The Aoun-Hariri rivalry on WikiLeaks

aoun-and-hariri-endorsement

Michel Aoun, right, with Lebanon’s former prime minister, Saad Hariri, left, as Mr. Hariri said he will back him to become president. (Image source: Reuters)

This is the 20th post in a series of monthly posts covering (forgotten/ignored) WikiLeaks cables about Lebanon.

Because spoiling political agreements between the Zuamas by sharing Wikileaks cables of them talking behind each others’ backs has become a tradition on this blog (see here, here and here), this month’s WikiLeaks cables I’m sharing are about Hariri and Aoun speaking (unspeakable) things about each other.

Inspired by Hariri’s endorsement of Aoun that is finally ending more than two years of presidential deadlock, the cables quote (among other things) Aoun calling Hariri “inexperienced” and Hariri calling Bassil “crazy” and Aoun a “disaster” .

Note that in the second cable I’m quoting, from March 2006, Aoun clearly states that”once Aoun is president, he foresees no problems cooperating with Hariri as Prime Minister”, although “he went on to label Hariri inexperienced, and unwilling to share power”.

Well, who knew that 10 years later, in 2016, the two Zuamas were eventually going to share power?

I only kept the relevant parts of the most relevant cables I found. Enjoy.

MGLE01: HARIRI AND JUMBLATT DISCUSS STRATEGY
2006 February 24, 15:01 (Friday)
06BEIRUT563_a

Hariri was confident that he could gain Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri’s support for efforts to remove Lahoud. “He is easy to bring in,” said Hariri. He even thought there was a chance Hizballah could be persuaded. MP Michel Aoun, sighed Hariri, was the real problem. Aoun believes that “it is him or nobody else” for the presidency. 3. (S) Thinking out loud, Jumblatt asked Hariri about a compromise wherein Aoun would be the “godfather” of the next president. It was apparent by Hariri’s expression that Jumblatt had not raised this idea before. Hariri asked Jumblatt what he meant. Jumblatt replied that Aoun could name the next president as long as it wasn’t Aoun. Hariri dismissed the idea, joking that Aoun would “choose someone crazy” like Gibran Bassil (son-in-law, senior advisor, and sycophant to Aoun). ”

Link to the full cable.

 

MGLE01–AOUN READY TO COOPERATE WITH EVERYONE WHO SUPPORTS HIM
2006 March 24, 09:09 (Friday)
06BEIRUT929_a

5. (C) Once Aoun is president, he foresees no problems cooperating with Hariri as Prime Minister. “As long as they obey the law and follow the constitution.” But Aoun had a warning for March 14 as well. He accused members of March 14 of the habit of abusing power. The members of the group were involved in business scandals in the telecommunications, construction and contracting sectors, Aoun claimed. When the Ambassador pointed out that Hizballah runs illegal telecom and internet service and receives covert funds from a foreign government, Aoun acknowledged that “Berri, Jumblatt, and everyone except General Aoun” was involved in such activities and they would have to “stop it,” to make way for a new era in public policy when Aoun is in charge. Aoun is still unimpressed with Saad Hariri as a political leader, “He acts like a Saudi prince.” Aoun went on to label Hariri inexperienced, and unwilling to share power. He doesn’t even share power within March 14. They are very obedient to Hariri,” Aoun claimed.

Link to the full cable.

 

MGLE01: HARIRI SAYS HE IS READY TO CONFRONT HIZBALLAH AT NATIONAL DIALOGUE
2006 April 25, 15:56 (Tuesday)
06BEIRUT1277_a

8. (C) Hariri then asked the Ambassador to deliver a strong message to Aoun. Stridently, Hariri said that the Embassy must scare the Aounists. Don’t meet with Aoun. Rather, invite Aoun’s senior adviser Gibran Bassil to the Embassy and “chew him out,” Hariri said. “Tell them we know what you are doing and we are watching you; we know you are pushing Aoun to Hizballah,” Hariri advised. “You need to scare Bassil.” Hariri also advised that the Embassy deliver similar messages to Aounist MPs. Hariri continued that he wants to find the killers of his father, but Aoun does not seem to.

Link to the full cable.

 

LEBANON: HARIRI SEES NO END IN SIGHT TO POLITICAL DEADLOCK
2009 August 19, 16:51 (Wednesday)
09BEIRUT933_a

3. (C) During an August 18 meeting with Ambassador and PolOff, Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri described Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader Michel Aoun as a “disaster” and insisted that he had told the FPM leader several times he would not acquiesce to reappointing Aoun’s son-in-law and go-to man Gebran Bassil as Minister of Telecommunications. “It’s ridiculous to make Gebran Bassil a minister. I’d rather go home and not form a government,” Saad declared. (Note: Bassil lost his race for a parliamentary seat in the June 7 elections. Both President Michel Sleiman and Hariri oppose appointing failed parliamentary candidates as ministers. End note.) A spent and somewhat muted Hariri dismissed the possibility of a compromise with Aoun based on granting Bassil a different ministry and disparaged Aoun’s decision to use a fiery televised press conference to reject Hariri’s invitation to meet to discuss government formation. “You can ask for whatever you want as long as it is not in the media. If you put it in the media, that’s it. You’ve drawn a red line.”

Link to the full cable.

 

 

HARIRI DESCRIBES CHALLENGES FACING LEBANESE ARMED FORCES
2009 October 23, 15:40 (Friday)
09BEIRUT1169_a

8. (C) A visibly tired Hariri described himself as “very angry” at Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun’s public rejection of his cabinet proposal on October 21. “We were so close; why did he go to the media? We could have discussed his concerns in private,” he complained. Describing Aoun as “full of surprises,” Hariri explained that he was analyzing the source of Aoun’s outburst but that “it is important not to stop” efforts to form a government. Hariri outlined his hope to rebuild a relationship with Aoun to “pull his umbrella from the other parts of March 8.

Link to the full cable.

 

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