Lebanon In The Valley Of Despair – Wikileaks And The Lebanese Civil War

WikiLeaks

“Lebanon in the valley of despair” is the name of a U.S. diplomatic cable dating from 1975.  The best way to commemorate the civil war is by remembering its brutality and the failure of the peace negotiations. I hereby leave you with some parts  of the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables of 1975-1976.

1975 March 6 – The Very Beginning

TENSIONS GENERATED THROUGHOUT LEBANON OVER PAST
WEEK BY CLASHES BETWEEN LEBANESE ARMY AND “ARMED
ELEMENTS” IN SIDON (REFTELS) HAD BEGUN TO LESSEN
PERCEPTIBLY LATE MAR 5, FOLLOWING COUNTRY-WIDE MANIFES-
ATIONS BY CITIZENS (MOSTLY CHRISTIANS 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).

(see full text here)

1975 September 26 – Dialogue

LEBANON HAS WAGERED MUCH ON A SINGLE CAST OF THE DICE WITH
THE FORMATION OF THE 20 MAN “COMMITTEE OF NATIONAL DIALOGUE”
(REFTEL). AN EXAMINATION OF PREVIOUS ROUNDS THIS YEAR WILL
SHOW THAT TEMPORARY OF A SIDE ISSUE WHICH HAD ASSUMED CENTRAL
IMPORTANCE IN THE COURSE OF THE FIGHTING. ROUND ONE WAS BROUGHT
TO VMA CLOSE BY GEMAYEL’S AGREEMENT TO TURN OVER FOR QUESTIONING
SEVERAL INDIVIDUALS ACCUSED OF COMPLICITY IN SO-CALLED AIN
RUMMANEH “MASSACRE” OF APRIL 14. ROUND TWO TAPERES OFF FOLLOWING
THE RESIGNATION OF THE MILITARY CABINET WHICH ASSUMED POWER
ONLY AFTER RPT AFTER THAT ROUND BEGAN; AND ROUND THREE ENDED
WITH NAMING OF KARAME CABINET. FOLLOWING SUCCESSION OF ABORTIVE
CEASEFIRE, LEBABESE, WITH ASSISTANCE OF SYRIANS, HAVE SETTLED
UPON DIALOGUE COMMITTEE AS DEVICE FOR HOPEFULLY BRINGING RELIEF
FROM STRIFE WHICH HAS BROUGH THIS COUNTRY AS NEAR TO NATIONAL
COLLAPSE AS ANY DEVELOPMENT IN ITS TROUBLED HISTORY.

(see full text here)

1975 November 1 – Clashes

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 AND LAYLAKI.

IN SUMMARY, DESPITE PERSISTING EFFORTS
TO IMPOSE A CEASE-FIRE, WE NOW BACK TO SQUARE MINUS
ONE ON SECURITY SCENE.

(see full text here)

1975 November 6 – Another Day Of Calm

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.

(see full text here)

1975 December 18 – Dialogue Is Failing

SAEB SALAM AND KAMAL JUMBLATT SEPARATELY ISSUED CALLS
FOR THE RESIGNATION OF FRANGIE AND MININT CHAMOUN, THOUGH
IT MUST BE SOURCE OF EMBARRASSMENT TO TWO MEN OF SUCH
DIFFERENT TEMPERAMENT AND PHILOSOPHY THAT THEY AGREE ON
THIS QUESTION.

(see full text here)

1976 January 14 – The Battle For Beirut Continues

SUMMARY: THE BATTLE OF BEIRUT AND SUBURBS CONTINUES.
TRIPOLI AND ZAHLE AREAS ALSO REPORTED TO BE HOT.
MARONITE MEETING JAN 13 RESULTED IN HARD POSITION ON ISSUE
OF PALESTINIAN PRESENCE BUT A HINT OF FLEXIBILITY OF INTERNAL
POLITICAL REFORMS. PRES FRANGIE IS CONTINUING CONSULTA-
TIONS AMONG CHRISTIAN LEADERS PRIOR TO MEETING WITH
SYRIAN PRES ASAD. THIS MEETING IS STILL PROJECTED FOR
JAN 17. END SUMMARY

2. EXCEPT FOR BRIEF BREATHING SPELL FOR THE BATTLE OF BEIRUT
AND SUBURBS HAS CONTINUED. FIGHTING IN AND AROUND TEL
ZAATAR, THE NORTHERN BRIDGES OVER BEIRUT RIVER, AND THE
HOTEL DISTRICT FIGURES MOST PROMINENTLY. TEL ZAATAR AND
JISR EL PACHA APPEAR TO BE HOLDING OUT WITH LITTLE SIGN THAT
PHALANGISTS HAVE MADE MUCH PROGRESS IN THEIR AREAS.  ONE

REPORT STATES THAT JISR EL PACHA HAS BEEN EVACUATED.THIS
IS NOT CONFIRMED BUT PHALANGISTS MAY HAVE TIGHTENED THEIR
HOLD ON THE CAMP. NUMBEROUS ATTEMPTS BY PALESTINIANS
AND THEIR ALLIES TO FORCE THEIR WAY FROM CHIAH PAST HAZMIEH
HAVE FAILED SO FAR, BUT HAVE SERVED TO KEEP THE POT BOILING
FROM FURN EL CHEBBAK THROUGH HADATH-LEIGLCPAM PHALANGISTS
PERSIST IN THEIR EFFORTS TO BRING THE WAR HOME TO TARIK
JADIDE AND MAZRAA BY SHELLING, WHICH HAS RESULTED IN A
GROWING NUMBER OF CASUALTIES.

(see full text here)

1976 April 4 – Syria’s Asad becomes a Crusader

IF I GOT NOTHING ELSE FROM MY MEETING WITH FRANGIE,
CHAMOUN AND GEMAYEL, IT IS THEIR CLEAR, UNEQUIVOCAL
AND UNMISTAKEABLE BELIEF THAT THEIR PRINCIPAL HOPE FOR
SAVING CHRISTIAN NECKS IS SYRIA.THEY SOUNDED LIKE
ASAD IS THE LATEST INCARNATION OF THE CRUSADERS.

(see full text here)

Some events are very similar to what happened in the past few months:

“TRIPOLI REPORTEDLY IS TENSE”, “LEBANESE HAVE SETTLED UPON DIALOGUE COMMITTEE”, “BRING THE WAR TO TARIK
JADIDE”, “WAVE OF KIDNAPPING IN BEIRUT IS APPARENTLY FINISHED AS OF THIS REPORT”.

Ironically, a wave of kidnapping is also apparently finished as of this post.

 Sad.

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