The War Files (Part I) – The Chaos Before The War: 1973-1974

Lebanese Cabinet 1970

The Lebanese Cabinet in 1970

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, we start with the years of political instability that preceded the civil war. The war didn’t come out of nowhere, and tension had been growing for years. In 1973 and 1974 there were difficulties in forming new cabinets, and the successive cabinets couldn’t agree on a way to solve the crises in the country. You’ll find 4 cables here, one about early minor clashes in 1973, and 3 about difficulties in forming three different cabinets in 1973 and 1974. The 4 cables are organized from the oldest one to the newest one.

SUMMARY: STRUGGLE TP PUT TOGETHER ACCEPTABLE CABINET HAS PREOCCUPIED PRESIDENT FRANGIE AND TOP GOVT AND POLITICAL FIGURES FOR PAST TEN DAYS. TRADITIONAL RIVALRIES AND MANEUVERINGS OF LEBANESE POLITICIANS HAVE REEMERGED AND THERE IS CONTINUING BLATANT SYRIAN INTERFERENCE IN LEBANESE AFFAIRS. PRESTIGE OF LEFTIST LEADER KAMAL JUMBLATT HAS SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASED DUE
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TO SYRIAN, FEDAYEEN AND SUNNI SUPPORT. THIS FACT ADN GROWING CONCERN OVER LONG LAST EFFECTS OF INACTIVITY BY GOL WHICH DATES BACK TO ISRAEL RAID ON APRIL 10 APPEAR HAVE OPENED WAY FOR PARTICIPATION BY JUMBLATT’S GROUP IN ANY NEW CABINET,ALTHOUGH JUMBLATT UNLIKELY BE MINISTERIOR DUE TO STRONG OPPOSITION FORM RIGHT. IT UNCERTAIN WHEN CABINET WILL BE FORMED AND POSSIBLE THAT SOLH COULD BE FORCED ABANDON HIS EFFORTS AND MAKE WAY FOR ANOTHER DANDIDATE. END SUMMARY.
1. IMMEDIATELY AFTER BEING NAMED ON JUNE 21ST TAKIEDDIN SOLH WAS WARMLY WELCOMED BY ALL POLITICAL TENDENCIES IN LEBANON AS WELL AS BY FEDAYEEN, SYRIANS, ETC. HE BRAVELY ANNOUNCED THAT FORMATION CABINET EXPECTED WITHIN FORTY-EIGHT HOURS AND BEGAN CONSULTATIONS. RIGHT AWAY RE RAN INTO MAJOR PROBLEM WHICH HAS CON- TINUED BLOCK HIS BEST EFFORTS FORM CABINET: DEMAND BY LEBANESE LEFTIST LEADER KAMAL JUMBLATT THAT HE BE NAMED MINISTER OF INTERIOR AND THAT SOMEONE CONGENIAL TO HIM BE NAMED MINISTER OF DEFENSE. JUMBLATT’S DEMAND WAS SUPPORTED BY SYRIAN SPOKESMAN (E.G. SA’IQA LEADER ZOHEIR MOHSEN) BY FEDAYEEN AND BY AMY SUNNI MOSLEM LEADERS(EXCEPTING SAEB SALAM WHO INITIALLY REMAINED SILEDNT AND THEN CAME OUT AGAINST IDEA). JUMBLATT STATED THAT ONLY HIS PRESENCE AT INTERIOR WOULD ALLOW NORMALIZATION OF RELATIONS BETWEEN GOL AND FEDAYEEN AND ALLOW SYRIAN-LEBANESE BORDER TO BE REOPENED
2. REACTION TO JUMBLATT DEMANDS WAS QUICK IN COMING FROM MAJOR CHRISTIAN LEADER PIERRE GEYMAYEL (PHALANGE) AND CAMILLE CHAMOUN WHO LET IT BE KNOWN THEY CATEGORICALLY OPPOSED. GEMAYEL REFUSED INVITATION TO JOIN CABINET AS COUNTERWEIGHT TO JUMBLATT. WE UNDERSTAND PRESIDENT FRANGIE JUST AS CATEFORICALLY OPPOSED TO JUMBLATT AS INTERIOR ALTHOUGH HE TAKING PUBLIC ATTITUDE OF NON-INTERFERENCE WITH DUE POLITICAL PROCESS, SAYING HE COULD ACCEPTE WHOMEVER NAMED BY SOLH PROVIDED ASSEMBLY VOTED CONFIDENCE IN HIM. LEFTIST GROUPS AND SUNNI MOSLEMS (EXCEPTING SALAM) HAVE ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS RESTATED THEIR INSISTENCE ON JUMBLATT WHILE SOME 65 DEPUTIES (MOSTLY CHRISTIAN AND INCLUDING ARMENIANS) HELD INFORMAL MEETING AT NATIONA ASSEMBLY ON JULY 27 TO LET IT BE KNOWN JUMBLATT COULD NOT GET VOTE OF CONFIDENCE. THEY ESPECIALLY UPSET AT JUMBLATT- SYRIA LINK. ON JULY 28 SOLH CAME CLOSE TO FORMING CABINET
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WITHOUT JUMBLATT, HOWEVER, RAPED INTERVENTION BY SYRIA(IN PERSON ZOHEIR MOHSEN) AND SUNNI LEADER RACHID KARAME (FORMER PRIME MINISTER FROM TRIPOLI) AND SUNNI GRAND MUFTI HASSAN KHALED SUCCEEDED IN PERSUADING SOHL TO RENOUNCE IDEA OF CABINET WITHOUT JUMBLATT. REACTING TO THIS, CHAMOUN PROPOSED THAT SAEB SALAM FORM CABINET AND SOLH BE DROPPED. SAEB SALAM DENOUNCED JUMBLATT AS WELL AS INTERFERENCE BY GRAND MUFTI IN POLITICS.
3. THE TEMPORARY UNITY OF ALL SUNNI LEADERS IN OPPOSITION TO AMIN EL HAFEZ HAS DISAPPEARED IN FAVOR OF RETURN TO TRADITIONAL RIVALRIES BETWEEN SAEB SALAM (AND CAMILLE CHAMOUN) ON ONE HAND AND RACHID KARAME PLUS ANTI-SALAM BEIRUT SUNNIS (AND KAMAL JUMBLATT) ON OTHER. NEVERTHELESS, JUMBLATT HAS SKILLFULLY USED INTERNAL POLITICAL CRISES WHICH HAS EXISTED SINCE APRIL 10, AS WELL AS HIS GOOD RELATIONS WITH SYRIA AND THE FEDAYEEN, TO STRENGTHEN HIS PERSONAL POSITION AND THAT OF LOOSE GROUPSING OF LEBANESE LEFTIST WHICH HE HEADS. HE HAS LINED U STRONG SUNNI SUPPORT AND HIS MAJOR RIGHT-WING OPPONENTS SUCH AS CHAMOUN AND GEMAYEL SEEM PREPARED TO SEE HIS GROUP(IF NOT JUMBLATT IN PEROSN) HOLD ONE OR EVEN TWO SEAT IN ANY NEW CABINET WHICH MAY BE FORMED. PRESIDENT FRANGIE ALSO APPEARS READY ACCEPT SOME SUCH COMPROMISE WITH JUMBLATT IF ONLY TO GET GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONING AGAIN AFTER VACUUM OF ALMOST THREE MONTHS. ALTHOUGH JUMBLATT AND HIS SUPPORTERS ARE SHORT ON TOTAL VOTES IN LEBANESE ASSEMBLY(PROBABLY LESS THAN ONE THRID) THE PRESENT REAL POLITICAL EQUATION IS SO BALANCED THAT THEY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO BLOCK CABINET ALIGNMENTS THEY; DO NOT LIKE AS EFFECTIVELY AS THOSE WHO OPPOSE JUMBLATT AND HAVE BEEN IN SUPPORT OF FRANGIE (AND PREVIOUS SAEB SALAM CABINETS), ALTHOUGH LATTER HAVE TWICE AS MANY VOTES.
4. IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN WHO WILL SUCCEED IN FORMING NEW CABINET, WHEN IT WILL BE FORMED AND WHO MEMBERS WILL BE. THIS COULD TAKE PLACE UNDER TAKIEDDINE SOLH TODAY OR TOMORROW, OR IT COULD DRAG ON FOR WEEKS WITH SOMEONE ELSE BEING NAMED TO TRYWHERE SOLH FAILED. WHEN CABINET HAS BEEN NAMED AND APPROVED WE WILL PROVIDE OUR ASSESSMENT OF WHAT EFFECT IT LIABLE HAVE ON LEBANESE POLICIES IN SUCH KEY AREAS AS RELATIONS BETWEEN GOL AND FADAYEEN AND BETWEEN LEBANON AND OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES. US AND USSR. HOWEVER, TREND TOWARD SOME COMPROMISE WITH LEFT AND FEDAYEEN
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NOTED ABOVE AND REPORTED OUR 7023 IS ALREADY APPARENT. HOUGHTON NOTE BY OC/T: NOT PASSED CAIRO. SECRET NNNNMAFVVZCZ
INTERNAL POLITICAL SITUATION
1973 May 15, 13:35 (Tuesday)
1973BEIRUT05568_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 30 JUN 2005

SUMMARY: OVER PAST FEW DAYS EMPHASIS OF GOL- FEDAYEEN CRISIS HAS SHIFTED FROM ARMED CONFRONTATION TO POLITICAL STRUGGLE FOR SUPPORT OF SUNNI MOSLEMS. ‘ ARAFAT AND JUMBLATT HAVE BEEN LEADING EXPONENTS OF FEDAYEEN POSITION AND HAVE ATTRACTED CONSIDERABLE FOLLOWING AMONG SUNNI POLITICIANS WITH WHOM THEY HAVE BEEN HAVING ALMOST CONTINUOUS MEETINGS. FRANGIE, ON OTHER HAND, ALSO MEETING WITH SUNNI LEADERS TO EXPOUND HIS WELL- KNOWN

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POINT OF VIEW. AMONG ISSUES AT STAKE ARE FORMATION OF NEW GOVT, CONTINUATION OF STATE OF EMERGENCY, CONTENT OF AGREEMENT BETWEEN GOL AND FEDAYEEN, AND ” RIGHTS” OF MOSLEMS. FRANGIE HAS BEEN HOLDING VERY FIRM, AND SUNNI BASE REMAINS RELATIVELY QUEIT BEUT SUNNI POLITICIANS ARE BEHAVING IN TRADITIONAL FASHION BY PUBLIC ADVOCACY OF PALESTINIAN, PAN- ARAB CAUSE. END SUMMARY.
1. OVER PAST THREE DAYS PRESIDENT FRANGIE HAS CONTINUED HOLD ONE MEETING AFTER ANOTHER WITH WIDE SELECTION OF POLITICAL, RELIGIOUS AND BUSINESS LEADERS. AMONG THEM HAVE BEEN LARGE NUMBER SUNNI MOSLEMS. HE HAS BEEN REPORTEDLY HOLDING VERY FIRMLY TO HIS PREVIOUSLY STATED VIEWS ON WHAT RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE BETWEEN FEDAYEEN AND GOL, CALLING PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO SITUATION IN OTHER ARAB STATES AND TO HIS STRONG OPPOSITION TO IDEA OF HAVING ARMED MEN CIRCULATING FREELY, TO FEDAYEEN BEING ABOVE LEBANESE LAW ( ” STATE WITHIN A STATE”), AND THREAT TO LEBANESE GOVT AND PEOPLE CAUSED BY HEAVY WEAPONS IN CAMPS IN AND AROUND MAJOR CITIES. IN TALKING WITH BUSINESSMEN HE IS RELIABLY REPORTED TO HAVE SAID ” WE MUST THINK LEBANON BEFORE WE THINK ARAB AND PALESTINIAN”. WHEN ASKED TO ABOLISH CURFEW WHICH HURTING BUSINESS HE IS REPORTED TO HAVE SAID THAT SUCH LOSSES ARE ” RELATIVELY SECONDARY, AND NOT THE IMPORTANT FACTOR.”
2. IN TALKING WITH FORMER PRIME MINISTER SAEB SALAM ON MAY 13, PRESIDENT RELIABLY REPORTED TO HAVE TAKEN VERY TOUGH LINE. SAEB CAME FROM MEETING OF SOME TWENTY SUNNI POLITICIANS AND BUSINESSMEN ( EXCLUDING THOSE CLOSEST TO KARAME AND JUMBLATT) AND CLAIMED HE REPRESENTING SUNNI OPINION IN PRESSING FOR RAPID RESTORATION OF CIVILIAN GOVT AND AGREEMENT WITH FEDAYEEN ON BASIS OLD CAIRO ACCORDS. FRANGIE REPORTEDLY SIAD THAT SETTLING QUESTION OF RELATIONS WITH FEDAYEEN SHOULD COME BEFORE NEW GOVT SINCE OTHERWISE NEW GOVT WOULD FALL INTO SAME TROUBLE AS HAD AMIN EL HAFEZ. HE ALSO REPORTEDLY TOLD SAEB SALAM THAT IF HE THAT ENAMOURED OF FEDAYEEN HE COULD MOVE INTO CAMPS WITH THEM BUT THAT FRANGIE WOULD NEVER CONCEDE LEBANESE SOVEREIGNTY EVEN IF CONFRONTATION STEMMING THEREFROM LED TO ACTUAL GEOGRAPHICAL DIVISION OF COUNTRY IN WHICH SUNIS AND PALESTINIANS WOULD HAVE SEPARATE ENCLAVE. IN PRESIDENT’ S MEETING MAY 14 WITH KAMAL JUMBLATT AND RACHID KARAME, WE
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UNDERSTAND THAT FORMER TOOK HIS USUAL FIRM STAND WHILE LATTER TWO REPEATED ESSENCE OF KARAME’ S PRESENTATION PREVIOUS WEEK ( SEE SITREP 15).
3. ‘ ARAFAT HAS MET SEVERAL TIME WITH SAEB SALAM, KARAME AND JUMBLATT OVER PAST THREE DAYS, AND ALSO WITH BROAD SPECTRUM OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS, ETC. WHILE BOTH FRANGIE AND ‘ ARAFAT ( WITH STRONG SUPPORT FROM KARAME AND JUMBLATT) CONCENTRATING ON SUNNI MOSLEMS, THEY NOT NEGLECTING CHRISTIANS. ‘ ARAFAT GETTING STRONG PROPAGANDA SUPPORT FROM RADIOS IN DAMASCUS, CAIRO, BAGHDAD, ETC. ( GOOD SAMPLE OF MILDLY- WORDED SUPPORT CAN BE READ IN FBIS M142042 Z QUOTING CAIRO VOICE OF PALESTINE).
4. COMMENT: ONE EFFECT OF THESE MEETINGS HAS CLEARLY BEEN TO HEIGHTEN CONFESSIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS ON PART OF SUNNIS. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE OF SUNNI POLITICIANS, BUT WE HAVE SEVERAL REPORTS THAT THERE IS INCREASING FALL- OUT AMONG SUNNI RANK- AND- FILAI( WHICH BEING VISITED ON ALMOSLPHOUSE- TO- HOUSE BASIS IN SOME SECTORS BY FEDAYEEN REPS). THERE IS APPREHENSION THAT UNLEESS CRISIS IS RESOLVED SOON ANY OUT- BREAK OF HOSTILITIES COULD PRODUCE CONFESSIONAL SPLIT WHICH HAS THUS FAR BEEN AVOIDED. ONE OF MAJOR REASONS NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DID NOT MEET ON MAY 14 WAS DESIRE BY CHRISTIAN DEPUTIES NOT TO HAVE MEETING IN WHICH THERE WAS NO RPT NO SUNNI SUPPORT FOR EXTENDING STATE OF EMERGENCY. THIS INCREASES PRESSURE FOR COMPROMISE BY FRANGIE AND FOR FORMATION NEW GOVT ( OR RESURRECTION OF SOME- WHAT BEDRAGGLED AMIN EL HAFEZ) PRIOR TO CONCLUSION UNDERSTANDING WITH FEDAYEEN. LATTER ARE APPARENTLY ADDING TO THIS PRESSURE BY IMPLYING THEY CANNOT AGREE TO ANYTHING IN ABSENCE OF SUNNI PM. ON OTHER HAND, FRANGIE’ S FIRM STAND MAY BRING HOME TO MANY SUNNIS AMONG UPPER AND MIDDLE CLASSES THAT THEY HAVE A LOT TO LOSE MATERIALLY IN PUSHING THEIR PAN- ARAB, PRO- PALESTINIAN SENTIMENTS TOO FAR. FRANGIE HAS THUS FAR PURSUED WITH SKILL AND COURAGE HIS OWN VARIETY OF BRINKSMANSHIP.
HOUGHTON NOTE BY OC/ T: NOT PASSED CAIRO. CONFIDENTIAL NMAFVVZCZ *** Current Handling Restrictions *** n/a *** Current Classification *** CONFIDENTIAL
SALAM ASKED TO FORM NEW GOVERNMENT
1974 October 3, 16:37 (Thursday)
1974BEIRUT12035_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 30 JUN 2005
1. AS ANTICIPATED, SAEB SALAM HAS ACCEPTED SUMMONS FROM PRES. FRANGIE TO FORM NEW CABINET (FBIS BE 031113). SALAM IMMEDIATELY ARRANGED FOR PARLIAMENTARY CONSULTATIONS OVER NEXT TWO DAYS FOR THAT PURPOSE. WE RELIABLY INFORMED HE PLANS ANNOUNCE DISTRI- BUTION OF PORTFOLIOS BY SATURDAY, OCTOBER 5.
2. KAMAL JUMBLATT, WHO APPARENTLY MAINTAINED HIS OBJECTIONS TO SALAM UNTIL BITTER END, SEEMS DESTINED TO STAND IN OPPOSITION TO NEW GOVT. IN LEBANESE CONTEXT, HOWEVER, IT WOULD CERTAINLY NOT BE IMPOSSIBLE THAT JUMBLATT MIGHT PRIVATELY HAVE BEEN RECON- CILED BY INDUCEMENTS OFFERED BY FRANGIE, BUT RUMORS SUGGESTING THIS ARE SCARCE. IN ANY EVENT, INFORMED SOURCE CLOSE TO SALAM TOLD ME AFTERNOON OCT 3 THAT THINGS ARE “GOING WELL” AND THAT SALAM SUPPORTERS NOT PARTICULARLY WORRIED ABOUT JUMBLATT. AN
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OTHER REPORT (UNCONFIRMED) IS THAT JUMBLATT MET WITH RASHID KARAME MORNING OCT 3 TO TRY AND WOO LATTER AWAY FROM HIS ALLIANCE WITH SALAM. KARAME REPORTEDLY REBUFFED APPROACH AS “TOO LATE” AND SAID HIS ALLIANCE WITH SALAM AND EDDE STANDS (FOR TIME BEING AT LEAST). CIRCLES CLOSE TO SALAM ALSO BELIEVE THAT THEY FACE NO REAL DIFFICULTY FROM SHIITE IMAM MUSA AS SADR AND IT MAY BE THAT SALAM AND IMAM HAVE COME TO SOME KIND OF UNDERSTANDING IN THEIR MEETINGS OVER PAST FEW DAYS.
3. SALAM IS SAID TO BE FOCUSSING ON CABINET THAT WILL INCLUDE BOTH PARLIAMENTARY AND NON-PARLIAMENTARY FIGURES. DEPT WILL RE- CALL THAT WHEN SALAM FORMED HIS EARLIER GOVT. FOLLOWING FRANGIE’S ELECTION IN 1970, HE CHOSE MAINLY YOUNGER “TECHNOCRATS”. ALTHOUGH THAT EXPERIMENT DID NOT PROVE PARTICULARLY LASTING OR HAPPY FOR VARIETY OF REASONS, SALAM MAY BE PREPARED TO TRY IT AGAIN ON SOMEWHAT REDUCED BASIS THIS TIIME. AMONG NAMES ALREADY SAID TO BE ON SALAM’S LIST OF “POTENTIALS” THOSE OF ABDULLAH RASI (FRANGIE’S SON-IN-LAW WHO COULD REPLACE TONY FRANGIE AS “FAMILY MINISTER”) AND FORMER FONMIN KHALIL ABUHAMAD (WHO PRIVATELY HAS TOLD ME HE NOT RPT NOT INTEREST IN REURNING AS FONMIN).
4. COMMENT: WHILE MANY QUESTIONS REMAIN TO BE ANSWERED OVER NEXT SEVERAL DAYS, SALAM AND HIS CONFIDANTS APPEAR PLEASED TO HAVE GAINED PRESIDENTIAL NOD AND CONFIDENT THEY CAN RAPIDLY AS- SEMBLE ACCEPTABLE CABINET. SALAM HAS APPEALED TO HIS SUPPORTERS TO REFRAIN FROM “FIRING IN AIR” IN THEIR JUBILATION OVER HIS NOMINATION, THREATENING TO PUNISH VIOLATORS. WITH BACKING OF FRANGIE AND PARLIAMENTARY SUPPORT OF BLOCS LED BY, INTER ALIA, CHAMOUN,EDDE, GEMAYEL AND HIS FORMER SUNNI RIVAL KARAME, SAEB BEY APPARENTLY BELIEVES HE CAN QUICKLY TAKE REINS OF GOVT. IN HAND.
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LEBANESE CABINET CRISIS
1974 October 8, 07:45 (Tuesday)
1974BEIRUT12187_b
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE
UNCLASSIFIED
Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 30 JUN 2005
A. BEIRUT 12035; B. DAMASCUS 2204 (NOTAL)
1. WEEKEND HAS NOW PASSED WITHOUT PRIMIN-DESIGNATE SAEB SALAM MAKING ANTICIPATED ANNOUNCEMENT RE COMPOSITION OF NEW CABINET. FOLLOWING OCT. 5 MEETING WITH PRES. FRANGIE TO DISCUSS OUTCOME OF SALAM’S CONSULTATIONS WITH PARLIAMENTARY FACTIONS, SALAM MAINTAINED PUBLIC AIR OF CONFIDENCE, TELLING NEWSMEN HE COULD CONCEIVE OF NO OBSTACLES TO FORMATION OF NEW GOVT. BUT ALSO WARNING AGAINST HASTE.
2. DESPITE SALAM’S PUBLIC ASSURANCES, HOWEVER, THERE ARE INDICA- TIONS HE IS ENCOUNTERING TROUBLESOME PROBLEMS ON SEVERAL FRONTS IN HIS EFFORTS TO PUT TOGETHER WORKABLE CABINET. NOT ONLY HAVE KAMAL JUMBLATT AND HIS SUPPORTERS CONTINUED BOYCOTT SALAM’S
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EFFORTS, BUT PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER KAMAL ASSAD IS APPARENTLY BEING BALKY, PROBABLY BECAUSE HE SUSPECTS SALAM OF HAVING WORKED OUT SECRET “ARRANGEMENT” WITH SHIITE LEADER IMAN MUSA AS SADR–ASSAD’S CHIEF RIVAL IN SOUTH LEBANON. ACCORDING TO SOME LOCAL OBSERVERS, SALAM IS ALSO ENCOUNTERING OPPOSITION FROM HIS “TRADITIONALIST” POLITICAL COLLEAGUES TO HIS REPORTED DESIRE TO INCLUDE SEVERAL YOUNGER “TECHNOCRATS” IN NEW CABINET.
3. IN ADDITION, AS REPORTED REF. B, STRONG OPPOSITION TO SALAM APPEARS TO HAVE DEVELOPED IN DAMASCUS, AND THIS UNDOUBTEDLY IS CAUSING SERIOUS CONCERN ON PART OF SALAM AND PRES. FRANGIE. SALAM MADE POINT OF ATTEMPTING PLACATE DAMASCUS DURING OCT. 6 “VICTORY” RALLY (SPONSORED BY PRO-SYRIAN WING OF LEBANESE BAATH PARTY) BY HEAPING LAVISH PRAISE ON HAFEZ ASSAD AND SADAT FOR THEIR “GLORIOUS” ROLES IN OCTOBER WAR (FBIS BE 061830). (SAEB BEY FOUND HIMSELF A TRIFLE UPSTAGED AT RALLY BY IMAM SADR WHO DES- CRIBED SALAM’S NEW GOVT. AS LEBANON’S “LAST CHANCE” FOR REFORM BEFORE REVOLUTION BECOMES INEVITABLE.) WE ALSO UNDERSTAND THAT SAUDIS MAY BE WEIGHIN IN WITH SARG ON SALAM’S BEHALF.
4. COMMENT: IN CONVERSATION WITH AMBASSADOR, OCTOBER 7, PRESIDENTIAL CHEF DU CABINET DIB INDICATED SALAM WAS ENCOUNTERING NITTY GRITTY LOCAL POLITICAL PROBLEMS IN ASSIGNING PORTFOLIOS. DIB ADDED THAT PRESIDENT AND HE EMPHASIZING CRITERIA OF HONESTY RATHER THAN EXPERIENCE. HE THOUGHT THE PRIME MINISTER DESIGNATE WAS MAKING PROGRESS BUT HAD NO PROJECTION AS TO WHEN THE CABINET WOULD BE FORMED. HE THOUGHT JUMBLATT HAD OVERPLAYED HIS HAND AND CONFIRMED PRESIDENT’S PREOCCUPATION WITH SYRIAN REACTION TO SALAM.
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