40 Years of Kataeb and Resignations

Kataeb Party leader Sami Gemayel announces the resignation of his party's two ministers from the Cabinet

Kataeb Party leader Sami Gemayel announces the resignation of his party’s two ministers from the Cabinet, June 2016 (Image source: The Daily Star / Hassan Shaaban)

This is the 19th post in a series of monthly posts covering (forgotten/ignored) WikiLeaks cables about Lebanon.

There has been a lot of talk recently of a government resignation due to the recent failures of the cabinet when it came to solving the trash crisis and promoting the election of a president. With the recent phalangist decision to leave the government, followed by the FPM’s decision to boycott the cabinet sessions until the other parties give them political concessions, I thought it would be interesting to go back 40 years in time to see how the Kataeb party managed another resignation. The WikiLeaks cable I found isn’t directly relevant to anything happening right now, but shows how a party that resigned from the government in a brilliant political maneuver two months ago and currently isn’t willing to elect Sleiman Frangieh as president, once refused to support the request for Sleiman Frangieh’s grandfather to resign from the presidency after General Al Ahdab made his coup in 1976.

In other words, Lebanon and its parties are weird. Enjoy the cable.

MARONITE SHOW OF SUPPORT FOR FRANGIE BRINGS FEAR OF MAJOR CONFLECT
1976 March 15, 12:32 (Monday)
1976BEIRUT02307_b

SUMMARY: MARONITE OPINION HAS SWUNG AWAY FROM AL-AHDAB TOWARD FRANGIE. IN EFFECT, PUBLIC CHALLENGE BEING GIVEN TO AL- AHDAB AND HIS ALLIES. THIS MAY BE FOR BARGAINING PURPOSES, BUT ALL GROUPS REALIZE A MLITARY CONFRAONTATION COULD COME BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE. END SUMMARY.

1. AFTER SIX-HOUR DEBATE, WHICH WE GATHER WAS MARKED BY MUCH AGONIZING REAPPRAISAL, KATAEB POLITBURO VOTED MAR 14

CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 BEIRUT 02307 151309Z

TO RALLY BEHIND FRANGIE. PARTY ISSUED STATEMENT DURING EVENING SAYING FRANGIE SHOULD NOT RESIGN, SINCE THIS WOULD SIMPLY CREATE POWER VACUUM AND LEAVE COUNTRY TO UNKNOWN DESTINY. AT SAME TIME, PARTY AFFIRMED ITS SUPPORT FOR SYRIAN MEDIATION. KATAEB DELEGATION LED BY KARIM PAKRADOUNI GOING TO DAMASCUS TODAY. DELEGA- TION WILL ALSO REPRESENT NATONAL LIBERALS.

2. NATIONAL LIBERALS LIKEWISE GIVING PUBLIC SUPPORT TO FRANGIE, WITH CAMILLE CHAMOUN THE PARTY’S SPOKESMAN. AS WITH KATAEB, HOWEVER, SOME ANGUISH EVIDENT IN PARTY RANKS. DEPUTY FUAD LAHOUD OF THE PARTY, FOR EXAMPLE, ADDED SIGNATURE TO PARLIMANE PETION CALLING FOR PRESIDENT TO RRSIGN. (THIS PETITION WAS SUBMITTED FORMALLY TO PRESIDENT MAR 14 WITH 70 NAMES, BUT FRANGIE REFUSED TO ACCEPT IT). ANOTHER REPORT HAS IT THAT DANNY CHAMOUN IS STAYING AT ARMY HQ AND SHARPLY DISAGREES WITH HIS FATHER ON FRANGIE RESIGNA- TION ISSUE.

3. MARONITE LEAGUE, WHICH WE ARE TOLD HAD AT ONE POINT VOTED SUPPORT AL-AHDAB BY CLOSE MARGIN, NOW DENYING THIS. LEAGUE EXPECTED TO MEET MAR 15 TO DISCUSS ITS STAND AGAIN.

4. SOME SOURCES SAY THAT MARONITES IN ARMY COM- MAND LIKEWISE PUTTING SELVES AT ARM’S LENGTH FROM AL-AHDAB. COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF HANNA SA’ID RE- PORTEDLY DRIFTING WITH OTHER MARONITES TOWARD FRANGIE. WE NOT YET INCLINED CREDIT THESE STORIES, HOWEVER.

5. NEW SUPPORT FOR AL-AHDAB ALSO COMING OUT. FOLLOWING KATAEB STATEMENT MAR 14, A GROUP OF CHRISTIAN OFFICERS PREVIOOSLY CONSIDERED PRO-FRANGIE SPOKE OUT FOR THE COUP. A SECOND GROUP OF OFFICERS JOINED AL-AHDAB MORNING MAR 15 AND GIAVE FRANGIE UNTIL 1400 HOURS LOCAL SAME DAY TO RESIGN OR FACE CONSEQUENCES.

6. DESPITE ESCALATING ATMOSPHERE, THERE ARE SIGNS THAT KATAEB AND NATIONAL LIBERAL SHIFTS MAY BE FOR TACITCAL PURPOSES. KATAEB’S DECLARATION FOR FRANGIE

CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 BEIRUT 02307 151309Z MAR 14

WAS NOT CLEAR-CUT. DISPATCH OF DELEGATION TO DAMSCUS SUGGESTS CHRISTIAN LEADERS WANT SYRIANS TO GET INTO MEDIATION ACT AGAIN. A NATIONAL LIBERAL SOURCES TOLD EMBOFF MAR 15 THAT CAMILLE CHAMOUN REALIZES FRANGIE CANNOT STAY IN PRESIDENCY FOR LONG. MUCH BEHIND-THE- SCENES TUGGING AND HAULING IS EVIDENT ON QUESTIONS RANGING FROOM TEMPORARLY TRUCES TO FRANGIE SUCCESSOR. BUT MEANWHILE SITUATION ON GROUND DEVELOPING QUICKLY TO- WARD ARMED CONFRONTATION. SECURITY IN BEIRUT STREETS AS OF MID-MORNING MAR 15 REMAINS ANARCHIC. EX- CANGES OF FIRE CONTINUE IN AIN EL-MRESSE AND HITEL DISTRICT. WIDER MILITARY CONFRONTATION BETWEEN COUP SUPPORTERS AND FRANGIE SUPPORTERS COULD COME TODAY.

7. MOMENTUM OF AL-AHDAB COUP APPEARS TO BE LOSING STEAM, ALTHOUGH SHIFTS OF SUPPORT GOING BOTH WAYS ARE COMING THICK AND FAST. HIS MAIN ULTIMATE RECOURSE NOW IS LT. KHATIB’S TROOPS, ASSUMING LATTER WILLING. ACCORDING TO UNCONFIRMED REPORT, KHATIB’S FORCES ARE MASSING IN MOUNTAINS ABOVE BEIRUT. STANDING BEHIND KHATIB POLITICALY IS JUMBLATT, WHO CONTINUES TO UTTER A DOWN-WITH-THE-REGIME LINE. THIS RISING TIDE OF LEFTIST REVOLUIONARY RHETORIC IS INDEED THE MAIN SCARE SEEN BY KATAEB AND OTHER CHRISTIANS AND MODERATES,WHO WONDER WITH CONSIDERABLE JUSTICE WHERE THE END LIES TO THEIR STREAM OF CONCESSIONS.

8. PARLIAMENT MEMBERS CONTINUING THEIR CONREASINGLY FORLORN SEARCH FOR A “FORMULA.” SPEAKER ASSAD APPARENTLY TURNING IN DESPAIR TO IDEA THAT SYRINS MUS ENTER PICTURE QUICKLY. IN SHORT, WE HAVE ANOTHER RACE BETWEEN RAPID DETORIATION ON GROUND AND SEEMING SNAIL’S PACE OF POLITICAL NEGOTIATIONS. MAIN HOPE AGAIN SEEMS TO BE “SYRIA EX MACHINA.”

9. THIS REPLACES 0900 REPORT. LAMBRAKIS CONFIDENTIAL NNN

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