON THEIR PROXIES WHO ARE SUPPLYING AMAL.
4. (S) DAMASCUS IS ALSO VOID OF ANY RUMORS HINTING THAT THE SYRIANS MAY HAVE CLOSED THE BORDER TO LEBANON TO SHUT DOWN THE THE IRANIAN PIPELINE TO HIZBALLAH OR STOPPED THE FLOW OF ARMS FROM THE BIQA’ TO THE SOUTH. CONTROL OF THESE PIPELINES ARE THE SARG’S PRINCIPAL LEVERAGE OVER THE IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS AND HIZBALLAH AND ONE THEY HAVE USED DURING PREVIOUS CLASHES BETWEEN AMAL AND HIZBALLAH. EARLIER THIS YEAR, DAMASCUS SHUT THE LEBANESE BORDER TO THE IRANIANS IN PART TO PROTEST IRAN’S SUPPLYING OF ARMS TO HIZBALLAH. WHEN THE SARG REOPENED IT, IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS AND THEIR SUPPLIES ENTERED LEBANON UNDER TIGHTER CONTROLS (REF B). UNDER THESE CONDITIONS, THE SYRIANS SHOULD BE AWARE OF WHAT IS CROSSING THE BORDER INTO LEBANON. (COMMENT: BECAUSE OF ITS CONTROL OVER THE PIPELINE, THE SARG MAY NOT HAVE BEEN CAUGHT TOTALLY OFF GUARD BY THE OUTBREAK OF FIGHTING SEVERAL WEEKS LATER, REALIZING THAT HIZBALLAH HAD BEEN RESUPPLIED.)
5. (C) THE SARG HAS ALSO ALLOWED ITS ALLY, AMAL LEADER NABIH BERRI TO PUBLICLY CALL FOR THE REMOVAL OF IRANIAN FORCES FROM LEBANON. BERRI HAS MADE SEVERAL STATEMENTS OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS REITERATING THIS POINT WITH LITTLE DETECTABLE REACTION FROM THE SARG. AMAL OFFICIALS HAVE ACCUSED IRANIAN REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS OF PARTICIPATING IN THE FIGHTING AND HAVE EVEN BLAMED THEM FOR ESCALATING IT (REF C).
———————- WHAT DAMASCUS HAS DONE ———————-
6. (C) THE SARG HAS ANNOUNCED ITS SUPPORT FOR THE INTERVENTION OF THE LEBANESE ARMY (LAF) INTO THE IQLIM AL TUFFAH IN ORDER TO HALT THE FIGHTING (REF F). LEBANESE ARMY COMMANDER GENERAL LAHUD WAS IN DAMASCUS OVER THE WEEKEND MEETING WITH GENERAL SHIHABI, ACCORDING TO LEBANESE PRESS REPORTS (REF G). THE PLAN TO INTERVENE IN THE IQLIM FIGHTING PROBABLY WAS A TOPIC OF CONVERSATION, ESPECIALLY SINCE THE LAF HAS FEW TROOPS AND WOULD BE HARD PRESSED TO GET INVOLVED BOTH IN THE IQLIM AND AID IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE JULY 11 PLAN IN BEIRUT.
——————- AN “UNDECLARED WAR” ——————-
7. (U) AN NAHAR, AN INDEPENDENT WEST BEIRUT NEWSPAPER, PUBLISHED AN ARTICLE ON JULY 25 ENTITLED “THE IQLIM AL TUFFAH WAR IS BETWEEN SYRIA AND IRAN” (REF E). THE ARTICLE QUOTED SOURCES CLOSE TO DAMASCUS AS SAYING “THE FIGHTING…BETWEEN ‘HIZBALLAH’ AND ‘THE AMAL MOVEMENT’ IN IQLIM AL TUFFAH…IS ACTUALLY AN UNDECLARED WAR BETWEEN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN AND SYRIA.” THE SYRIAN SOURCES BASED THIS CLAIM ON THREE FACTORS: — THE FAILURE OF AN INDIRECT AGREEMENT BETWEEN IRAN AND THE U.S., WHICH HAD BEEN BROKERED BY SYRIAN FORMIN SHARA’, EARLIER THIS YEAR; — IRAN’S FEARS OF THE INCREASING PROSPECTS FOR ARAB RECONCILIATION; AND — HIZBALLAH AND IRAN’S FEARS THAT THEY WILL BE LEFT OUT OF THE PLANNING FOR LEBANON’S FUTURE.
8. (C) THE ARTICLE ALSO PRESENTS THE IRANIAN VIEWS ON WHAT LED TO THE ABOVE PROBLEMS. THE IRANIAN SOURCES BELIEVE THE SYRIAN SPONSORED US-IRANIAN AGREEMENT FAILED BECAUSE OF “DAMASCUS’ CONNIVANCE WITH WASHINGTON” AND DAMASCUS ‘S FALLING INTO THE U.S. TRAP AND ITS (DAMASCUS) IGNORANCE OF THE FACT THAT “U.S. POLICY TOWARD THE IRANIAN ISLAMIC REVOLUTION…HAS NOT CHANGED.” SYRIA’S RAPPROCHEMENT WITH EGYPT AND THE NEVERENDING ATTEMPTS TO RECONCILE SYRIA AND IRAQ TRIGGERED THE SECOND IRANIAN FEAR. THE JULY 11 PLAN’S EXCLUSION OF THE SOUTHERN SUBURBS UNTIL “ALL OBSTACLES, THE MOST IMPORTANT OF WHICH ARE THE FUNDAMENTALIST MOVEMENTS, ARE OVERCOME” HEIGHTENED THE LAST IRANIAN CONCERN.
9. (C) ACCORDING TO THE ARTICLE, IT WAS THE IRANIAN FUNDAMENTALIST ANALYSIS OF THE SYRIAN STAND CONCERNING LEBANON THAT “PROMPTED THEM (IRAN AND HIZBALLAH) TO ESCALATE THE WAR IN THE IQLIM AL -TUFFAH WHERE SYRIA HAS NO DIRECT PRESENCE AND WHERE ITS ALLIES CAN NOT STAND ALONE AND … WIN.” THE ARTICLE STATES THE AIM OF THE FIGHTING IS TO SEIZE CONTROL OF TERRITORY AND MAKE IRAN AND ITS ALLIES HEARD IN LEBANON AND THE REGION. (COMMENT: LEBANESE PRESS HAS REPORTED THAT DAMASCUS HAS ASKED THE TRIPARTITE COMMITTEE TO INCLUDE HIZBALLAH IN THE EXPANDED LEBANESE CABINET. THE SARG DID SPECIFY, HOWEVER, THAT HIZBALLAH MUST FIRST ACCEPT TA’IF. IN OTHER WORDS, SARG IS DEMANDING THAT HIZBALLAH AND GENERAL AWN LIVE UP TO THE SAME CONDITIONS — AN UNLIKELY EVENT.) (REF I)
10. (C) DAMASCUS PROBABLY WILL MAINTAIN ITS PUBLIC AMBIVALENCE TOWARDS THE FIGHTING AS LONG AS AMAL HOLDS ITS OWN AGAINST HIZBALLAH, WHICH RECENT IRANIAN AND . HIZBALLAH CALLS FOR A CEASE-FIRE SEEM TO INDICATE. THE SARG CAN HIDE ITS INACTION BEHIND THE JUSTIFICATION THAT IT HAS NO TROOPS IN THE AREA TO INTERVENE.
– 11. (C) THE CURRENT WILDCARD IS THE POTENTIAL ISRAELI REACTION TO THE CONTINUED FIGHTING IN THE IQLIM. SO FAR, NEITHER THE SARG OR THE SYRIAN MEDIA HAS MADE AN ISSUE OF RECENT ISRAELI STATEMENTS THREATENING POSSIBLE INTERVENTION SHOULD THE FIGHTING THREATEN ISRAEL’S SECURITY (REF H). THE ISRAELIS MAY BE LOOKING CLOSELY AT THE PLO’S PRESENCE AND ACTIVITIES IN SOUTHERN LEBANON IN THIS REGARD.
12. (C) THE AN NAHAR ARTICLE NO DOUBT GOES TO FAR IN CASTING THE FIGHTING IN THE IQLIM AS ENTIRELY A “WAR” BETWEEN SYRIA AND IRAN BUT TENSIONS BETWEEN THE TWO SPONSORS PROBABLY ARE A FACTOR. THE ARTICLE DOES CORRECTLY HIGHLIGHT MANY OF THE RECENT EVENTS WHICH HAVE CAUSED STRAINS BETWEEN DAMASCUS AND TEHRAN. THE TWO COUNTRIES ULTIMATELY ARE AT ODDS IN THEIR VISION FOR LEBANON’S FUTURE.
DJEREJIAN
1. (U) AN IRANIAN DELEGATION LED BY IRANIAN VICE PRESIDENT DR. HASAN HABIBI MET SYRIAN COUNTERPARTS IN DAMASCUS NOVEMBER 3-5 WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE SUPREME SYRIAN-IRANIAN COUNCIL TO DISCUSS A FULL RANGE OF BILATERAL AND REGIONAL SUBJECTS. ACCOMPANYING HABIBI WERE IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VELAYATI, HIS ASSISTANT GHOLAM REZA SAN’ATI, DIRECTOR OF THE MIDDLE EAST SECTION OF THE IRANIAN MFA MAHMUD HASHEMI-RAFSANJANI, ASSISTANT DEFENSE MINISTER MUHAMMAD VAHIDI, ADVISER TO THE FOREIGN MINISTER AHMAD FAS MALIJIAN, AND CHIEF OF PROTOCOL FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT MUHAMMAD HOSEYN DANYAL.
——————————- AMAL-HIZBALLAH AGREEMENT SIGNED ——————————-
2. (U) THE SYRIAN MEDIA ON 5 NOVEMBER ANNOUNCED AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE LEBANESE SHIA AMAL AND HIZBALLAH MOVEMENTS FOLLOWING TALKS AT THE SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY WHICH REPORTEDLY BEGAN THE EVENING OF 4 NOVEMBER. THE ACCORD WAS SIGNED BY AMAL LEADER NABIH BERRI AND HIZBALLAH SECRETARY GENERAL SUBHI AL-TUFAYLI “UNDER THE AUSPICES” OF THE IRANIAN AND SYRIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS AND IN THE PRESENCE OF SYRIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF IN LEBANON, BRIGADIER GENERAL GHAZI KANAAN. ACCORDING TO THE TERMS OF THE AGREEMENT: — THE TWO SIDES WILL HELP FACILITATE THE DEPLOYMENT OF THE LEBANESE ARMY IN SOUTHERN LEBANON “IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF ITS ABILITY TO ENFORCE LAW AND ORDER.” — ANY DISAGREEMENT ON IMPLEMENTATION OF THIS AGREEMENT MUST BE RESOLVED THROUGH REFERENCE TO THE SYRIAN AND IRANIAN PARTIES AND SUBJECT TO THEIR INTERPRETATION. — ALL PERSONS EVACUATED AS A RESULT OF AMAL- HIZBALLAH FIGHTING SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO RETURN TO THEIR “AREAS, VILLAGES, AND HOMES.” — A COMMITTEE WILL BE FORMED, “COMPRISING BRIGADIER. GENERAL. GHAZI KANAAN AND (IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA) AKHTARI,” TO SUPERVISE AND FOLLOW UP IMPLEMENTATION OF THE AGREEMENT. — FURTHER TO THE APPENDIX TO THE DAMASCUS AGREE- MENT (JANUARY 30, 1989), AND IN CASE EITHER PARTY VIOLAQTHE AGREEMENT, THE “INJURED PARTY” MUST INFORM THE COMMITTEE, WHICH WILL THEN CONVENE IMMEDIATELY TO “TAKE THE NECESSARY ACTION TO DETER THE VIOLATOR WITHIN A MAXIMUM PERIOD OF 24 HOURS. IN CASE OF A CRIMINAL OFFENSE, THE ACCUSED WILL BE HANDED OVER TO THE CONCERNED AUTHORITIES.” — THE AGREEMENT WILL TAKE EFFECT AS OF 10 NOVEMBER 1990.
—————————————– NO OTHER CONCRETE ACHIEVEMENTS NOTED, YET —————————————–
3. (U) BEYOND MENTIONING HABIBI’S DESCRIPTION OF HIS TALKS AS “SUCCESSFUL AND FRUITFUL” ON HIS RETURN TO TEHRAN NOVEMBER 6, THE SYRIAN MEDIA HAS NOT PROVIDED DETAILS OF ANY SUBSTANTIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS TOWARD THE STATED GOAL OF “CHARTING A PLAN OF ACTION” TO DEVELOP BILATERAL RELATIONS “IN ALL FIELDS.” BOTH SIDES AGREED TO FORM SUBCOMMITTEES TO FOLLOW UP THE SYRIAN-IRANIAN JOINT COMMITTEE’S THREE SESSIONS ON BILATERAL COOPERATION. HABIBI MET WITH SYRIAN PRESIDENT ASAD (IN LATAKIA) ON NOVEMBER 4, AS WELL AS WITH VICE PRESIDENT KHADDAM. OTHER MEETINGS BETWEEN IRANIAN AND SYRIAN OFFICIALS DEALT WITH LEBANON AND OTHER “REGIONAL AND BILATERAL ISSUES,” ACCORDING TO THE LIMITED MEDIA REPORTING.
—————————————- EXCHANGE OF POSITIONS ON THE GULF CRISIS —————————————-
4. (C) WHILE SYRIA CONSIDERS ITS SUCCESS ENSURING IRANIAN COMPLIANCE WITH UN SANCTIONS ON IRAQ TO HAVE BEEN THE SUPREME ACCOMPLISHMENT OF ASAD’S SEPTEMBER VISIT TO IRAN, THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE TWO SIDES ABOUT THE PRESENCE OF FOREIGN FORCES APPARENTLY CONTINUE TO BE AN ISSUE. ALTHOUGH SYRIAN MEDIA HAVE BEEN LARGELY SILENT ON GULF-BELATED ISSUES (SEE SEPTEL ON INFORMATION MINISTER SALMAN’S RECENT REAFFIRMATION THAT SYRIA DEMANDS IRAQ’S FULL AND UNCONDITIONAL WITHDRAWAL FROM KUWAIT), WE NOTE THAT IRANIAN MEDIA CITED HABIBI’S NOVEMBER 4 STATEMENT THAT “ALLIED FORCES MUST WITHDRAW FROM THE REGION” AND THAT KHADDAM SAID IN RESPONSE THAT “THE PERMANENT PRESENCE OF FOREIGN FORCES HAS NOT TOLERABLE.” THE TWO SIDES ALSO RECONFIRMED THEIR REJECTION OF ANY GEOGRAPHICAL CHANGES IN THE REGION AND THEIR SUPPORT FOR COLLECTIVE REGIONAL SECURITY COOPERATION. SYRIAN PRESS ON NOVEMBER 7 QUOTED HABIBI’S ARRIVAL STATEMENT AFFIRMING SYRIA’S AND IRAN’S CONDEMNATION OF IRAQ’S INVASION OF KUWAIT AND THE TWO GOVERNMENTS’ CALL FOR IRAQ’S UNCONDITIONAL WITHDRAWAL.
——- COMMENT ——-
5. (C) THIS LATEST AGREEMENT TO END THE OFTEN BLOODY INTRA-SHIA FEUDING IN LEBANON WILL LIKELY BE THE PRINCIPAL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THIS VISIT. UPON HIS RETURN TO TEHRAN, HABIBI LAUDED THE AGREEMENT AS AN ACHIEVEMENT WHICH WILL ENABLE “THE MOBILIZATION OF ALL CAPABILITIES TO CONFRONT THE ZIONIST ENEMY.” HIZBALLAH LEADER AL-TUFAYLI ECHOED THIS SENTIMENT WHILE AMAL LEADER BERRI, BY CONTRAST, MERELY VOICED THE HOPE THAT AMAL AND HIZBALLAH MEMBERS WILL BE ABLE TO “RETURN TO THEIR HOMES AND VILLAGES.” 6. (C) THE ABSENCE OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ABOUT OTHER ASPECTS OF THE VISIT MAY REFLECT DISAGREEMENTS OVER THORNY BILATERAL MATTERS LIKE ECONOMIC ASSISTANCE. OUR COLLEAGUES TELL US THAT ASAD DID NOT OVERCOME THE RESISTANCE TO CONTINUED OR INCREASED ECONOMIC AID TO SYRIA BY CERTAIN HARDLINE IRANIAN CLERICS, BECAUSE OF SYRIA’S 5.5 BILLION USD DEBT, DURING ASAD’S VISIT TO TEHRAN. AS A RESULT, NO CONCRETE TRADE AGREEMENTS WERE SIGNED, ALTHOUGH SYRIA IS STILL TAKING ADVANTAGE OF CONTINUED IRANIAN WILLINGNESS TO SELL IT OIL AT BELOW-MARKET RATES. WHETHER THESE REPORTS ARE TRUE, IT DOES NOT APPEAR FROM THE COMPOSITION OF THE IRANIAN DELEGATION OR THE MODEST SYRIAN MEDIA COVERAGE THAT THIS FIRST GATHERING OF THE SYRIAN-IRANIAN SUPREME COUNCIL WILL RESULT IN HIGHER IRANIAN AID LEVELS FOR SYRIA.
DJEREJIAN
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The War Files (Part XI) – The Muslim Infighting Of 1985 And 1986

A Shiite Muslim AMAL militiaman fires his AK-47 assault rifle during skirmishes with Druse irregulars on Corniche Mazraa road, West Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 20, 1987. (photo credit: AP)

A Shiite Muslim AMAL militiaman fires his AK-47 assault rifle during skirmishes with Druse irregulars on Corniche Mazraa road, West Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 20, 1987. (photo credit: AP)

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War that started on the 13th of April 1975. This is why I’ve decided to publish WikiLeaks cables from the war era, every day till the 13th of April. I think it would be interesting to look at things from a different point of view, and since it’s not the Lebanese who are telling the stories, I believe it offers a unique insight on the civil war. Although there are a lot more cables on WikiLeaks, I won’t republish them all  in order to focus on the most relevant ones. I hope you enjoy reading them.

Today’s post is about cables covering the Muslim/Palestinian/Sunni/Shia chaos and infighting (between Amal, Hezbollah, Palestinian militias, the PSP, the Mourabitoun – among others) that happened in the last years of the war. The cables are organized chronologically.

POLITICAL RAMIFICATIONS OF WEST BEIRUT FIGHTING
1985 April 18, 17:56 (Thursday)
85BEIRUT2325_a
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL
— Not Assigned —
1. CONFIDENTIAL – ENTIRE TEXT.
2. SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION. FOLLOWING MAJOR FIGHTING ON THE NIGHT OF APRIL 16-17, A TENSE CALM NOW PREVAILS IN WEST BEIRUT. SHIITE AMAL MOVEMENT LEADER NABIH BARRI EMERGED AS THE PRIME VICTOR IN THE INTRAMUSLIM FIGHTING. STATEMENTS MADE BY THE VARIOUS LEADERS TRACK WITH OUR ANALYSIS (REFTEL A) THAT THE FIGHTING REFLECTED TWO MAJOR CONFLICTS: LEBANESE SHIA VS. LEBANESE SUNNI AND LEBANESE SHIA VS. PALESTINIANS. THE AMAL MOVEMENT, WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE DRUZE PSP AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE “NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT,” HAS DEALT A SEVERE BLOW TO THE SUNNI MURABITUN MILITIA AND HAS COME OUT OF THE AFFAIR WITH ITS POSITION AS THE STRONGEST POLITICAL AND MILITARY FORCE IN WEST BEIRUT CONFIRMED AND ENHANCED.
3. THE SYRIAN ROLE REMAINS UNCLEAR, BUT MANY HERE SPECULATE THAT DAMASCUS MUST HAVE CONDONED THE AMAL/PSP MOVE AGAINST THE MURABITUN AND ITS PRO-ARAFAT PALESTINIAN ALLIES AND MAY HAVE, IN FACT, ACTIVELY SUPPORTED THE CLASH.
4. IN HIS RESIGNATION STATEMENT, PRIME MINISTER RASHID KARAMI EXPRESSED DESPAIR OVER THE APRIL 16-17 FIGHTING, POINTED AN ACCUSING FIGURE AT DAMASCUS, AND ASKED FOR SYRIA TO HELP RESOLVE THE ENSUING CRISIS. IT IS TOO SOON TO MAKE ANY FIRM PREDICTIONS AS TO WHO THE NEXT PRIME MINISTER MAY BE OR WHAT FORM THE NEW CABINET MAY TAKE, BUT WE SET FORTH BELOW SOME OF THE RELEVANT FACTORS.
END SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION.
——————————- AMAL, BACKED BY PSP, VICTORIOUS ——————————-
5. THE DUST IS NOW SETTLING IN WEST BEIRUT AFTER VERY HEAVY FIGHTING OCCURRED ON THE NIGHT OF APRIL 16-17, RESULTING IN APPROXIMATELY THIRTY PERSONS KILLED AND ONE HUNDRED WOUNDED. BEIRUT AIRPORT REMAINS OPERATIONAL, AND THE GREEN LINE IS PARTIALLY OPEN, BUT SPORADIC SNIPING CONTINUES IN VARIOUS AREAS OF WEST BEIRUT.
6. IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, STATEMENTS BY KEY LEADERS CONFIRMED OUR EARLIER ANALYSIS THAT THE EVENTS OF APRIL 16-17 REFLECTED A SHIA-SUNNI CONFLICT. THE SHIITE AMAL MILITIA, BACKED BY THE DRUZE PSP, HIT HARD AT THE SUNNI MURABITUN MILITIA, REPORTEDLY TAKING CONTROL OF ALL SIGNIFICANT MURABITUN POSITIONS, INCLUDING THE “VOICE OF ARAB LEBANON” RADIO STATION LOCATED IN THE ABDUL NASR MOSQUE.
7. THE REACTION OF SUNNI LEADERS HAS BEEN STRONG. PRIME MINISTER KARAMI RESIGNED (SEE BELOW), AND THE GRAND MUFTI OF THE REPUBLIC, SHEIKH HASSAN KHALID, STRONGLY CONDEMNED THE SHIA FOR STRIKING AGAINST TRADITIONALLY SUNNI WEST BEIRUT. “IT IS INADMISSIBLE FOR BEIRUT TO BE STRUCK AND HUMILIATED AND ITS AUTHORITY SEIZED BY THOSE VERY PEOPLE THAT IT PROTECTED AND WILL CONTINUE TO PROTECT…BY THOSE THAT IT WELCOMED AND HONORED AND WILL CONTINUE TO WELCOME AND HONOR.” THE MUFTI ADDED THAT THE SUNNIS WOULD NOT PERMIT THE INHABITANTS OF WEST BEIRUT TO BE “STRUCK AS IF THEY HAD BECOME ISRAELI AGENTS.” EXPRESSING SOLIDARITY WITH PRIME MINISTER KARAMI, FORMER PM TAKIADDIN SOLH STRONGLY REGRETTED THE FIGHTING WHICH “OPPOSED PARTIES STRUGGLING FOR A COMMON CAUSE…WHO SHOULD DIRECT THEIR WEAPONS EXCLUSIVELY AGAINST THE ISRAELI ENEMY.”
8. AMAL LEADER NABIH BARRI RESPONDED VEHEMENTLY TO THE MUFTI’S NOTION THAT THE SHIA WERE GUESTS IN TRADITIONALLY SUNNI WEST BEIRUT. “BEIRUT IS MY CITY AND MY CAPTIAL,” HE SAID, “WE WILL NOT ACCEPT CANTONS THAT DEFINE US AS FOREIGNERS WHEN WE ARE PEOPLE OF THE HOUSE.” SUPPORTING BARRI’S STATEMENT, THE DRUZE PSP SAID IT “COULD NOT UNDERSTAND…HOW HE (THE MUFTI) COULD QUALIFY CERTAIN RESIDENTS OF WEST BEIRUT (I.E., THE SHIA) AS INTRUDERS. …THOSE WHO DEFEND WITH THEIR BLOOD THE CAPITAL AGAINST FASCIST-PHALANGE AGRESSION, THOSE WHO STRUGGLE SO THAT BEIRUT WILL REMAIN ARAB AND FREE CANNOT BE CALLED INTRUDERS.”
9. IN THE SECOND INSTANCE, THE APRIL 16-17 FIGHTING WAS A SHIA-PALESTINIAN SET-TO. THE SHIA, BACKED BY THE DRUZE, STRUCK HARD NOT ONLY AT THE SUNNI MURABITUN BUT ALSO AT THE PRO-ARAFAT PALESTINIANS CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH THE MURABITUN. THEIR SUCCESS IN DOING SO, HOWEVER, WAS LESS OVERWHELMING, IN PART BECAUSE THE PALESTINIANS APPARENTLY DID NOT “RISE TO THE BAIT” AND PARTICIPATE IN THE FIGHTING WITH ALL THEIR FORCE. SINCE THE FIGHTING, AMAL AND PSP HAVE REPORTEDLY ESTABLISHED CHECKPOINTS AROUND THE PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMPS, TIGHTENING CONTROL OVER THE INFLUX OF ARMS.
10. IN A MAJOR PUBLIC STATEMENT, AMAL HIT HARD AT THE PALESTINIANS. BARRI CALLED THE FIGHTING A “NIGHTMARE” IN WHICH HIS AMAL MILITIA CONFRONTED “AN UPRISING CAREFULLY PLANNED BY ARAB HANDS EXPLOITING SECTARIAN IDEAS, FOREIGNERS, INTRUDERS, AND GUESTS IN BEIRUT.” BARRI ASKED RHETORICALLY “WHY SOME OUTSIDERS (I.E., THE PALESTINIANS) ARE CONSIDERED AS GUESTS, EVEN IF THEY COME FROM ANOTHER REGION AND ANOTHER CONFESSION, WHILE THE REAL GUESTS IN BEIRUT (I.E., THE SHIA), WHO HAD THE HONOR OF LIBERATING THE CITY FROM THE CHAINS OF MAY 17 AND THE AGENTS OF ISRAEL, ARE NOT WELL LOOKED UPON…”
11. ON THE GROUND, THE VICTORS HAVE MOVED TO CONSOLIDATE THEIR GAINS. LEADERS OF AMAL, PSP, AND THE SMALLER MEMBERS OF THE LEFTIST “NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT” (SYRIAN SOCIALIST NATIONAL PARTY, LEBANESE COMMUNIST PARTY, SYRIAN ARAB BAATH PARTY) MET AT BARRI’S WEST BEIRUT RESIDENCE ON APRIL 17 AND ANNOUNCED THE FORMATION OF A UNIFIED MILITARY COMMAND TO ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN ORDER IN WEST BEIRUT (A THROW-BACK TO AN IDEA FIRST FIELDED AFTER THE FEBRUARY 6, 1984, FIGHTING AND DROPPED AFTER STIFF SUNNI RESISTANCE). THIS GROUP PLANS TO SET UP AN OPERATIONS ROOM AND A BUREAU OF CITIZENS AFFAIRS. IT SAYS IT WILL ALSO COMMAND A JOINT “STRIKE FORCE” INITIALLY COMPRISING 300 MEN, TO BE DOUBLED TO 600, DRAWN IN EQUAL NUMBERS FROM AMAL, THE PSP, AND THE JUNIOR MEMBERS OF THE NDF. ACCORDING TO THE BEIRUT DAILY, “LE REVEIL,” WEST BEIRUT NEIGHBORHOODS HAVE BEEN PARCELED OUT AMONG THESE GROUPS. AMAL IS REPORTEDLY RESPONSIBLE FOR SECURITY IN TARIQ AL-JADIDAH, FAKAHANI, MAZRAH, AND KARAKAS; THE PSP IN RAS BEIRUT, HAMRA, AYN AL-MURAYSA, MINAT AL-HISN, MUSAYTIBAH, AND RAWSHAH; AND THE VARIOUS SMALLER GROUPS UNDER THE EGIS OF THE PSP IN SMALL, TOKEN SECTIONS OF TERRITORY.
12. NOTABLY ABSENT FROM REPRESENTATION ON THE UNIFIED MILITARY COMMAND OR IN THE DIVISION OF SPOILS IS ANY SUNNI MUSLIM GROUP. LACK OF GOL OR LAF PARTICIPATION GOES WITHOUT SAYING. MORE THAN EVER BEFORE, NABIH BARRI HAS ESTABLISHED HIMSELF AS THE STRONGMAN OF WEST BEIRUT. THROUGH THE FORMATION OF THE UNIFIED MILITARY COMMAND AND THE ANNOUNCED FORMATION OF A “POLITICAL HIGH COMMAND,” THE SHIITE AMAL MOVEMENT WITH ITS ALLIES IS CONSOLIDATING AND FORMALIZING ITS CONTROL OF WEST BEIRUT. THIS WILL BE A BITTER PILL FOR THE SUNNI COMMUNITY TO SWALLOW.
———– SYRIAN ROLE ———–
13. THERE AS BEEN MUCH SPECULATION AND LITTLE CONCRETE EVIDENCE CONCERNING THE ROLE THAT SYRIA MAY HAVE PLAYED IN THE APRIL 16-17 FIGHTING. AS WE ANTICIPATED (REFTEL A), THE FACT THAT NABIH BARRI HAD JUST RETURNED FROM DAMACUS BEFORE THE FIGHTING HAS FUELED SPECULATION THAT SYRIA CONDONED AND PERHAPS ACTIVELY SUPPORTED THE MOVE AGAINST THE MURABITUN AND, ESPECIALLY, AGAINST THE PRO-ARAFAT PALESTINIANS. ACCORDING TO THIS LINE OF REASONING, SYRIA MAY NEXT UNLEASH AMAL AND THE PSP AGAINST THE PRO-ARAFAT PALESTINIANS IN THE BEIRUT SOUTHERN SUBURBS AND IN SIDON. IN ANY EVENT, SYRIA IS CERTAINLY WATCHING DEVELOPMENTS HERE CLOSELY AND IS APPARENTLY NOT UNHAPPY WITH THE COURSE THEY HAVE TAKEN SO FAR.
14. IN HIS RESIGNATION STATEMENT (REFTEL B.), PRIME MINISTER KARAMI EXPRESSED DEEP DESPAIR OVER THE VIOLENCE IN WEST BEIRUT. HE OBLIQUELY BUT CLEARLY BLAMED SYRIA FOR THE “GRAVE AND SERIOUS” EVENTS AND CALLED ON IT TO HELP SORT OUT THE CRISIS. ON APRIL 18, KARAMI DEPARTED FOR DAMASCUS TO MEET WITH SARG LEADERS.
—————————- REPLACING THE PRIME MINISTER —————————-
15. THE IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCE OF THIS LATEST BATTLE IN WEST BEIRUT WAS TO FORCE THE RESIGNATION OF PRIME MINISTER KARAMI WHO, CONFRONTED WITH BARRI’S SUCCESSFUL ATTACK ON SUNNI INTERESTS, HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO RESIGN. THE SELECTION OF A NEW SUNNI PRIME MINISTER IS SUBJECT TO A NUMBER OF RESTRAINTS. FOREMOST IS THE UNLIKELIHOOD OF ANY SUNNI NOTABLE AGREEING TO REPLACE THE DESPAIRING KARAMI UNDER THE PRESENT CONDITIONS. KARAMI CLEARLY FELT HUMILIATED BY THE EVENTS OF APRIL 16-17; NO SELF-RESPECTING SUNNI WOULD OVERTLY ATTEMPT TO PROFIT BY THE “EFFENDI’S” DISCOMFITURE. SECONDLY, IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO PERSUADE A SUNNI LEADER TO PRESIDE OVER A CABINET WITH AN UNREPENTANT BARRI AND JUMBLATT PRESENT. FINALLY, SYRIA’S APPROVAL OF THE NEW PRIME MINISTER WILL BE REQUIRED. NOT KNOWING SYRIA’S EXACT ROLE AND INTENTIONS IN THE EVENTS IN THE WEST, THE PROSPECTIVE SUNNI CANDIDATES WILL BE WARY.
16. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE CAN FORESEE ONE FORM WHICH A POSSIBLE SOLUTION MIGHT TAKE. FOR EXAMPLE, A MEETING OF SUNNI RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL NOTABLES AT THE DAR AL-FATWA, THE SEAT OF THE GRAND MUFTI, MIGHT ISSUE A SET OF CONDITIONS THAT WOULD HAVE TO BE MET BEFORE A SUNNI COULD ACCEPT THE PREMIERSHIP. THIS WOULD ALLOW THE NEW PRIME MINISTER TO CLAIM THE BACKING OF THE SUNNI COMMUNITY FOR NEW TERMS FOR HIS PARTICIPATION, THUS MORE OR LESS TURNING THE PAGE ON KARAMI’S RESIGNATION. WE CANNOT PRECLUDE THAT, UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, KARAMI HIMSELF MIGHT NOT BE REINCARNATED.
17. POSSIBLE PRECONDITIONS (APART FROM CONCILIATORY STATEMENTS AND GESTURES FROM AMAL AND THE PSP) INCLUDE AN AGREEMENT THAT BARRI AND JUMBLATT WOULD PARTICIPATE IN CABINET MEETINGS, AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF AN EFFECTIVE SECURITY PLAN FOR THE SUNNI HEARTLANDS OF WEST BEIRUT, SIDON, AND POSSIBLY TRIPOLI. ANY OF THE ABOVE CONCESSIONS WOULD BE HARD TO EXTRACT FROM THE SHIA, WHO ARE RIDING HIGH AT PRESENT. THUS THE CABINET CRISIS MIGHT BECOME A DRAWN-OUT AFFAIR.
———————— FORMING A NEW GOVERNMENT ————————
18. AS FOR THE FORMATION OF A NEW GOVERNMENT, WE SEE TWO PRIMARY OPTIONS. THE FIRST, A SMALL CABINET MUCH LIKE THE OUTGOING “NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT,” APPEARS DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE UNDER PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES. BASICALLY THE SAME PERSONALITIES WOULD BE INVOLVED, AND THE SAME ANIMOSITIES WOULD REAPPEAR. IN SUM, THE DIFFICULTIES FACED BY THE KARAMI GOVERNMENT ARE PROBABLY TOO DEEP TO BE SIMPLY PAPERED OVER, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THE RISE OF SHIA POWER VIS-A-VIS THEIR SUNNI CORELIGIONISTS. THE SECOND, AN ENLARGED GOVERNMENT, RUMORS OF WHICH HAVE BEEN CIRCULATING FOR SEVERAL MONTHS, MIGHT PROVE A MORE FEASIBLE OPTION. IN THIS CASE, WE WOULD POINT OUT THE REPUTATION OF FORMER PRIME MINISTER TAKIADDIN SOLH AS A CONCILIATOR PRESIDING OVER LARGE GOVERNMENTS (THOUGH AGAIN, WE RECALL KARAMI’S PHOENIX-LIKE QUALITIES).
BARTHOLOMEW
CONTINUED WAR FOR THE PALESTINIAN CAMPS — ANOTHER SYRIAN FAILURE?
1986 December 1, 15:26 (Monday)
86DAMASCUS7104_a
SECRET
SECRET
— Not Assigned —
1. SECRET – ENTIRE TEXT.
2. SUMMARY: AS REFTELS POINT OUT, SYRIA APPEARS TO BE FACING A SUBSTANTIAL DEFEAT IF IT IS NOT ABLE TO QUICKLY AND RESOLUTELY RESOLVE THE LATEST ROUND IN THE “WAR OF THE CAMPS” IN LEBANON. WE BELIEVE, HOWEVER, THAT THIS LATEST ROUND OF FIGHTING ALREADY REPRESENTS A SUBSTANTIAL FAILURE OF SYRIAN POLICY WHICH THREATENS TO ERODE DAMASCUS’ STRATEGY TOWARDS THE PALESTINIANS AND ITS EFFORTS TO SABOTAGE THE PALESTINIAN RECONCILIATION PROCESS NOW GOING ON. FURTHER IT DAMAGES SYRIA’S IMAGE WITHIN THE ARAB AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY AND INCREASINGLY CONTRIBUTES TO DISSENT WITHIN THE POLICY- MAKING PROCESS IN DAMASCUS ITSELF. END SUMMARY.
3. WE CONCUR WITH EMBASSY BEIRUT (REFTEL) THAT THE CONTINUED FIGHTING BETWEEN AMAL AND THE PALESTINIANS, IN WHICH AMAL PERFORMANCE HAS BEEN SADLY DEFICIENT, REPRESENTS A MAJOR DILEMMA FOR SYRIAN POLICY-MAKERS. INDEED, WE WOULD GO FURTHER AND SAY THAT THE FAILURE TO RESOLVE THE FIGHTING AT THIS POINT ON TERMS ACCEPTABLE TO AMAL AND THE SYRIANS ALREADY REPRESENTS A SEVERE SYRIAN DEFEAT AND THREATENS TO FURTHER UNRAVEL DAMASCUS’ ALREADY DISINTEGRATING PALESTINIAN POLICY. 
4. A JORDANIAN JOURNALIST WITH EXCELLENT PALESTINIAN CONTACTS HAS TOLD US THAT IN THE CURRENT NEGOTIATIONS FOR A CEASEFIRE, THE PFLP — THE ONLY MEMBER OF THE SYRIAN-BACKED PNSF WITH SUBSTANTIAL POPULAR SUPPORT AMONG THE PALESTINIANS — HAS TAKEN A DECIDEDLY ANTI-SYRIAN LINE AND HAS SPLIT WITH THE MORE TRACTABLE PRO-SYRIAN ORGANIZATIONS, INCLUDING THE ABU MUSA FATAH GROUP, THE PFLP-GC, AND SAIQA. ACCORDING TO THIS SOURCE, THE PFLP IS NEGOTIATING ON BEHALF OF ITSELF, THE DFLP, FATAH AND THE ABU NIDAL ORGANIZATION WITHIN THE CAMPS. SPECIFICALLY, THE PFLP NEGOTIATORS REFUSE TO TURN OVER TERRITORIES GAINED IN THE SIDON AREA TO ANYONE BUT MUSTAFA SA’ID’S POPULAR NASSARISTS MOVEMENT. THE SCENARIO WE HAVE RECEIVED OF NEGOTIATIONS POSITS GREAT BITTERNESS BETWEEN THE PALESTINIANS AS A WHOLE ON THE ONE HAND AND NABIH BERRI AND THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT ON THE OTHER, AS WELL AS A GREAT DEAL OF BACK-BITING WITHIN BOTH THE PALESTINIAN AND LEBANESE GROUPINGS.
5. THE MILITARY FAILURE ON THE GROUND IN LEBANON IS NOT DAMASCUS’ ONLY DILEMMA. AS IN PREVIOUS SYRIAN EFFORTS TO SUBJUGATE THE PALESTINIANS IN THE LEBANESE REFUGEE CAMPS THROUGH THE USE OF DAMASCUS’ AMAL SURROGATE, THE LATEST FIGHTING HAS CREATED GREAT BITTERNESS AMONG OTHER ARAB GOVERNMENTS. DAMASCUS IS PRESENTLY OR HAS RECENTLY BEEN HOST TO A VARIETY OF SENIOR ARAB AND ISLAMIC ENVOYS — ALGERIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IBRAHIMI, LIBYA’S MAJOR JALLUD, SAUDI INTERIOR MINISTER PRINCE NAIF, AND A NUMBER OF SENIOR IRANIAN OFFICIALS. WHILE JALLUD AND THE IRANIANS HAVE BECOME PERSONALLY INVOLVED IN THE PALESTINIAN/LEBAN- ESE NEGOTIATIONS, WE UNDERSTAND THAT BOTH THE ALGERIAN AND THE SAUDI DELIVERED TOUGH MESSAGES TO ASAD REGARDING THIS LATEST ASSAULT ON THE PALESTINIANS. THE SYRIANS MAY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO TAKE SOME SMALL COMFORT IN THE ANNOUNCE- MENT BY THE “PAN-ARAB COMMAND” CALLING FOR SOLIDARITY WITH SYRIA AGAINST THE AMERICAN, BRITISH AND ISRAELI CONSPIRACY AGAINST IT, SUPPORT FOR AMAL, AND A REDEFINI- TION OF THE PALESTINIAN ROLE IN LEBANON. THIS ORGANIZATION IS, HOWEVER, ONE OF LITTLE STANDING AMONG THE ARAB STATES AS A WHOLE, TO SAY THE LEAST, AND IS LARGELY A SYRIAN-LIBYAN CREATURE. INDEED, EVEN THIS MINOR “VICTORY” AND JALLUD’S VERY CAREFUL STATEMENT OF MEASURED SUPPORT HAVE BEEN CONTRADICTED BY LIBYAN LEADER MO’AMMAR QADHAFI’S LATEST BLAST CONDEMNING AMAL. —
6. AS WE UNDERSTAND IT, NOT ALL THE LEBANESE GATHERED HERE ARE IN FULL SUPPORT OF SYRIA EITHER. WHILE NONE WANT TO SEE THE RECREATION OF THE PALESTINIAN “STATE- WITHIN-A-STATE” IN LEBANON, FEW ARE IN AGREEMENT WITH SYRIA THAT THIS TYPE OF MILITARY ACTION AGAINST THE CAMPS IS IN THE INTERESTS OF THE LEBANESE. AS THEY SEE IT, LEBANESE MILITIAS ARE BEING ASKED TO DO SYRIA’S WORK FOR IT AND TO SHOULDER THE BLAME WITHIN THE ARAB COMMUNITY. DRUSE LEADER WALID JUMBLATT, ACCORDING TO REPORTS, FEELS PARTICULARLY SQUEEZED. AMAL’S SH’IA RIVALS, HIZBALLAH, ARE NOT PARTICIPATING IN NEGOTIATIONS, AND, AS IN THE PAST, HAVE REFRAINED FROM GETTING INVOLVED IN THE FIGHTING. AT THE SAME TIME, HIZBALLAH’S IRANIAN MENTORS ARE PARTICULARLY ACTIVE HERE. OF INTEREST, PALESTINIANS TOLD OUR JORDANIAN SOURCE THAT SHAYKHOLESLAM EXPRESSED DEEP SYMPATHY FOR THE PALESTINIAN POSITION WHEN MEETING WITH PNSF LEADERS ON NOVEMBER 24. ON THE EVENING OF NOVEMBER 27, HOWEVER, SHAYKHOLESLAM RETURNED TO THE PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP COLDLY BEARING BERRI’S PROPOSALS. WE DO NOT, NEVERTHELESS, BELIEVE THAT IRAN’S BASIC DISAGREEMENT WITH THE SYRIAN STRATEGY TOWARDS LEBANON HAS CHANGED IN ANY WAY. THEY WANT TO TAKE ASAD’S “LEBANESE CARD” AWAY FROM HIM.
7. WHAT IS CLEAR IS THAT THE PNSF LEADERS BLINDLY LOYAL TO DAMASCUS DO NOT HAVE ANY REAL ABILITY TO DELIVER THE PALESTINIAN FIGHTERS IN THE TYRE, SIDON, OR BEIRUT CAMPS. WHAT IS NOW AT STAKE FOR DAMASCUS IS NOT MERELY AN EMBARRASSMENT THROUGH A MILITARY DEFEAT FOR ITS LEBANESE SURROGATES. RATHER, SYRIA IS FACED WITH BITTER DIVISIONS WITHIN ITS OWN UMBRELLA PALESTINIAN ORGANIZA- TION THAT COULD FINALLY TEAR IT APART, LEAVING A RUMP OF “YES-MEN” WITH NO BROAD PALESTINIAN POPULAR SUPPORT. SYRIA COULD LOSE ITS “PALESTINIAN CARD.” —
8. THIS PARALLELS THE CURRENT STAGES OF THE PALESTINIAN RECONCILIATION EFFORT, WITH PFLP LEADER GEORGE HABASH NOW IN THE THIRD ROUND OF NEGOTIATIONS WITH FATAH NUMBER TWO MAN KHALIL AL-WAZIR IN ALGIERS. ALTHOUGH HABASH CONTINUES TO HOLD OUT FOR HIS DEMANDS THAT INCLUDE PRIOR ABROGATION OF THE AMMAN ACCORDS, IMPLEMENTATION OF THE ADEN-ALGIERS AGREEMENTS, AND PLO BREAKING OFF ITS CONTACTS WITH EGYPT, THE FACT THAT THE NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE IS DEEPLY DISTURBING TO DAMASCUS. KHALID FAHOUM HAS TOLD WESTERN DIPLOMATS THAT THE SYRIANS HAVE INFORMED THE DAMASCUS-BASED PALESTINIANS THAT ANY OF THEM ATTENDING AN ALGERIAN PNC WILL NOT BE PERMITTED TO RETURN TO SYRIA.
9. COMMENT: THE CAMPS WAR REPRESENTS A MULTIFACETED, COMPLEX DILEMMA FOR DAMASCUS. ITS IMPACT IS NOT MERELY ONE OF SYRIAN PRESTIGE AND SUPPORT OF ITS AMAL ALLY. IT HAS SIGNIFICANT IMPLICATIONS FOR ASAD’S PALESTINIAN POLICY, HIS IMAGE WITHIN THE ARAB WORLD, AND HIS PERSONAL RELATIONS WITH ARAB AND OTHER INTERNATIONAL – INCLUDING SOVIET – LEADERS. CLOSER TO HOME, WE BELIEVE THAT THERE IS INTENSE INTERNAL DEBATE AMONG ASAD’S LIEUTENANTS AS TO HOW TO DEAL WITH BOTH THE CAMPS WAR AND LEBANON AS A WHOLE. THUS FAR, ASAD DOES NOT SEEM TO HAVE A GRIP ON THE SITUATION. THE LONGER THIS REMAINS THE CASE, THE MORE ROOM HIS LIEUTENANTS WILL HAVE TO MANEUVER AND TO INTRIGUE AGAINST ONE ANOTHER. SEVERAL KEY SYRIAN OFFICIALS, AMONG THEM VICE PRESIDENT KHADDAM AND MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF ALI DUBA, HAVE GREAT PERSONAL INVOLVEMENT IN THE EVOLUTION OF SYRIA’S LEBANESE AND PALESTINIAN POLICIES. FAILURE IS NOT USUALLY PERMITTED BY DAMASCUS UNDER ASAD. HOWEVER, AS WE LOOK AROUND HERE, FAILURE SEEMS TO BE BECOMING AN INCREASING PHENOMENA WITHIN SYRIAN INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC POLICY.
10. MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.
RANSOM
1. (SECRET/NOFORN – ENTIRE TEXT)
2. SUMMARY: THE WAR OF THE CAMPS IN LEBANON CONTINUES UNABATED WITH FIERCE FIGHTING. NOT SURPRISINGLY, LEBANESE POLITICIANS HAVE DIFFERING VIEWS ON THE WAR, DEPENDING ON THEIR POLITICAL OPTIC. THERE FOLLOWS OBSER- VATIONS BY SEVERAL LEBANESE POLITICIANS IN CONVERSATIONS WITH AMBASSADOR DECEMBER 3 AND 4. END SUMMARY.
3. THE CAMPS WAR BETWEEN THE PALESTINIANS AND THE SHIA AMAL FORCES CONTINUES TO RAGE. NOW IN ITS SIXTH WEEK, A MAJOR STRATEGIC CONFRONTATION CONTINUES AROUND SIDON. THE RASHADIYAH CAMP NEAR TYRE REMAINS ENCIRCLED. SHATILA AND BURJ AL-BURAJINAH IN BEIRUT’S SOUTHERN SUBURBS CONTINUE UNDER RELENTLESS BOMBARDMENT. AS REPORTED BY DAO/BEIRUT, ELEMENTS OF THE MUSLIM 6TH AND 1ST BRIGADES OF THE LEBANESE ARMY HAVE JOINED WITH AMAL IN THE SIEGES OF SHATILA AND BURJ AL-BURAJINAH. THE SYRIANS ARE PROVIDING AMMO AND LOGISTIC SUPPORT TO AMAL. THERE ARE UNCONFIRMED REPORTS OF UP TO 300 SYRIAN TROOPS IN AMAL UNIFORMS JOINING THE FIGHTING.
4. NATIONAL LIBERALS PARTY PRESIDENT DANY CHAMOUN (MARONITE CHRISTIAN) TOLD AMBASSADOR THAT HE IS DELIGHTED WITH THE WAR OF THE CAMPS. CHAMOUN SAID THAT AS LONG AS THE SHIA AND THE PALESTINIANS ARE KILLING ONE ANOTHER AND LEAVING THE CHRISTIANS ALONE, THE SITUATION IS JUST FINE.
5. FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER FUAD BUTROS (ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN) SEES THE CAMPS WAR AS ENHANCING THE POSSIBILITY OF A RAPPROCHEMENT BETWEEN LEBANESE PRESIDENT GEMAYEL AND SYRIAN PRESIDENT ASSD. BUTROS SAID THAT SYRIAN FAILURE TO HAVE THEIR SURROGATE AMAL FIGHTERS ACHIEVE VICTORY OVER THE PALESTINIANS HAS FURTHER UNDERMINED ASSAD’S POSITION, WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN WEAKENED BY WESTERN PRESSURE FOLLOWING THE REVELATIONS OF SYRIAN- SPONSORED TERRORIST ACTS. BUTROS BELIEVES THAT BECAUSE ASSAD IS WEAKENED, HE WILL BE MORE LIKELY TO BE ACCOMMODATING TO GEMAYEL. –
6. SHIA MODERATE DEPUTY RAFIQ SHAHIN (WHOSE CONSTITUENCY OF NABATIYAH INCLUDES THE MAGHDUSHAH AREA WHICH COMMANDS THE HEIGHTS OVERLOOKING SIDON) VIEWS THE WAR AS A SERIOUS CHALLENGE TO THE SHIA POSITION. SHAHIN TOLD THE AMBASSADOR THAT THE SHIA CANNOT AFFORD TO ALLOW THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PALESTINIAN ENCLAVE CENTERED AROUND SIDON AND INCLUDING THE HEIGHTS OF MAGHDUSHAH. IF THE PALESTINIANS SUCCEED IN ESTABLISHING AND HOLDING SUCH AN ENCLAVE, SOUTHERN LEBANON AND THE SHIA WILL BE CUT IN HALF. THE PALESTINIANS WILL CONTROL ACCESS BETWEEN BEIRUT AND THE SOUTH AND WILL BE IN A POSITION TO CHOKE IT OFF AT ANY TIME. FURTHERMORE, PALESTINIAN RETENTION OF MAGHDUSHAH WILL PUT THE PALESTINIANS WITHIN A KILOMETER OR TWO OF LAHAD’S ISRAELI-SPONSORED “ARMY OF SOUTH LEBANON.” SHAHIN SAID LAHAD’S MILITIA OCCUPIES THE TERRAIN BETWEEN JEZZINE AND SIDON, OVERLOOKING MAGHDUSHAH. SHAHIN ASSERTED THAT A PALISTIANH CLAVE AROUND SIDO, WOULD MEAN UNREMITTING PALESTINIAN OPERATIONS AGAINST LAHAD AND ISRAEL.
7. SHAHIN DESCRIBED AMAL LEADE NABIH BERRI’S POSITION AS UNDER GREAT PRESSURE FROM ALL SIDES. IF BERRI AND AMAL CANNOT REMOVE THE PALESTINIANS AROUND SIDON AND FORCE THEM BACK INTO THE CAMPS, BERRI AND AMAL AS A COHESIVE MOVEMENT WILL BE FINISHED. THE DIVIDED SHIA COMMUNITY WOULD THEN BE PREY TO EVEN MORE EXPLOITATION BY THE IRANIAN-SPONSORED HIZBALLAH EXTREMISTS. –
8. SHAHIN SAID THAT BECAUSE OF OQE CURRENT SITUATION, HIZBALLAH FIGHTERS ARE FIGHTING AND DYING WITH AMAL. SHAHIN’S SON IN NABITIYAH DESCRIBED TO SHAHIN DECEMBER 3 THE FUNERAL OF 15 SHIA FROM ONE VILLAGE: 12 AMAL FIGHTERS AND 3 HIZBALLAH. SHAHIN SAID HIZBALLAH IS ALSO COOPERATING WITH AMAL AROUND TYRE AND IN BEIRUT. THE HIZBALLAH LEADERSHIP DOES NOT LIKE SUPPORTING BERRI BUT BECAUSE OF THE EXTENSIVE BLOODSHED, THE SHIA ARE UNITED AGAINST THE PALESTINIANS.
9. SHAHIN ALSO DESCRIBED BLOODY ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY BOTH SIDES AGAINST NON-COMBATTANTS, WOUNDED, AND PRISONERS. 10. SHAHIN ALSO THOUGHT THAT THE FAILURE THUS FAR OF THE SYRIAN-SUPPORTED AMAL EFFORT ENHANCES GEMAYEL’S LEVERAGE WITH ASSAD. 11. COMMENT: IT IS CLEAR THAT THIS THIRD VERSION OF THE CAMPS WAR DIFFERS FROM THE PREVIOUS TWO. IF THE PALESTINIANS SUCCEED IN SECURING AN ENCLAVE IN AND AROUND SIDON, THEY WILL HAVE SUCCEEDED IN CHANGING THE MILITARY AND POLITICAL MAP OF LEBANON FROM BEIRUT TO THE ISRAELI BORDER.
KELLY

The War Files (Part X) – The Christian Infighting Of 1985

Geagea, Hobeika, and Pakradouni in 1985

Pakradouni, Geagea, and Hobeika  in 1985

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War that started on the 13th of April 1975. This is why I’ve decided to publish WikiLeaks cables from the war era, every day till the 13th of April. I think it would be interesting to look at things from a different point of view, and since it’s not the Lebanese who are telling the stories, I believe it offers a unique insight on the civil war. Although there are a lot more cables on WikiLeaks, I won’t republish them all  in order to focus on the most relevant ones. I hope you enjoy reading them.

In the last years of the war, a lot of the battles happened between militias belonging to the same sectarian group. In today’s post, we look at some of the cables covering a period of inter-Christian fighting during the war (here, it’s between Amine Gemayel – the president, and members of the Lebanese Forces). You’ll find the names of Pakradouni, Gemayel, Michel Murr and Geagea (among others). The cables are organized chronologically.

JA’JA’S MOVEMENT COMMUNIQUE
1985 March 15, 17:45 (Friday)
85BEIRUT1645_a
UNCLASSIFIED
UNCLASSIFIED
— Not Assigned —
1. ON MARCH 14, SAMIR JA’JA’S FORCES, NOW CALLED THE “CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT,” ISSUED THE FOLLOWING COMMUNIQUE OUTLINING THEIR AIMS.
2. BEGIN TEXT. “THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF QUERIES LATELY ABOUT WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE AUTONOMOUS DECISION OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY, ON WHETHER THIS COMMUNITY HAD ACTUALLY LOST THE INITIATIVE, ON WHETHER SUBSISTANCE AND INSTITUTIONAL UPHEAVAL EMBODIED BY BASHIR GEMAYEL’S POLICY HAS BEEN OVERSTEPPED BY TIME AND ON WHETHER CHRISTIAN INSTITUTIONS FOR CONSULTATION AND DECISION HAVE BEEN CRIPPLED OR HAVE JUST FALLEN INTO DISUSE, THE STATEMENT SAID. “IN ANY CASE, WHAT IS THE ALTERNATIVE? THE STATE- MENT ADDED. SOME SAY IT SHOULD BE THE POLITICAL COMPROMISES UNDERWAY WHILE OTHERS SPEAK, AFTER THE FALL OF INTERNATIONAL GUARANTEES, OF REGIONAL GUARANTEES INSTEAD. WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE, ALL THESE MATTERS CAN BE DISCUSSED. BUT WHAT IS CRYSTAL-CLEAR IS THAT THERE CAN BE NO SOLID POLITICAL SOLUTION UNLESS COUPLED WITH AN ADEQUATE BALANCE OF FORCES BEARING CLEAR-OUT FEATURES AND AN UNEQUIVOCAL POLITICAL STRATEGY TO GO ALONG WITH AN AUTONOMOUS DECISION FREED FROM ALL TRUSTEESHIPS. “THE RESTORATION OF THE DECISION AND THE SOCIAL CENTRALIZATION OF IT CAN, ALONE, PROVIDE THE PROPER FRAME FOR ANY SERIOUS DISCUSSION LIKELY TO LEAD US TO THE KIND OF PEACE ASPIRED TO, FOR WE REJECT THE PEACE RESULTING FROM SUBMITTING TO OTHER PEOPLE’S WILL. “THE CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT HAS PROVIDED THE ANSWER TO ALL THESE QUERIES. THIS MOVEMENT ACTUALLY CONSTITUTES THE ORGANIZED EXPRESSION OF THE WILL OF THE BASE OF ALL CHRISTIAN IN- STITUTIONS IN RECUPERATING THE DECISION AND THE INITIATIVE, AND THERE CANNOT BE, FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, NO RELIANCE BUT ON THE AUTONOMOUS DECISION AND NO GUARANTEE BUT THROUGH POLICIES THAT INCARNATE THIS DECISION. “FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, THE SECURITY OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY WILL NOT BE DEPENDING ANYMORE ON THE CHANGES OF INTERNATIONAL OR REGIONAL POLICIES AND THERE WILL BE NO POLITICAL WILL LINKED TO THE MOODS AND DISPOSITIONS THAT GOVERN POLITICAL INTERCOURSE IN THIS TORMENTED COUNTRY. “FROM THIS DAY FORWARD, THERE WILL BE NO CHRISTIAN SOCIETY WITH A CRIPPLED WILL AND KEPT DEPRIVED OF POLICYMAKING AT HOME AND ON THE REGIONAL PLANE AS WELL, AND RULED BY VIOLENT WARRING STRATEGIES. “THE BASIS FOR AN OBJECTIVE COOPERATION WITH A REALITY OF THE KIND WE HAVE DEPICTED IS CLEAR AND CAN BE DEFINED, IN BRIEF, AS FOLLOWS: “EXTREMISM CANNOT BE DETERRED OTHERWISE THAN BY STEADFASTNESS, AND HEGEMONY AND DISCRIMINATORY PHENOMENA CANNOT BE HANDLED BUT THROUGH CLEAR POLITICAL WILLS AND IDEAS AND ADEQUATE EXECUTIVE INSTRUMENTS. “ONLY WHEN THE CHRISTIAN FREEDOM OF DECISION IS RESTORED AND THE STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES OF IT CLEARLY DEFINED CAN NEGOTIATION AND INTERCOURSE WITH ALL SIDES BECOME POSSIBLE, ON THE HOME FRONT AND ON THE REGIONAL LEVEL. OTHERWISE, WE WOULD BE ENGAGED INTO A DANGEROUS TURNING POINT LIKELY TO WIPE OUT WHAT IS LEFT OF OUR ENERGIES, OUR CREDIBILITY AND OUR EFFICIENCY. “THE CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT CONSIDERS THAT THE SETTING UP OF NEW BASES FOR DEALINGS AND DIALOGUE HAS BECOME AN INDISPENSIBLE PRE- REQUISITE FOR LIBERATING THE LEBANESE INDEPENDENT DECISION WHICH, ALONE, IS CAPABLE OF ALLOWING US TO FACE SUCCESSFULLY THE SECOND DECADE OF OUR BITTER STRUGGLE. TO ACHIEVE THIS, WE MUST: “FIRSTLY, RESHUFFLE THE ORGANIZATIONAL AND IN- STITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY; “SECONDLY, REBUILD THE SOCIAL SECURITY OF THE CHRISTIANS ON NEW FOUNDATIONS BASED UPON: A) AN INSTITUTIONAL AND CENTRAL CHRISTIAN INDEPENDENT DECISION; B) A CO-ORDINATING, CONSULTATIVE AND EXECUTIVE FRAMEWORK GROUPING THE VARIOUS SOCIAL AND CHURCH LEADERSHIPS; C) ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL STRATEGIES OF A COMPLEMENTARY NATURE AIMED OVERRUNNING ALL STANDING DIFFICULTIES. AND THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL THIS IS THE CORRECTION OF THE STRUCTURES AS TO ENSURE THEIR ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL EFFICIENCY; D)LEGAL INSTITUTIONS ACTUALLY PERFORMING THEIR NATIONAL OVERALL REPRESENTATIVE ROLE; E) AN ETHNIC AND CULTURAL IDENTITY WITH CLEAR- CUT FEATURES AND CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL BALANCED STRATEGIES. “CHRISTIAN LEBANESE, “WE ARE A PEOPLE WHOSE ENTITY IS BASED UPON RESPECT AND COMMITMENT TOWARDS ALL CAUSES INVOLVING THE FATE OF MAN OR HIS DIGNITY AND WHEREVER MAN’S LIBERTIES ARE JEOPARDIZED OR UNSECURE. “THERE CAN BE NO HAZARDS IN CHRISTIANITY BUT DECISIONS INSPIRED BY THE HOLY GOSPEL, BY JESUS-CHRIST’S OWN WORDS: SPEAK ALWAYS THE TRUTH AND BE STRAIGHT- FORWARD: NO FOR NO AND YEST FOR YES”.
END TEXT.
BARTHOLOMEW
JA’JA’S “CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT” AND RECONCILIATION EFFORTS
1985 March 15, 16:19 (Friday)
85BEIRUT1640_a
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL
— Not Assigned —
1. (U) SUMMARY. A COMMITTEE CHAIRED BY THE MARONITE PARTIARCH CONTINUES ITS EFFORTS TO RECONCILE DIFFERENCES WHICH ERUPTED ON MARCH 13 WITHIN THE LEBANESE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY BETWEEN JA’JA’S “CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT” AND PHALANGISTS LOYAL TO THE PRESIDENT. THERE HAS BEEN NO SUBSTANTIAL PROGRESS SO FAR, BUT RECONCILATION EFFORTS CONTINUE.
2. (U) THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND REMAINS LARGELY UNCHANGED, WITH JA’JA’S MILITIAMEN CONTROLING MOST OF THE CHRISTIAN REGION FROM JUBAYL (BYBLOS) SOUTH TO THE DOG RIVER AND ALSO MUCH OF EAST BEIRUT ITSELF, INCLUDING ASHRAFIYAH. PHALANGE MILITIAMEN LOYAL TO THE PRESIDENT CONTROL ONLY THE METN, THE GEMAYEL FIEFDOM SITUATED BETWEEN THE AREAS HELD BY JA’JA’. ALL OF THESE AREAS REMAIN TENSE BUT CALM, EXCEPT FOR SOME ISOLATED CLASHES BETWEEN RIVAL LF GROUPS AT DAWRA (NEAR BEIRUT PORT) ON MORNING OF MARCH 15. END SUMMARY.
3. (U) THE SEVEN-MEMBER CHRISTIAN RECONCILIATION COMMITTEE, ESTABLISHED BY THE CHRISTIAN CONCLAVE CONVOKED URGENTLY BY GEMAYEL AT THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE FOLLOWING JA’JA’S MARCH 13 UPRISING, MET FOR THE SECOND TIME IN BKERKE ON MARCH 14. AT THIS SECOND MEETING, THE RECONCILIATION COMMITTEE, WHICH IS CHAIRED BY MARONITE PARTRIARCH KHURAYSH, WAS ABLE TO MEET WITH VARIOUS LF OFFICIALS, INCLUDING FOR THE FIRST TIME JA’JA’ HIMSELF AND HIS MAIN SUPPORTERS. BESIDES THE PARTRIARCH, THE RECONCILATION COMMITTEE INCLUDES CHRISTIAN MP’S ELIAS HRAOUI, MICHEL MURR, KHATCHIG BABIKIAN, GEBRANE TOK, MIKEAL DAHER, AND KHALIL ABUHAMAD. AT THE MARCH 14 BKERKE MEETING, THEY MET WITH THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS OF THE LF COMMAND COUNCIL: SAMIR JA’JA’, ELIE HOBEIKA, TONY BRIDI, CHARLES GHOSTIN, NAOUM FARAH, ELIE ASSWAD, SAMIR TAWILE, AND FAWZI MAHFUZ. LF COMMANER FUAD ABU NADIR DID NOT ATTEND, BUT HIS PREDECESSOR, FADI FREM, DID.
4. (U) JUDGING FROM THE COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AFTER THE BKERKE MEETING, LITTLE PROGRESS WAS MADE DURING THIS FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH JA’JA’. “THE CHRISTIAN DECISON MOVEMENT,” AS JA’JA’S GROUP NOW OFFICIALLY CALLS ITSELF, REAFFIRMED ITS POLITICAL NATURE, ITS DESIRE TO AVOID VIOLENCE, AND ITS AIM OF “REINFORCING THE INDEPENDENCE AND GLOBALITY OF CHRISTIAN DECISION ACCORDING TO DEMOCRATIC RULES.” IN THE COMMUNIQUE, JA’JA’S MOVEMENT ALSO REAFFIRMED ITS RESPECT FOR EXISTING LAWS AND DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS. IT CLAIMED THAT IT WAS “PURELY AND UNIQUELY LEBANESE CHRISTIAN,” I.E., NOT ISRAELI BACKED. FOLLOWING THE MEETING, HOBEIKA CALLED FOR THE REMOVAL OF ROADBLOCKS WHICH HAVE ISOLATED CERTAIN CHRISTIAN AREAS, MOST NOTABLY THE ROADBLOCK ESTABLISHED BY LOYALIST FORCES AT THE NORTHERN EXTREMITY OF THE METN IMMEDIATELY SOUTH OF THE DOG RIVER TUNNEL ON THE COASTAL HIGHWAY BETWEEN DUBAYYAH AND JUNNIYAH.
5. (U) FOLLOWING THE BKERKE MEETING, THE RECONCILIATION COMMITTEE REPORTEDLY TOLD PRESIDENT GEMAYEL THAT (A) JA’JA’S MOVEMENT WAS A MATTER WITHIN THE PHALANGE PARTY AND BETWEEN THAT PARTY AND THE LEBANESE FORCES AND (B) THAT JA’JA’ HAD NO INTENTION OF LEADING A COUP D’ETAT. THE RECONCILATION COMMITTEE THEN MET WITH THE PHALANGE PARTY POLITBURO.
6. (C) SIMULTANEOUSLY FOLLOWING THE BKERKE MEETING, JA’JA’ AND HIS MAJOR SUPPORTERS MET AT THE HOME OF BASHIR GEMAYEL’S WIDOW, SOLANGE, AND FORMED AN “EMERGENCY COMMITTEE” COMPOSED OF ABU NADIR, JA’JA’, HOBEIKA, FREM, BRIDI, GHOSTIN, KARIM PAKRADUNI, AND GEORGES ADWAN. SO FAR, THE PURPOSE OF THIS COMMITTEE HAS NOT BEEN ANNOUNCED BUT NAOUM FARAH (SEPTEL) CONFIRMED THAT IT IS AN EMBRYONIC POLITBURO OR COMMAND COUNCIL FOR JA’JA’S “CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT.”
7. (U) EARLIER ON MARCH 14, PRESIDENT GEMAYEL RECEIVED GENERAL MUHAMMAD KHOLI, AN EMISSARY SENT BY SYRIAN PRESIDENT ASSAD REPORTEDLY TO REAFFIRM SYRIAN SUPPORT. IT SEEMS HIGHLY UNLIKELY AT THIS POINT THAT SYRIAN VICE PRESIDENT KHADDAM WILL RETURN TO LEBANON ON MARCH 16 TO CONTINUE THE INTERCOMMUNAL POLITICAL TALKS UNTERTAKEN LAST MARCH 9-10 AT BIKFAYYA.
8. (U) IN REACTION TO JA’JA’S CHALLENGE, DRUZE LEADER WALID JUMBLATT, SPEAKING FOR THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT, LENT SUPPORT TO THE PRESIDENCY AND VEHEMENTLY CRITICIZED JA’JA’S MOVEMENT AS “AN ISRAELI ATTEMPT TO TORPEDO THE POLITICAL ACCORD BEING DRAWN UP UNDER THE AUSPICES OF SYRIAN LEADERS.” THE NDF REITERATED ITS SUPPORT FOR THE “SYRIAN OPTION.”
9. (C) LATE NOTE: ACCORDING TO NAOUM FARAH (SEPTEL), THE “CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT” DOES,IN FACT, SUPPORT THE REOPENING OF THE DOG RIVER TUNNEL AND SEVERAL BRIDGES BLOCKED BY PHALANGE MILITIAMEN FROM THE METN LOYAL TO GEMAYEL. AS OF EARLY AFTERNOON MARCH 15, THE LATTER HAD AGREED TO REMOVE THE BLOCKADES AND TURN THE CHOKE POINTS OVER TO THE LAF.
BARTHOLOMEW
SOLVING THE CHRISTIAN CRISIS: THE PHALANGE VIEW
1985 March 18, 18:23 (Monday)
85BEIRUT1683_a
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— Not Assigned —
VIEW
1. SECRET ENTIRE TEXT.
2. SUMMARY: AMBASSADOR CALLED ON MINISTER OF PTT JOSEPH HASHEM MARCH 18. HASHEM IS A PHALANGE PARTY LEADER AND CLOSE ASSOCIATE OF PRESIDENT GEMAYEL. HE IS ON THE COMMITTEE OF THREE (WITH KARIM PAKKRADOUNI REPRESENTING THE DISSIDENTS AND MICHEL MURR AS THE THIRD MAN WITH LINKS BETWEEN BOTH SIDES) THAT HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH HAMMERING OUT A SOLUTION. HASHEM SAID HE HAD JUST LEFT A PHALANGE POLITICAL BUREAU MEETING TO MEET WITH THE AMBASSADOR AND WOULD SHORTLY BE GOING INTO A MEETING OF THE THREE-MAN COMMITTEE TO FINISH A COMMUNIQUE WHICH WOULD “REASSURE EVERYONE.” THE CHIEF ELEMENT OF THE COMPROMISE APPEARS TO BE A RESTRUCTURING” OF THE PHALANGE AND THE LF WHICH WOULD GIVE THE LF DISSIDENTS MORE OF A VOICE AND MORE INDEPENDENCE. HASHEM SAID THAT THE USG HAD CONSIDERABLE INFLUENCE IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AND APPRECIATED WHAT THE AMBASSADOR HAD BEEN SAYING. AMBASSADOR EXPRESSED SATISFACTION WITH PROGRESS ON THE POLITICAL SOLUTION BUT NOTED IT SHOULD NOT COME AT PRICE OF WEAKENING THE POSITION OF THE PRESIDENT, OR THE COHESION OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY, AND THE COMMITTMENT TO REALISM AND FLEXIBILITY IN THE POLITICAL REFORM PROCESS. END SUMMARY.
3. HASHEM ARGUED THAT THERE WERE NO MAJOR POLITICAL DIFFERENCES WITH THE DISSIDENTS, WITNESS THEIR OWN CONTACTS WITH SYRIA (A REFERENCE TO PAKRADOUNI’S DISCUSSIONS WITH KHADDAM OVER THE LAST FEW DAYS.) HE SAID THE PHALANGE PARTY STRUCTURE HAD NOT BEEN REVAMPED FOR TEN YEARS AND IT WAS NORMAL TO THINK OF RESTRUCTURING IT NOW IN A WAY THAT WOULD GIVE THE DISSIDENTS MORE PARTICIPATION AND POSITION, POLITICAL, MILITARY, AND FINANCIAL. THIS WAS THE FOCUSS OF THE CURRENT COMPROMISE EFFORT. THERE WOULD PROBABLY ALSO BE A “NATIONAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL” WHICH WOULD BE A BROADENED LEBANESE FRONT REPRESENTING ALL CHRISTIAN GROUPS. IT WOULD BE ADVISORY AND NOT “PARLIAMENTARY” (AND THEREFORE WOULD NOT UNDERCUT THE PRESIDENT’S AUTHORITY OR SMACK OF AN INDEPENDENT CHRISTIAN “CANTON”.) HASHEM SAID THE CHIEF CONCERN WAS THAT THE LEBANESE FORCE MOVEMENT THREATENED TO UNDERCUT THE PRESIDENT, TRIGGER ADVERSE REACTIONS FROM THE LEBANESE MOSLEMS AND FROM SYRIA, AND UNDERMINE THE EFFORTS AT REACHING POLITICAL ACCOMODATION. HE KNEW THE USG SHARED THESE CONCERNS AND THE AMBASSADOR WAS MAKING THIS CLEAR TO “ALL SIDES.”
4. HASHEM SAID HE THOUGHT CONSIDERABLE PROGRESS HAD BEEN MADE IN THE THREE-MAN COMMITTEE. HE HAD BEEN DISCUSSING THE ISSUE JUST NOW IN THE SESSION OF THE PHALANGE POLITICAL BUREAU WHICH HE HAD LEFT TO MEET WITH THE AMBASSADOR. HE WOULD BE MEETING WITH MURR AND PAKRADOUNI UPON LEAVING THE MEETING WITH THE AMBASSADOR AND THOUGHT THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO REACH A COMMUNIQUE WHICH WOULD “REASSURE EVERYONE.”
5. THE AMBASSADOR SAID THAT SINCE HASHEM WAS SO WELL AWARE OF THE USG VIEWS ON THE SITUATION HE WOULD NOT REPEAT THEM IN DETAIL. HE HOPED THAT HASHEM WAS RIGHT THAT THE LF DISSIDENTS DID NOT DIFFER GREATLY FROM THE MAIN POLITICAL LINES THE PRESIDENT AND THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY WERE ON. THAT SAID, MUCH OF WHAT THEY SAID IN THE PAST, AND INDEED NOW, RAISED QUESTIONS AS TO WHETHER THEY WOULD SHOW THE REALISM AND FLEXIBILITY REQUIRED TO PROTECT THE NATION’S DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS STARTING WITH THE CHRISTIAN PRESIDENCY, WORK POLITICAL REFORMS WITH THE MOSLEMS, PRESERVE THE WELL-BEING OF THE CHRISTIANS, AND CONTAIN SYRIAN INFLUENCE. IF THE COMPROMISES BEING WORKED ON IN THE THREE-MAN COMMITTEE BEGAN A PROCESS WHICH WOULD UNDERCUT THESE OBJECTIVES, THEN IT WOULD MEAN A PYRRHIC VICTORY FOR THE CHRISTIANS AND FOR LEBANON.
6. HASHEM SAID THAT HE FELT THINGS WERE ON TRACT TOWARD A SOLUTION WHICH WOULD ASSURE EVERYONE (INCLUDING THE MOSLEMS AND SYRIA) THAT LEBANON’S “POLITICAL SYSTEM AND POLITICAL LINE” WILL BE MAINTAINED. HE SAID HE WAS NEVERTHELESS CONCERNED THAT SOME INDIVIDUALS AMONG THE LF DISSIDENTS ESPECIALLY IDENTIFIED WITH ISRAEL COULD OBSTRUCT THE PROCESS. HE THOUGHT THE USG COULD HELP HEAD THIS OFF BY GETTING THE RIGHT WORD TO THESE IN- DIVIDUALS AND TO THE ISRAELIS. THE AMBASSADOR REPLIED THAT HE WAS SATISFIED THAT THE ISRAELIS WERE NOT A MAJOR FACTOR IN EITHER THE GENESIS OR THE DIRECTION OF THE LF DISSIDENT MOVEMENT. DAVID KINCHE HAD YESTERDAY MADE THIS PUBLIC AND UNDERSCORED THE LIMITS OF THE ISRAELI INTEREST AND ROLE IN WHAT WAS HAPPENING INSIDE THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. IN FACT, THE ISRAELIS HAVE NO INTEREST IN SIGNIFICANTLY “RE-ENGAGING” IN LEBANON BY PLAYING A MAJOR ROLE IN THIS FRACAS — OR ITS CONSEQUENCES. THE ISRAELIS ARE ON THEIR WAY OUT OF LEBANON, AND NOT ON THEIR WAY BACK IN (HASHEM NODDED AGREEMENT TO THIS LAST STATEMENT.)
7. HASHEM CLOSED CONVERSATION BY REFERRING TO AMBASSADOR’S UPCOMING MEETING WITH KARIM PAKRADOUNI (ANNOUNCED OVER THE LF CONTROLLED VOL.) HE REITERATED THAT THE U.S. HAS CONSIDERABLE INFLUENCE IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. HE, THEREFORE, THOUGHT IT IMPORTANT THAT THE AMBASSADOR MAKE CLEAR IN ANY CONTACTS WITH THE DISSIDENTS THAT THEY SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE LEBANON’S “POLITICAL SYSTEM AND POLITICAL LINE”, AND THAT THEY WILL HAVE NO SUPPORT FROM THE OUTSIDE, FROM EITHER THE U.S. OR OTHERS IF THEY DO. THE AMBASSADOR SAID HE HAD MADE THE USG VIEW CLEAR IN ALL HIS CONTACTS AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO.
8. COMMENTS: HASHEM WAS OBVIOUSLY TIRED FROM THE UNENDING SERIES OF LATE-NIGHT MEETINGS THAT HE AND ALL OTHER ACTORS IN THE MELEE HAVE BEEN LIVING THROUGH. HE DID NOT APPEAR SPECIFICALLY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE POLITICAL COMPROMISE THAT IS SHAPING UP, AND CERTAINLY DID NOT CONVEY THE IMAGE OF A MAN READY TO CLAIM SUCCESS IN PUTTING THE GENI BACK IN THE BOTTLE. IT WILL BE INTERESTING TO SEE WHAT PAKRADOUNI HAS TO SAY IN HIS MEETING WITH THE AMBASSADOR LATER TODAY. END COMMENT.
BARTHOLOMEW
CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT RESPONDS TO CONTINUING SYRIA PRESSURE
1985 March 18, 14:30 (Monday)
85BEIRUT1676_a
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL
— Not Assigned —
1. CONFIDENTIAL ENTIRE TEXT.
2. THE FOCUS OF SYRIAN PRESSURE ON DISSIDENT CHRISTIANS HAS SHIFTED TO THE POLITICAL ARENA AND THE USE OF LEBANESE MUSLIM LEADERS. SYRIAN VICE PRESIDENT KHADDAM HAS CANCELLED HIS MARCH 18 VISIT TO BEIRUT. THE WEEKLY WEDNESDAY MEETING OF THE LEBANESE CABINET HAS ALSO BEEN POSTPONED BECAUSE MINISTERS JUMBLATT AND BARRI WOULD NOT ATTEND. JUMBLATT IS IN MOSCOW, WHILE BARRI CLAIMS THAT THE ROAD TO BAABDA IS UNSAFE. THE IMPLICATION IS THAT THE ROAD WILL NOT BE SAFE UNTIL THE CHRISTIAN DISSIDENTS ARE BROUGHT INTO LINE. IN A SPEECH IN MUKHTARA SUNDAY TO COMMEMORATE THE EIGHTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ASSASSINATION OF KAMEL JUMBLATT, WALID JUMBLATT URGED HIS SUPPORTERS TO REASON FOR A POSSIBLE NEW ROUND OF FIGHTING. HE THREATENED TO “BREAK THE NECKS” OF THE CHRISTIAN REBELS. AT A PRESS CONFERENCE SCHEDULED FOR LATE TODAY (3/18), BARRI IS EXPECTED TO STEP UP THE POLITICAL PRESSURE AGAINST JA’JA”S CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT (CDM).
3. IN THE FACE OF THIS CONTINUING PRESSURE, RECONCILIATION EFFORTS CONTINUE WITHIN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. A TRIPARTITE COMMITTEE COMPOSED OF MINISTER OF PUBLIC HEALTH JOSEPH AL-HASLEM, FORMER MINISTER AND PHALANGE POLITICAL ALLY MICHEL AL-MURR, AND CDM EMERGENCY COMMITTEE MEMBER KARIM PAKRADOUNI HAS BEEN MEETING TO DRAFT A POLITICAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE FACTIONS. L’ORIENT-LE JOUR REPORTS THAT THIS COMMITTEE HAS SUCCEEDED IN HAMMERING OUT THE OUTLINES OF AN AGREEMENT BASED ON THE FOLLOWING POINTS: – KEEPING CURRENT LEADERS IN PLACE – RESTRUCTURING THE PHALANGE PARTY – CLARIFYING RELATIONS BETWEEN THE PHALANGE AND THE LF – MAINTAINING THE AUTONOMY OF THE LF – PUSHING FOR THE RAPID CREATION OF A CHRISTIAN NATIONAL COUNCIL DETAILS OF THE AGREEMENT HAVE NOT BEEN RELEASED PENDING THE MARCH 18 MEETING OF THE PHALANGE PARTY POLITICAL BUREAU.
4. IN A MARCH 17 PRESS CONFERENCE HELD IN JOUNIEH, PAKRADOUNI TRIED TO PRESENT THE CDM IN A MANNER WHICH WOULD ALLAY SYRIAN CONCERNS. REFTEL PROVIDES THE TEXT OF THE CONFERENCE. FOLLOWING ARE THE MAJOR POINTS: A. CDM’S MAJOR PRINCIPLES ARE 1) SUPPORT FOR THE UNITY OF LEBANON AND ITS FULL LIBERATION; 2) SUPPORT FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A NEW FORMULA FOR MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN RELATIONS; AND 3) ACTION TO GUARANTEE THE SECURITY OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. B. CDM’S “UPPERMOST OBJECTIVE” IS THE SPEEDY ELECTION OF A NATIONAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL TO SERVE AS A CHRISTIAN PARLIAMENT. C. CDM HAS RECEIVED NO AID FROM ISRAEL. HOWEVER, PAKRADOUNI QUALIFIED THIS DENIAL BY ADDING, “THE COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP HAS NOT YET DECIDED ITS POLICY TOWARD ISRAEL.” D. CDM DOES NOT INTEND TO HARM THE PRESIDENT OR THE PRESIDENCY. HE STATED, “WE WANT THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC TO REMAIN ABOVE PARTY AND SECTARIAN DISPUTES. WE WANT HIM TO BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC-OF ALL LEBANON- AND WE DO NOT WANT HIM TO BE MERELY THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHRISTIANS OR OF MILITIAS.” E. CDM IS A “COUP” WITHIN THE LF AND THE PHALANGE PARTY AIMED AT MAKING THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY MORE DEMOCRATIC. F. CDM SEEKS DIRECT MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN NEGOTIATIONS, ESPECIALLY WITH MINISTERS BARRI AND JUMBLATT, AIMING TOWARD A “PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE CHARTER.” G. CONTACTS WITH THE SYRIANS WILL CONTINUE. PAKRADOUNI WILL MAKE A THIRD CALL TO SYRIAN VP KHADDAM. FURTHER, HE STATED THAT HIS “COMMUNICATIONS WITH SYRIAN OFFICIALS PERMIT ME TO SAY THAT THERE WILL BE NO SYRIAN INCURSION INTO OUR AREAS.” H. CDM OPPOSES THE REMOVAL OF THE BARBARA CHECKPOINT.
5. COMMENT: IT IS INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT THE CDM ORIGINALLY CRITICIZED PRESIDENT GEMAYEL FOR DEALING WITH THE SYRIANS AND FOR MAKING CONCESSIONS AS PRESIDENT THAT HE WOULD NOT HAVE MADE AS A STRICTLY CHRISTIAN LEADER. NOW, FACED WITH THE POLITICAL REALITIES OF THEIR SITUATION, THE CDM LEADERSHIP IS BOTH DEALING DIRECTLY WITH THE SYRIANS AND ENCOURAGING PRESIDENT GEMAYEL TO REMAIN ABOVE THE SECTARIAN FRAY. END COMMENT.
6. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION HAS ALSO SURFACED CONCERNING THE STATUS OF TITULAR LF COMMANDER FUAD ABU NADER. IN HIS PRESS CONFERENCE, PAKRADOUNI ASSERTED THAT, “FUAD ABU NADER IS STILL THE COMMANDER OF THE LEBANESE FORCES. HE HAS SUPPORTED IN AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT THE POLICY OF THE UPRISING WITHIN THE LEBANESE FORCES. A TEMPORARY COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP CALLED THE ‘EMERGENCY COMMITTEE’ HAS BEEN FORMED. WE WILL SOON ANNOUNCE A NEW LEADERSHIP FOR THIS COMMITTEE.” ABU NADER IS THUS STILL FUNCTIONING AS A LEADER OF THE LF, THOUGH THE DEGREE OF HIS PRESENT INFLUENCE AND HIS FUTURE PROSPECTS REMAIN UNCLEAR.
BARTHOLOMEW
JA’JA’-PHALANGE STALEMATE DRAGGING OUT
1985 March 30, 08:31 (Saturday)
85BEIRUT1952_a
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— Not Assigned —
1. S-ENTIRE TEXT.
2. PHALANGE POLITBURO MEMBER ALFRED MAHDI, WHO REMAINS PERSONALLY CLOSE TU JA’JA’, 29 MARCH PROVIDED CHARGE WHAT WE SENSE IS ACCURATE WRAP-UP OF CURRENT STATE OF PLAY BETWEEN JA’JA’ FORCES AND PHALANGE.
3. MAHDI SAID CURRENT INTERMINABLE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT REORGANIZED PHALANGE PARTY, ENLARGED LEBANESE FRONT, AND NEW CHRISTIAN COUNCIL REPRESENT DESIRE OF BOTH CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT (CDM) AND PHALANGE TO STRING OUT NEGOTIATIONS.
4. PHALANGE SEES TIME AS BEING ON ITS SIDE AS IT ATTEMPT TO EXPLOIT DISAFFECTION AND SPLITS IN CDM RESULTING FROM GROWING AWARENESS OF LACK OF SPECIFIC REALISTIC POLICIES AND OF DANGERS CDM HAS CREATED OF SYRIAN INTERVENTION AND WEAKENED CHRISTIAN UNIT.
5. CDM SEES TIME ON ITS SIDE AS IT ATTEMPTS TO SEDUCE REMAINING GEMAYEL BACKERS AMONG LF IN METN, TO REASSURE SYRIANS WHILE OPENING UP DIRECT CONTACT WITH THEM (NUMEROUS SOURCES REPORT HOBEIKA HAS REGULAR CONTACT WITH RIFFAT), AND TO STRENGTHEN ITS APPEAL AT GRASSROOTS LEVEL. (WITNESS JA’JA’S SFEECH TO STUDENTS BEIRUT).
6. MAHDI BELIEVES THAT TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR THIS SPARRING AND STALLING AND THAT TWO SIDES MUST NOW BEGIN TO GRAPPLE WITH REAL PROBLEMS AND SEEK GENUINE SOLUTIONS. HE SAID THAT ALTHOUGH HE HAS NOT SEEN GEMAYEL SINCE MARCH 14, HE BELIEVES GEMAYEL SHARES HIS VIEW THAT TWO SIDES MUST SERIOUSLY PURSUE RESOLUTION OF THEIR DIFFERENCES. IF NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE TO DRAG ON UNCONCLUSIVELY, MAHDI SAID, ALL DANGERS PREDICTED BY BOTH SIDES WILL COME TRUE — SYRIAN INTERVENTION, WEAKENED AND DIVIDED CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY, SHARP MUSLIM REACTION, ETC. IN ADDITION, MAHDI SAID INCREASINGLY DANGEROUS SITUATION IN SOUTH, CUTTING OFF OF NORTH, AND DEGRADATION OF SECURITY IN WEST BEIRUT, CREATES BACKDROP OF EVENTS WHICH REQUIRES THAT RESOLUTION OF THIS INTERNAL CHRISTIAN QUARREL COME RAPIDLY.
7. COMMENT: MAHDI’S COMMENTS EXPLAIN IN PART LIMITED PROGRESS MURR/HASHIM/PAKRADUNI COMMITTEE HAS MADE IN LAST WEEK, AND OFFER LITTLE OPTIMISM FOR NEAR TERM PROGRESS.
LYNE
LEBANESE FORCES FINANCES
1985 April 4, 14:34 (Thursday)
85BEIRUT2048_a
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— Not Assigned —
1. S-ENTIRE TEXT.
2. LEBANESE FORCES OFFICIAL WHO REMAINS LOYAL TO DEPOSED CHIEF FUAD ABU NADER CONTENDS THAT PART OF REBEL LEADER JA’JA’S APPEAL TO RANK AND FILE IS HIS PROMISES THAT ECONOMY MOVES INTRODUCED BY ABU NADER WOULD END. HE OBSERVES, HOWEVER, THAT PROMISES WILL BE DIFFICULT FOR JA’JA’ TO KEEP.
3. ACCORDING TO THIS OFFICIAL, LF OPERATING EXPENSES ALONE AMOUNT TO 26 MILLION POUNDS A MONTH, MOSTLY STRAIGHT SALARY PAYMENTS. THIS FIGURE PROVIDED NOTHING FOR AMMUNITION REPLACEMENT (BADLY NEEDED), SPARE PARTS FOR EQUIPMENT (BADLY NEEDED — ACCORDING TO OFFICIAL LF TANKS COULDN’T MOVE INTO ACTION NOW WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT REPAIR), UNIFORMS,TRAINING, ETC.
4. OFFICIAL SAID INCOME SIDE WILL PRESENT JA’JA’ WITH DIFFICULT PROBLEM, BEFORE UPRISING, OFFICIAL SAID,INCOME
5. OFFICIAL NOTED THAT LF HAD RE-OPENED NIGHT OPERATIONS AT FIFTH BASIN AT BEIRUT PORT TWELVE DAYS BEFORE UPRISING BECAUSE OF NEED FOR FUNDS, SO JA’JA’ WILL CONTINUE TO BENEFIT FROM THIS SOURCE. ON OTHER HAND, HE SAID, WITH SYRIANS OPENING ROADBLOCK AT MADFOUN BRIDGE, LF REVENUES FROM BARBARA CHECKPOINT HAVE DISAPPEARED; HE OPINED THAT JA’JA’ MIGHT GO AS FAR AS TO OFFER UP CLOSING OF BARBARAH CHECKPOINT AS PEACE OFFERING TO SYRIA NOW THAT SYRIAN ACTION HAS MADE IT FINANCIALLY IRRELEVANT. EVEN ASSUMING LF TIGHTENS UP TAXATION IN AREAS UNDER ITS CONTROL AND PERHAPS EXPAND FIFTH BASIN OPERATIONS, IT WILL STILL LEAVE THEM, HE ESTIMATED, MINIMUM OF 6 MILLION POUNDS SHORT EACH MONTH.
6. OFFICIAL OBSERVED THAT EFFECTIVENESS OF DEA OPERATIONS MADE EXPORTATION OF HASHISH AN UNPROFITABLE OPTION.
7. ANOTHER OPTION WOULD BE CONTRIBUTIONS BY KEY LF REBEL FINANCIAL ANGELS; HE MENTIONED SPECIFICALLY PIERRE ASHKAR AND MICHEL MURR BUT HE QUESTIONED HOW LONG THEY WOULD WANT TO PICK UP THE DIFFERENCE. REMAINING OPTION WOULD BE ONE LF WAS MOVING TOWARD BEFORE UPRISING: COMBINATION OF ECONOMY MOVES AND OF SELLING MILITARY RESOURCES ON CIVILIAN ECONOMY. MOVES IN THAT DIRECTION HAD BEGUN PRIOR TO MARCH 12 UPRISING, SPECIFICALLY IN COMPUTER AREA, WHERE OFFICIAL SAID LF HAS MOST SOPHISTICATED OPERATION IN COUNTRY; AND IN VEHICLE MAINTENANCE.
BARTHOLOMEW

The War Files (Part IX) – The Chaos Following The Israeli Partial Withdrawal

 Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers control 19 March 1985 a Shiite civilian at Kasmyah bridge after IDF evacuated in February about 500 sq km around Sidon (Saida), to the Litani river area, near Nabatiyah


19 March 1985: Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers control a Shiite civilian at Kasmyah bridge after IDF evacuated in February about 500 sq km around Sidon (Saida), to the Litani river area, near Nabatiyah

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War that started on the 13th of April 1975. This is why I’ve decided to publish WikiLeaks cables from the war era, every day till the 13th of April. I think it would be interesting to look at things from a different point of view, and since it’s not the Lebanese who are telling the stories, I believe it offers a unique insight on the civil war. Although there are a lot more cables on WikiLeaks, I won’t republish them all  in order to focus on the most relevant ones. I hope you enjoy reading them.

When the Israeli army started retreating towards the security zone after the 1982 invasion, Lebanese militias fought to fill the vacancy Israel left behind. Today’s post is made of cables covering that period of time. The cables are organized chronologically.

FURTHER DETERIORATION IN SOUTH LEBANON
1985 April 1, 11:50 (Monday)
85BEIRUT1974_a
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL
— Not Assigned —
1. (U) SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION. HEAVY FIGHTING IN THE SIDON AREA CONTINUED ON MARCH 30-31 CAUSING NUMEROUS CASUALTIES. ACCORDING TO MOST REPORTS REACHING BEIRUT, THE FIGHTING, WHICH FOLLOWS RECENT LF-LAF CLASHES IN THE AREA (REFTEL), INCLUDED THE STRONG, DIRECT INVOLVEMENT OF ARMED PALESTINIAN ELEMENTS FOR THE FIRST TIME.
2. (U) WIDELY PORTRAYED HERE AS PART OF AN ISRAELI PLAN TO REDISTRIBUTE THE POPULATION OF SOUTH LEBANON AND TO FORM A PREDOMINANTLY CHRISTIAN BORDER SECURITY STRIP, THE CLASHES IN SIDON HAVE PREOCCUPIED LEBANESE GOVERNMENTAL, POLITICAL, AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS OVER THE WEEKEND. PRIME MINISTER KARAMI CALLED INDIRECTLY ON THE U.S. TO USE ITS INFLUENCE TO HALT THE ALLEGED ISRAELI PLAN. SYRIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF GENERAL KHOLI IS EXPECTED IN BEIRUT TODAY, APRIL 1, TO DISCUSS RECENT POLITICAL AND SECURITY DEVELOPMENTS WITH PRESIDENT GEMAYEL. END SUMMARY AND INTRODUCTION.
2. (U) FIGHTING INTENSIFIED IN THE SIDON AREA ON MARCH 30-31 BETWEEN LF MILITIAMEN AND LAF UNITS. ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, HOWEVER, THE LAF’S ROLE WAS ECLIPSED WHEN PALESTINIAN UNITS BASED IN THE REFUGEE CAMPS TOOK A STRONG, ACTIVE ROLE IN THE FIGHTING AGAINST THE LF.
3. U) ON MARCH 30, THE LF REPORTEDLY BEGAN HEAVY, ALMOST CONTINUOUS SHELLING OF THE REFUGEE CAMPS AT AYN AL-HILWAH AND MIYAH MIYAH AND OF OTHER RESIDENTIAL AREAS IN SIDON. PRO-ARAFAT PALESTINIAN FORCES, BACKED BY OTHER MUSLIM MILITIAS, RESPONDED AND HEAVY FIGHTING ENSUED. SIMULTANEOUSLY, CLASHES BETWEEN THE LF AND LAF WERE REPORTED ALONG A LINE INCLUDING KANAYA, KAHAYA, HLALIYAH, AND BRAMIYAH. THERE ARE ALSO REPORTS OF AMAL UNITS TAKING PART IN THE FIGHTING IN SIDON, BUT WE HAVE NO DETAILED INFORMATION. THE MARCH 30 CASUALTY TOLL AMOUNTED TO TWENTY-EIGHT KILLED AND FORTY WOUNDED, MOSTLY CIVILIANS.
4. (U) ON MARCH 31, THE FIGHTING CONTINUED, WITH THE MOST INTENSIVE ACTION CENTERED AROUND THE AYN AL-HILWAH REFUGEE CAMP. ACCORDING TO FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS CITED IN THE LOCAL PRESS, THE CAMP CAME UNDER HEAVY SHELLING FROM LF ARTILLERY POSITIONS NEAR JEZZIN. HEAVY FIGHTING WAS ALSO REPORTED BETWEEN LF UNITS AND LAF POSITONS ON MAR ELIAS HILL. THE MARCH 31 CASUALTY TOLL AMOUNTED TO FIVE KILLED AND FIFTEEN WOUNDED. THERE ARE UNCONFIRMED REPORTS OF PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS FLEEING THE CAMPS FOR SIDON ITSELF AND OF SUNNI AND CHRISTIAN RESIDENTS OF SIDON MOVING NORTHWARD TO BEIRUT.
5. (U) ELSEWHERE IN THE SOUTH, ISRAELI UNITS REPORTEDLY CROSSED BACK INTO PREVIOUSLY EVACUATED TERRITORY FOR THE SIXTH TIME AS PART OF A DRAGNET OPERATION IN THE IQLIM AL-TIFFAH REGION SOUTH OF SIDON. LENGTHY LOCAL PRESS REPORTS INDICATE TWENTY-THREE PERSONS KILLED AND FORTY-FIVE PERSONS WOUNDED, MOSTLY IN THE VILLAGE OF JBAA.
6. (LOU) IN THE ONLY OTHER SIGNIFICANT FIGHTING OVER THE WEEKEND, LAF UNITS EXCHANGED ARTILLERY FIRE WITH PSP MILITIAMEN ON MARCH 30 ALONG THE SUQ AL-GHARB/AYTAT RIDGELINE FRONT SOUTHEAST OF BEIRUT. TWO LAF SOLDIERS WERE REPORTEDLY KILLED. WHEN THE SHELLING SPILLED OVER ONTO THE EAST-BEIRUT RESIDENTIAL AREAS OF BAABDA, HAZIMIYAH, AND MKALLAS, SEVERAL SHELLS HIT JUST OUTSIDE THE PERIMETER OF THE AMBASSADOR’S RESIDENCE AT YARZE. EMBASSY PERSONNEL HAD ALREADY TAKEN REFUGE IN THE SHELTER.
7. (U) EFFORTS TO HALT THE DETERIORATION OF THE SITUATION IN SOUTH LEBANON PREOCCUPIED LEBANESE GOVERNMENTAL, POLITICAL, AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND. ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, FOLLOWING A MEETING ON MARCH 30, PRESIDENT GEMAYEL, PRIME MINISTER KARAMI, AND SENIOR LAF OFFICERS DECIDED TO REINFORCE LEBANESE ARMY UNITS IN THE SOUTH, IN PART WITH EQUIPMENT NOW BEING DELIVERED FROM THE U.S. MINISTERS HOSS AND BARRI, WHO TRAVELED TO DAMASCUS MARCH 31 TO MEET WITH SARG VICE PRESIDENT KHADDAM AND DRUZE LEADER JUMBLATT, HAVE DEMANDED SUCH A REINFORCEMENT OF LAF UNITS IN THE SOUTH FOR SEVERAL WEEKS.
8. (U) FOLLOWING THE MARCH 30 MEETING, PRIME MINISTER KARAMI ACCUSED ISRAEL OF PROVOKING THE VIOLENCE IN SIDON “IN THE HOPE OF OBTAINING A NEW DISTRIBUTION OF THE POPULATION (ON A CONFESSIONAL BASIS) AND EVENTUALLY ESTABLISHING A BUFFER ZONE (ALONG THE BORDER STRIP).” STATING THAT THE SITUATION IN THE SOUTH MUST BE UNDERSTOOD IN THE REGIONAL CONTEXT, KARAMI SAID THAT THE GOL WOULD UNDERTAKE CONTACTS WITH OTHER GOVERNMENTS WHICH HAVE INFLUENCE IN THE REGION.
9. (U) NOTING THAT “THE UNITED STATES IN PARTICULAR CAN ACT TO CLEAN UP THE SITUATION,” KARAMI ADDED THAT THE GOL HAD NOT/NOT BEEN INFORMED OF A VISIT TO LEBANON BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY MURPHY DURING THE LATTER’S FORTHCOMING TRIP TO THE MIDDLE EAST.
10. (U) SHIITE AMAL LEADER NABIH BARRI DENOUNCED THE INTENSIFICATION OF FIGHTING IN SIDON IN ESSENTIALLY THE SAME WORDS AS KARAMI. “ISRAEL,” HE SAID, “AIMS AT PROVOKING A NEW DEMOGRAPHIC REDISTRIBUTION AND TO RESHAPE ITS FRONTIER WITH LEBANON SO THAT THE CHRISTIANS IN SIDON AND JEZZIN ARE MOVED TO THE BORDER ZONE AND THAT THE MUSLIMS, MORE PRECISELY THE SHIITES, ARE FORCED BACK INTO THE INTERIOR OF LEBANON.” “IT IS IN THIS CONTEXT,” BARRI ADDED, “THAT ONE CAN UNDERSTAND THE RECENT EVENTS IN SIDON AND ORDERS WHICH WERE GIVEN TO THE ‘INTIFADA’ (I.E., JA’JA’S CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT)…”
11. (U) IN A MARCH 31 TELEPHONE CONVERSATION WITH SARG PRESIDENT ASSAD, PRESIDENT GEMAYEL AGREED TO RECEIVE A SYRIAN ENVOY TO DISCUSS THE SITUATION IN SIDON AS WELL AS RECENT POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS WITHIN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. SYRIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF GENERAL KHOLI IS EXPECTED TO MEET WITH GEMAYEL TODAY, APRIL 1.
12. (C) COMMENT. THE CONTRADICTORY AND TENDENTIOUS REPORTS REACHING BEIRUT ABOUT THE FIGHTING IN SIDON ARE DIFFICULT TO UNRAVEL AND EVALUATE. PALESTINIAN UNITS DO APPEAR TO BE TAKING AN ACTIVE PART IN THE CLASHES. IN SHORT, THE SITUATION IN THE SOUTH APPEARS TO BE DETERIORATING, AS EVERYONE HAD FEARED, INTO A HEIGHTENED LEBANESE/ISRAELI CONFLICT AND BITTER INTERCOMMUNAL CLASHES WITH PALESTINIAN INVOLVEMENT.
LYNE
SOUTH LEBANON: THE ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL CONTINUES WHILE NEW EFFORTS ARE MADE TO BRING PEACE TO SIDON
1985 April 22, 14:48 (Monday)
85BEIRUT2370_a
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL
— Not Assigned —
1. CONFIDENTIAL – ENTIRE TEXT.
2. ISRAEL REPORTEDLY CONTINUES CONTACTS AIMED AT USING INDIGENOUS FORCES TO MAINTAIN BORDER SECURITY AFTER THE JUNE 1 WITHDRAWAL OF ISRAELI TROOPS. ACCORDING TO LOCAL PRESS, THE ISRAELIS HAVE REACHED A COMPROMISE WITH THE DRUZE OF THE HASBAYA REGION WHEREBY THE DRUZE INHABITANTS WILL FORM A “CIVIL GUARD,” BUT WILL NOT HAVE DIRECT TIES TO THE ASL OR ANY OTHER ISRAELI-BACKED ORGANIZATION. IF THESE REPORTS ARE TRUE, THIS DEAL REPRESENTS A VICTORY FOR THE LOCAL DRUZE WHO HAVE ALLEGEDLY BEEN RESISTING ISRAELI PRESSURE (WHICH INCLUDED A BLOCKADE OF THE VILLAGES OF AKA KAMA AND MIMAS) TO RECRUIT THEM INTO THE ASL.
3. IN THE JAZZIN AREA, LOCAL PRESS REPORTS THAT EFFORTS ARE UNDERWAY TO ESTABLISH A 300-400 MAN CHRISTIAN FORCE INDEPENDENT OF THE ASL. THESE REPORTS SUPPORT OTHER INFORMATION THE EMBASSY HAS RECEIVED CONCERNING A DEAL ALLEGEDLY STRUCK BETWEEN WALID JUMBLATT AND THE CHRISTIANS OF JAZZIN CONCERNING SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS FOR JAZZIN AND THE IQLIM AL-KHARRUB. DETAILS WERE REPORTEDLY HAMMERED OUT AT A MEETING HELD LAST WEEK IN MUKHTARA ATTENDED BY JUMBLATT, JEAN AZIZ, JAZZIN DEPUTY EDMOND RIZK, AND AN UNIDENTIFIED ISRAELI OFFICER. AT THIS MEETING, JUMBLATT REPORTEDLY ACCEPTED THE FORMATION OF THIS CHRISTIAN FORCE, PROVIDED IT HAD NO OVERT CONNECTION WITH THE ASL; HE ALSO APPARENTLY SAID HE WOULD NOT ATTACK THE CHRISTIANS OF THE JAZZIN AREA OR THE IQLIM AL-KHARRUB AND OFFERED TO OPEN THE CHUF ROAD TO CHRISTIAN TRAFFIC IF THE COASTAL ROADS WERE CLOSED TO THEM. IN RETURN, JUMBLATT ASKED FOR AN OPEN ROAD FROM THE CHUF TO THE DRUZE VILLAGES OF HASBAYA AND ROSHAYYA IN THE SOUTH, AND REMOVAL OF LF ELEMENTS FROM OUTSIDE THE AREA.
4. IN SIDON, THE TWO AXES OF CONFRONTATION REMAINED ACTIVE OVER THE WEEKEND. ONE FRONT PITS LF FIGHTERS IN THE VILLAGES OF ABRA, HLALIYAH, AND QAYYA (SOUTHEAST OF SIDON) AGAINST SUNNI AND PALESTINIAN MILITIAMEN SUPPORTED BY THE LAF’S SUNNI TAWEED 98TH BRIGADE FROM TRIPOLI LOCATED ON THE HILL OF MAR ELIAS. ON THE OTHER FRONT, ALSO LOCATED IN THE EASTERN SUBURBS, LF MILITIAMEN BASED IN THE VILLAGES OF MIYAH MIYAH, MAGHDUSHEH, AND DARB AL-SIM CONFRONT THE PALESTINIAN CAMPS OF MIYAH MIYAH AND AYN AL-HILWAH. ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, FOR THE FIRST TIME, 155 MM SHELLS FELL ON THE LAF’S ZGHAYB BARRACKS IN CENTRAL SIDON. LOCAL PRESS REPORTS CASUALTY FIGURES AS HIGH AS 26 KILLED AND WOUNDED IN WEEKEND FIGHTING.
5. ON THE POLITICAL FRONT, SIDON DEPUTY NAZIH BIZRI, CLAIMING TO HAVE LOST ANY HOPE FOR LAF REINFORCEMENT OR LF WITHDRAWAL, CALLED APRIL 19 ON THE CITIZENS OF SIDON TO TAKE UP ARMS IN THEIR OWN DEFENSE. USAMA SAAD, VP OF THE “NASSERITE POPULAR ORGANIZATION,” WHO HAD ACCOMPANIED BIZRI TO DAMASCUS EARLIER IN THE WEEK, ALSO CALLED UPON THE AREA’S CHRISTIAN VILLAGERS “TO FORCE THE LF FROM THEIR VILLAGES SO THEY DON’T BECOME THE TARGETS OF A MILITARY SOLUTION.”
6. IN CONTRAST TO THE INFLAMMATORY RHETORIC EMANATING FROM SIDON’S MUSLIMS, THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY SEEMS INTENT ON DAMPING DOWN THE LEVEL OF TENSION. FOLLOWING A VISIT TO ISRAEL (REF B) DURING WHICH HE WAS REPORTEDLY WARNED BY THE ISRAELIS NOT TO MAKE TROUBLE IN SIDON, AND AFTER A WEEKEND OF CONSULTATIONS WITH FORMER PRESIDENT CAMILLE CHAMOUN, SAMIR JA’JA’ HELD A MORNING PRESS CONFERENCE ON APRIL 22 TO ANNOUNCE LF MEASURES AIMED AT DEFUSING THE CRISIS. ALTHOUGH WE HAVE NOT SEEN THE TEXT OF JA’JA’S STATEMENT, WE UNDERSTAND THESE TO INCLUDE: — A. A UNILATERAL CEASEFIRE EFFECTIVE 1600 LOCAL TIME ON APRIL 22; — B. A WITHDRAWAL OF NON-INDIGENOUS LF FORCES FROM THE SIDON AREA BEGINNING 1100 LOCAL TIME ON APRIL 23. THIS WITHDRAWAL IS IN ORDER TO “GIVE THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT A CHANCE TO UNDERTAKE ITS RESPONSIBILITIES.” (MILITIAMEN NATIVE TO THE AREA WILL REMAIN); — C. A CALL FOR THE PRESIDENT, PM, GOVERNMENT, AND LAF COMMAND TO ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR SECURITY VIOLATIONS. JA’JA’ FURTHER STATED HIS HOPE THAT THESE MEASURES WOULD CONSTITUTE A FIRST STEP TOWARD A SETTLEMENT AND CALL FORTH PEACE INITIATIVES FROM THE OTHER PARTIES INVOLVED. HE INVITED JOURNALISTS TO WITNESS TOMORROW’S WITHDRAWAL.
7. ON THE MILITARY LEVEL, THE QUADRIPARTITE MILITARY COMMISSION IS REPORTED BY THE PRESS TO BE WORKING FOR THE DEPLOYMENT OF AN ADDITIONAL LAF UNIT TO SIDON. NO DETAILS OF ARMAMENT OR CONFESSIONAL COMPOSITION ARE AVAILABLE. IN ANY EVENT, PAST HISTORY INDICATES THAT IT CANNOT BE DEPLOYED IN THE ABSENCE OF A PRIOR POLITICAL AGREEMENT.
8. ONE USUALLY WELL INFORMED LOCAL PRESS SOURCE TELLS US THAT SYRIA IS TRYING TO PUT IN PLACE A SCENARIO WHEREBY SUNNIS OF SIDON CAN CLAIM VICTORY OVER THE LF AS A SOP FOR RECENT SUNNI LOSSES IN WEST BEIRUT. THE PRICE OF SUCH A DEAL, HOWEVER, IS ALLEGED TO BE RENUNCIATION BY SUNNIS OF THEIR LINKS WITH PRO-ARAFAT PLO PALESTINIANS AND ACCEPTANCE OF RELIANCE UPON DRUZE AND ABU MUSA PALESTINIANS IN THEIR STEAD. THE ALTERNA- TIVE, ACCORDING TO THIS SOURCE, IS FOR DRUZE, ABU MUSA MILITIA, AND AMAL TO ADMINISTER THE SAME LESSON IN SIDON THAT THEY DID IN WEST BEIRUT.
9. IN TYRE, ISRAELI FORCES CONTINUE THEIR PREPARATIONS FOR WITHDRAWAL. IDF SPOKESMEN HAVE ANNOUNCED A WITHDRAWAL DATE OF APRIL 24, BUT ACTIVITIES ON THE GROUND INDICATE IT MAY OCCUR UP TO 24 HOURS EARLIER. ALL BUILDINGS AND INSTALLATIONS OF POTENTIAL USE TO THE RESISTANCE ARE BEING DYNAMITED, THERE IS AS YET NO WORD ON POSSIBLE LAF DEPLOYMENT AFTER THE ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL.
BARTHOLOMEW
LF COMPLETES WITHDRAWAL FROM SIDON, AND ISRAELIS LEAVE THE WEST BIQA’
1985 April 25, 14:13 (Thursday)
85BEIRUT2434_a
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL
— Not Assigned —
ISRAELIS LEAVE THE WEST BIQA’ REFERENCE: BEIRUT 2408
1.(U) LOCAL PRESS REPORTS THE COMPLETION ON APRIL 24 OF THE WITHDRAWAL OF 450 LF MILITIAMEN FROM THE SIDON AREA TO EAST BEIRUT. HOWEVER, THESE REPORTS CONTINUE, LAF UNITS HAVE STILL NOT OCCUPIED THE FORMER LF POSITIONS EAST OF THE CITY, AND SPORADIC EXCHANGES OF FIRE CONTINUE TO MAR THE CEASE-FIRE. LF MILITIAMEN NATIVE TO THE AREA ARE SAID TO REMAIN ARMED AND IN UNIFORM. SCATTERED FIGHTING WAS REPORTED ON BOTH MAIN AXES OF CONFRONTATION WITH LF FIGHTERS IN QAYAA EXCHANGING FIRE WITH THE LAF, AND PALESTINIANS FROM THE MIYAH MIYAH CAMP FIRING MORTAR ROUNDS INTO THE VILLAGE OF MIYAH MIYAH. LF OFFICIALS DENY THAT THE CHRISTIANS RETURNED FIRE, BUT THE PALESTINIANS CLAIM NINE WERE WOUNDED BY CHRISTIAN FIRE. THE CITY REMAINS TENSE.
2.(U) PRESS REPORTS ALSO DESCRIBE THE APRIL 24 ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM THE WESTERN BIQA’, JABAL BARUK, AND JAZZIN. THE NEW ISRAELI FRONT LINE THUS STRETCHES FROM THE COAST EAST ALONG THE LITANI RIVER, THEN NORTHEASTERLY TO KFAR HUNA, AND EAST AGAIN TO MT. HERMON. ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE REPORTEDLY DISMANTLED THEIR POSITIONS IN AND AROUND TYRE, THE ISRAELIS HAVE NOT YET LEFT THE CITY. AS THEY LEFT THE WESTERN BIQA’, THEY DROPPED LEAFLETS WARNING THE LOCAL INHABITANTS AGAINST COOPERATING WITH THE SHIA RESISTANCE FIGHTERS: “WE MUST REMIND YOU THAT THE ISRAELI FORCES WILL NOT HESITATE TO DEAL FIRMLY AND WITHOUT MERCY WITH THOSE WHO COOPERATE WITH TERRORISM.”
3.(U) OF THE NEWLY EVACUATED AREAS, ONLY THE WEST BIQA’ HAS BEEN OCCUPIED BY THE LAF, ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS. THERE, UNITS OF THE SHIA FIRST BRIGADE WERE WARMLY GREETED BY AREA RESIDENTS. PSP FORCES, HOWEVER, OCCUPIED THE STRATEGIC HILL OF JABAL BARUK, ALTHOUGH THE ISRAELIS HAD DISMANTLED THEIR INSTALLATIONS BEFORE DEPARTING. THE SITUATION IN JAZZIN, REPORTED REFTEL, REMAINS UNCLEAR.
4.(C) COMMENT. EMBASSY CONTACTS HAVE LONG INDICATED THAT PSP LEADER WALID JUMBLATT INTENDED TO OCCUPY JABAL BARUK ONCE THE ISRAELIS LEFT. IT IS UNLIKELY HE WILL BE CONVINCED TO YIELD THIS STRATEGIC POSITION TO AN LAF FORCE HE DOES NOT CONTROL. END COMMENT.
BARTHOLOMEW
FALLOUT FROM SIDON
1985 April 27, 11:37 (Saturday)
85BEIRUT2486_a
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL
— Not Assigned —
1. C-ENTIRE TEXT.
2. CONFUSION CONTINUES ABOUT EXACT SITUATION IN VILLAGES EAST OF SIDON (REFTEL) WITH BEIRUT PARTIES PLAYING USUAL ROLES IN GREEK CHORUS ON SIDELINES. PALESTINIAN AND FUNDAMENTALIST MUSLIM FORCES APPARENTLY CONTINUE TO OCCUPY SEVEN CHRISTIAN TOWNS THEY SEIZED EAST OF SIDON. REPORTS FILTER IN ABOUT SOME 25,000 TO 75,000 CHRISTIAN REFUGEES FROM REGION FLEEING TO EITHER JEZZIN OR BEIRUT.
3. MEANWHILE, ESLEWHERE: – ASL COMMANDER LAHAD REPORTEDLY ISSUED STATEMENT 26 APRIL THREATENING TO SHELL SIDON UNLESS PALESTINIANS AND MUSLIM MILITIA CEASE OFFENSIVE. HE ALSO IS QUOTED AS WARNING LAF AGAINST SENDING TROOPS TO JEZZIN “BEFORE BRINGING THE SECURITY SITUATION IN SIDON UNDER CONTROL AND FORCING THE PALESTINIANS BACK INTO THEIR CAMPS.” – PRESIDENT GEMAYEL TELEPHONED SYRIAN PRESIDENT ASSAD TO BRIEF HIM ON DEVELOPMENTS IN SIDON; TWO LEADERS AGREED TO KEEP IN TOUCH. – CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS MET 26 FRIDAY AND DEPLORED SITUATION IN SIDON, CALLED ON FRIENDLY COUNTRIES (“PARTICULARLY SYRIA”), “ALL FREE NATIONS”, AND POPE TO HELP. OTHER CHRISTIAN LEADERS, LED BY CAMILLE CHAMOUN, ISSUED SIMILAR STATEMENTS – GEMAYEL, PARLIAMENT SPEAKER HUSSEINI, AND PM KARAMI MET 26 APRIL TO REVIEW SITUATION. KARAMI AFTER MEETING COMMENTED IN PART THAT RECENT ATTACKS IN SIDON WERE “REACTIONS WHICH EXPOSED OUR BROTHERS…TO WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO THEIR BROTHERS IN SIDON”, COMMENT WHICH SPARKED SHARP CHRISTIAN REACTION AGAINST WHAT THEY VIEWED AS EXAMPLE OF KARAMI’S LACK OF CONCERN FOR CHRISTIANS WOES. REMAINDER OF KARAMI’S REMARKS AND THOSE OF HUSSEINI AND OTHER MUSLIM LEADERS WERE DUTIFULLY SOLEMN. – SIDON DEPUTY NAZIH BIZRI ISSUED A STATEMENT CONGRATULATING THE INHABITANTS OF SIDON FOR THEIR, “VICTORY AGAINST THE LEBANESE FORCES AND THE AGENTS OF ISRAEL.” ACCORDING TO BIZRI, “WHAT HAS COME TO PASS IS THE WORK OF SIDONIANS,” NOT OF ARAFAT PALESTINIANS. HE CALLED THE EXODUS OF CHRISTIAN VILLAGERS AN “ISRAELI PLOT,” AND CALLED ON THE REFUGEES TO RETURN TO THEIR HOMES. – JA’JA’S CALL FOR A GENERAL STRIKE IN EAST BEIRUT FOR APRIL 27 AS A PROTEST AGAINST SIDON EVENTS, A CALL IN WHICH THE PHALANGE PARTY JOINED 26 APRIL, HAS PROVED SUCCESSFUL, WITH ONLY OCCASIONAL GAS STATIONS, BAKERIES, MOM AND POP CORNER GROCERY STORES, PHARMACIES, AND SIDEWALK NEWSTANDS OPERATING. – CHRISTIAN STUDENT DEMONSTRATORS 26 APRIL NUMBERING AN ESTIMATED 500 STUDENTS, MOSTLY FROM THE SOUTH, MARCHED ON THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TO CRITICIZE THE FAILURE OF LAF TO DEPLOY TO PROTECT THE VILLAGES AFTER THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE LEBANESE FORCES. DELEGATIONS OF DEMONSTRATORS MET WITH LAF COMMANDER GENERAL A’OUN. THE ONLY LAF REACTION THUS FAR HAS BEEN A CALL BY GENERAL A’OUN FOR LAF SOLDIERS IN THE SIDON REGION TO REPORT TO THEIR UNITS. – ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION BY SOUTHERNERS RESIDING IN BEIRUT OCCURRED 26 APRIL ON THE AUTOSTRADE NORTHEAST OF THE CAPITAL, WITH DEMONSTRATORS BLOCKING ROADS, BURNING TIRES, AND FIRING IN THE AIR. OTHER DEMONSTRATIONS IN EAST BEIRUT ARE REPORTEDLY SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 27. – APPARENTLY AS THE RESULT OF AMAL LEADER BARRI WORKING WITH CHRISTIAN LEADERS, AMAL HAS REPORTEDLY DEPLOYED IN STRENGTH OUTSIDE THE CHRISTIAN VILLAGE OF MAGHDUSHAH (POP. 8000) NEAR MIYAH MIYAH TO PROVIDE PROTECTION TO THE VILLAGE AGAINST ADVANCING PALESTINIAN/MUSLIM FORCES. MAGHDUSHAH REMAINS CALM AND SECURE 27 APRIL.
4. COMMENT. ESTIMATES OF NUMBERS OF REFUGEES APPEAR EXAGGERATED, AS DO LOCAL STORIES OF “PALESTINIAN HORDES LOOTING AND BURNING.” NONETHELESS, THIS PERSPECTIVE REFLECTS DEEP CHRISTIAN ANXIETY OVER THE SIDON EVENTS. THE MAIN TARGETS FOR CHRISTIAN REACTION ARE LAF, FOR ITS FAILURE TO DEPLOY AS AGREED TO REPLACE DEPARTING LF FORCES, AND MUSLIM LEADERS FOR “FAILING TO KEEP THEIR WORD” TO PROTECT CHRISTIANS IN THE SOUTH AS AGREED ALSO AS THE PRICE OF LF PULLOUT. BARRI’S AMAL GETS GRUDGING CREDIT FOR DEPLOYING OUTSIDE MAGHDUSHAH.
5. LAF DEPLOYMENT AWAITS “POLITICAL COVER” WHICH A’OUN TRIES TO INSIST ON BEFORE ACTING. SATURDAY, APRIL 27, IS FULL OF MEETINGS, CONSULTATIONS, TRAVELS, ETC., TRYING TO SET UP BACKSTAGE ARRANGEMENTS WHICH WOULD PROVIDE SUCH COVER.
6. SOME CHRISTIANS INTERPRET THE ABSENCE OF “POLITICAL COVER” FOR LAF DEPLOYMENT AS A REFLECTION OF AN AGREEMENT TO COMPENSATE THE SUNNIS IN SIDON FOR WHAT THEY LOST IN WEST BEIRUT. THE MAIN WINNER THUS FAR, HOWEVER, APPEARS TO BE THE ARAFATI PLO, WHICH HAS EXPANDED ITS CONTROL AND STRENGTHENED ITS POSITION AROUND THE CAMPS, A RESULT WHICH PRESUMABLY WILL NOT WARM ASSAD’S HEART. 7. THE PHALANGE’S JOINING IN THE CALL FOR A GENERAL STRIKE IN PROTEST AGAINST THE SIDON EVENTS AND GOVERNMENT/LAF INACTION MAKES IT MORE DIFFICULT TO PORTRAY BEIRUT DEMONSTRATIONS AS LF-INTIFIDA ALONE DEFENDING CHRISTIAN INTERESTS, BUT FASTER REACTION WOULD HAVE GAINED THEM MORE CREDIT.
END COMMENT.
BARTHOLOMEW
1. CONFIDENTIAL – ENTIRE TEXT.
2. SUMMARY: MFA DIRECTOR GENERAL KIMCHE BRIEFED AMBAS- SADORS FROM UN SECURITY COUNCIL AND UNIFIL CONTRIBUTOR COUNTRIES JUNE 12 ON SOUTHERN LEBANON. KIMCHE REITERATED ISRAELI POLICY IN SOUTHERN LEBANON LEADING UP TO THE WITHDRAWAL, THEN EMPHASIZED THAT ISRAEL WAS NOW OUT OF LEBANON AND, THEREFORE, NO LONGER IN CONTROL. AS A RE- SULT, ALTHOUGH ISRAEL WAS TRYING TO BE HELPFUL, ISRAEL FELT THAT UNIFIL MUST WORK OUT THE PROBLEM OF THE FINNISH HOSTAGES WITH THE SLA DIRECTLY. IF ISRAEL SOUGHT TO CONTROL EVENTS AND FORCE LAHAD TO RELEASE THE FINNISH SOLDIERS, ISRAEL WOULD, IN EFFECT, BE BACK IN LEBANON. THERE WOULD BE NO MORE SLA AND LAHAD WOULD BE FINISHED. SEVERAL AMBASSADORS SAID THEIR GOVERNMENTS CONSIDER ISRAEL TO REMAIN RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFETY OF THE UNIFIL SOLDIERS, AND MADE STRONG STATEMENTS OF PRINCIPLE AGAINST THE HOLDING OF HOSTAGES. END SUMMARY.
– 3. MFA DIRECTOR GENERAL DAVID KIMCHE INVITED THE AMBAS- SADORS AND CHARGES FROM THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBER STATES AND THE CONTRIBUTORS TO UNIFIL TO A BRIEFING JUNE 12 ON ISRAEL’S POLICY IN SOUTH LEBANON. THE BRIEFING INVITATION WAS STIMULATED BY THE PRESENT CRISIS BETWEEN UNIFIL AND THE SOUTH LEBANESE ARMY. KIMCHE SOUGHT TO PLACE THE ISRAELI REACTION TO THE CURRENT CRISIS IN THE BROAD CONTEXT OF ISRAELI POLICY.
– 4. ISRAELI POLICY ON SOUTHERN LEBANON
– ———————————-
KIMCHE OPENED BY NOTING THAT THERE IS A CABINET DECISION ON SOUTHERN LEBANON THAT CONTINUES TO BE THE BASIS OF ISRAELI ACTIONS, UNTIL THERE IS A CABINET DECISION TO CHANGE IT. THE DECISION INCLUDES THE FOLLOW- ING ELEMENTS: A) THE IDF IS REDEPLOYED ALONG THE INTER- NATIONAL FRONTIER, AND NO IDF UNITS WILL REMAIN IN LEBANON ON A REGULAR OR PERMANENT BASIS. B) THE IDF RE- TAINS FREEDOM OF ACTION AGAINST TERRORISTS BEFORE, DURING OR AFTER THEIR ACTIVITIES AGAINST ISRAEL. C) A SECURITY ZONE HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED, WITH ISRAELI LIAISON WITH LOCAL FORCES WHICH ARE DEDICATED AGAINST TERRORISM. D) IF THE LOCAL FORCES ARE ATTACKED THE IDF MAY RESPOND TO PROTECT THEM.
– 5. ISRAEL’S RELATIONS WITH THE SLA
– ——————————-
KIMCHE SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL HAS HELPED AND CONTINUES TO HELP THE SOUTH LEBANON (SLA), BUT NO LONGER CONTROLS THE SECURITY ZONE. HE SAID THE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SLA IS ONE OF LIAISON AND ADVICE, BUT IT DOES NOT PERMIT ISRAEL TO GIVE ORDERS, AND THE SLA IS NOT A DE FACTO ISRAELI FORCE. THE SLA IS LEBANESE, COMMANDED BY A LEBANESE GENERAL, AND IT BEHAVES AS THE LEBANESE BEHAVE, NOT AS ISRAELIS WOULD. THIS MEANS THAT THE SLA OFTEN ACTS IN A MANNER WHICH IS DISTASTEFUL TO ISRAEL.
– 6. THE “UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT” WITH UNIFIL
– ————————————–
KIMCHE SAID THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL DEPLORES “THE UNFORTUNATE INCIDENT”, AND WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT SETTLED. HE SAID ISRAEL HAS GIVEN THE FOLLOWING ADVICE TO THE SLA: A) NOT TO HARM ANY OF THE HOSTAGES; HE SAID THE SLA HAS COMMITTED ITSELF TO DO NO HARM TO THE FINNISH SOLDIERS, AND THIS IS BEING OBSERVED. B) ISRAEL HAS ADVISED LAHAD TO RELEASE THE HOSTAGES IN THE FRAMEWORK OF TALKS WITH UNIFIL. HE SAID THAT THE ISSUE MUST BE RESOLVED BY UNIFIL AND THE SLA DIRECTLY. ON NO ACCOUNT, HE EMPHASIZED, SHOUL ISRAEL BE A DIRECT PARTY. ISRAEL IS OUT OF LEBANON; IF IT WERE TO DEAL DIRECTLY THAT WOULD INDICATE THAT ISRAEL IS STILL IN. KIMCHE VOLUNTEERED THAT IT IS TRUE THAT ISRAEL STILL HAS LIAISON OFFICERS IN SOUTHERN LEBANON, BUT HE ASSERTED THAT THE NUMBERS ARE FEWER THAN THOSE WHICH WERE ACCEPTED IN THE MAY 17 AGREEMENT WHICH HAD BEEN WELCOMED BY MANY STATES INCLUDING EGYPT.
– 7. THE UNIFIL-SLA MEETING
– ———————-
KIMCHE SAID THAT THE MEETING BETWEEN GENERALS LAHAD AND PONS IS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. HE SAID THEY DIS- CUSSED THE RELEASE OF THE CAPTIVES; THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL THOUGHT THEY SHOULD HAVE MET FROM THE VERY BEGIN- NING, BUT THIS MEETING AT LEAST WAS HELD IN A GOOD ATMOSPHERE. THE GIST OF THE MEETING WAS: LAHAD ASKED UNIFIL FOR THE ELEVEN SLA TROOPS TO BE BROUGHT TO A NEUTRAL PLACE WHERE IT COULD BE DETERMINED WHETHER THEY HAD IN FACT DEFECTED OR HAD BEEN CAPTURED AND TURNED OVER TO AMAL. HE SAID THAT IF THE ELEVEN STATE THAT THEY HAD DEFECTED, THE FINNS WILL BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY BY LAHAD. IT HAD ALSO BEEN AGREED DURING THE MEETING TO APPOINT LIAISON OFFICERS BETWEEN GENERALS PONS AND LAHAD, AND UNIFIL HAD SECURED THE RIGHT TO VISIT THE FINNISH SOLDIERS EVERY THREE OR FOUR DAYS. KIMCHE SAID, OF COURSE HE HOPED THE PROBLEM WOULD BE SOLVED BEFORE THAT TIME LIMIT. KIMCHE CONCLUDED THAT HE BELIEVED THAT IT WAS NOW UP TO UNIFIL TO BRING THE ELEVEN TO A NEUTRAL SPOT, PERHAPS NAQURA.
– 8. GENERAL REMARKS
– —————
KIMCHE OFFERED THE FOLLOWING ADDITIONAL REMARKS: SINCE THERE IS NO CENTRAL GOVERNMENT IN LEBANON, ISRAEL UNDER- STANDS THE NEED FOR UNIFIL TO HAVE RELATIONS WITH THE AMAL MILITIAS. IN FACT HE SAID THIS IS A POSITIVE THING. IN THE PAST UNIFIL HAD SAID THAT IT COULD DEAL ONLY WITH THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT OF LEBANON. BUT SINCE THAT PROVED IMPRACTICAL, AND UNIFIL IS NOW DEALING WITH AMAL, IT SHOULD ALSO DEAL WITH THE SLA. HE SAID THIS NOW SEEMS TO BE IN PROGRESS. ISRAEL, HE SAID, WOULD LIKE A STRONG CEN- TRAL GOVERNMENT IN LEBANON, AND WOULD LIKE TO HAVE LIAISON WITH THE LEBANESE ARMY. BUT THIS IS NOT FEASIBLE, AND THERE IS LITTLE HOPE FOR IMPROVEMENT IN THE FORESEEABL FUTURE. KIMCHE THEN DESCRIBED THE INTERFACTIONAL FIGHTING WITHIN LEBANON, NOTING THAT IT APPEARS THAT ALL FACTIONS ARE NOW FIGHTING WITH ALL OTHERS, FOLLOWING A RECENT REPORT OF A SHIA-DRUZE CONFLICT THIS MORNING.
– 9. JAZZIN
– ——
KIMCHE SAID THAT JAZZIN COULD BE THE NEW FLASHPOINT. HE SAID THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL HAD NEVER TOLD OR ADVISED THE SLA TO GO TO JAZZIN, AND FURTHER ADVISED THE SLA THAT IF IT DECIDED TO GO TO JAZZIN, ISRAEL WOULD NOT HELP THE SLA BECAUSE JAZZIN IS OUTSIDE THE SECURITY ZONE. THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL HAD PROPOSED TO UNIFIL THAT IT DEPLOY TO JAZZIN, SINCE IT HAD FORCES CLOSE BY. HE SAID THE GOI WOULD WELCOME A UNIFIL DEPLOY- MENT TO JAZZIN AND WOULD ADVISE THE SLA TO WITHDRAW IN THAT CASE. THE UN SECRETARY HAD THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA AND TRIED IT OUT WITH PRESIDENT GEMAYEL. GEMAYEL ALSO, ACCORDING TO KIMCHE, THOUGHT IT WAS A GOOD IDEA BUT DECLINED TO REQUEST A UNIFIL PRESENCE IN JAZZIN BECAUSE HE KNEW HE COULDN’T GAIN THE SUPPORT OF EITHER SYRIA OR HIS OWN PRIME MINISTER. HE SAID THIS ALSO DEMONSTRATES THE WEAKNESS OF THE GOVERNMENT OF LEBANON.
– 10. THE FINNS VERSUS THE SLA
—————————–
KIMCHE SAID HE DID NOT KNOW THE FACTS. HE SAID THE INVESTIGATION WAS UNDERWAY, BUT IT APPEARED THAT THE UN STILL BELIEVES THAT THE ELEVEN SLA TROOPS DEFECTED. THE GOI, HE SAID, IS SKEPTICAL; IT BELIEVES THEY WERE ABDUCTED FOR THE FOLLOWING REASONS WHICH KIMCHE ADMITTED WERE CIRCUMSTANTIAL: A) ALL OF THE ELEVEN LEFT THEIR FAMILIES BEHIND. KNOWING THAT THE SLA IS NOT A GENTLE FORCE, THEY WOULD CLEARLY HAVE BEEN AFRAID FOR THEIR FAMILIES IF THEY HAD VOLUNTARILY DEFECTED. B) SHORTLY AFTER THE SLA ELEVEN WERE MOVED TO TYRE, AMAL LEADER NABIH BERRI SAID THAT HE WOULD EXCHANGE THE ELEVEN PRISONERS FOR THE SHIA PRISONERS HELD IN ISRAEL. KIMCHE SAID IT WOULD BE RARE INDEED TO OFFER TO EXCHANGE DEFECTORS FOR OTHER PRISONERS. C) HE THEN SHOWED A TV FILM MADE BY A SYRIAN CREW JUST AFTER THE ELEVEN REACHED TYRE. THE CAPTIVES WERE SHOWN BEING HELD UNDER ARMED GUARD, SULLEN, APPARENTLY FEARFUL, AND RESPONDING TO ORDERS BY THEIR GUARDS. KIMCHE SAID THIS APPEARED NOT TO BE THE DEMEANOR OF PERSONS WHO HAD VOLUNTARILY DEFECTED.
– 11. KIMCHE CONCLUDED THIS SESSION BY NOTING THAT ISRAEL MAY NEVER KNOW THE TRUTH, BUT THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAE WANTS THE FINNS RELEASED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. HE SAID THAT ALL THAT ISRAEL WANTS IS PEACE ON THE NORTHERN FRONTIER.
12. AMBASSADORS’ COMMENTS
————————–
THE BRITISH AMBASSADOR NOTED THAT THERE WAS A PRESS REPORT THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL WOULD CONTEMPLATE A MOVE OF UNIFIL TO THE BORDER UNDER AN ARRANGEMENT AGREED TO WITH THE SLA. KIMCHE SAID THE UN HAD PRESENTED SOME IDEAS TO THE GOI ON THE POSSIBILITY OF A UNIFIL DEPLOYMENT TO THE BORDER WITH THE DE FACTO COOPERATION OF THE SLA. NO DECISION HAD BEEN REACHED, AND THE SUBJECT WAS NOT THOROUGHLY DISCUSSED IN THE RABIN/URQUHART MEETING YESTERDAY. HE NOTED, HOWEVER, THAT IN THE MEANTIME, UNTIL SUCH AN ARRANGEMENT IS WORKED OUT, ISRAELI POLICY, AS DETERMINED BY THE CABINET, REMAINS. HE ADDED HOWEVER, THAT ISRAEL IS PREPARED TO CONSIDER ANY IDEAS FOR STRENGTHENING THE STABILITY OF THE BORDER AREA.
– 13. THE ITALIAN AMBASSADOR NOTED THAT THE EC-10 HAD MET AND HAD MADE A GENERAL STATEMENT ON LEBANON. HE SAID THE FOREIGN MINISTERS OF THE TEN CONSIDERED THE INCIDENT VERY SERIOUS. THEIR OPINION WAS THAT EVERY MEASURE SHOULD BE TAKEN TO FREE ALL HOSTAGES. AMBASSADOR TALIANI ADDED A PERSONAL NOTE SAYING THAT IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR HIM TO ACCEPT ISRAELI DISCLAIMERS OF RESPONSIBILITY IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT ISRAEL HAD ARMED AND EQUIPPED AND CONTINUED TO PAY THE SLA. KIMCHE REPLIED THAT GIVING ASSISTANCE DOES NOT MEAN CONTROL. FOR EXAMPLE, HE SAID, THE 3,000 SOVIET ADVISERS IN SYRIA DO NOT MEAN THAT THE SOVIET UNION CONTROLS SYRIA. HE SAID IF ISRAEL ACCEPTED THE ITALIAN AMBASSADOR’S PREMISE, THE IDF WOULD BE DOOMED TO STAY IN LEBANON IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN CONTROL.
– 14. THE SWEDISH AMBASSADOR STATED THE STRONG DESIRE OF HIS GOVERNMENT TO HAVE THE FINNISH TROOPS RELEASED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. HE ADDED THAT HE FELT THAT THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL HAS A STRONG RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE RELEASE.
15. THE BRITISH AMBASSADOR INTERVENED AGAIN TO NOTE THAT IT WAS A VERY DANGEROUS PRECEDENT TO ACCEPT THE TAKING OF HOSTAGES. HE SAID HIS MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT WAS VERY EXERCISED OVER THE HOSTAGE ISSUE. HE SAID ANY ACTION THAT ENCOURAGES THE TAKING OF HOSTAGES IS BAD BOTH IN THIS CASE AND IN THE GENERAL SENSE. KIMCHE SAID HE AGREED THAT ANY TAKING OF HOSTAGES IS BAD. HE CONCEDED THAT PERHAPS ISRAEL COULD SEND IN ITS TROOPS TO FORCE THEIR RELEASE. BUT IF THE IDF DID GO IN, IT WOULD MEAN THE END OF THE SLA, AND THE GOI WOULD HAVE TO BE BACK IN LEBANON TO STAY. HE SAID ISRAEL HAS GIVEN STRONG ADVICE TO LAHAD THAT IT WAS WRONG TO HOLD HOSTAGES. BUT HE ADDED THAT THE ELEVEN SLA TROOPS MAY ALSO BE AS MUCH HOSTAGE AS THE FINNS. HE SAID THEREFORE THE ONLY LINE OF ATTACK IS TO FOLLOW UP ON THE LAHAD PROPOSAL. HE THEN URGED THE CONTRIBUTORS TO UNIFUL TO PRESS THE UN TO HAVE THE AMAL BRING THE ELEVEN TROOPS TO THE NEUTRAL ZONE SO IT COULD DETERMINE IF THEY WERE VOLUNTARILY DEFECTORS OR IN FACT CAPTIVES.
16. THE AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR SAID THAT HIS GOVERNMENT WELCOMES THE ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM LEBANON, BUT ADDED THAT THE CONTINUING PRESENCE OF LIAISON OFFICERS LEAVES THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL CONSIDERABLE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CIRCUMSTANCES AT PRESENT. HE SAID THE HOSTAGES SHOULD BE RELEASED WITHOUT CONDITIONS IMMEDIATELY.
– 17. COMMENT – THIS WAS THE THIRD OF A SERIES OF MEETINGS THAT KIMCHE HAS HAD WITH THIS GROUP ON LEBANON. KIMCHE STATED THE CASE WITH CLARITY AND PRECISION, BUT HIS AUDIENCE WAS NOT CONVINCED. CONCERNING THE HOSTAGES, HE REPEATED SEVERAL TIMES THAT ISRAEL COULD BE EITHER IN LEBANON OR OUT, AND IF OUT, ISRAEL COULD NOT FORCE LAHAD TO DO WHAT HE DIDN’T WANT TO DO. BEHIND THIS DENIAL OF CONTROL OF LAHAD IS KIMCHE’S CONVICTION THAT TO TRY TO FORCE LAHAD WOULD MEAN THE END OF LAHAD AND LAHAD’S FORCES CLEARLY THIS IS A CARD WHICH ISRAEL HAS NOT BEEN WILLING TO PLAY. IT IS ALSO CLEAR, AS KIMCHE IMPLIED SEVERAL TIMES, THAT ISRAELI POLICY ON SOUTHERN LEBANON IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE AS THE TACTICAL SITUATION SHIFTS. BUT ISRAEL IS STILL COMMITTED TO SUPPORTING LAHAD IN GENERAL AND IN HIS CONFRONTATION WITH UNIFIL, AND IS UNWILLING TO FACE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE DISINTEGRATION OF THE SLA. IF THE SLA SHOULD CRUMBLE, THE PERES GOVERNMENT’S LEBANON WITH- DRAWAL DECISION, UP TO NOW A VERY POPULAR ONE, COULD SPRING AGAIN INTO THE CENTER OF POLITICAL CONTRO- VERSY HERE. CERTAINLY SHARON AND HIS ALLIES WOULD MAKE THE MOST OF IT TO WEAKEN THE PERES GOVERNMENT AND FURTHER INHIBIT ITS ABILITY TO MOVE FORWARD ON EITHER THE EGYPTIAN FRONT OR THE PEACE PROCESS ISSUES NOW UNDER DISCUSSION.
18. BEIRUT
MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.
FLATEN
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The War Files (Part VIII) – Bashir Gemayel In 1977

Bachir and Pierre Gemayel

Bachir and Pierre Gemayel

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War that started on the 13th of April 1975. This is why I’ve decided to publish WikiLeaks cables from the war era, every day till the 13th of April. I think it would be interesting to look at things from a different point of view, and since it’s not the Lebanese who are telling the stories, I believe it offers a unique insight on the civil war. Although there are a lot more cables on WikiLeaks, I won’t republish them all  in order to focus on the most relevant ones. I hope you enjoy reading them.

I wanted to post something about the 1982 invasion and Bashir Gemayel’s election as president, but I couldn’t find anything (If you do find something about the early eighties, please mention it in the comment section). This post is a compilation of four cables mentioning Gemayel in the last  months of 1977. The cables are organized chronologically.

ISRAEL AND THE PHALANGE
1977 November 13, 00:00 (Sunday)
1977STATE272087_c
SECRET
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 22 May 2009
1. CALLED ON PRESIDENT AT 1730 LOCAL NOV 12 AS SCHEDULED. SHEIKH PIERRE GEMAYEL AND SONBASHIR LEFT HIS OFFICE AS I WENT IN. I TOLD PRESIDENT DEPARTMENT HAD INSTRUCTED AMBASSADOR LEWIS TO RAISE PROBLEM OF ISRAELI-PHALANGE COOPERATION WITH ISRAELIS AND ASK THEM TO DISCOURAGE CHRISTIANS BEFORE BASHIR’S IDEAS TOOK DEEPER ROOT. I HAD ALSO BEEN INSTRUCTED TO ASK HIM WHAT HE COULD TELL US ABOUT HIS MEETING WITH PIERRE GEMAYEL WHICH MIGHT ASSIST AMBASSADOR LEWIS IN HIS
SECRET SECRET PAGE 02 STATE 272087
PRESENTATION.
2. SARKIS SAID PIERRE HAD CALLED ON HIM YESTERDAY MORNING (NOV 11) AS PROMISED AND ON BEING ASKED, SAID HE HAD NO KNOWLEDGE OF ANY PLANS OF BASHIR TO UNDERTAKE ACTION OF THE SORT PRESIDENT DESCRIBED, WITH OR WITHOUT ISRAELIS. IT WAS UNTHINKABLE THAT BASHIR WOULD DO SOMETHING LIKE THAT WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING HIM. AFTER CONSULTING HIM HE MIGHT GO AHEAD AND DO IT ANYWAY, BUT HE WOULD CERTAINLY CONSULT FIRST. PRESIDENT OUTLINED TO HIM SERIOUSNESS OF WHAT BASHIR ALLEGEDLY HAD IN MIND — MILITARY ACTION AGAINST SYRIANS TIMED TO COINCIDE WITH INCIDENT IN SOUTH, THUS PROVIDING AN EXCUSE FOR ISRAELIS TO LAND AT JOUNIEH IN ORDER COME TO RESCUE OF CHRISTIANS. TO THINK IN THESE TERMS WHEN AREA WAS MOVING TOWARDS PEACE WAS HEIGHT OF FOLLY. IT WOULD MEAN DESTRUCTION OF LEBANON.
3. SHEIKH PEIRRE HAD SUBSEQUENTLY CALLED HIM ON TELEPHONE TO TELL HIM THAT BASHIR DENIED TOTALLY ANY INVOLVEMENT IN PLANS OF THE NATURE DESCRIBED. HE HAD ARRANGED TO BRING BASHIR THERE THIS AFTERNOON (NOV 12). PRESIDENT HAD CONFRONTED BASHIR WITH FACT THAT INTELLIGENCE SOURCES REPORTED HE WAS PLANNING TO ATTACK SYRIAN TROOPS IN LEBANON IN ORDER GIVE ISRAELIS PRETEXT FOR INTERVENTION, AND THAT HE WAS ALLEGED TO BE IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH ISRAELI INTELLIGENCE AGENTS HERE, WORKING OUT COORDINATED PLANS TO THIS END. BASHIR DENIED ACCUSATION FLATLY. PRESIDENT DID NOT BELIEVE HIM BECAUSE HIS INTELLIGENCE SOURCES WERE CERTAIN OF THEIR INFORMATION.
4. I ASKED HOW CERTAIN THEY WERE. SARKIS SAID THEY
SECRET SECRET PAGE 03 STATE 272087
WERE CERTAIN ISRAELIS AND BASHIR WERE WORKING TOGETHER ON PLANS FOR MILITARY ACTION OF SOME SORT. I SAID I HAD LOOKED INTO ALLEGATION ISRAELIS WERE TRAINING PHALANGE AND THAT DID NOT HOLD UP, THERE BEING NO NEED FOR THEM IN FIRST PLACE (DID NOT TELL HIM THAT G-2 JOHNNY ABDO HAD TOLD ME LAST NIGHT STORY WAS NOT TRUE). PRESIDENT SAID HE HAD NOT MEANT TO SAY ISRAELIS WERE TRAINING PHALANGE, HE MEANT THEY WERE HELPING THEM WORK OUT PLANS. LEBANSES KNEW THERE MOSAD OFFICERS HERE WHO WERE CONNECTED WITH THIS ACTIVITY. (ABDO SAID SAME THING LAST NIGHT.)
5. I ASKED IF THERE WAS ANYTHING SPECIAL HE WOULD LIKE AMBASSADOR LEWIS TO CONVEY TO ISRAELIS ON SUBJECT. PRESIDENT SAID NOTHING BEYOND TELLING THEM TO CEASE AND DESIST.
6. COMMENT: HAD BASHIR NOT TALKED TO ME IN SUCH REVOLUTIONARY TERMS LAST WEEK, AND HAD WEIZMAN NOT MADE HIS CRYPTIC REMARK ABOUT THE NORTH, I WOULD BE INCLINED TO THINK THIS WHOLE AFFAIR WAS A MARE’S NEST. THERE IS ENOUGH SMOKE, HOWEVER, SO THAT I SUSPECT SOMETHING IS INDEED GOING ON. JUST WHAT AND HOW SERIOUS IS HARD TO SAY. WE HAVE BEEN TOLD, FOR INSTANCE, THAT BASHIR’S PLANS INCLUDE SURROUNDING THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE AT BAABDA AND MOUNTING A COUP D’ETAT, THE MINISTERS OF THE NEW GOVERNMENT ALREADY HAVING BEEN CHOSEN. THIS SEEMS PRETTY FAR-FETCHED, BUT THERE ARE MANY YOUNG CHRISTIAN HOTHEADS WHO WOULD GO FOR SUCH AN ADVENTURE.
7. SUGGEST AMBASSADOR LEWIS DRAW ON ABOVE AND OUR 5632 AS HE SEES FIT, STRAIGHTENING OUT THE MISUNDERSTANDING ABOUT TRAINING VS PLANNING, AND AVOIDING REFERENCE TO MY OWN VIEWS OR COMMENTS TO SARKIS OR DEPARTMENT. IN VIEW MY RELATIONS WITH BASHIR, AND IMPORTANCE MAINTAINING THAT CONDUIT OPEN, DO NOT WANT TO GIVE HIM
SECRET SECRET PAGE 04 STATE 272087
REASON TO CLAIM THAT I HAVE SQUEALED ON HIM. WE MAY BE SURE THAT ISRAELIS WILL TELL HIM OF LEWIS’S CONVERSATION WITH WEIZMAN, AS THEY ALSO TOLD HIM WE HAD VETOED ATTACK ON NAQURA. REQUEST THAT WEIZMAN OR BEGIN NOT BE GIVEN COPY OF EITHER OF OUR TELEGRAMS ON SUBJECT. THIS PROMISES TO BE A DELICATE MATTER HERE.
PARKER
UNQUOTE VANCE
SECRET
NNN
CONTACTS WITH BASHIR GEMAYEL
1977 November 28, 00:00 (Monday)
1977BEIRUT05890_c
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 22 May 2009
1. APPRECIATE PERSONAL INTEREST YOU TAKING IN ARRANGEMENTS FOR BASHIR GEMAYEL AND AGREE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT USG TAKE CONSISTENT, FIRM POSITION WITH HIM. QUESTION BEFORE US, IT SEEMS TO ME, IS HOW MUCH HE DOES UNDER OUR AUSPICES AND HOW MUCH IS DONE PRIVATELY BY MARONITE COMMUNITY AND ITS OUTRIDERS.
2. THERE IS DISTINCTION BETWEEN MEETING USG OFFICIALS IN THEIR OFFICE AND SEEING THEM AT A SOCIAL FUNCTION. WHILE BASHIR CAN ALWAYS CLAIM HE SAW SO-AND-SO AND HAD TALK WITH HIM EVEN IF HE ONLY SAW HIM AT A COCKTAIL PARTY, THAT IS LESS IMPRESSIVE THAN BEING ABLE TO SAY HE WAS RECEIVED AT THE PENTAGON OR THE WHITE HOUSE. FOR HIM TO SAY HE WAS RECEIVED BY ATHERTON WHO HAD WITH HIM SENIOR OFFICIAL FROM PENTAGON IMPLIES A PENTAGON INTEREST IN BASHIR WHICH IS
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 BEIRUT 05890 281733Z
LIKELY TO BE MISUNDERSTOOD HERE. THAT IS WHY I WOULD RATHER NOT HAVE JANDA PRESENT DURING BACHIR’S CALL ON YOU. JANKA’S PRESENCE AT LUNCH, A LESSER OCCASION, WOULD CAUSE FEWER PROBLEMS.
3. AS FOR “DEBRIEFING,” I DON’T THINK THERE WAS ANY MISUNDERSTANDING. DEPARTMENT APPARENTLY HAS IN MIND BASHIR SITTING IN SAME ROOM WITH INTELLIGENCE ANALYSTS WHO ASK QUESTIONS AND LISTEN TO HIM. THAT IS WHAT HAPPENS TO ME WHEN I GET DEBRIEFED, AND THAT IS WHAT I ASSUMED WE HAD IN MIND FOR BASHIR. MY PROBLEM IS THAT THIS WILL BE REPLAYED HERE WITH CAPITAL LETTERS–BASHIR GIVES INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY THE STRAIGHT STORY. THIS GIVES FURTHER CREDENCE TO HIS SELF IMAGE AS PALADIN OF THE CHRISTIAN FORCES SUPPORTED BY THE ENLIGHTENED POWERS OF WASHINGTON IF NOT BY THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR IN BEIRUT. PUT THAT THROUGH THE LOCAL AMPLIFYING SYSTEM AND IT IS LIKELY TO COME OUT AS A CONSIDERABLE BOOST TO HIS POSITION. HE IS FEISTY ENOUGH AS IT IS. PLEASE DO CALL OFF THE DEBRIEFING, UNLESS I WOULD BE EMBARRASSING TO DO SO THIS LATE IN THE GAME. ANYTHING WE NEED TO HAVE FROM BASHIR WE CAN PROBABLY GET FROM ONE-TO-ONE CONVERSATIONS.
4. WE HAVE NO FEARS ABOUT QUANDT MEETING BASHIR. JUST WANT TO BE SURE FORMER KNOWS HOW IT WILL BE REPLAYED HERE.
PARKER
CONFIDENTIAL
NNN
CONTACTS WITH BASHIR GEMAYEL
1977 November 27, 00:00 (Sunday)
1977STATE283209_c
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 22 May 2009
1. IN MAKING ARRANGEMENTS FOR BASHIR WE WILL BE SURE NOT TO MAKE TOO MUCH OF HIM. BELIEVE YOU WOULD AGREE THAT THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT WE TAKE A CONSISTENT, STRONG LINE IN SUPPORT OF SARKIS AND IN FIRM OPPOSITION TO BASHIR’S DANGEROUS IDEAS. HE HAS HAD LINES OUT ALL OVER TOWN. HIS INTERMEDIARIES ARE PREPARED TO HOST COCKTAIL PARTIES, IN- VITING PEOPLE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE, DOD, CIA, ETC. SINCE WE WERE NOT SURE WE COULD EFFECTIVELY BLOCK ALL SUCH CON- TACTS WITHOUT A PRAGMATIC SOLUTION OF OUR OWN, WE FELT IT WOULD BE MORE REALISTIC TO MAKE SURE SUCH CONTACTS TOOK PLACE IN THE DEPARTMENT AND UNDER OUR AUSPICES. DEBRIEFING
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 STATE 283209
MAY HAVE BEEN THE WRONG WORD TO DESCRIBE THE SESSION WE ENVISAGE AFTER LUNCH ON DECEMBER 5. WE EXPECT HIM TO BRIEF US, NOT THE REVERSE. BY THEN, HAVING SEEN HABIB, HE WILL NOT HAVE ANY ILLUSIONS LEFT ANYWAY. WE CAN CALL IT OFF IF YOU THINK IT NECESSARY. HIS ADVANCE MAN HAS SAID HE WILL BE READY TO TALK FRANKLY ABOUT THE ISRAELI CONNECTION, AND WE WANT TO HEAR WHAT HE HAS TO SAY. AS FOR QUANDT, HE SAW BOTH CHAMOUNS, AND RUNS ACROSS LEBANESE OF ALL KINDS REGULARLY.
2. WE WILL SEND YOU A REPORT BY CABLE AFTER THE VISIT WHICH YOU WILL BE ABLE TO USE TO BRIEF BOUTROS.
VANCE
CONFIDENTIAL
NNN
CONVERSATIONS WITH BASHIR GEMAYEL
1977 December 7, 00:00 (Wednesday)
1977STATE291546_c
SECRET
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 22 May 2009
1. IN HABIB’S ABSENCE ATHERTON MET WITH BASHIR GEMAYEL AND ALFRED MADY OF THE KATA’IB POLITBURO DECEMBER 3 FOR OVER HOUR, AND VELIOTES HOSTED LENGTHY INFORMAL LUNCH FOR HIM ON THE EIGHTH FLOOR DECEMBER 5 ALSO ATTENDED BY DRAPER, STODDARD, HOWELL, AND POPE (NO DOD OR CIA REPS WERE THERE).
2. GEMAYEL TOOK AN OUTWARDLY MODERATE LINE WITH US, AS HE HAS IN HIS PUBLIC APPEARANCES HERE, BUTTHE CORE OF HIS POSITION WAS OBDURATE. HE SAID HE WANTED TO DISPEL A MIS- CONCEPTION HE SAID HE KNEW WAS WIDELY HELD IN THE STATE DEPARTMENT: THAT “THOSE BLOODTHIRSTY CHRISTIANS” WANTED PARTITION. THIS WAS FALSE, HE SAID, ALTHOUGH THERE WERE
SECRET SECRET PAGE 02 STATE 291546
“NUANCES” TO THIS POSITION. HE WANTED A UNITED LEBANON. AT THE SAME TIME, HE WAS OPPOSED TO A RETURN TO THE BANKRUPT STATUS QUO ANTE OF THE NATIONAL PACT. HE WAS VAGUE ABOUT IDEAS FOR SPECIFIC POLITICAL REFORM, WHICH HE ADMITTED HAD YET TO BE WORKED OUT, BUT SAID THAT SOME SORT OF “DECENTRAL- IZATION” WAS NECESSARY TO PREVENT DE JURE PARTITION. DE FACTO PARTITION ALREADY EXISTS. REFORM WOULD HAVE TO BE RADICAL. THERE WAS NO POINT IN GOING BACK TO THE OLD SYS- TEM OF MEDIOCRITY AND COMPROMISE. A NEW SYSTEM, HE SAID, SHOULD OFFER “EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES” BUT DEMAND “EQUAL OBLIGA- TIONS” BY ALL THOSE READY TO PUT LEBANON FIRST. SUCH NECES- SARY CHANGES SHOULD HAVE BEEN MADE MONTHS AGO BY SARKIS. NOW THE GAP BETWEEN FACTIONS WAS WIDER THAN EVER, AND HE WAS AFRAID REFORM MIGHT COME TOO LATE. HE WAS CRITICAL OF SARKIS FOR TRYING TO PERPETUATE THE STRONG, CENTRAL GOVERNMENT CONCEPT, WITH ITS CHEHABIST PHILOSOPHY, G-2 TRAPPINGS, ETC. PRESSED REPEATEDLY TO BE MORE SPECIFIC, HE RETREATED TO PHRASES SUCH AS “ALLOWING DIVERSITY TO THRIVE WITHIN A UNIFIED STATE”. HE ADMITTED THAT LEBANON’S FAILURE TO DEVELOP AN ADEQUATE NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM WAS A DISGRACE. UNDER HIS DECENTRALIZED STATE, THERE WOULD, THEREFORE, BE A PLACE FOR A STRONG EDUCATION MINIS- TRY IN THE OTHERWISE RATHER WEAK CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. HE ASKED FOR U.S. SUPPORT FOR SUCH REFORMS.
3. ATHERTON EXPLAINED BASIC PRINCIPLE OF OUR POLICY IN LEBANON WAS SUPPORT FOR PRESIDENT SARKIS AND HIS UNIFYING POLICIES. HE OUTLINED ROLE OF OUR MILITARY AND ECONOMIC AID PROGRAMS IN THIS CONNECTION. WE THOUGHT THAT SOME REFORM OF THE LEBANESE SYSTEM WAS NECESSARY. WHEN PRESIDENT SARKIS FELT THE TIME WAS RIGHT TO ATTEMPT OR NEGOTIATE SOME RESTRUCTURING, WE WOULD STAND BEHIND HIM. WE WERE NOT NECESSARILY OPPOSED TO IDEAS FOR DECENTRALIZATION AND WOULD BE OPEN-
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MINDED OR SUPPORTIVE ABOUT THE CONCEPT, IF RPT IF IT EN- JOYED BROAD SUPPORT NATIONALLY.
4. GEMAYEL’S CRITICISMS OF THE POLITICAL STRUCTURE ALSO APPLIED TO A NATIONAL ARMY. HE WAS NOT SO MUCH AGAINST THE BUILDING OF THE ARMY AS HE WAS AGAINST THE OUTDATED PHILOSOPHY WHICH WOULD AFFECT ITS EMPLOYMENT I.E. AS AN INSTRUMENT OF THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. IT WOULD REPEAT THE MISTAKES OF THE PAST. CITING PAST OCCASIONS WHEN THE ARMY HAD FAILED TO PROTECT THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY, THANKS TO THE OBSOLETE “SYSTEM”, HE ARGUED THAT THE VARIOUS COMMUNITIES COULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO RELY ON ANY NEW ARMY FOR PROTECTION. THE MAIN FUTURE PROBLEM FOR THE CHRISTIANS IS SURVIVAL. WE DO NOT WANT ANOTHER ARMAGEDDON.
5. THE ONE POINT HE WAS CLEAR ON WAS THAT DECENTRALIZATION MUST INVOLVE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF REGIONAL MILITARY UNITS ALONG CONFESSIONAL LINES, ALTHOUGH THEY COULD BE NOMINALLY UNDER A UNIFIED COMMAND. HE WAS SCORNFUL OF PRESENT ATTEMPTS TO REBUILD THE ARMY, AND OUR ROLE, AND CHALLENGED US TO POINT TO ANY EVIDENCE THAT IT EVEN EXISTED, MUCH LESS THAT IT COULD PLAY AN EFFECTIVE ROLE. IT WAS FOR SHOW ONLY, HE ARGUED. HE HAD SOME CONFIDENCE IN KHOURY, BUT UNLESS HE WERE ALLOWED TO BUILD SEPARATE CONFESSIONAL FORCES AS A FIRST STEP HE WOULD NOT SUCCEED.
6. GEMAYEL WAS ALSO CRITICAL OF THE SHTAURA AGREEMENT. PHASES ONE AND TWO HAD BEEN A HYPOCRITICAL MISE EN SCENE (WE DID NOT ARGUE WITH HIM MUCH ON THIS POINT) AND HE OPPOSED PHASE THREE IN THE SOUTH INTER ALIA BECAUSE (1) IT WOULD NOT BE IMPLEMENTED, (2) A CLAUSE IN THE SHTAURA AGREEMENT WOULD ALLOW THE INTRODUCTION OF FOREIGN FIGHTERS TO LEBANON UNDER PALESTINIAN COVER, AND (3) EVEN IF THE PALESTINIANS DID MOVE OUT OF THE SOUTH THEY WOULD ONLY MOVE TO JEZZINE AND THE SHOUF AND CAUSE WORSE PROBLEMS. WE PRESSED HIM TO SUGGEST ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS FOR THE S
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SOUTH, BUT THE UPSHOT OF HIS REMARKS WAS THAT HE PREFERRED THE STATUS QUO TO SHTAURA. WE MADE ESPECIALLY CLEAR THAT WE HAD OUR OWN INTERESTS TO CONSIDER AND WOULD DO OUR BEST TO SEE THAT PALESTINIAN WITHDRAWALS OCCURRED.
7. IT MAY BE OF INTEREST THAT AT ONE POINT WHEN WE HELD UP THE EXAMPLE OF THE PNL HANDING OVER ITS SHERMANS TO THE ARMY, GEMAYEL SAID THAT HE HAD TALKED TO CAMILLE CHAMOUN ONLY AN HOUR OR SO BEFORE TO CHECK THIS VERY POINT (WHICH CAPTAIN NEHME HAD ALSO MENTIONED TO HIM) AND CHAMOUN HAD DENIED VEHEMENTLY THAT ANY TRANSFER HAD OCCURRED. IN FACT, SAID GEMAYEL, CHAMOUN HAD TOLD HIM THAT IF HE COULD GET MORE TANKS FROM THE AMERICANS HE OUGHT TO BRING SOME BACK. WE PRESUME THIS CONFLICT REFLECTS A LACK OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN DANY AND CAMILLE CHAMOUN, AS WELL AS PNL-KATA’IB RIVALRY.
8. WE BARELY TOUCHED ISRAELI-MARONITE COOPERATION. WHILE SUSPICIOUS OF SYRIAN INTENTIONS, HE ADMITTED THAT THE ADF HAD CAUSED FEWER PROBLEMS AND FRICTIONS THAN ANTICIPATED. HE, LIKE HIS FATHER, HAD CONFIDENCE IN ASSAD, BUT NOT NECESSARILY HIS SUBORDINATES OR SYRIAN AGENTS IN LEBANON. IT WAS A GREAT TEMPTATION FOR THE SYRIANS TO MEDDLE POLI- TICALLY IN LEBANON AND USE THE THREAT OF JAILING THOSE WHO OPPOSED SYRIAN ACTIONS. HE ASSERTED THAT CERTAIN LEBANESE GOVERNMENT ACTIONS AND APPOINTMENTS WERE BEING MADE TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE SYRIAN FACTOR. WITHOUT HIDING HIS DE- TESTATION OF THE PALESTINIANS, HE HAD NO QUICK ANSWERS TO THIS PROBLEM, AND DIDN’T ARGUE WITH OUR POSITION THAT THE BASIC SOLUTION HAD TO BE FOUND IN A COMPREHENSIVE MIDDLE EAST SETTLEMENT.
9. SUMMING UP, GEMAYEL SENSED HE HAD A GOOD OPPORTUNITY
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TO PRESENT HIS IDEAS FULLY AND TO ASK FOR U.S. SUPPORT FOR POLITICAL REFORM. IN TURN, HE RECEIVED A FULL EX- PLANATION OF U.S. ATTITUDES IN CANDID SPIRITED EXCHANGES. HE WAS EXASPERATING IN HIS TENDENCY TO OUTLINE IN EXHAUST- ING DETAIL THE FULL RANGE OF NEGATIVE FACTORS SURROUNDING AN ISSUE WITHOUT PROPOSING SPECIFIC ALTERNATIVES. 10. IN BACKGROUNDING THE LOCAL AN-NAHAR CORRESPONDENT ON GEMAYEL’S CALL ON ATHERTON, WE SAID THAT IT IS USUAL FOR ATHERTON TO MEET WITH PROMINENT VISITORS FROM THE AREA AND TO HEAR THEIR VIEWS, AND THAT NO MORE SHOULD BE READ INTO THE CALL.
VANCE
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The War Files (Part VII) – The Cairo Peace Negotiations Of 1976

Plumes of smoke rise from the Holiday Inn Hotel in Beirut, Lebanon Dec. 15, 1975. (AP Photo)

Plumes of smoke rise from the Holiday Inn Hotel in Beirut, Lebanon Dec. 15, 1975. (AP Photo)

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War that started on the 13th of April 1975. This is why I’ve decided to publish WikiLeaks cables from the war era, every day till the 13th of April. I think it would be interesting to look at things from a different point of view, and since it’s not the Lebanese who are telling the stories, I believe it offers a unique insight on the civil war. Although there are a lot more cables on WikiLeaks, I won’t republish them all  in order to focus on the most relevant ones. I hope you enjoy reading them.

In September 1976, Lebanese leaders (I think it’s safe to call them warlords by now) met in Cairo in order to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. Today, you’ll read three cables (one for the 15th of September, one for the 16th of September, and one for the 17th of September) about these negotiations.

CAIRO DISCUSSIONS ON LEBANON
1976 September 15, 14:44 (Wednesday)
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Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
SUMMARY. SARKIS AND JUMBLATT REPORTEDLY TO FOLLOW KARAMI, GEMAYEL AND OTHERS TO CAIRO. SADAT MET SEPT. 14 WITH KARAMI AND MUSA SADR SEPARETLY AND WILL RECEIVE GEMAYEL AND SALAM SEPT. 15. GOE REPORTEDLY IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH ARAFAT. LOCAL DAILIES DIFFER ON MILITARY INTENTIONS OF SARG. END SUMMARY.
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1. CAIRO DAILIES EPT. 15 PREOCCUPIED WITH WHAT THEY PERCEIVE AS INCEASINGLY CRUCIAL GOE ROLE IN NEGOTIATIONS ON LEBANON. PRESIDENT ELECT SARKIS TO VISIT CAIRO SEPT. 18/19 AND HE RECEIVED BY SADAT IN ISMAILIYA. JUMBLATT HAS REPORTEDLY ANNOUNCED THAT HE WILL VISIT CAIRO PRIOR TO SEPT. 23 INSTALLATION OF SARKIS AND FORMER LEBANESE PRIMIN TAKI AL-DIN AL-SOLH APPARENTLY TO ARRIVE CAIRO SEPT 16 WITH MUFTI OF LEBANON SHAIKH HASAN KHALID.
2. ALL DAILIES CARRY FRONT-PAGE PICUTRES OF MEETING IN MIT ABU AL-KOM BETWEEN KARAMI AND SADAT, ALSO ATTENDED BY VP MUBAREK, PRIMIN SALIM AND DEPRIMIN/FONMIN FAHMY. NO DETAILS GIVEN. PHALANGIST LEADER GEMAYEL AND FORMER PRIMIN SA’IB SALAM WILL MEET (PRESUMABLY SEPARATELY) WITH SADAT SEPT. 15. SHI’ITE IMAM MUSA SADR REPORTEDLY CONFERRED WITH SADAT SEPT. 14. “OFFICIAL EGYPTIAN SOURCES” AFFIRMED THAT GOE IS IN CONTINUOUS CONTACT WITH ARAFAT AND THAT EGYPT NOW FULLY COGNIZANT OF PLO STAND ON LEBANESE QUESTIONS. OFFICIAL SOURCES ALSO STATE THAT GOE CURRENTLY HOLDING DISCUSSIONS WITH NATIONALIST FORCES REPS FORMER MINISTER ABBAS KHALAF AND TAWFIG SULTAN.
3. ALL DAILIES FEATURE STATEMENT BY GEMAYEL TO PRESS AFFIRMING THAT HE “CONSIDERS EGYPT HIS SECOND HOME” AND THAT HE “LOVES EGYGT AS HE LOVES LEBANON BECAUSE EGYPT IS THE ELDER SISTER AND EXTENDS A HELPING HAND.” GEMAYEL ALSO REORTEDLY STATED THAT PHALANGISTS DO NOT DIFFER WITHOTHERS OVER PALESTINIAN CAUSE OR WITH PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE ITSELF.
4. DAILIES CARRY CONFLICTING REPORTS CONCERNING SYRIAN INTENTONS BUT ARTICLES GENERALLY LOW KEY AND ALMOST PUSHED OFF FRONT PAGES BY CAIRO NEGOTIATIONS. AHRAM, QUOTING PLO SOURCES, OPINES THAT SARG, UNDER PRESSURE FROM OTHER ARAB STATES, UNLIKELY TO PURSUE MILITARY SOLUTION IN LEBANON PRIOR TO SEPT. 23. PLO SOURCES EXPECT TRIPARTITE SYRIAN-PLO-LEBANESE MEETING IN SHTAURA WITHIN NEXT 48 HOURS. ON OTHER HAND, AKHBAR, CITING “ISOLATIONIST LEBANESE SOURCES” (PROBABLY NLP), REFERS TO MASSING AND STRENGTHENING OF SYRIAN TROOPS ALONG MAIN DAMACUS-BEIRUT ROAD ON WESTERN SIDE O BIQAA VALLEY, AS LIMITED
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PRELUDE TO MILITARY DRIVE PRIOR TO INSTALLATION OF SARKIS.
5. IN BRIEF CONVERSATION WITH CHARGE SEPT. 14 BOTH FAHMY AIDE AL-BAZ AND GOE AMBASSADOR TO LEBANON MITWALLI (WHO CONSULTING IN CAIRO AND EXPECTS RETURN TO BEIRUT WITH SARKIS SEPT. 19) EXPRESSED CONSIDERABLE OPTIMISM. MITWALLI VOLUNTEERED THAT DESIRE TO END CARNAGE IS NOW STRENGTHENING FAST IN LEBANON.
6. COMMENT: EGYPTIANS PLEASED BY NEW-FOUND PROMINENCE ON LEBANESE ISSUE AND CAIRO PRESS, IN IMITATION OF ITS SYRIAN COUNTERPART, VIRTUALLY IGNORING EVENTS IN DAMASCUS AND PORTRAYING CAIRO DISCUSSIONS AS ONLY GAME IN TOWN RE POSSIBLE LEBANESE SOLUTION. 7. DESPITE WHIRLWIND OF ACTIVITY, FROM EMBASSY VIEWPOINT, OUTCOME OF DISCUSSIONS IN CAIRO CONTINUES TO HINGE ON EGYPTIAN- SYRIAN REALTIONSIP AND UNLESS DAMASCUS AND CAIRO AGREE ON HOW TO DEAL WITH LEBANON, CURRENT TALKS WERE LIKELY TO BE MORE FOR FORM THAN SUBSTANCE. IMAM SADR CLAIMS TO BE PROMOTING GOE-SARG RAPPROCHMENT AND OTHERS MAY BE DOING SAME. DOES EMBASSY DAMASCUS BELIEVE ASAD SO DETERMINED TO END FIGHTING THAT HE NOW WILLING TO PERMIT GOE TO PARTICIPANT IN SETTLEMENT?
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DISCUSSIONS ON LEBANON CONTINUE
1976 September 16, 12:48 (Thursday)
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Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
SUMMARY: SADAT MEETS WITH GEMAYEL, SA’IB SALAM AND MUFTI HASAN KHALID. OTHER MEETINGS TAKE PLACE AT LOWER LEVELS. OPTIMISM STILL PREVAILS AMID TALK OF ROUND TABLE LEBANESE DISCUSSIONS IN CAIRO. SHI’ITE IMAM ANNOUNCES TOP LEVEL MEET- INGS BETWEEN GOE AND SARG ON LEBANON IN NEAR FUTURE. GEMAYEL DEINES THAT PHALANGE RECEIVING ISRAELI ARMS AND BLAMES IN- TERNATIONAL LEFT FOR LEBANESE CRISIS. APPOINTMENT OF CHAMOUN
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AS ACTIONG LEBANESE PRIMIN BRIEFLY REPORTED WITHOUT COMMENT. END SUMMARY
1. PARADE OF LEBANESE LEADERS TO EGYPT CONTINUES. PRES SADAT MET 15 SEPT IN MIT ABU AL-KOM WITH PHALANGIST LEADER GEMAYEL, WITH DEPRIMIN FONMIN FAHM IN ATTENDANCE. FORMER PRIMIN SALAM MET OVER TWO HOURS WITH PRIMIN SALIM SEPT 15 AND WILL MEET WITH SADAT TODAY. SHAIKH HASAN KHALID, MUFTI OF LEBANON, WILL ALSO MEET (SEPARATELY) WITH SADAT TODAY. FAHMY MET WITH SHI’ITE IMAM MUSA SADR SEPT 15 AND MINCULTURE AND INFO OTEIFY MET WITH GEMAYEL, PRESUMABLY AFTER LATTER’S TALK WITH SADAT. LOCAL JOURNALISTS TELL US THAT CONSID- ERABLE PUBLICITY GIVEN TO MEETING SEPT 15 BETWEEN PRIMIN KARAMI AND BASHIR GEMAYEL, WHO APPARENTLY VISITING IN CAIRO WITH HIS FATHER.
2. LOCAL DAILES INDICATE THAT JUMBLATT VISIT HAD BEEN DELAYED BECAUSE HE UNWILLING TO TRAVEL TO DAMASCUS TO TAKE PLANE TO CAIRO. NOW JUMBLATT REPORTEDLY WILL TAKE SPECIAL AL PLANE FROM BEIRUT AIRPORT DIRECTLY TO CAIRO ON UNSPECIFIED DATE.
3. MOOD OF LOCAL DAILIES RE LEBANESE DISCUSSIONS CONTINUES HIGHLY OPTIMISTIC AND PAPERS CITE SPECULATION OF “POLITICAL SOURCES IN BEIRUT” THAT ROUND TABLE DISCUSSIONS OF PARTIES INVOLVED IN LEBANON MAY BE HELD (DATE UNSPECIFIED) AT QUBA PALACE IN CAIRO UNDER SUPERVISION OF PRES SADAT HIMSELF.
4. IMAM MUSA SADR AGAIN RECEIVES CONSIDERABLE PLAY IN LOCAL PRESS. SADR STATED HE CONFIDENT LEBANESE CRISIS WILL END WITHININ MONTH AND THAT “PRACTICAL STEPS WILL BE TAKEN WITHIN A WEEK” TO RESTORE SECURITY TO LEBANON. HE SPECULATED THAT “TOP LEVEL MEETINGS” BETWEEN EGYPTIAN AND SYRIAN OFFICIALS WILL BE HELD IN COMING FEW DAYS NOW THAT “ACCUMULATED DIFFERENCES IMPEDING SYRIAN-EGYPTIAN SOLIDARITY HAVE BEEN REMOVED.” SADR AFFIRMED THAT LEBANESE SOLUTION IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT EGYPTIAN-SYRIAN SOLIDARITY AND COOPERATION.
5. IN INTERVIEW WITH AKHBAR ARAB AFFAIRS EDITOR, GEMAYEL STATED THAT ALL LEBANESE SUPPORT PALESTINIAN CAUSE BUT “SABOTEURS USED BY INTERNATIONAL LEFT” RESPONSIBLE FOR
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CURRENT PHALANGE OPPOSITION TO SOME PLO ELEMENTS. GEMAYEL NOTED THAT SYRIA MEMBER OF AL AND UN AND HAS PLEDGED, AS RESPONSIBLE MEMBER OF WORLD COMMUNITY, TOWITHDRAW FROM LEBANESE TERRITORY WHEN LEGITIMATE LEBANESE AUTHORITY SO REQUESTS. AT PRESENT, LEBANON “DROWNING PERSON CLINGING TO STRAW (SYRIA) AND THIS SITUATION CAUSED BY INTERNATIONAL LEFT AND COMMUNISTS WHO ATTACKING LEBANON.” GEMAYEL STRONGLY DENIED THAT PHALANGISTS RECEIVING ISRAELI ARMS AND STATED THAT PICKTURES OF PHALANGIST FORCES WEARING CROSSES WHILE KILLING MUSLIMS MERELY CHEAP WEAPON IN HANDS OF TRAITORS AND SPIES WHO TRYING TO CAUSE SECTARIAN STRIFE IN LEBANON.
6. GOVT MODIFICATIONS ANNOUNCED SEPT 15 BY FRANJIYA, STRIPPINGKARAMI OF PORTFOLIOS OF DEFENSE, FINANCE AND INFORMATION AND NAMING CHAMOUN ACTING PRIMIN NOTED WITHOUT MUCH COMMENT IN CAIRO DAILIES AND GEMAYEL STATEMENT THAT HE HAD BEEN UNAWARE OF THIS IMPENDING ACTION DULY NOTED BY PRESS. NO SPECULATION AS TO SIGNIFICANCE OF MOVES BY FRANJIYA, EIGHT DAYS BEFORE INSTALLATION OF SARKIS, CARRIED IN LOCAL PRESS OTHER THAN ANODYNE COMMENT THAT WITH CHAMOUN AS ACT- ING PRIMIN, FRANJIYA AND CHAMOUN CAN CONVENE CABINET MEET- INGS AND MAKE DECISIONS IN ABSENCE OF KARAMI. NEWS OF FRAN- JIYA MOVE MAY HAVE COME TOO LATE FOR EXTENSIVE PRESS COMM- ENTARY SEPT 16.
7. COMMENT: LOCAL MOOD OF OPTIMISM REGARDING LEBANESE TALKS STILL PREVAILS ALTHOUGH FRANJIYA-CHAMOUN MOVE AGAINST KARAMI, WHICH UNDERCUTS SARKIS BEFORE HE EVEN ASSUMES OFFICE, CERTAINLY STRIKES AMINOUS NOTE. THERE NO SPECULATION IN LOCAL PRESS AS TO WHETHER CHAMOUN DISCUSSED MOVE AGAINST KARAMI DURING MOST RECENT VISIT TO DAMASCUS, BUT MOVE WILL UNDOUBTEDLY REMIND LEBANESE VISITORS TO CAIRO THAT THEY HAD BETTER NOT FORGET CHRISTIAN HARD LINERS. AS YET, THERE NO SPECULATION FROM LOCAL OFFICIALS OR IN LOCAL DAILIES AS TO HOW AND WHEN CAHAMOUN AND HIS NLP FORCES CAN BE BROUGHT INTO LINE.
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LEBANESE NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE
1976 September 17, 11:52 (Friday)
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Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. ALTHOUGH SADAT SUCCESS IN PRESIDENTIAL REFERENDUM DOMINATES FRONT PAGES OF CAIRO DAILES SEPT 17, MEETING WITH LEBANESE LEADERS NONETHELESS CONTINUE IN EGYPT, ALTHOUGH TONE OF PRESS TREATMENT SOMEWHAT LESS OPTIMISTIC THAN ON PREVIOUS DAYS. SADAT HELD FOUR-HOUR MEETING MEETING AT MIT ABU AL-KOM WITH FORMER PRIMIN SA’IB SALAM, WHO CAME OUT STRONGLY IN PRESS
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STATEMENT AFTER MEETING FOR RESTORATION OF EGYPTIAN/SYRIAN SOLIDARITY. EXPRIMIN TAQI AL-DIN AL-SULH TO ARRIVE SEPT 17, BUT MAJOR FOCUS OF DAILIES ON UPCOMING ISMAILIYYA MEETING BETWEEN SADAT AND SARKIS SEPT 18.
2. PHALANGE LEADER GEMAYEL AND PARTY DEPARTED CAIRO FOR DAMASCUS SEPT 16. IN DEPARTURE STATEMENT, GEMAYEL REITERATED SYRIAN WILLINGNESS TO WITHDRAW SHOULD LEBANESE GOVT SO REQUEST, AND NOTED THAT THERE NO DIFFERENCES BETWEEN AL PEACE-KEEPING FORCES AND SYRIAN FORCES IN LEBANON. GEMAYEL ALSO CAME OUT STRONGLY FOR EGYPTIAN/SYRIAN REAPPROACHMENT AS SINE QUA NON FOR SETTLEMENT OF LEBANESE CRISIS.
3. EGYPTIAN DAILIES SEPT 17 HAD HAD SUFFICIENT TIME TO DIGES RECENT CABINET CHANGES EFFECTED BY FRANJIYA AND CAME OUT STRONGLY AGAINST ASSUMPTION BY CHAMOUN OF PRIMIN KARAMI’S FINANCE, INFO AND DEFENSE PORTFOLIOS AND OF ACTING PRIMIN- ISTERSHIP. KARAMI DENUNCIATION OF FRANJIYA MOVES COVERED EXTENSIVELY IN LOCAL DAILIES, WHICH ALSO REPORT DENUNCIATION OF CHANGES BY MUSLIM CIRCLES IN LEBANON. PHALANGE INSISTENCE THAT BEMAYEL HAD NOT BEEN CONSULTED IN ADVANCE ALSO REITERATED IN PRESS COVERAGE.
4. AGAIN SYRIAN EFFORTS ON NEGOTIATING FRONT VIRTUALLY IG- NORED BY CAIRO DAILIES. ONLY MENTION OF UPCOMING SHUTURA MEETINGS BETWEEN ARAFAT, SARKIS AND DEP SYRIAN DEFMIN NAJI JAMIL APPEARS ON BACK PAGES OF CAIRO DAILIES, TACKED ON TO END OF STORIES ON CAIRO DELIBERATIONS.
5. MENA DEVOTES CONSIDERABLE ATTENTION SEPT 17 TO REMARKS BY DAMASCUS-BASED GREEK ORTHODOX PATRIARCH ELIAS IV OF ANTIOCH WHO REPORTEDLY ISSUED STATEMENT THAT LEBANESE CRISIS NOT IN ESSENCE RELIGIOUS AND THAT ALLEGATIONS TO CONTRARY MERELY IMPERIALIST MACHINATIONS. PATRIARCH ELIAS REPORTEDLY PRIASED POPULAR DISTURBANCES ON WEST BANK AND CALLED FOR DIALOGUE BETWEEN MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS IN ARAB WORLD.
6. COMMENT: MOVE BY FRANJIYA/CHAMOUN AGAINST PRIMIN KARAMI APPEARS TO HAVE CAUGHT GOE BY SURPRISE AND DIMINISHED SOMEWHAT PRESS EUPHORIA OVER CAIRO NEGOTIATIONS OF PAST FEW
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DAYS, THOUGH OPTIMISM CONTINUES REIGN AT MFA, WHICH IS BANK- ING ON SARKIS VISIT TO MOVE PEACE PROCESS ALONG. IN ADDITION, POTENTIAL RESULTS OF SARKIS/ARFAT/JAMIL MEETINGS NOT YET CLEAR IN CAIRO. POSSIBLY GOE AWAITING SOME SYRIAN INITIATIVE AS PARADE OF POENTIAL MEDIATORS (SHI’ITE IMAM MUSA SADR, GEMAYEL, SALAM) RETURNS TO DAMASCUS TO REPORT THEIR FINDINGS TO PRES ASAD.
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