Al-Qaa’s WikiLeaks Diaries During the Civil War

Qaa Suicide Bombing.jpg

Lebanese army soldiers patrol near the site where suicide bomb attacks took place in the Christian village of Qaa, in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah

 

This is the 16th post in a series of monthly posts covering (forgotten/ignored) WikiLeaks cables about Lebanon.

Monday was a sad day for Lebanon as eight suicide bombings killed five people and wounded more than 30 in the Lebanese border village of Al-Qaa. Even by Lebanon’s Syrian spillover standards, eight suicide bombings in less than 24 hours is a very tragic development and reminds us of the dark days of the Lebanese civil war: Sectarianism, the return of “self-security”, tensions vis-a-vis refugees, government failure, and border control issues. Which is why this month’s Wikileaks post is a compilation of several cables (I only kept the relevant parts to Al-Qaa) dating from the civil war era about the violence that used to happen there. The cables might be from a different era, the fighting might be between different groups than today, but some thing stays the same: Tensions lead to more tensions, more tensions lead to violence, violence only leads to more violence, and the political repercussions of violence are the same everywhere: In one of the cables, you’ll see that a Lebanese president was threatening to resign because of a massacre in Al-Qaa. How ironic is it that almost 40 years after that, Lebanese politicians are still bickering among themselves in the middle of  presidential vacancy while violence returns to that same village? Now more than ever, the Lebanese cannot fall into the trap of civil strife and cold-blooded violence. The Lebanese armed forces have to intervene more efficiently when such developments happen because self-security can quickly turn into civil war. Those suicide bombers wanted us to head into chaos  by causing panic, and almost succeeded. After all, who wouldn’t panic after eight suicide bombings?

TEMPERATURE RISES ONCE AGAIN IN LEBANON
1975 December 18, 13:45 (Thursday)
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(A) AFTERMATH OF SEBNAY INCIDENT (REFTEL) CONTINUES TO HAVE REPERCUSSIONS IN BEIRUT AND NEARBY AREAS OF THE SHOUF. ATTACKS AND COUNTER-ATTACKS WERE REPORTED IN AND AROUND BAABDA YESTERDAY AND INTO MORNING DEC 18. NEW AND SERIOUS ELEMENT IN SITUATION IS EXTENSION OF ACTIVE CONFLICT INTO SHOUF WHERE KAMAL JUMBLATT’S DRUZE ARE POWERFUL FACTOR. JUMBLATT’S PSP MILITIAMEN STAGED SEVERAL RETALIATORY ATTACKS ON CHRISTIAN CENTERS ALONG ROAD TO SOUK AL GHARB AND AT KAHALE AND ALEY AND ARE ON ALERT IN BEIRUT. ALL HOT SPOTS OUTSIDE EARSHOT OF EMBASSY EXPERIENCED AT LEAST SOME FIRING IN LAST 24 HOURS, ALTHOUGH TRUCE IN HOTEL DISTRICT APPEARS TO BE HOLDING AS OF 1300 HOURS DEC 18. NEW SPARK OR EVEN MOMENTUM OF STRIFE ELSEWHERE COULD CHANGE SITUATION AROUND CHANCERY INSTANTANEOUSLY. FIGHTING CONTINUES IN TRIPOLI WHERE OPPOSING ELEMENTS ARE SAID TO HAVE ENGAGED DEC 17 IN “TANK BATTLES” USING ARMORED VEHICLES TAKEN FROM SECURITY FORCES. IN BEQA, SHIITES ARE REPORTEDLY ON WARPATH AGAINST CHRISTIAN VILLAGES OF KAA AND RAS BAALBEK FOR ALLEGED CHRISTIAN PROVOCATIONS.

LEBANESE SITUATION: JULY 5, 1200 HOURS LOCAL
1978 July 5, 00:00 (Wednesday)
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ASKED ABOUT FAYYADIYAH, AYN AR-RUMMANEH, ASHRAFIYAH AND QAA INCIDENTS, CHAMOUN REPLIED “IF THESE EVENTS HAD NOT OCCURRED, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN TIME TO PUT AN END TO THE PRESENCE OF THE ARAB DETERRENT FORCES IN LEBANON. THE INCIDENTS THAT YOU HAVE EVOKED HAVE PRECIPITATED THE NECESSITY OF THE TOTAL EVACUATION OF THESE FORCES FROM LEBANON. THE LEBANESE MUST TAKE CARE OF THEIR PROBLEMS THEMSELVES.”

CHAMOUN VILIFIES THE PRESIDENT
1978 July 13, 00:00 (Thursday)
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1. SUMMARY: CAMILLE CHAMOUN HAS SENT AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT SARKIS, BOTH CRITICIZING THE PRESIDENT FOR THREATENING TO RESIGN AND IMPLYING HE HAS IN THE RECENT PAST ACQUIESCED IN THE “TYRANNICAL BEHAVIOR OF THE SYRIANS.” CHAMOUN WRITES, “I WILL NOT GO TO BAABDA, AND I WILL NOT TELL YOU TO GO AHEAD WITH YOUR RESIGNATION OR TO WITHDRAW IT.” BEIRUT PRESS HAS REACTED NEGATIVELY. END SUMMARY.

[…]

“AND THERE ARE SOME WHO SAY THAT YOUR RESIGNATION WAS IN PROTEST AGAINST THE TYRANNICAL BEHAVIOR OF THE SYRIANS (By “Syrians”, Chamoun means Syrian regime here) IN AL-QAA, RAS BAALBECK, JDEIDET AL-FAKIHA, AYN AR-RUMMANEH AND ASHRAFIYAH. “ASSUMING THAT THIS IS TRUE, IT WAS YOUR DUTY TO EXPLAIN THE SITUATION TO LEBANESE AND INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION AND TO DEMAND THE DEPARTURE OF THE DETERRENT FORCES, INSTEAD OF DEPARTING YOURSELF.

SITUATION IN LEBANON: CONVERSATION WITH MINISTER OF FINANCE RAPHAEL
1978 September 14, 00:00 (Thursday)
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6. HE AGREED THAT MARONITE MILITIAS REPRESENTED ONLY A MINORITY OF CHRISTIANS AND EVEN OF MARONITES BUT MISGUIDED SYRIAN ACTIONS HAD DRIVEN PEOPLE INTO THEIR ARMS. EVERYBODY WAS TIRED OF WAR AND THE EXACTIONS OF THE MILITIAS, BUT NO CHRISTIAN WANTED TO BE LEFT DEFENCELESS AGAINST THE SYRIANS, WHOM THEY DID NOT TRUST. IF THE SYRIANS HAD SHOWN RESTRAINT AFTER EHDEN MASSACRE, KATAEB WOULD HAVE FALLEN APART. THE SYRIAN MASSACRE OF CHRISTIANS AT QAA AND THE CEDARS AND THEIR BOMBARDMENT OF ASHRAFIEH HAD SAVED THE KATAEB FROM DISSOLUTION..

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