The War Files (Part II) – 1975 and 1976: Karami The Presidential Candidate, “Hafez Assad The Latest Incarnation Of the Crusaders”, and “A Certain Brigadier Aoun”

The Lebanese Parliament in 1976

The Lebanese Parliament in 1976

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, the post is a compilation of cables about some of the events/battles that happened in the first two years of the war. I start with a very early cable, from the 15th of April 1975. The second cable is interesting because it speaks about a speech where Karami mentions he is a candidate to the presidency (This speech will be widely used by the Christian parties in their propaganda during the war). Note how in the cable – unlike the Christian parties, who made Karami look serious in order to scare their Christian electorate – the candidacy is only considered to be a “RHETORIC, DESIGNED TO DRAMATIZE HIS VIEW OF THE CONFESSIONAL PROBLEM, AND IT SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS ANNOUNCING HIS CANDIDACY FOR THE 1976 ELECTION”. In the third cable, U.S. envoy Dean Brown tells us that the Christian leaders “SOUNDED LIKE ASAD IS THE LATEST INCARNATION OF THE CRUSADERS”. In the last cable, you’ll find an early mention of “A CERTAIN BRIGADIER AOUN, LEBANESE ARMY OFFICER, COORDINATING ACTIVITIES OF VARIOUS CHRISTIAN MILITIAS” during the siege of Tal Al-Zaatar.

LEBANESE CRISIS
1975 April 15, 14:20 (Tuesday)
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UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 05 JUL 2006
SUMMARY: MODERATE CHRISTIANS DEEPLY CONCERNED RE ESCALATION CURRENT FIGHTING IN BEIRUT AND CURRENTLY BEWILDERED AS TO HOW A SOLUTION CAN BE REACHED. THEY ARE THE FIRST TO RECOGNIZE THAT LEBANON CURRENTLY LEADERLESS AND ARE SEEKING A LEBANESE MUSLIM WITH WHOM THEY CAN DEAL, HOPEFULLY TO PATCH TOGETHER SOME SORT OF COMPROMISE TEAM THAT CAN RULE THE COUNTRY UNTIL THERE IS A NEW PRESIDENT, AUGUST 1976. END SUMMARY.
1. THIS MORNING DCM AND I WENT TO AMERICAN INIVERSITY HOSPITAL
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TO DELIVER PRESIDENT FORD’S MESSAGE (STATE 084399 NOTAL) TO FRANGIE’S STAFF THERE. WE WERE USHERED INTO LARGE RECEPTION ROOM WHERE VARIOUS LEBANESE DIGNITARIES WERE PAYING THEIR RESPECTS. AMONG THOSE RECEIVING WAS FOREIGN MINISTER TAQLA. TAQLA TOOK ME ASIDE AND ASKED IF I HAD ANY VIEWS ON THE CURRENT CRISIS. TOLD HIM THAT WE AND OTHER FRIENDS OF LEBANON CONSIDERED IT EXTREMELY GRAVE FOR IN ALL HONESTLY WE DID NOT SEE THAT THE TODAY HAD A GOVERNMENT. TAQLA ENERGETICALLY AGREED, POINTING OUT THAT ONE MUST BE REALISTIC AT SUCH SERIOUS MOMENTS. TAQLA CONFIRMED WHAT WE HAD HEARD LAST NIGHT, THAT YESTERDAY AFTER- NOON’S CABINET MEETING WAS A DONNYBROOK, WITH PRIME MINISTER EXERCISING NO REPEAT NO CONTROL AND MINISTERS SHOUTING AT EACH OTHER. TAQLA DID NOT ATTEND BUT SAID HE OF COURSE HAD BEEN FULLY INFORMED. IN RESPONSE TO TAQLA’S QUESTION, I SAID THAT, LIKE MOST OTHER WESTERN EMBASSIES HERE WE HAD LITTLE OR NO INFORMATION AND THAT I HOPED HE WOULD FILL ME IN ON THE CURRENT SCENE. PROBLEM, AS HE PUT IT, WAS THAT WE WERE FACED WITH ESCALATING VIOLENCE BETWEEN CHRISTIAN RIGHTISTS AND FEDAYEEN RADICALS AND LEBANESE RADICALS WHO WERE BEING SUPPORTED MORE AND MORE BY LESS RADICAL PALESTINIAN ELEMENTS BUT THEY WERE BRINGING ALONG WITH THEM RADICAL LEBANESE MUSLIMS. CHRISTIANS SAW THEIR VERY EXISTENCE IN LEBANON THREATENED AND MORE AND MORE CHRISTIANS WERE INCLINED TO SIDE WITH ULTRA-RIGHTISTS WHOM IN THE PAST THEY HAD NEVER SUPPORTED. I ASKED TAQLA AS TO THE ROLE OF VARIOUS MUSLIM LEADERS AND HE STATED HE CONSIDERED FORMER PRIME MINISTER SAEB SALAAM CURRENTLY AMONG THE MOST IMMODERATE. SAEB IS ACTING NOT ONLY AS AN ULTRA MUSLIM BUT ALSO A “DIRTY” LEBANESE POLITICIAN WHO IS OUT FOR EVERYTHING HE CAN PERSONALLY GAIN AT THE EXPENSE OF HIS COUNTRY. THE SHI’A LEADER IMAM MUSA AL-SADR, WITH WHOM TAQLA HAS BEEN IN CONTACT SHARES TAQLA’S DEEP CONCERN. HOWEVER, BEING MUSLIM HE IS PERSONALLY ON THE SIDELINES AND IS COUNSELING HIS FORCES TO REMAIN COMPLETELY ALOOF FROM THE VIOLENCE. THE IMAM, HOWEVER, IS NOT PLAYING AN ACTIVE ROLE AS OF THIS MOMENT.
2. FORMER PRIME MINISTER RACHID KARAME FROM TRIPOLI IS, ACCORDING TO TAQLA, THE BEST HOPE FOR MODERATION ON THE MUSLIM SIDE. UNFORTUNATELY, TRIPOLI IS EXTREMELY TENSE AND KARAME HAS BEEN DEVOTING MOST OF HIS EFFORTS TO BRINGING BACK SOME RULE AND REASON TO HIS POLITICAL FIEFDOM.
3. TAQLA ASKED IF I HAD HEARD ANYTHING FROM WASHINGTON. I
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POINTED OUT THAT WE HAD MERELY BEEN REPORTING EVENTS UP TO NOW AND AS OF THE MOMENT I DID NOT SEE ANYTHING THAT EITHER THIS EMBASSY OR MY GOVERNMENT COULD DO TO ASSIST. TAQLA CONCURRED BUT SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED THAT I EXPRESS TO THE DEPARTMENT HIS DEEP CONCERN THAT THE SITUATION THROUGHOUT THE LEBANON WOULD DETERIORATE TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT THE ISRAELIS MIGHT BE TEMPTED TO ACT IN SOUTHERN LEBANON. THIS WOULD, OF COURSE, RESULT IN SYRIAN ACTIONS AND COULD BRING ABOUT A RESUMPTION OF AREA HOSTILITIES. RATHER NAIVELY TAQLA REQUESTED THAT WE INCREASE OUR VIGILANCE IN THIS DOMAIN AND INFORM HIS IMMEDIATELY IF WE HAD ANY INDICATIONS OF ISRAELI ACTIONS. RE SYRIA, I ASKED TAQLA IF THE RUMOR I HAD HEARD YESTERDAY REGARDING A SYRIAN EMMISSARY WAS ACCURATE. HE SAID THAT A SYRIAN OFFICIAL HAD COME HERE BUT ON OTHER BUSINESS NOT RELATED TO THE CURRENT CRISIS. HE HAS, HOWEVER, SENT A “RESPONSIBLE INDIVIDUAL” TO SEE PRESIDENT ASAD AND TO SEEK SYRIAN HELP IN ABATING PALESTINIAN-LEBANESE PROGRESSIVES’ DEMANDS. I INQUIRED WHETHER THE SECRETARY GENERAL GENERAL OF THE ARAB LEAGUE RIYAD, WHO ARRIVED HERE LAST NIGHT MIGHT BE OF HELP. TAQLA SAID HE HAD SEEN HIM LAST EVENING, HAD FILLED HIM IN ON THE SITUATION AS HE SAW IT AND THAT RIYAD WOULD DO HIS BEST. TAQLA ADDED, HOWEVER, THAT HE DID NOT SEE MUCH THAT RIYAD COULD DO OTHER THAN POSSIBLY BESPEAK MODERATION IN THE MUSLIM LEADERSHIP MEETING THAT WOULD BE TAKING PLACE THIS AFTERNOON AT 1700 LOCAL UNDER THE PRESIDENCY OF SAEB SALAAM. WE HAVE HEARD ELSEWHERE THAT THIS MEETING WILL INCLUDE NOT ONLY LEBANESE MUSLIMS OF ALL VARIETIES BUT ALSO PALESTINIANS.
4. UPON LEAVING HOSPITAL, DCM AND I PROCEEDED TO RESIDENCE OF MARONITE POLITICIAN MICHEL KHOURY, SON OF THE FIRST PRESIDENT AND INTIMATE CONFIDANT OF FORMER PRESIDENT CHARLES HELOU. HE IS ALSO CLOSE TO RACHID KARAME. KHOURY’S HOME WAS TARGET OF BOMB ATTACK LAST EVENING AND OUR CALL OSTENSIBLY WAS TO CON- GRATULATE HIM ON THE BOMB’S RELATIVE IMPOTENCE.
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5. KHOURY, WHO WE SAW ALONE, IS AS DEEPLY CONCERNED AND TOOK SAME GENERAL APPROACH AS TAQLA RE ESCALATION. YESTERDAY HE HAD SEEN GEMAYEL, JUMBLATT, FORMER PRESIDENT CHAMOUN, AND HAD BEEN IN TOUCH WITH SAEB SALAAM. HE CONCURRED RE LATTER’S CURRENT POSITION AND GEMAYEL’S PRESENT INTRANSIGENCE. WE ASKED HIM WHAT “DEMANDS” WERE BEING MADE OF GEMAYEL. KHOURY SAID THAT GEMAYEL WAS BEING ASKED TO TURN OVER TO UNSPECIFIED AUTHORITIES THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE “MASSACRE” IN THE BUS. THIS, KHOURY ADMITTED, WAS IMPOSSIBLE AND HAD BEEN REJECTED CATEGORICALLY BY THE PHALANGE LEADER. KHOURY IS CURRENTLY ENDEAVORING TO FIND SOME FACE-SAVING DEVICE SUCH AS AGREEING TO INVESTIGATE THE SHOOT-UP OF THE BUS AND HAVE THOSE RESPONSIBLE TURNED OVER TO THE LEBANESE GOVERNMENT. THIS MIGHT BE ACCEPTED, HE BELIEVES, BY PALESTINIAN- LEBANESE PROGRESSIVES, BUT HE STATES THE LATTER SEE THE POSSIBILITY OF TOTALLY CRUSHING THE PHALANGE AND THEREFORE ARE MOST INTRAN-
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SIGENT. PROBLEM IS FURTHER COMPLICATED BY THE FACT THAT ARAFAT IS REMAINING ALOOF FROM PRESENT NEGOTIATIONS AND ABU IYAD (NUMBER 2 OF FATAH AND LEADER OF THE BLACK SEPTEMBER ORGANIZATION) IS THEIR SPOKESMAN. KHOURY IS TRYING TO HAVE A CHRISTIAN LEADER SUCH AS FORMER PRESIDENT HELOU COME OUT WITH A STRONG STATEMENT CONDEMNING GEMAYEL BUT EVEN MORE STRONGLY CONDEMNING THE FEDAYEEN AND THEN BESPEAKING NATIONAL UNITY. HE WOULD HOPE THAT HE COULD THEN CONVINCE RACHID KARAME TO SUBSCRIBE TO SUCH A STATEMENT AND THUS BE A RALLYING POINT FOR MODERATE MUSLIMS WHO ARE THE MAJORITY OF LEBANESE OF THAT FAITH. KHOURY WAS ON HIS WAY TO SEE KARAME WHEN WE LEFT AND WILL BE IN TOUCH WITH US THIS EVENING. ON OF THE COMPLICATING FACTORS, HOWEVER, IS THAT CHARLES HELOU IS NOT REPEAT NOT CURRENTLY IN VERY GOOD PHYSICAL SHAPE AND MAY BE RELUCTANT TO ACT ON KHOURY’S RECOMMENDATIONS.
6. WE ASKED KHOURY WHAT CHAMOUN WAS UP TO. HE SAID NOTHING AS OF THE MOMENT. RE REPORTS THAT CHAMOUN’S FORCES WERE BRINGING IN MORTARS AND HEAVY MACHINE GUNS TO BEIRUT AREA, HE SAID THIS WOULD NOT SURPRISE HIM BECAUSE CERTAINLY CHAMOUN’S MEN WERE SYMPATHETIC TO THEIR PHALANGE COUNTERPARTS. HE INQUIRED RHETORICALLY, HOWEVER, WHAT BOTH CHAMOUNISTS AND PHALANGISTS COULD DO AGAINST THE FEDAYEEN SUPPORTED BY LEBANESE MUSLIMS.
7. AS OF THE MOMENT, SITUATION DOESN’T LOOK TOO BRIGHT. THE ONLY ENCOURAGING FEATURE WE CAN CITE IS THAT TAQLA AND KHOURY, WHO ARE CLOSE PERSONAL FRIENDS, SEEM TO BE ON THE SAME TRACK AND BETWEEN THEM MIGHT BE ABLE TO FIND THE CURRENTLY MISSING GIMMICK.
8. FINAL POINT — PRESIDENT FRANGIE’S RECOVERY IS MOVING ALONG WELL BUT HE STILL IS IN CONVALESCENCE.
GODLEY
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PRIME MINISTER KARAME OUTLINES POLICY HOPES
1975 July 29, 09:00 (Tuesday)
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UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006
1. PRIME MINISTER RASHID KARAME GAVE A SPEECH JULY 27 AT A GATHERING COMMEMORATING THE 23RD ANNIVERSARY OF THE EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION. THE TALK TURNED OUT TO BE A MAJOR POLICY REVIEW, OUTLINING KARAME’S HOPES FOR SOLVING SOME OF THE PROMINENT PROBLEMS PLAGUING LEBANON AT PRESENT. IT RECEIVED WIDE PRESS COVERAGE IN THE JULY 28 PAPERS. SIGNIFICANT ITEMS FROM THE SPEECH, AS REPORTED IN THE PRESS, ARE AS FOLLOWS: — THE PRESIDENCY: THE MOST WIDELY QUOTED REMARK OF THE SPEECH WAS KARAME’S DECLARATION THAT HE CONSIDERED HIMSELF “A CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC,” BY WHICH HE INTENDED TO CONVEY NOT ONLY HIS POLITICAL AMBITIONS BUT ALSO HIS
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GENERAL BELIEF THAT CONFESSIONALISM MUST BE DISCARDED IN CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS. HE ADDED THAT THE NECESSARY CHANGES MUST BE MADE DEMOCRATICALLY AND THROUGH A “FRE DIALOGUE.” HE SAID HE THOUGHT THERE WAS “NOT A SINGLE CHRISTIAN” OPPOSED TO THIS APPROACH. — CONFESSIONAL BALANCE IN THE ARMY: AGREEING WITH THE CHARGE THAT THE ARMY HAD TAKEN ON A “CONFESSIONAL CHARACTER,” KARAME SAID THAT CHANGES WERE BEING MADE TO CORRECT THIS IMBALANCE. (COMMENT: THERE ARE UNCONFIRMED REPORTS THAT RESHUFFLINGS ARE IN PROGRESS, NOT YET ANNOUNCED OFFICIALLY, THAT WILL REDUCE THE PROPORTION OF MARONITE OFFICERS AND INCREASE THAT OF SUNNIS, SHI’AS, AND DRUZE IN PROMINENT STAFF POSITIONS.) OTHER MEASURES WILL ALSO BE TAKEN, KARAME SAID, INCLUDING THE PRESENTATION OF A DRAFT LAW ON THE ARMY’S RESPONSIBILITIES. — NATURALIZATION MEASURES: A SIMMERING ISSUE OF LONG STANDING AMONG SEVERAL THOUSAND SUNNI INHABITANTS OF NORTH LEBANON WHO HAVE NOT BEEN GIVEN LEBANESE NATIONALITY, THIS QUESTION IS SYMBOLIC OF THE BROADER CONFESSIONAL DISPUTE. KARAME PROMISED THAT STEPS WOULD BE TAKEN AT ONCE TO RESOLVE THIS MATTER, AND HE EXPRESSED CONFIDENCE THAT SOME 90 PERCENT OF THE PENDING NATURALIZATION DEMANDS WOULD BE SETTLED IN FAVOR OF THE CLAIMANTS. — “SOCIAL PEACE:” IN ORDER TO RESTORE CONFIDENCE IN THE GOVT AMONG ECONOMICALLY DEPARIVED GROUPS, KARAME PROMISED AN AMBITIONS PROGRAM OF POPULAR HOUSING. ALSO, A NEW PLAN WILL BE PUT INTO EFFECT FOR THE POOR AREAS RINGING CENTRAL BEIRUT. — THE “PALESTINIAN RESISTANCE:” KARAME EXPRESSED GNERAL SUPPORT FOR THE PALESTINIANS, HOPING FOR COOPERATION BETWEEN THEM AND LEBANON SO THAT THE EFFORTS OF BOTH WOULD BE DIRECTED “AGAINST OUR TRUE COMMON ENEMY.”
2. COMMENTS: AT THIS STAGE, KARAME’S WIDE-RANGING PLAN MUST BE CONSIDERED MORE AN INTENTION THAT A CONCRETE PROGRAM, BECAUSE IT IS DEBATABLE WHETHER HE CAN STEER IT PAST THE DANGEROUS POLITICAL SHOALS THAT LIE AHEAD. BUT HIS INTENTION IS UNQUESTIONALBY SERIOUS, AND IT IS ENCOURAGING THAT SOME OF LEBANON’S SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC ILLS ARE BEING ADDRESSED IF NOT SOLVED. KARAME’S REMARK ABOUT HIS PRESIDENTIAL
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CANDIDACY IS PROBABLY RHETORIC, DESIGNED TO DRAMATIZE HIS VIEW OF THE CONFESSIONAL PROBLEM, AND IT SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS ANNOUNCING HIS CANDIDACY FOR THE 1976 ELECTION.
GODLEY
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MARONITES AND PLO
1976 April 4, 17:05 (Sunday)
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UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. DAOUDI EITHER MISUNDERSTOOD OR, AS DICK MURPHY SAYS, IS EXCESSIVELY SENSITIVE.
2. 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.
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AN EYEWITNESS RETURNS FROM “CHRISTIANLAND”
1976 July 8, 11:50 (Thursday)
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UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. NICK LUDINGTON, BUREAU CHIEF OF OF AP IN BEIRUT, HAS JUST RETURNED FROM WEEK IN CHRISTIAN AREA OF LEBANON. ON UNDERSTANDING THAT HIS IDENTITY AS SOURCE WOULD BEPROTECTED, HE SHARED FOLLOWING INFORMATION AND OBSERVATIONS WITH COUNTRY TEAM.
2. SEPARATION WITHOUT PARTITION. WHILE FORMAL PARTITION WAS REJECTED BY ALMOST ALL CHRISTIANS WITH WHOM LUDINGTON SPOKE, TOP CHRISTIAN SPOKESMEN DID EMPHASIZE THAT SOME FORM OF REGIONALIZATION AND DECENTRALIZATION WOULD HAVE TO BE PART OF ANY IMMEDIATE SOLUTION TO LEBANESE CRISIS. HE AGREED WITH AN EMBOFF’S ASSESSMENT THAT THIS REFLECTS A CHRISTIAN, PARTICULARLY MARONITE, DESIRE TO “RETREAT” INTO MOUNT LEBANON UNTIL SUCH TIME AS PALESTINE QUESTION IS FULLY SOLVED AND ITS REPERCUSSIONS NO LONGER DOMINATE LEBANESE SBODY POLITIC.
3. “PURIFICATION” AND CONSOLIDATION OF CHRISTIAN AREA. HAVING COMMITTED THEMSELVES TO SEPARATE EXISTENCE FOR FORESEEABLE FUTURE, CHRISTIANS, AND MORE PARTICULARLY MARONITES, HAVE MADE
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“PURIFICATION” OF AREA UNDER THEIR CONTROL A PRIORITY GOAL. OCCUPATION OF JISR AL-BASHA AND TALL AZ-ZA’TAR PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMPS IS, FOR CHRISTIANS, INDISPENSABLE FIRST STEP. LARGELY LEBANESE SHI’ITE URBAN SLUM QUARTER OF NAB’A, WHICH ALSO HARBORS PALESTINIAN AND LEFTIST GANGSTERS, AS WELL AS LEBANESE COMMUNIST PARTY FOLLOWERS, WILL BE NEXT, WHERE THEY EXPECT NO GREAT DIFFICULTY. THEY ARE ALREADY ENCOURAGING SHI’ITES TO LEAVE FOR WEST BEIRUT. WITH OCCUPATION OF NAB’A, THEY WILL HAVE ELIMINATED MAJOR NON-CHRISIAN AND NON-LEBANESE POCKETS AND ASSURED RESIDENTS OF CHRISTIAN QUARTER OF ASHRAFIYYA FREE AND SECURE ACCESS TO CHRISTIAN MOUNT LEBANON. THEY WILL THEN CONCENTRATE ON ELIMINATING RADICAL PARTIES SUCH AS PPS IN CHRISTIAN TOWNS IN THE METN AND KOURA REGIONS.
4. PLIGHT OF CHRISTIANS LIVING IN AREAS NOT UNDER CHRISTIAN CONTROL IS OF LITTLE CONCERN TO CHRISTIAN LEADERS. THEY ARE AWARE OF DANGER TO WHICH ISOLATED CHRISTIAN VILLAGES IN NON-CHRISTIAN AREAS SUCH AS THE CHOUF, SOUTH LEBANON, THE BEKAA, AND AKKAR, AS WELL ASINDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN RESIDENT INWEST BEIRUT, ARE EXPOSED AND ARE WELCOMING THEM IN CHRISTIAN AREAS WHENEVER POSSIBLE. THEIR TROUBLE IS THAT THOSE CHRISTIANS WHO CHOOSE NOT TO MOVE MUST BEAR THE CONSEQUENCES.
5. LUDINGTON NOTED THAT THOSE CHRISTIANS LIVING OUTSIDE CHRISTIAN AREA ARE — PERHAPS DEFENSIVELY — AMONG MOST VIRULENT OPPONENTS OF SEPARATION ORPARTITION. THEY HAVE ATTEMPTED TO MAKE THEIR PEACE WITH THEIR ENVIRONMENT AND VIEW THE ACTIONS OF CHRISTIAN LEADERS AS THREATENING THEIR MODUS VIVENDI.
6. TALL AZ-ZA’TAR AS EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN FIELD OPERATIONS.
CHRISTIANS DO NOT VIEW TALL AZ-ZA’TAR AS MAJOR MILITARY PROBLEM, AND DELAY IN COMPLETING ITS OCCUPATION ATTRIBUTABLE, IN LUDINGTON’S OPINION, TO CHRSITIAN DESIRE TO AVOID SUFFERING AND UNNECESSARY CASUALTIES BY STARVING RATHER THAN OVERRUNING THE CAMP. WILLIAM HAWI, MILITARY COMMANDER OF PHALANGE, TOLD LUDINGTON THAT TALL AZ-ZA’TAR WOULD SURELY FALL, ONLY QUESTION WAS WHEN. LUDINGTON ESTIMATED NUMBER OF FIGHTERS INSIDE CAMP TO HAVE BEEN ORIGINALLY ONE TO TWO THOUSAND.
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LEFTIST/PALESTINIAN ATTEMPTS TO RELIEVE CAMP THROUGH MONTE VERDE WERE A JOKE; MAIN EFFORT CONSISTED OF ONLY 50 LIGHTLY ARMED MEN SLOGGING IT OUT ON FOOT FROM DAMASCUS ROAD ABOVE KAHALE.
7. COMMAND POST FOR ASSAULT AS A WHOLE IS MAR SHAYA MONASTERY OVERLOOKING CAMP. A CERTAIN BRIGADIER AOUN, LEBANESE ARMY OFFICER, COORDINATES ACTIVITIES OF VARIOUS CHRSTIAN MILITIAS IN PRESENCE OF SUCH LEADERS AS DANY CHAMOUN, MILITARY COMMANDER OF NATIONAL LIBERALS, AND BASHIR GEMAYEL, MILITARY COMMANDER OF METN REGION FOR PHALANGE. AOUN’S EFFORTS CONSTITUTE ONE OF FEW LINKS AMONG CHRISTIAN MILITIAS, WHICH TEND TO REMAIN AUTONOMOUS ON GROUND. ACCORDING TO LUDINGTON, AOUN IS BUT ONE OF MANY LEBANESE ARMY OFFICERS WORKING WITH CHRISTIAN MILITAS, PARTICULARLY IN FIELD OF COMMUNICATIONS SUPPORT.
8. THE FIGHTERS ARE COMMITTED. US-TRAINED CAPTAIN IN CHARGE OF PORTION OF ASSAULT, MOVING IN FROM MKALLES SIDE, CLAIMS THAT, GIVEN DEGREE OF COMMITMENT OF HIS MEN, HE WOULD BE UNABLE TO COMPEL THEM TO OBSERVE A CEASE-FIRE ORDER. ACCORDING TO LUDINGTON, CEDAR GUARDS (HURRAS AL-ARZ) FIGHTERS ARE MOST FANATIC OF ALL. PALESTINIANS ARE ANATHEMA. ONE FIGHTER LUDINGTON SPOKE TO SPAT EVERY TIME HE SAID WORD “PALESTINIAN.”
9. AMERICAN ARMS — ESPECIALLY M-16S — ARE MUCH IN EVIDENCE AMONG VARIOUS CHRISTIAN MILITIAS. IN ADDITION, SEVERAL FIGHTERS AT TALL AZ ZA’TAR OPENLY AND PROUDLY BRANDISHED ISRAELI WEAPONS WITH SERIAL NUMBERS FILED OFF. LUDINGTON ESTIMATES THAT CASUALTIES ON CHRISTIAN SIDE HAVE BEEN LIGHT, PERHAPS 100 FOR ENTIRE BATTLE.
10. ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE OF CHRISTIAN AREA. LUDINGTON CONFIRMED THAT MONKS OF KASLIK ARE STILL VERY MUCH INTELLECTUAL MOVERS OF CHRISTIAN AREA. HOWEVER, DAY-TO-DAY AFFAIRS ARE MANAGED BY TRADITIONAL LEADERS AND PARTIES AND THEIR FOLLOWERS.
1. TO GIVE THEIR “SEPARATENESS” STRUCTURE, CHRISTIANS SET UP PROVISIONAL ADMINISTRATION SEVERAL MONTHS AGO. THEY AVOID USE OF WORD “GOVERNMENT;” INSTEAD, THEY STYLE IT “DAR AL-AMAL,” WHICH MEANS LITERALLY LABOR HOUSE,” BUT WHICH COULD JUST AS
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EASILY BE TRANSLATED “ACTION CENTRAL.” STAFFED BY FORMER CHRISTIAN EMPLOYEES OF DEFUNCT CENTRAL GOVERNMENT, DAR AL’AMAL PARALLELS PHALANGE PARTY, WHICH IS ONLY FULLY DEVELOPED POLITICAL ORGANIZATION IN THE CHRISTIAN AREA. PHHALANGE DENIES IT CONTROLS DAR AL-‘AMAL, BUTPIERRE GEMAYEL HEADS ITS POLITBURO . EXECUTIVE SECRETARY IS MRS. JOSEPH ASWAD, HIS DAUGHTER. IT HANDLES “FUNCTIONS” OF DEFENSE, INTERNAL SECURITY, JUSTICE, PUBLIC WORKS, FINANCE, EDUCATION, SUPPLY,AND HEALTH. DEFENSE, INTERNAL SECURITY, AND JUSTICE ARE DIRECTLY SUPERVISED BY BASHIR GEMAYEL, PIERRE’S SON.
12. DAR AL-‘AMAL HAS SET UP PROVISIONAL TRIBUNALS TO TRY CRIMINALS AND HAS EMPOWERED THEM TO IMPOSE SENTENCES UP TO AND INCLUDING DEATH; IRONICALLY, CLEMENCY CAN BE GRANTED ONLY BY CAMILLE CHAMOUN OR PIERRE GEMAYEL. SIXTY CRIMINALS HAVE SO FAR BEEN JAILED. TAXES — ESPECIALLY ON REAL ESTATE AND IMPORTED LUXURY GOODS — ARE BEING COLLECTED ANDPRICE CONTROLS HAVE BEEN INSTITUTED. THERE ARE PLANS TO BUILD A PORT (PERHAPS AT CHEKKA) AND AN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT SUPERIOR IN LOCATION AND FACILITIES TO BEIRUT AIRPORT, AND TO REBUILD INDUSTRIES AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK. IN FIELD OF HEALTH, LEBANESE DOCTORS WORKING IN FRANCE HAVE SENT AT LEAST TWO SHIPLOADS OF SUPPLIES TO HOSPITALS IN CHRISTIAN AREA. IN FIELD OF INFORMATION, NEW LEBANESE NEWS AGENCY, MANAGED BY JOSEPH ABU KHALIL, DIALY NEWSPAPER “AL-AMAL,” AND “VOICE OF LEBANON RADIO ALL SPEAK FOR PHALANGE/DAR AL-‘AMAL. RADIO LEBANON FROM AMCHIT, ON OTHER HANDS, SPEAKS STRICTLY FOR PRESIDENT FRANJIEH AND HIS ENTOURAGE, ESPECIALLY RAMIZ KHAZIN, FORMER DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF INFORMATION. COORDINATION BETWEEN THE TWO INFORMATION MACHINES IS NON- EXISTENT; INDEED, PHALANGE REGARDS EFFORTS OF RADIO AMCHIT AS UTTERLY JUVENILE.
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13. ON LOCAL LEVEL, “POPULAR COMMITTTEES” REPRESENTING DAR AL-‘AMAL FUNCTION IN EACH VILLAGE, TOWN, AND URBAN QUARTER IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH INHABITANTS. SERVICES INCLUDE FOOD DISTRIBUTION, GARBAGE COLLECTION, AND AID TO SICK AND ELDERLY.
14. CENTRAL GOVERNMENT. IN ALL OF THIS, CENTRAL GOVERNMENT IS SEEN AS IRRELEVANT. LACKING A MILITIA OF HIS OWN, EVEN PRESIDENT-ELECT SARKIS IS VIEWED AS IRRELEVANT.
15. POPULATION DYNAMICS. JOSEPH ABU KHALIL TOLD LUDINGTON THAT HE ESTIMATED NUMBER OF LEBANESE INCHRSITIAN AREA TO BE AROUND ONE MILLION. INDEPENDENT ESTIMATES AVAILABLE TO LUDINGTON ARE CLOSE TO HALF MILLION. CHRISTIAN LEBANESE OVERSEAS ARE ENCOURAGED TO RETURN TO CHRISTIAN AREA, BUT INFLOW IS SMALL; FOR ONE THING, THE TWELVE BOATS WHICH PLY LARNACA- JOUNIEH ROUTE CARRY ONLY 12 PASSENGERS OUT OF LARNACA IN COMPLIANCE WITH SYPRIOT SAFETY REGULATIONS, BUT UP TO 65 ON RETURN VOYAGE. TO DISCOURAGE EMIGRATION, A DEPARTURE TAX OF 100 LEBANESE POUNDS PER PERSON IS LEVIED IN JOUNIEH, AND FOR MILITARY REASONS YOUNG MEN ARE FORBIDDEN EXIT ENTIRELY. ACCORDING TO ABU KHALIL, CHRISTIAN LOSSES IN FIGHTING HAVE NOT BEEN GREAT– 2,000 CIVILIANS AND
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 BEIRUT 05993 02 OF 02 081255Z
500 FIGHTERS KILLED IN 15 MONTHS OF CRISIS.
16. SYRIAN PRESENCE. CHRISTIANS APPRECIATE NEED FOR AND ADVANTAGES OF SYRIAN PRESENCE OR ROLE IN LEBANON, EVEN WHILE REGARDING SYRIANS AS COUNTRY BUMPKINS. WITH SYRIANS NOW IN FULL CONTROL OF ZAHLE-“UYUN AS-SIMAN-FARAYA ROAD, THERE IS SOME TALK OF OPENING IT FOR CHRISTIAN TRAVELERS TO DAMASCUS. AT PRESENT, HOWEVER, SYRIANS FORBID ALL TRAFFIC BEYOND CREST OF MOUNTAIN, AND IMPOSE THEIR OWN DISCIPLINE ON CHRISTIAN FORCES ON WESTERN SLOPES.
17. SYRIAN INTENTIONS. LUDINGTON COULD GET NO FEEL FOR HOW CHRISTIANS VIEW SYRIA’S ULTIMATE INTENTIONS. HE PERSONALLY TAKES VIEW QUITE DIFFERENT FROM MOST FOREIGN CORRESONDENTS IN BEIRUT. INSTEAD OF VIEWING SYRIAN MOVES IN LEBANON AS PRELUDE TO SYRIAN ACCEPTANCE OF RENEWED EFFORTS TOWARDS A PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT IN MIDDLE EAST, HE BELIEVES THEY FORESHADOW HARDENING OF SYRIAN POSITION VIS-A-VIS ISRAEL EVEN TO POINT OF LAUNCHING WAR, IN WHICH CASE CONTROL OF THE BEKAA AND OF LEBANESE BORDER AREAS WOULD BE ESSENTIAL.
SEELLYE
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