Lebanese Civil War

The War Files (Part VI) – Elias Sarkis, The Forgotten Wartime President

Elias Sarkis, President of Lebanon (1976-1982)

Elias Sarkis, President of Lebanon (1976-1982)

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.

The new generation of Lebanese probably never heard of the Lebanese wartime president Elias Sarkis. In this post, you’ll find cables covering his election (December 1975 till May 1976) and the time before he took power (May 1976 till September 1976)

ELIAS SARKIS
1975 December 24, 09:18 (Wednesday)
1975BEIRUT15516_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006
1. HAD LONG TALK WITH ELIAS SARKIS LAST EVENING. HE HAD EARLIER EXPRESSED TO 4 OR 5 PEOPLE HIS DEEP PESSIMISM WHICH HAD ONLY HIT HIM YESTERDAY MORNING. HERETOFORE HE HAD BEEN RELATIVELY OPTIMISTIC FOLLOWING FRANGIE AND KARAME STATEMENTS SUBSEQUENT TO COUVE DE MURVILL MISSION. THERE STATEMENTS IT WILL RE- CALLED INDICATED AREAS OF NEGOTIATION AND GIVE-AND-TAKE ON BOTH SIDES. SARKIS HAD BEEN CONVINCED THAT THIS WAS MOST SIGNIFICANT AND VEN SUCH “DISASTERS” AS DEC 6 MASSACRES WOULD NOT IN HIS VIEW ELIMINATE THE POSSIBILITY OF NEGOTIATIONS AT THE VERY TOP.
2. YESTERDAY MORNING, HOWEVER, HE HAD BEEN INFORMED BY A MAN IN WHOM HE HAS TOTAL CONFIDENCE THAT FRANGIE HAS RE- TREATED COMPLETELY FROM HIS MODERATE POSITION AND IS IN A LESS CONCILIATORY MOOD THAN EVER HERETOFORE. ACCORDING TO SARKIS, HE IS NOW CONVINCED THAT PARTITION IS THE ONLY RECOURSE, AND HE AND HIS SON TONY ARE OPENLY ADVOCATING SUCH ACTION– TONY PUBLICLY AND THE PRESIDENT PRIVATELY.
3. IN PRIVATE CONVERSATION WITH ME, SARKIS SAID THAT FOR THE FIRST TIME HE WAS AT A TOTAL LOSS OF WHERE TO GO AS LONG AS FRANGIE CONTINUED TO BE PRESIDENT. HE ALSO OPINED
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 BEIRUT 15516 241021Z
THAT CHAMOUN WAS EQUALLY, IF NOT EVEN MORE, INTRANSIGENT. SARKIS DOES NOT RPT NOT CURRENTLY SEE A GROUP OF EFFECTIVE MODERATE MARONITES BEING FORMED AND NOTES THAT THE WEAPONS AND THE DEMAGOGUERY ARE ALL IN THE HANDSIK OF THE LUNATIC ELEMENTS.
4. SARKIS SAID HE IS PROCEEDING JAN 4 TO IMF INTERIM COMMITTEE AT JAMAICA. THIS MEETING WILL TAKE 4 OR 5 DAYS, AND I ASKED HIM IF HE WERE PLANNING TO VISIT WASHINGTON. HE SAID HE HAD NO INTENTION OF SO DOING, AND WHEN I INQUIRED WHETHER HE WOULD DO SO IF II WERE CONSIDERED HELPFUL, HE SAID HE COULD ALWAYS TRY.
5. SARKIS IS DEFINITELY NOT RRPT NOT LOOKING FOR A TRIP TO WASHINGTON. IT HAS, HOWEVER, OCCURED TO ME THAT WE HAVE BEEN RECEIVING A SERIES OF RELATIVE IDIOTS SUCH AS RAYMOND EDDE, CHARLES MALIK, ETC., AND THERE MIGHT BE SOMETHING TO BE GAINED IN MEETING WITH ONE OF THE FEW STILL STABLE AND REATIONAL LEBANESE. AS DEPARTMENT IS AWARE, SARKIS IS DEFINITELY STILL AMONG THE 4 OR 5 LEADING CONDIATES FOR THE PRESIDENCY, AND WHILE HE IS DOING NOTHING TO ADVANCE HIS POSITION, HE IS HIGH ON EVERY POLL. I CANNOT GUARANTEE THAT SARKIS WOULD FIND IT POSSIBLE TO VISIT WASHINGTON, BUT IF DEPARTMENT BE- LIEVES IT MIGHT BE HELPFUL, I THINK THERE IS A 50-50 CHANCE IT COULD BE ARANGED. PLEASE INSTRUCT.
GODLEY
CONFIDENTIAL
NNN
ELIAS SARKIS
1975 December 30, 00:50 (Tuesday)
1975STATE304130_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 06 JUL 2006
1. WE HAVE BEEN GIVING CAREFUL CONSIDERATION TO YOUR OBSERVATION THAT IT COULD BE HELPFUL TO RECEIVE SARKIS IN WASHINGTON FOLLOWING HIS VISIT TO JAMAICA. WE SHARE YOUR GOOD OPINION OF THE MAN AND, UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, WOULD LIKE TO ENCOURAGE A WASHINGTON VISIT. OUR VIEWS, HOWEVER, ARE COLORED BY SEVERAL CONSIDERATIONS.
2. WE DO NOT WANT TO APPEAR IN LEBANESE EYES, AT THIS TIME AT LEAST, TO BE TAKING THE INITIATIVE FOR A VISIT BY A POSSIBLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. IN ADDITION TO THE USUAL SPECULATION THIS MIGHT GENERATE, THE END RESULT MIGHT BE A POISONOUS KISS TO A MAN WHO OTHERWISE MIGHT BE CONSIDERED A REASONABLE COMPROMISE REPLACEMENT FOR FRANGIE. IF SARKIS HAD, LIKE EDDE, TAKEN THE INITIATIVE, WE WOULD OF COURSE HAVE MADE SUITABLE AND SIMILAR ARRANGEMENTS.
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 STATE 304130
3. ANOTHER CONSIDERATION IS THAT MAJOR US OFFICIALS WHO SHOULD RECEIVE SARKIS ON SUCH VISIT WILL BE HEAVILY ENGAGED IN PREPARATIONS FOR SC DEBATE, ISRAELI VISITORS, AND RE- LATED MATTERS. 4. SINCE SARKIS IS NOT LOOKING FOR SUCH A VISIT, AND SINCE YOU HAVE NOT ENCOURAGED HIM, WE ASSUME YOU WILL HAVE NO PROBLEM IN YOUR SUBSEQUENT CONTACTS. YOU MAY WISH TO TELL SARKIS, HOWEVER, THAT WE HAVE GREATLY VALUED HIS THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS ON THE LEBANESE SITUATION AND TRUST THAT THE TWO OF YOU WILL REMAIN IN FREQUENT CONTACT.
ROBINSON CONFIDENTIAL
NNN
DISCUSSION WITH CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR AND PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFUL ELIAS SARKIS
1976 April 4, 19:41 (Sunday)
1976BEIRUT02941_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. MET WITH CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR ELIAS SARKIS APRIL 3. SARKIS AND RAYMOND EDDE ARE THE TWO LEADERS IN THE PRESIDENTIAL SWEEPSTAKES. SARKIS LOST TO FRANGIE BY ONE VOTE IN 1970.
2. SARKIS RECALLED THAT HE HAD WORKED MANY YEARS FOR FORMER PRESIDENT CHEHUB AND THAT HE FULLY BACKED CHEHAB’S BASIC IDEAS OF CLOSER AND MORE EQUITABLE COOPERATION WITH THE MOSLEMS AND THE NEED FOR SOCIAL REFORM. HOWEVER, HE CONCENTRATED ON THE QUESTION OF SECURITY. IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ANY CABINET OR ANY NEW PRESIDENT TO CARRY ON IF THERE DID NOT EXIST A SECURITY FORCE. FOR THIS REASON, HE THOUGHT IT WAS ADVISABLE FOR SYRIAN MILITARY INTERVENTION TO TAKE PLACE.
3. I POINTED OUT TO SARKIS THAT SYRIAN MILITARY INTER- VENTION WAS A VERY DANGEROUS MEASURE AND COULD TRIGGER A REACTION FROM ISRAEL. I ASKED HIM THEREFORE IF THERE WAS NO ALTERNATIVE TO MAINTAINING SECURITY. IN REPLY SARKIS STATED THAT IT MIGHT BE POSSIBLE TO PUT TOGETHER SOME SORT OF UNIFIED SECURITY FORCE BY DRAWING ON THE ARMED FORCES OF THE RIGHT, THE LEFT AND THE PALESTINIANS. HE WAS NOT COMPLETELY SURE THAT THIS COULD WORK,BUT,
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 BEIRUT 02941 042052Z
GIVEN THE PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES, IT WAS OBVIOUS THAT A LOT WOULD DEPEND ON PALESTINIAN COOPERATION.
4. ALTHOUGH HE LACKS CHARISMA, SARKIS MAKES A VERY GOOD IMPRESSION. HE OBVIOUSLY HAS A VERY GOOD GRASP OF THE EXISTING POLITICAL REALITIES AND HE HAS THE REPUTATION OF BEING AN EXPERIENCED, FIRST RATE MANAGER.
BROWN
CONFIDENTIAL
NNN
WHAT NEXT FOR LEBANON?
1976 April 20, 16:18 (Tuesday)
1976STATE095348_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. SUMMARY: THIS CABLE ATTEMPTS TO SET FORTH SOME OF THE PROBLEMS A NEW LEBANESE GOVERNMENT WILL CONFRONT ON WHICH IT WILL HAVE TO ACT. ADDED TOGETHER, POLITICAL, SOCIAL, SECURITY AND ECONOMIC PROBLEMS ARE QUITE DEPRESSING. IT WILL TAKE BETTER LEADERSHIP THAN WE HAVE SEEN IN THE PAST IN LEBANON. ALL THIS IS PREDICATED ON THE ASSUMP- TION THAT THE GENERALLY AGREED TO PROCESS OF INSTALLING A NEW PRESI- DENT WILL MOVE FORWARD, PERHAPS BY FITS AND STARTS, BUT THAT IT WILL SOMEHOW WORK. END SUMMARY. 2. THE CONCLUSION THAT STANDS OUT MOST VIVIDLY IS THAT AN ENORMOUS BUNDLE OF PROBLEMS WILL SUDDENLY FALL ON THE SHOULDERS OF THE UNLUCKY MAN SELECTED AS PRESIDENT. THESE WILL BE NOT ONLY PROBLEMS
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 STATE 095348 TOSEC 100098
INHERENT IN HIS LONG-TERM TASK OF RESURRECTING LEBANON, BUT ALSO ONES DELIBERATELY POSTPONED FROM THE PRESENT PERIOD. FOR REASONS OF POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY, FOR EXAMPLE, IT IS CONSIDERED BEST TO SWEEP THE ISSUE OF POLITICAL RESTRUCTURING UNDER THE RUG WHILE THE PRESIDENTIAL “CAMPAIGN” GOES ON. THE DIFFICULTY IS THAT SUCH QUESTIONS FALLING ON TOP OF OTHERS MAY GIVE THE PRESIDENT TOO OVER- WHELMING A TASK ALL AT ONCE. THE ISSUES FACING THE NEW PRESIDENT WILL FALL INTO THREE GENERAL AREAS: (A) RESTORING SECURITY AND GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY; (B) POLITICAL REFORMS: (C) RECONSTRUC- TION.
4. RESTORING SECURITY AND GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY: YOU CANNOT BE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT AN EARLY RENEWAL OF LAW AND ORDER AFTER THE COLLAPSE OF AUTHORITY THAT HAS TAKEN PLACE. LEBANON TODAY IS A LAND OF “TURFS” RUN (WHEN RUN AT ALL) BY ARMED GROUPS. THESE ARE OFTEN MUTUALLY HOSTILE. CLASHES CAN ARISE AT THE DROP OF A HAT — ESPECIALLY, BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY, ACROSS THE CHRISTIAN-MOSLEM DIVIDING LINES. THE SLIGHTEST INCIDENT CAN SPARK A BIG BLOW-UP. PROVOCATEURS OF ONE EXTREME OR THE OTHER ARE ALWAYS READY TO PROVIDE THE SPARK. EXTREMISTS OF THE LEFT AND PALESTINIAN REJECTIONISTS ARE A PARTICULAR MENACE. WHEN ONE ADDS TO THIS THE EASE WITH WHICH OUTSIDE POWERS SUCH AS LIBYA, IRAQ, AND EGYPT CAN STIMULATE INTRANSIGENCE IN VARIOUS GROUPS AND PARTIES, THE DIFFICULTY OF RESTORING EVEN A MINIMUM OF SECURITY IS APPARENT.
5. FOR AN INDEFINITE PERIOD, SYRIA WILL HAVE TO PROVIDE THE COVER FOR THE LEBANESE GOVERNMENT’S RENEWAL. ALONG WITH THIS, DE FACTO PARTITION WILL HAVE TO BE ACCEPTED, AS CHRISTIAN MILITIAS POLICE CHRISTIAN AREAS AND THE DISPARATE AND NOT ALWAYS MUTUALLY FRIENDLY MOSLEMS/LEFTIST/PALESTINIAN GROUPS POLICE THE REST. THE RESTBRED HIGHER MILITARY COMMITTEE PROVIDES THE FRAMEWORK FOR THIS SCHEME; SOMETHING LIKE IT WILL HAVE TO BE CONCOCTED AFTER THE NEW PRESIDENT IS ELECTED. THE OVER-ALL PURPOSE WILL BE TO ELIMINATE THE DE FACTO PARTITION AND THE SYRIAN COVER GRADUALLY, PUTTING IN THEIR PLACE A NEW LEBANESE AUTHORITY. SETBACKS ARE PROBABLY INEVITABLE, BUT HOPEFULLY MANAGEABLE. ANY SIGNIFICANT DOWNTURN IN SECURITY IS APT TO MAKE CHRISTIAN HARDLINERS FREEZE.
6. THE GOL NOT LONGER HAS ANY SERVICE CAPABLE OF MAIN-
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 STATE 095348 TOSEC 100098
TAINING INTERNAL SECURITY. POLICE FORCE CANNOT BE RE- ORGANIZED AND GIVEN CAPABILITY OF SUPPRESSING INSURRECTION QUICKLY ENOUGH. POLARIZATION OF THE ARMY HAS INCREASED DURING LATEST ROUND OF FIGHTING, AND ITS RECONSTRUCTION AS A NATIONAL ARMY WOULD TAKE AT LEAST TWO YEARS. HOWEVER, A MOBILE BRIGADE MIGHT BE READY IN 6-12 MONTHS. IN THE INTERIM, AN EXTERNAL MILITARY FORCE WOULD BE REQUIRED TO RESTORE LAW AND ORDER, PENDING DEVELOPMENT OF A NATIONAL CAPABILITY, OR IT MAY BE POSSIBLE TO REACH AGREEMENT ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A PROVISIONAL FORCE FROM THE VERIOUS WARRING FACTIONS.
7. A LATENT PROBLEM LIKELY TO ARISE WHEN THE BARE BONES OF AUTHORITY ARE RECREATED IS LEBANESE NATIONAL FEELING AGAINST SYRIA. THE DEFEATIST MOOD OF MOST LEBANESE TODAY PROBABLY GIVES DAMSACUS SOME TIME BEFORE THIS WILL BECOME A MAJOR PROBLEM, BUT IS IS AN EVER-PRESENT FEELING AND MUST BE EXPECTED TO EMERGE IN FORCE. BOTH RIGHTISTS AND LEFTISTS MAY VOICE IT, ALTHOUGH FOR DIFFERENT REASONS (RIGHTISTS SPEAKING OF LEBANESE “SOVERIGNTY” AND LEFTISTS CONSIDERING DAMASCUS AS A TRAITOR TO THE “PROGRESSIVE” CAUSE). THIS OF COURSE STRENGTHENS THE ARGUMENT FOR AN EARLY DEPARTURE OF SYRIAN MILITARY INFLUENCE. DAMASCUS WILL HAVE TO PLAY ITS GAME VERY CAREFULLY, STEERING CLEAR OF A DEPARTURE SO ABRUPT THAT IT LEAVES A POWER VACUUM AND ONE SO DELAYED THAT IT CREATES SUSPICION OF SYRIAN INTENTIONS IN THE MINDS OF LEBANESE. (WITH THE NEW SYRIAN-PALESTINIAN ACCORD ON LEBANON, WHERE THE PALESTINIANS ASSUME A GREATER ROLE FOR SECURITY, THIS SUSPICION COULD WELL BE TRANSFERRED TO THE LATTER.)
8. POLITICAL REFORMS. OF ALL THE PROBLEMS DUMPED ON THE NEW PRESIDENT, NONE WILL BE MORE THORNY THAN THE QUESTION OF POLITICAL REFORM. WHEN FRANGIE ANNOUNCED HIS 17- POINT PROGRAM IN FEBRUARY, THIS WAS FONDLY THOUGHT TO BE THE BASIS FOR THE “NEW LEBANON”. IT CONTAINED MAINLY POLITICAL CHANGES AND INVOLVED CONCESSIONS FROM BOTH CHRISTIANS AND MOSLEMS. DESPITE GRUMBLINGS BY THE LEFT ABOUT SOME OF THE POINTS, LEFTISTS WERE AT FIRST UNDERSTOOD TO HAVE ACQUIESCED. NOW THIS IS ALL UP IN THE AIR. IT HAS BEEN LEFT THAT WAY BY TACIT AGREEMENT, ON THEORY
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 04 STATE 095348 TOSEC 100098
THAT ELECTION OF NEW PRESIDENT SHOULD NOT BE COMPLICATED BY SUCH INTRACTABLE ISSUES.
9. THE HOPE IS THAT DEPARTURE OF FRANGIE WILL CLEAR THE AIR POLITICALLY AND ALLOW NEW MAN TO PUSH REFORMS WITH BROAD PUBLIC SUPPORT. THERE IS CERTAINLY BASIS FOR THIS HOPE. MAKING “SCAPEGOAT” OF FRANGIE WILL HELP CLEANSE SYSTEM SYMBOLICALLY OF OLD POLITICAL MENTALITY. HOWEVER, MORE IS INVOLVED THAN JUST PERSONALITIES. WRAPPED UP IN FRANGIE’S 17 POINTS ARE GUT ISSUES INVOLVING STRONG FEELINGS ON ALL SIDES. IT TOOK LABORIOUS NEGOTIATING TO ARRIVE AT 17 POINTS LAST FEBRUARY. ON CHRISTIAN SIDE, THEY EMBODIED “MINIMUM”GUARANTEE OF THEIR POLITICAL FUTURE WHILE GIVING LONG-SOUGHT GAINS TO MOSLEMS. ESTABLISH- MENT-MINDED CHRISTIANS AND MOSLEMS WERE BASICALLY SATISIFED WITH THE ACCORD. JUMBLATT, WHO HAS LONG CONSIDERED POLITICAL REFORM THE SPEARHEAD OF HIS PROGRAM, LATER MADE IT CLEAR HE WAS NOT SATISFIED. HE HAS BEEN A KEY FIGURE IN EROSION OF FRANGIE’S PROGRAM SINCE EARLY MARCH (ALTHOUGH HE GOT UNEXPECTED HELP FROM AHDAB’S COUP AND CANNOT FORGET HIS DEBT TO PALESTINIAN MUSCLE ON BATTLEFIELD). HE WILL CONTINUE TO PUCH FOR REVISION OF THE 17 POINTS. DESPITE THEIR REVERSES IN BATTLE, CHRISTIAN RIGHTISTS WILL STRUGGLE TO PRESERVE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE OF “GUARANTEE” TO WHICH THEY ADHERE EMOTIONALLY. TRADITIONAL MOSLEMS, IN PART THROUGH WEAKNESS AND IN PART THROUGH SECURITY THEY FEEL THAT DEMANDS WON WILL STICK, MAY SIT ON SIDELINES EXCEPT ON ISSUE OF SECULARIZATION. ALL IN ALL, THE NEW PRESIDENT’S PATH WILL LEAD STRAIGHT THROUGH A POLITICAL MINEFIELD. YET HE CANNOT AVOID CROSSING IT IF HE HOPES TO REACH THE “NEW LEBANON” THAT EVERYBODY DEMANDS.
10. FORTUNATELY, THE MINEFIELD IS NOT UNCHARTED. THE 17 POINTS WERE THE OUTGROWTH OF AN EARLIER SET OF 5 POINTS HAMMERED OUT IN LATE 1975 THROUGH SYRIAN MEDIATION. FOUR OF THESE POINTS WERE POLITICAL: (A) EQUAL CHRISTIAN- MOSLEM REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENT; (B) NAMING OF PRIME MINISTER BY THE PARLIAMENT; (C) ABOLITION OF CONFESSIONALISM IN GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT; (D) ESTAB- LISHMENT OF CONSTITUTIONAL COURT. A SEPARATE POINT STATING THE PALESTINIANS WOULD ABIDE BY CARIRO AGREEMENT
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 05 STATE 095348 TOSEC 100098
ALSO EMERGED LATER AS A COROLLARY TO THE 17 POINTS. THE LEFT’S ACCEPTANCE OF THE 5 POINTS WAS LESS AMBIGUOUS THAN IT EVER WAS FOR FRANGIE’S PROGRAM. THERE IS ALSO INDICATION THAT IT WOULD ACCEPT THE TRADITION OF A MARONITE PRESIDENT, A SUNNI PREMIER AND A SHIITE SPEAKER FOR THE TIME BEING, ALTHOUGH THIS HAS NOT BEEN MADE TOO CLEAR. BY FOCUSING ON THESE MORE FIRMLY ACCEPTED POINTS, THE NEW PRESIDENT COULD HOPE TO GET POLITICAL NEGOTIATIONS REASONABLY FAR ALONG WITHOUT MISHAP.
11. HIS MAIN PROBLEMS WOULD BE THREE, AS WE SEE IT: (A) THE PARTS OF THE 17 POINTS REPRESENTING COUNTER- CONCESSIONS TO CHRISTIANS; (B) THE EXTENT OF DECON- FESSIONALIZATION IN THE GOVERNMENT; (C) THE FUTURE OF THE PLESTINIANS. THE FIRST OF THESE ISSUES CENTERS ESPECIALLY ON A PROVISION IN FRANGIE’S PROGRAM THAT A TWO-THIRDS OVTE WILL BE NEEDED IN PARLIAMENT ON UNSPECIFIED “IMPORTANT MATTERS” AND THAT A 55-0/0 VOTE WILL BE NEEDED TO ELECT A PRESIDENT ON THE SECOND AND SUBSEQUENT BALLOTS (TWO-THIRDS ALREADY BEING REQUIRED ON THE FIRST BALLOT). THE LEFT HAS OBJECTED TO THE 55-0/0 IDEA. ITS RETENTION SYMBOLIZES FOR CHRISTIANS THEIR FUTURE POLITICAL SAFETY AND WE EXPECT THEY WILL HOTLY CONTEST ITS BEING DROPPED. ON THE DECONFESSIONALIZATION ISSUE, THE 17 POINTS MOVED SIGNIFICANTLY AWAY FROM CONFESSIONALISM BUT KEPT IT FOR POSTS OF DIRECTOR GENERAL LEVEL AND ABOVE. AS FOR THE PALESTINIANS, IT WAS A QUESTION EVEN UNDER THE 17 POINTS HOW FAR THEY WOULD AGREE TO GO BACK TO THE CAIRO AGREEMENT. THIS IS STILL A MAJOR UNKNOWN. (IT IS DIFFICULT TO SEE HOW THE CAIRO AGREEMENT CAN BE OBSERVED IF THE PALESTINIANS HAVE A MAJOR POLICING ROLE, AS IS NOW THE CASE.) IN THESE STRUGGLES, MUCH WILL DEPEND ON THE INTERACTIONS BETWEEN JUMBLATT AND THE EXTREMISTS IN HIS CAMP AND ON THE EVEN MORE TRICKY INTERACTIONS INVOLVING ARAFAT, SAIQA AND THE REJECTIONISTS AMONG THE PALESTINIANS. THE ATTITUDE OF THE “CHRISTIAN REJECTION FRONT” ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE MAY ALSO COMPLICATE THINGS.
12. AN IDEA THAT THE NEW PRESIDENT COULD USEFULLY PICK
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 06 STATE 095348 TOSEC 100098
UP IS THE RE-ESTABLISHMENT OF THE DEFUNCT NATIONAL DIALOGUE COMMITTEE, OR SOMETHING RESEMBLING IT. HONORING IT MIGHT MOLLIFY HIM TEMPORARILY AND THEREBY GIVE THE PRESIDENT TIME TO SORT OUT THE ISSUES. THE DIALOGUE TECHNIQUE IS, IN FACT, MORE THAN JUST A GIMMICK. THE COMMITTEE THAT MET LAST AUTUMN PROVIDED A FORUM FOR AIRING SENSITIVE ISSUES, SOMETHING THAT MAY BE EVEN MORE IMPORTANT IN THE WEEKS AND MONTHS AHEAD. THE MAIN PITFALL IS THAT SUCH A GROUP CAN PLAUSIBLY BE SAID TO UNDERMINE PARLIA- MENT’S AUTHORITY. THIS CLAIM WAS MADE ABOUT THE EARLIER COMMITTEE. BUT THIS SHOULD NOT BE AN IMPOSSIBLE OBJECTION TO OVERCOME IN THESE CRITICAL TIMES THAT REQUIRE EXTRA- ORDINARY METHODS.
13. RECONSTRUCTION. THE PUBLIC SECTOR WILL BE OBLIGED TO PLAY AN UNPRECEDENTED ROLE IN THE RECONSTRUCTION OF LEBANON, FIRST BECAUSE OF THE MAGNITUDE OF THE JOB TO BE DONE, SECONDLY BECAUSE THE PRIVATE SECTOR IS NO LONGER PREPARED TO ASSUME ITS TRADITIONAL ROLE OF LEADERSHIP UNTIL CONFIDENCE IS RESTORED. COMPLICATING MATTERS IS THE FACT THAT THE PUBLIC SECTOR IS NOT IN A POSITION TO DO THE JOB. THERE AR ONLY A HANDFUL OF COMPETENT CIVIL SERVANTS. MOST CIVIL SERVANTS ARE BADLY TRAINED AND OWE THEIR JOBS TO POLITICAL PATRONAGE.
14. ONE CAN ENVISAGE THE CREATION OF A SPECIAL OFFICE DIRECTLY UNDER THE PRESIDENT TO PLAN AND COORDINATE THE REBUILDING OF THE COUNTRY. A CONSIDERABLE AMOUNT OF WESTERN KNOW-HOW WILL BE REQUIRED AND LARGE AMOUNTS OF LOW INTEREST, LONG-TERM CREDIT, PRESUMABLY FROM THE ARAB COUNTRIES, PERHAPS $1-2 BILLION AS A STARTER.
15. THE CONCEPT OF WESTERN KNOW-HOW JOINED WITH ARAB CAPITAL LENDS ITSELF WELL TO THE FORMATION OF A CONSORTIUM, THE MEMBERS OF WHICH WOULD OF COURSE HAVE TO BE SELECTED WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF EXISTING POLITICAL REALITIES, WHICH MEANS THE INCLUSION OF SYRIA REGARDLESS OF THE LATTER’S DEARTH OF CAPITAL AND/OR WESTERN KNOW-HOW.
16. THE PUBLIC SECTOR EFFORT, IT MUST BE STRESSED, WOULD SUPPLEMENT, OT REPLACE, THE PRIVATE SECTOR
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EFFORT. ALMOST ALL OF THE COUNTRY’S NOT INCONSIDERABLE TALENT IS FOUND IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR. WHAT IS NEEDED IS AN ADEQUATE SUPPLY OF CREDIT UNDER FAVORABLE TERMS. ALSO NEEDED ARE GUARANTEES, GOVERNMENT GUARANTEES OR INSURANCE THAT THE COST OF THE OFFICE BUILDING RE- BUILT OR THE INVENTORIES REPLENISHED WOULD BE COVERED IF ONCE MORE DESTROYED. GOVERNMENT GUARANTEES ARE OF PARTICULAR IMPORTANCE TO INDUSTRY. NOT ONLY SHOULD LAWS BE PASSED TO GUARANTEE THE FOREIGN INVESTOR, BUT THE LEBANESE INVESTOR AS WELL.
17. INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM FOR JOINT COOPERATION BETWEEN THE TWO SECTORS. THIS HAS ALREADY EXISTED IN THE CASE OF TOURISM, BUT THE STATE’S ROLE IN PROVIDING THE NECESSARY INFRASTRUCTURE TO ALLOW FOR REAL INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT, AND SEEING TO IT THAT THIS IS NOT ALL CONCENTRATED IN BEIRUT, HAS EXISTED ON PAPER ONLY.
18. WHETHER BEIRUT WILL BECOME ONCE MORE A REGIONAL FINANCIAL CENTER WILL DEPEND NOT ONLY ON SECURITY BUT ON THE CONTINUATION OF A LIBERAL STYLE ECONOMY, THE ABSENCE OF CONTROLS ON CAPITAL MOVEMENTS AND MAINTENANE OF THE BANK SECRECY LAWS. INDEED THE WHOLE RENEWAL OF THE PRIVATE SECTOR COULD ONLY BE ASSUMED IF THE COUNTRY CONTINUES TO FUNCTION UNDER A FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM.
19. IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR ROAD CONSTRUCTION AND PORT DEVELOPMENT REQUIRE PRIORITY AS AN AID TO THE PRIVATE SECTOR, BUT THE PUBLIC SECTOR WILL ALSO HAVE PRESSING PRIORITIES OF A SOCIAL NATURE. THESE INCLUDE SUBSIDIZED HOUSING, MORE SCHOOLS, AND AN END TO TAX EVASION ON THE PART OF THE WEALTHY.
20. IN THE MIDST OF ALL THE DESTRUCTION TO THE COUNTRY’S ECONOMY THE RELATIVE STABILITY OF THE LEVANESE POUND IS ONE OF THE BRIGHT SPOTS. THANKS TO A VERY CONSERVA- TIVE POLICY FOLLOWED SINCE THE INTRA BANK CRAS ROCKED THE COUNTRY, THE POUND HAS AN 80 PER CENT GOLD COVER AT THE OFFICIAL RATE OF $42 PER OUNCE. MOREOVER THE
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 08 STATE 095348 TOSEC 100098 LEBANESE
PUBLIC DEBT IS NEGLIGIVLE. LEBANON’S ABILITY TO CONTRIBUTE TO HELPING ITSELF THEREFORE IS BY NO MEANS INSIGNIFICAN.
21. A MAJOR EFFORT BY THE PUBLIC SECTOR TO RESTORE THE ECONOMY, IT SHOULD BE NOTED, WOULD TEND TO STRENGTHEN THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT AND WORK AGAINST TRENDS TOWARD PARTITION.
BROWN
UNQTE ROBISNON
CONFIDENTIAL
<< END OF DOCUMENT >>
1. AT NOON LOCAL TIME MAY 8, REMAINS UNCERTAIN THAT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAN BE HELD TODAY BUT CHANCES IMPROVING. SOME 64 DEPUTIES, INCLUDING SPEAKER KAMAL ASSAD, NOW REPORTED GATHERED AT VILLA MANSOUR IN MUSEUM ARE–BUT ROADS TO AREA IN WEST BEIRUT REMAIN BLOCKED, AND FIRING IN AUDIBLE IN SOME PARTS OF TOWN.
2. LATEST ALIGNMENT DEVELOPMENT IS DECLARATION OF SUPPORT FOR ELIAS SARKIS BY PARLIAMENT SPEAKER KAMAL ASSAD, ADDING SOME DOZEN OR SO VOTES TOWARD REQUISITE 66 TO ELECT PRESIDENT ON FIRST BALLOT.PHALANGE NOW FEEL IT HAS SUFFICIENT VOTES TO PUT SARKIS IN IF IT CAN GET PEOPLE TO A MEETING, WE UNDERSTAND THAT THE CANDIDACY OF SARKIS HAS ALSO BEEN ENHANCED BY A “NO OBJECTION” POSITION TAKEN BY FATAH.THIS DEVELOPMENT SEEN PARTIALLY AS RESULT OF RECENT MEETINGS BETWEEN ‘ARAFAT AND SYRIAN PRESIDENT HAFIZ AL-ASAD.
3. AS OF LATE LAST NIGHT, THERE WAS “NO RECONCILIA- TION” BETWEEN JUMBLATT AND ASAD, DESPITE ‘ARAFAT’S EFFORTS IN DAMASCUS. THERE IS GROWING FATAH IRRITATION WITH THE LEFT, PARTICULARLY JUMBLATT’S GROUP, OVER BEING “DRAGGED INTO” SITUATION. JUMBLATT IS INCREASINGLY IRRATIONAL ON SUBJECT OF SYRIA AND SEVERAL OF HIS MORE MODERATE AIDES HAVE BECOME DISENCHANTED BY THEIR RECENT INABILITY TO INFLUENCE HIS MOOD AND BEHAVIOR.
4. THE SITUATION ON THE GROUNG LIKEWISE REMAINS OMINOUS,PARTICULARLY IN THE MOUNTAINS WHERE FIGHTING APPEARS TO BE ON THE UPSWING WITH CHRISTIANS INCREAS- INGLY ON OFFENSIVE IN METN AREA, AGAINST AYNTURA AND MUTAYN. FIGHTING CONTINUES AS WELL BETWEEN ALEY AND KAHHALE AND WE UNDERSTAND THRE IS SOME FIGHTING IN NORTH LEBANON. JUMBLATT’S TRADITIONAL SHOUF AREA HAS TAKEN ON MORE AND MORE APPEARANCE OF AUTONOMOUS CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 BEIRUT 04103 081204Z
ADMINISTRATION WITH ROAD TAXES IMPOSED. HOWEVER, THIS MAY BE JUST OSTENTATIOUS DISPLAY OF ELECTION OPPOSITION.IN BEIRUT ROAD TRAFFIC AT STANDSTILL IN MANY AREAS DUE MANY LEFTIST ROADBLOCKS. OF PARTICULAR CONCERN TO EMBASSY IS ROADBLOCK ON CORNICHE AT WHICH SEVERAL CARS HAVE BEEN BURNED SINCE THIS SECTOR BECAME ACTIVE ABOUT 0400 MAY 8 LOCAL. THE PALESTINE LIBERATION ARMY (PLA) REPORTED NOW TRYING TO OPEN CORNICHE BUT HAS NOT RPT NOT USED FORCE THUS FAR. ZTM OVERALL PROGNOSIS GRIM IF ELECTION DOES NOT COME OFF TODAY.MARONITE CIRCLES CONTINUE TO WORRY ABOUT SECURITY SITUATION BEFORE AND AFTER ELECTIONS AND SEEK ASSURANCES THAT U.S. WILL “DO SOMETHING.” THE DIS- APPEARANCE OF CAMILLE CHAMOUN’S NEPHEW STILL CONTRI- BUTING SUBSURFACE TENSION AND WE UNDERSTAND FATAH BELIEVES CHAMOUN DEAD BUT FEAR SAY SO LEAST LARGE SCALE CHRISTIAN REPRISALS.
6. EMBASSY IS TEMPORARILY PROHIBITING OFFICIALS FROM USE BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. AIRPORT IS STILL OPERATIONAL,BUT ROAD TO AND FROM CITY VERY RISKY AT THIS TIME.
BROWN
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SARKIS ELECTED PRESIDENT OF LEBANON
1976 May 8, 13:42 (Saturday)
1976BEIRUT04110_b
UNCLASSIFIED
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR ELIAS SARKIS WAS ELECTED 8 MAY PRESIDENT OF LEBANON. ON FIRST BALLOT, SARKIS RECEIVED 63 RPT 63 VOTES OF 69 RPT 69 DEPUTIES PRESENT AND VOTING. ON SECOND BALLOT, HOWEVER, HE RECEIVED 66 RPT 66 WHICH IS TWO-THIRDS OF ENTIRE CHAMBER. IN MEANTIME, WE HAVE SCATTERED REPORTS OF FIRING IN RAOUCHE AREA BETWEEN ELEMENTS OF SYRIAN-SPONSORED SA’IQA AND SUPPORTERS OF “PROGRESSIVE” LEADER KAMAL JUMBLATT.
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THE FAILURE OF THE CHTAURA MEETINGS
1976 September 20, 16:12 (Monday)
1976BEIRUT07554_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. SUMMARY: TWO QUADRIPARTITE MEETINGS AT CHTAURA HAVE FAILED. NEXT MEETING SCHEDULED FOR SEPT. 24, DAY AFTER SARKIS’ EXPECTED INAUGURATION. PALESTINIANS MAY BE UNWILLING TO COMPROMISE UNTIL ASSURED THAT SARKIS HAS IN FACT BECOME PRESIDENT, OR THEY MAY BE FUNDAMENTALLY UNWILLING MAKE UNILATERAL CONCESSIONS DEMANDED BY SYRIANS. IF NEITHER SIDE IS WILLING TO COMPROMISE, LIKELIHOOD THAT FIGHTING WILL ESCALATE IS MEASURABLY INCREASED. END SUMMARY.
2. SECOND CHTAURA MEETING SEPT. 19 OF LEBANESE PRESIDENT-ELECT ELIAS SARKIS, PLO CHAIRMAN YASSER ARAFAT, SYRIAN VICE-MINISTER OF DEFENSE GENERAL NAJI
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JAMIL, AND ARAB LEAGUE DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL HASSAN SABRI AL-KHOLI WAS, BY ALL ACCOUNTS, DISTINCT FAILURE. THE KEY ISSUE WAS AGAIN THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE PALESTINIANS/LEFTISTS FROM THEIR MOUNTAIN STRONGHOLDS IN THE HIGH METN. THE PALESTINIANS REPORTEDLY SAID THEY ARE READY TO WITHDRAW FROM THESE POSITIONS, BUT ONLY AS PART OF A COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT. AL-MUHARRIR SEPT. 19 PUT IT AS FOLLOWS: “THE RESISTANCE IS READY TO WITHDRAW FROM THE MOUNTAINS IN EXCHANGE FOR STRATEGIC WITHDRAWAL BY THE OTHER SIDES IN SUCH A MANNER THAT THE MILITARY BALANCE WILL BE MAINTAINED.” THE SYRIANS, APPARENTLY SUPPORTED BY SARKIS, CONTAINUED TO INSIST THAT PALESTINIAN/LEFTIST WITHDRAWAL MUST PRECEDE ANY DISCUSSION OF AN OVERALL CEASE-FIRE OR A SYRIAN PULLBACK. ON THE CAIRO ACCORDS, ARAFAT REPORTEDLY STATED THAT THE PLO IS READY TO FACILITATE SARKIS’S MISSION BY IMPLEMENTING THIS AGREEMENT, BUT WENT ON TO CALL FOR THE RETURN OF REFUGEES TO TEEL ZAATAR, NABAA AND THE KOURA. THE MEETING BROKE UP AFTER TWO HOURS OF FRUITLESS DISCUSSION, WITH THE PARTICIPANTS AGREEING TO MEET AGAIN ON SEPT. 24, THE DAY AFTER SARKIS IS SCHEDULED TO BE SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT.
3. THE FAILURE OF THE CHTAURA MEETING HAS CAST A PALL OF GLOOM OVER ALL BUT THE MOST OPTIMISTIC. GENERAL JAMIL COMMENTED, “WE DID NOT ACHIEVE A COMMON VIEWPOINT,” AND ADDED OMINOUSLY, “MEETINGS ARE NO LONGER NECESSARY.” PRESIDENT-ELECT SARKIS DECLINED COMMENT, AS IS HIS WONT, AND ARAFAT WAS ALSO SILENT. EVEN THE ETERNAL OPTIMIST (IN PUBLIC), AL REP AL-KHOLI, COULD ONLY SAY THAT MEETINGS WILL CONTINUE, BECAUSE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT.
4. COLLAPSE OF CHTAURA TALKS ALSO INCREASES THE TENSION SURROUNDING THE INAUGURATION OF PRESIDENT SARKIS. BOTH SIDES ARE ACCUSING THE OTHER OF WANTING TO FRUSTRATE THIS EVENT. ALTHOUGH THE PLACE OF THE PARLIAMENTARY SESSION HAS NOT YET BEEN PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED, LATEST EXPECTATION IS THAT IT WILL BE HELD AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM IN BEIRUT, WITHIN RANGE
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OF CHAMOUN’S “TIGER” MILITIA. CHAMOUN HAS ALREADY DECLARED THAT THIS SESSION MUST TAKE PLACE FOR SARKIS TO ASSUME OFFICE LEGALLY; HE MAY WELL USE HIS POWER TO EXTRACT CONCESSIONS FROM SYRIA AND/OR SARKIS IN EXCHANGE FOR NOT DISRUPTING THE CEREMONY.
5. SYRIA CONTINUES TO HOLD THE POSITION THAT ITS MILITARY PRESENCE IS NOT NEGOTIABLE BECAUSE IT IS NOT PART OF THE PROBLEM BUT OF THE SOLUTION. GEN. JAMIL’S REMARK THAT FURTHER MEETINGS UNNECESSARY SUGGESTS THAT SYRIA MAY BE RECONSIDERING THE MILITARY OPTION, BUT WE DOUBT SYRIA WILL MAKE ANY DRAMATIC MOVE BEFORE SARKIS’S INAUGURATION, WHICH THEY HAVE CONSISTENTLY SUPPORTED. IF SARKIS TAKES OFFICE WITHOUT INCIDENT, HE WILL GO INTO SEPT. 24 MEETING WITH THE FULL AUTHORITY OF HIS NEW OFFICE, AND MAY BE IN BETTER POSITION TO CONTROL EXTREMIST CHRISTIAN ELEMENTS AND TO ARRANGE COMPROMISE BETWEEN PLO AND SYRIA. UNDER THESE CONDITIONS, SYRIA MIGHT SEND A HIGHEER-LEVEL REPRESENTATIVE, PREPARED TO MAKE A UNILATERAL GESTURE OF SUPPORT FOR THE NEW PRESIDENT. THERE ARE ALSO RUMORS THAT HIS PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS WILL OFFER “NEW DEAL” TO ALL LEBANESE AND MAY HELP PROMOTE A LEBANESE-LEBANESE DIALOGUE. POT CONTINUES TO BOIL, BUT WHAT KIND OF STEW WILL EMERGE IS UNCLEAR.
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WHAT HAS TO HAPPEN FOR ELIAS SARKIS TO BECOME PRESIDENT OF LEBANON?
1976 September 21, 15:48 (Tuesday)
1976BEIRUT07592_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. SUMMARY. OPINIONS ON WHAT JUDICIAL ACT IS NECESSARY FOR ELIAS SARKIS TO ASSUME OFFICE AS PRESIDENT SEP 23 VARY FROM NOTHING AT ALL TO OATH-TAKING BEFORE FULL SESSION OF PARLIAMENT IN BEIRUT. CAMILLE CHAMOUN IS THE MOST VOCAL SUPPORTER OF THIS LATTER INTERPRETATION AND STANDS TO GAIN THE MOST IF IT IS NOT FULFILLED. END SUMMARY.
2. FIVE DIFFERENT THEORIES AS TO WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR ELIAS SARKIS TO BECOME PRESIDENT OF LEBANON HAVE APPEARED IN
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RECENT WEEKS IN BEIRUT, AS FOLLOWS: A. AUTOMATIC ASSUMPTION OF OFFICE ON SEP 23, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT HE TAKES OATH OF OFFICE AT THAT TIME. HE WOULD, HOWEVER, HAVE TO TAKE OATH BEFORE PARLIAMENT SOON THEREAFTER. THIS VIEW APPEARS TO BE HELD BY PHALANGISTS AS WELL AS BY MOST ELEMENTS OF PALESTINIAN/ LEFTIST ALLIANCE. B. OATH IS ESSENTIAL, BUT CAN BE TAKEN ANYWHERE. THIS VIEW WAS WIDELY DISCUSSED IN BEIRUT SEVERAL WEEKS AGO. THEORY WAS THAT TAKING OF OATH WAS ESSENTIAL CONCIMITANT OF LEGAL ASSUMPTION OF POWERS BUT THAT VALIDITY OF OATH WOULD NOT BE AFFECTED IF IT WERE TAKEN OUTSIDE OF PARLIAMENTARY FORUM PRESCRIBED BY CONSTITUTION. ACCORDING TO THIS THEORY, OATH COULD BE TAKEN BEFORE ANY COMPETENT MAGISTRATE, SUCH AS OUTGOING PRESIDENT. C. OATH IS ESSENTIAL, BUT IF PARLIAMENT ITSELF CANNOT CONVENE, OATH MUST BE TAKEN BEFORE AT LEAST AN ADEQUATE REPRESENTATION OF PARLIAMENT, SUCH AS THE PRESIDENT OF THE PARLIAMENT (CURRENTLY KAMEL EL-ASSAD) OR THE PARLIAMENTARY ORGANIZING COMMITTEE. THIS IS VIEW OF LEGAL EXPERT PROFESSOR GEORGES VEDEL, WHICH WAS PRESENTED IN SEP 21 MEETING OF PARLIAMENTARY ORGANIZING COMMITTEE. IN THIS CASE, PROFESSOR VEDEL SAYS, MINUTES OF THE SESSION MUST BE RECORDED, SUBMITTED TO PARLIAMENT AT EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY, AND APPROVED BY PARLIAMENT. THIS APPEARS TO BE EMERGING VIEW OF PARLIAMENTARY LEADERS. D. OATH MUST BE TAKEN BEFORE SESSION OF FULL PARLIAMENT, WITH QUORUM, BUT SESSION NEED NOT TAKE PLACE IN BEIRUT. CONSTITUTION SAYS PARLIAMENT SITS IN BEIRUT, BUT PRECEDENTS BOTH IN LEBANON AND ABROAD (PRINCIPALLY FRANCE, 1940) HAVE BEEN CITED TO JUSTIFY HOLDING SESSIONS ELSEWHERE FOR EXTRAORDINARY REASONS. THIS VIEW IS SUPPORTED BY THOSE, INCLUDING SYRIAN LEADERSHIP, WHO HAVE ADVOCATED HOLDING OF INAUGURAL SESSION AT SOFAR OR CHTAURA.
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E. OATH MUST BE TAKEN BEFORE SESSION OF FULL PARLIAMENT, WITH QUORUM, IN BEIRUT. THIS IS MOST RIGOROUS INTERPRETATION OF CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS AND PRECEDENTS. OBVIOUS CORROLLARY IS THAT, IF SESSION CANNOT TAKE PLACE, SARKIS DOES NOT BECOME PRESIDENT. MOST OUTSPOKEN ADVOCATE OF THIS VIEW IS CAMILLE CHAMOUN.
3. COMMENT: IF THE STRICT INTERPRETATION OF THE CONSTITUTION CANNOT BE FULFILLED, THE MAN WHO STANDS TO GGAIN THE MOST IS CAMILLE CHAMOUN. Q ACTING PRIME MINISTER HE WOULD BE LEGALLY ENTITLED TO ASSUME POWER AS ACTING HEAD OF STATE, AND HE MAY HAVE LEFT THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS IN OPEN SESSION DURING ITS SEP 20 MEETING PRECISELY TO FACILITATE THIS MOVE. QUARRELLING AMONG VARIOUS CHRISTIAN ARMED GROUPS (SITREPS SEP 20, 21) MAY REFLECT JOCKEYING FOR BEST POSITION ON GROUND SHOULD CHAMOUN INDEED SEEK TO ESTABLISH HIMSELF AS SUPREME POWER OF WHAT IS LEFT OF LEBANESE STATE BEGINNING SEP 23.
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ELIAS SARKIS BECOMES PRESIDENT OF LEBANON
1976 September 23, 11:19 (Thursday)
1976BEIRUT07625_b
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
ACCORDING TO LOCAL RADIO, ELIAS SARKIS MET WITH FRANGIE AT ZOUK AT 1000 LOCAL TIME AND ASSUMED OFFICE AS PRESIDENT OF LEBANON (“PASSATION DES POUVOIRS”). SAME SOURCE STATES SARKIS AND FRANGIE THEN PROCEDED TO CHTAURA WHERE SARKIS TOOK OATH OF OFFICE AT 1315, SEP 23, BEFORE APPROXIMATELY 65 MEMBERS OF LEBANESE PARLIAMENT. ALTHOUGH A NUMBER OF DEPUTIES DID NOT ATTEND THE SWEARING-IN, THEIR PRIMARY OBJECTION, AS EXPRESSED IN NEWSPAPERS SEP 23, IS NOT TO SARKIS, BUT TO FACT THAT CEREMONY TOOK PLACE AT CHTAURA, WHICH THEY CONSIDER TO BE UNDER SYRIAN OCCUPATION. THERE ARE REPORTS FROM CHRISTIAN-RIGHTIST RADIO LIMITED OFFICIAL USE LIMITED OFFICIAL USE PAGE 02 BEIRUT 07625 231131Z THAT SOME DEPUTIES FROM WEST BEIRUT SEEKING TO ATTEND THE CEREMONY IN CHTAURA WERE HELD UP BY ROADBLOCKS BETWEEN ALEY AND BHAMDAIN, IN PALESTINIAN/LEFTIST CONTROLLED TERRITORY.
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The War Files (Part IV) – Meeting Kamal Jumblatt

 Leader Kamal Jumblatt (C) walking with his Druse ArmyAugust 1958 Photographer Michael Rougier


Druze Leader Kamal Jumblatt (C) walking with his Army, August 1958 (Michael Rougier / LIFE Magazine)

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 about four meetings with Kamal Jumblatt in March, April, May, and July 1976.

TALK WITH KAMAL JUMBLATT
1976 March 4, 14:51 (Thursday)
1976BEIRUT02030_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. SUMMARY: IN THE COURSE OF HOUR’S MEETING JUMBLATT CONFIRMED HIS NEGATIVISTIC ATTITUDE ON ALMOST EVERY POLICIAL ISSUE BEFORE HIM TODAY AND DEMONSTRATED, IN CASE WE HAD FORGOTTEN, HIS ABILITY TO SLIDE AROUND AN ARGUMENT RATHER THAN FOLLOW IT THROUGH RATIONALLY. MAIN POINT ON WHICH HE WAS RELATIVELY SINCERE, I THINK, WAS HIS BELIEF THAT HE IS HEADING A GENUINE REVOLT OF THE MASSES IN LEBANON WHICH MUST AND WILL INTIME PRODUCE WHAT HE TERMINED “GREATER DEMOCRACY” WHICH HE SEEMS TO VISUALIZE NO MORE ANTITHETICAL TO WESTERN CONCEPTS OF DEMOCRACY THAN THE SOCIAL REFORMING ROLE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTIES IN ITALY, FRANCE OR SPAIN, END SUMMARY.
2. JUMBLATT WAS OBVIOUSLY INTERESTED IN TALKING WITH ACTING DCM
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AND ME WHEN WE CALLED ON HIM AT 4:30 PM MARCH 3 TO THANK HIM FOR HIS ROLE IN RELEASE OF USIS OFFICERS GALLAGHER AND DYKES. HIS REMARKS ARE SUMMARIZED BELOW:
3. THE PRESIDENCY: JUMBLATT CALLED FOR FRANGIE’S EARLY RESIGNATION. WHILE GENERALLY DEPLORING DEARTH OF GOOD CANDIDATES TO REPLACE REANGIE, HE MENTIONED REYMOND EDDE AS PROBABLY THE BEST AND JEAN AZIZ AS A POSSIBILITY.
4. THE PRIME MINISTER: JUMBLATT SAID ANY LEBANESE GOVERNMENT REQUIRED AT LEAST THE TACIT SUPPORT OF HIS LEFT PROGRESSIVE FRONT TO FUNCTION. IT COULD NOT REALLY DEAL WITH BASIC ISSUES UNTIL YOUNGER MEN TOOK OVER AND THE PROGRESSIVE FRONT GOT THE PRIME MINISTERSHIP. HE SAID THERE WERE MANY YOUNG SUNNI LEADERS THAT COULD BE NAMED. WHEN PRESSED ON SPECIFICS, HE THREW OUT THE NAMES OF TABBARA B. AND Z. NSOULI.
5. REFORM: JUMBLATT TALKED AT LENGTH ABOUT NEED TO DECONFESSIONALIZE AND LAICIZE THE STATE. HE SPOKE OF ELECTION REFORM AND A NEW DEMOCRACY. FOR FIRST TIME IN HISTORY THE MASSES HAVE BEGUN TO RAISE THEIRCHOICE IN LEBANESE AFFAIRS. WHEN PRESSED, HE COMPARED SOCIAL REFORMING ROLE OF THE MASSES IN A DEMOCRACY TO VEHAVIOR OF COMMUNIST PARTIES IN ITALY, FRANCE AND SPAIN. (HE EASILY SIDE STEPPED OUR ARGUMENT THAT IT IS OTHER PARTIES WHICH MAINTAIN THE DEMOCRATIC FRAMEWORK IN THOSE COUNTIRES WITHIN WHICH COMMUNIST PARTIES OPERATE.) HE REITERATED HIS CALL FOR A REASSEMBLING OF DIALOGUE COMMITTEE AND IMPLIED THAT WAS THE PLACE FOR FIGHTING LEADERS ON BOTH SIDES TO DISCUSS THINGS RATHER THAN THEMESLVES BEING IN ANY NEW GOVERNMENT. (COMMENT: ONE OF HIS BETTER IDEAS).
6. JUMBLATT’S CURRENT FRICTION WITH SYRIA WAS REFLECTED IN FEARS HE EXPRESSED ON THE DIAPPEARANCE OF DEMOCRACY, WHICH HE CALLED LEGANON’S MOST PRECISOUS ASSET. HE REFERRED IRONICALLY TO THE “U.S.-SYRIAN AGREEMENT” WHICH PERMITTED SYRIA TO OPERATE IN LEBANON.
7. LEBANON ARMY: JUMBLATT SEVERAL TIMES SPOKE ABOUT THE ARMY. HE THOUGHT IT WOULD BE IMPOSSIBLE TO PUT IT TOGETHER ALONG LINES CURRENTLY BEING PURSUED BY GOVERNMENT BECAUSE IT IS TOO SPLIT. HE MADE CERTAIN CONTRADICTORY STAEMENTS INDICATING CONFUSED
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THINKING ON THE QUESTION AND ENDED UP PROPOSING THAT ANEW ARMY BE ORGANIZED AND BE SENT TO ISRAELI BORDER WHERE IT COULD ENGAGE IN RAIDS AND OTHER ACTIVIITES AGAINST ISRAEL TO GIVE ITS MEMBERS A SENSE OF SOLIDARITY AGAINST A COMMON ENEMY.
8. CIVIL WAR: JUMBLATT EXPRESSED SKEPTICISM THAT CASUAL- TIES FROM THE CIVIL WAR WERE NOT AS GREAT AS MANY SAID. HE QUOTED “ARMY FIGURE” OF ABOUT 6,000 KILLED AND SUGGESTED MAJORITY PROBABLY WERE NON-COMBATANTS, MOST OF THEM KILLED AFTER BEING KIDNAPPED. HE ACCUSED PHALANGE AND OTHERRIGHTISTS OF FOSTERING BLOOD LUST AMONG YOUNG RECRUITS (THEY WERE TORTURING ANIMALS AND BATHING THEIR YOUNG MEN IN TUBS OF ANIMAL BLOOD). HE WONDERED HOW ALL THESE YOUNG FIGHTERS ON ALL SIDES COULD GO BACK TO MORE PEACEFUL LIVES AND DID NOT SEEMTO BELIEVE INTERGRATION INTO THE ARMY MORE THAN A PARTIAL SOLUTION. HE ADVANCED THE THESIS THAT CIVIL WAR MIGHT CONTINUE, PETERING OUT GRADUALLY FROM, SAY 6,000 TO 1,000 TO 200 TO 50 TO 10 ETC) KILLED MUCH AS RIPPLES IN A SEA WAVE. WHILE NOT TAKING DIRECT ISSUE WITH MY COMMENT THAT 10 MONTHS OF WAR SHOULD HAVE DEMONSTRATED TO ALL SIDES THAT THEIR CAUSE COULD NOT WIN THROUGH MILITARY VICTORY, HE EXPRESSED THE OPINION THAT SUCH BLOOD LETTING SOMETIMES HAS VIRTURE OF EXTERIORIZING INTERNAL COMPLEXES IN PEOPLE SO THAT THEY FEEL BETTER AFTERWARDS. LARDING THE PRAGMATIC WITH THE MYSTICAL, JUMBLATT WENT ON AT LENGTH TO EXPLAIN THE IMPORTANCE OF “MYTH” FOR PEOPLES OF THE ORIENT (AND EVEN FOR SUCH WESTERN PEOPLE AS THE GERMANS UNDER THE NAZIS) AND THE CLOSED NATURE OF COMMUNITIES IN THE LEBANON. MORAL HE DREW WAS THAT WESTERN MATERIALISM AND PRAGMATISM WERE NOT PART- ICULARLY APPLICABLE TO THE EAST.
9. THE U.S. AND ISRAEL: JUMBLATT TERMED ISRAEL A RELIGIOUS AND RACIST STATE. HE DEPLORED U.S. POLICY AS TOTALLY PRAGMATIC (PARTICULARLY SECRETARY KISSINGER) WHOM HE SAID HE DID NOT TRUST), AND DEVOID OF THE IDEALISM OF THE EISENHOWER YEARS. HE SUGGESTED SOLUTION OF THE REGIONAL PROBLEM WOULD BE THROUGH APPLICATION OF THE 1947 UN RESOLUTION ON PARTITION OF PALESTINE. (COMMENT: JUMBLATT WAS UNSURE OF HIS DATES AND FACTS AT SEVERAL POINTS IN DISCUSSING ARAB-ISRAELI RELATIONS AND DEMONSTRAED THE SECONDARY NATURE OF THAT PROBLEM IN HIS MIND WHEN HE INSISTED THAT LEBANESE SITUATION WAS COMPLETELY SEPARABLE FROM IT AND COULD CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 04 BEIRUT 02030 041612Z BE SOLVED SEPARATELY).
10. COMMENT: JUMBLATT WAS FRIENDLY AND RELATIVELY MILD MANNERED THROUGHOUT. HE RESPONDED POSITIVELY TO SUGGESTIONS THAT AMBASSADOR GODLEY AND I LOOKED FORWARD TO FUTURE CONTACT WITH HIM. THERE IS NO DOUBT, NEVERTHELESS, THAT HE IS AN EXCEEDINGLY DANGEROUS POLITICAL LEADER WHO IS NOT PREPARED TO MAKE CONCESSIONS IN THE NAME OF LEBANESE UNIT OR PATRIOTISM. HIS MESSAGE TO US WAS PRETTY NEGATIVE FROM START TO FINISH. HIS DRIVING FORCE WOULD APPEAR TO BE A BELIEF THAT HE CAN MASTER HISTORICAL REVOLUTIONARY FORCES WHICH ARE GOING TO TRANSFORM LEBANON SOCIALLY WITHOUT DESTROYING ITS ESSENTIAL DEMOCRACY, BUT ACTUALLY IMPROVING IT. DESPITE HIS RELATIVE BRILLIANCE IN THE LEBANESE SCENE AND IDEALISTIC PATTER,I SUSPECT CYNICS WILL POBABLY RECOGNIZE HIM AS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF THEIR OWN SPECIES.
LAMBRAKIS
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MEETING WITH JUMBLATT
1976 April 8, 18:15 (Thursday)
1976BEIRUT03119_b
SECRET
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. SUMMARY: JUMBLATT EXTENDS CEASEFIRE TEN DAYS OR WHATEVER NEEDED TO LAUNCH NEW PRESIDENT. LIKES PRO- POSALS I GAVE HIM, WANTS TO REFLECT, AND WILL BE BACK TO ME TOMORROW THROUGH INTERMEDIARY AND UNDOUBTEDLY WITH SOME ADDITIONAL IDEAS. REMAINS SUSPICIOUS OF SYRIANS (AND SOMEWHAT OF AMERICANS) BUT GENERALLY POSITIVE. END SUMMARY.
2. MET WITH JUMBLATT ALONE FOR 90 MINUTES. AS INEVIT- ABLE WE HAD WIDE-RUNNING CONVERSATION INCLUDING DISSERTA- TION BY HIM AS TO HOW WE MISUNDERSTAND HIS PAL, MADAME GHANDI. I HOPE SOMEDAY YOU, MR. SECRETARY, WILL MATCH WITS WITH HIM.
3. I HAVE HIM A RUNDOWN ON MY CONSULTATIONS HERE, KNOWING THIS IS EGO-FEEDER FOR HIM. ON MARONITES, HE LISTENED CAREFULLY AND THEN SAID, ASIDE FROM CHAMOUN WHOM HE REGARDS AS MAD OR SENILE, HE CAN GET ALONG WITH THEM AND THAT HE ENVISAGED IN RELATIVELY NEAR FUTURE SITTING DOWN WITH GEMAYEL TO DISCUSS FUTURE.
4. ON MY RPT MY PERSONAL IDEAS, HE SAID HE HAD JUST REFUSED “ARAFAT’S SUGGESTION THAT THE TRIPARTITE COMMISSION (PALESTINIANS, SYRIANS
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AND LEBANESE ARMY) BE RECONSITUTED. HIS REFUSAL BASED ON INCREAS- INGLY STRIDENT AND ANTI-JUMBLATT TONE OF SYRIANS AND THEIR SUPPORTERS HERE WHICH HE VIEWS AS ATTEMPT TO BAIT AND THEN DES- TROY HIM. HE TOLD ‘ARAFAT TO GO AHEAD AND SECURE PARLIAMENTARY AREA WITH HELP OF LWBANESE FORCES BUT NOT TRY TO GET FORMAL AGREEMENT IN ADVANCE FROM HIM FOR THE TRIPARTITE COMMITTEE. (INCIDENTALLY HE SAID HIS FORCES ARE INSTRUCTED TO FACILITATE PARLIAMENTARY MEETING.) I TOLD HIM THAT MY PLAN ENVISAGED LEBANESE ARMY, PALESTINIANS, SYRIANS, PHALANGE AND FORCES UNDER HIS CONTROL (WHAT I CALLED “LEFTISTS” IN TALK TO MARONITES). ON REFLECTION, WE MAY HAVE SKPPED TOO LIGHTLY OVER THIS ONE. HE HAS GUNS AND SHOULD BE INCLUDED. MOST CERTAINLY, ATTEMPTS TO EXCLUDE HIM AT THE START WILL EARN HIS VETO.
5. GENERAL IDEA OF CREATION OF A MIXED FORCE FOR SECURITY PURPOSES, INCLUDING, OF COURSE, HIS (BEAR THIS IN MIND) IS OKAY. HE WANTS TO REFLECT ON IT A BIT, FEARFUL THAT IT COULD CONTRIBUTE TO PARTITION. I ARGUED THAT IS NOT THE POINT. I AM TALKING FIRST ABOUT SHORT-TERM SOLUTIONS FOR URGENT SECURITY PROBLEMS AND, SECOND, ABOUT A PLAN WHEREBY THE SHORT-TERM IS ABSORBED INTO AND THEN SUPERSEDED BY LONGER-TERM PROPOSALS. HE SAID IT IS A POSSIBLY ACCEPTABLE IDEA. HE’LL REFLECT.
6. ON THE CONSORTIUM DEALS WANTS TO REFLECT AND WILL BE BACK TO ME TOMORROW. HE AGREES THAT ARMY RETRAINING IS A FIRST PRIORITY OF NEW PRESIDENT. HE IS INTRIGUED BY THOUGHT I GAVE HIM THAT IT NOT NECESSARY TO RECREATE ARMY, NAVY, AIR FORCE, GENDARMARIE, POLICE, ETC., AND ETC., ON EXACT GROUNDS AS ON PAST BUT THAT LEBANON– PERHAPS WITH INTELLIGENT ADVICE FROM DISINTERESTED TECHNICIANS– MIGHT RETHINK THROUGH ITS WHOLE SECURITY PACKAGE. (SORRY, I’M SPRINGING A NEW IDEA ON YOU WHICH COMES AFTER TALKING TO BRI- GADIER MUSA KANNAN AND OTHER THOUGHTFUL OFFICERS WHO SAY “WHY RECREATE WHAT FRENCH TOLD US WE NEEDED?”)
7. HE MULLED OVER IDEA OF SMALL, ELITE FORCE WITH DEFINITE MISSION AND POSSIBLE USE OF CONSCRIPTION TO CREATE SORT OF “AMERICAN NAT- IONAL GUARD”–LATER IN ENGLISH. HE BELIEVES–CONTRARY TO WHAT PROFESSIONAL SOLDIERS TELL ME–THAT THE SMALL FORCE COULD BE SET UP IN A FEW MONTHS AS THERE EXISTS CORPS OF “NON-EXTREMIST” MOSLEMS AND CHRISTIAN OFFICERS ON WHOM IT COULD BE BUILT. I EXPRESSED A CERTAIN PESSIMISM ABOUT HIS TIME FRAME BUT ENCOURAGED HIM TO THINK
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THROUGH HOW A TRULY NATIONAL FORCE CAN BE CREATED. 8. AS WE DISCUSSED CONSORTIUM IT BECAME CLEAR HE HAS ONE REAL PROBLEM . THAT IS SYRIA. HE SIMPLY DOES NOT WANT TO ACCEPT MENTALLY AT THIS TIME CONTINUED AND PERHAPS LARGER SYRIAN MILITARY PRESSURE. IN FACT, HE WANTS TO GET RID OF SAIQA NOW RPT NOW HERE. (WHILE WE WERE TALK- ING, SAIQA TROOPS TRIED TO DELIVER FREE FLOUR IN IMMEDIATE AREA TO INTENSE ANNOYANCE OF JUMBLATTISTS WHO CHASED THEM AWAY.) HE CAN FORESEE SMALL CONTINGENTS OF FRIENDLY ARAB STATES IN THE TRAINING PROCESS, BUT INSISTS THAT–ON THE WHOLE–LEBANON CAN DO TASK. I URGED HIM TO THINK THIS ALL THROUGH, TO REMEMBER THAT SYRIAN EFFORT SO FAR HAD BEEN HELPFUL, AND THAT HE SHOULD NOT DISCARD COMPLETELY SYRIAN ROLE SIMPLY BECAUSE HE HAVING SORT OF PROPAGANDA BATTLE WITH PRO-SYRIAN LEBANESE BAATH AND DAMASCUS PRESS.
9. WHILE HE WELCOMES IDEA OF WESTERN HELP, HE REMAINS SUSPICIOUS OF MOTIVES AND INSISTS REBUILDING OF LEBANON IS A LEBANESE TASK. HE REPEEATTED BELIEF THAT U.S. SUPPORTING SYRIAN INITIATIVE FOR OUR OWN POLITICAL ADVANTAGE IN FUTURE LEBANON. I TOLD HIM THAT WE WERE NOT TRYING TO ESTABLISH SYRIAN HEGEMONY OVER LEBANON. WE WANT TO SEE A REUNIFIED, PEACEFUL LEBANON, PLAYING ITS NATURAL ROLE IN MEDITERRANEAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN WORLD. IT IS SIMPLY NOT IN AMER- ICAN INTEREST TO SEE DRAMATIC CHANGES TAKE PLACE WHICH COULD CREATE GREATER PROBLEMS IN FUTURE. HE AGREES THAT LEBANON’S ROLE AS I DEFINED IT IS ALSO HIS. IT SHOULD HAVE LIBERAL ECONOMY WHICH WILL ENCOURAGE WESTERN AND ARAB CAPITAL TO COME BACK. (DOUBT HE’LL TELL HIS PROGRESSIVE FRIENDS THIS BUT IT HAS BEEN A THEME OF OUR TALKS.) HE SAID WE SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT SYRIAN OCCUPATION OF LEB- ANON WOULD LEAD TO GUERRILLA WAR. I REPEATED AGAIN THAT THIS IS NOT RPT NOT OUR POLICY.
10. JUMBLATT INSISTED ON TALKING ABOUT THE POLITICAL PROCESS AND CHOICE OF PRESIDENTS. I TOLD HIM THAT ONY THING I WOULD NOT DO IS PLAY A ROLE IN SELECTING THE PRESIDENT ON THE GROUNDS THAT ANY CHOICE I MADE WOULD BE DENOUNCED AS PART OF AN AMERICAN PLOT. I SAID I WAS RESISTING TAKING SUCH A POSITION WHICH THE FAR TOO MANY LEBANESE WHO WERE PRESSING ON ME. VERY POLITELY, HE SAID HE AC- CEPTED THIS BUT NONETHELESS WANTED ME TO KNOW THAT EDDE IS HIS MAN AND HE HOPED AMERICANS COULD TELL SYRIANS THAT FOREIGNERS SHOULD NOT PROPOSE SOME CANDIDATES AND VETO OTHERS. THIS IS ONE WE
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MIGHT THINK ABOUT IF RAISED BY SYRIANS.
11. I THINK WE SHOULD HOLD OFF ON COMMUNICATING JUMBLATT’S THOUGHTS ANYWHERE UNTIL I HEAR FROM HIS PEOPLE TOMORROW. IN MEANTIME, AS HE TOLD ME, HE WANTS TO DISCUSS THEM FIRST WITH HIS OWN GROUP AND THEN WITH “PROGRESSIVES”. GOD KNOW WHAT THEY MAY LEAD TO BUT, PERPETUAL OPTIMIST THAT I AM, I THINK HE’LL BE POSITIVE. HE ENJOYED OUR PRIVATE MEETING, SAID PUBLICLY TO PRESS IT HAD BEEN MOST HELPFUL AND THAT HE LOOKED FORWARD TO FURTHER CONSULTATION. I AVOIDED COMMENT TO PRESS OTHER THAN TO SAY “ASK MR. JUMBLATT, WITH WHOM I’VE HAD VERY GOOD TALK” AND THAT I HAVE NO PLANS TO LEAVE.
12. I’VE SAID THIS BEFORE AND I’LL REPEAT IT. SYRIANS SHOULD COOL IT SOMEWHAT ON JUMBLATT. OUR AIM IS TO CONTAIN JUMBLATT. THE BEST WAY IS TO GET HIM INVOLVED AND COOPERATING. RIGHT NOW HE CAN SPOIL IT ALL. IF WE CAN SUCK HIM INTO THE PROCESS, HE WON’T AND CAN’T. IF SYRIANS RELAX A BIT ON HIM, IT WILL HELP. I KNOW THIS IS DIFFICULT. SYRIANS ARE A COMPLICATED, SENSIIVE PEOPLE AND THEY ARE OUT ON A LIMB WITH A POLICY AND INTERVENTION HERE WHICH DIDN’T WORK AS EASILY AS THEY THOUGHT. JUMBLATT, FOR EXAMPLE, THINKS ASAD IS DOOMED AS HE HAS PUT HIMSELF AND ALAWITES IN SAME POSITION IN SYRIA THAT MARONITES ARE HERE.
BROWN
SECRET
NNN
CONVERSATION WITH JUMBLATT
1976 May 5, 21:53 (Wednesday)
1976STATE109747_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
1. SUMMARY: IN LONG TALK WITH JUMBLATT I TOLD HIM WORLD CANNOT ACCEPT CONTINUED SHELLING AND ENDLESS FIGHTING. FUTURE OF LEBANON AT STAKE. ELECTIONS MUST TAKE PLACE. HE HAD TO ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY. I WOULD SAY SUME TO MARONITES. TIME HAD COME FOR HIM TO TALK TO MARONITES. HIS DEMANDS FOR IMMEDIATE AND TOTAL WITHDRAWAL OF SYRIANS AS PRE-CONDITION FOR ELECTIONS WERE NON-STARTERS. FINALLY, I WAS NOT RPT NOT PART OF SYRIAN-AMERICAN PLOT AIMED AT INSTALLING SARKIS CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 STATE 109747 DESPITE JUMBLATT’S PUBLIC STATEMENTS TO CONTRARY. END SUMMARY
2. I HAD ANOTHER LENGTHY TALK WITH JUMBLATT AT 6:30 PM MAY 4. ATMOSPHERE WAS VERY CORDIAL DESPITE JUMBLATT’S BLASKT IN THE PRESS THAT SAME DAY ABOUT A SO-CALLED “U.S.-ARAB-ISRAELI” PLOT (WHICH HE SMILINGLY BRUSHED OFF AS A NECESSARY LOCAL POLITICAL PLOY).
3. JUMBLATT STRESSED SYRIAN INTERFERENCE. SYRIA HAD STILL MADE NO GESTURE. EVEN RACHID KARAME, HE HAD BEEN TOLD CONFCDENT ALLY, WAS ANNOYED WITH THE SYRIANS.
4. JUMBLATT CAISED THE QUESTION OF A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. THERE WWS THE POSSIBILITY OF A THIRD CANDIDATE BUT HE FAVORED A STRONG CANDIDATE. I NOTED THAT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE A STRONG PRESIDENT WITH WIDEST BACKING POSSIBLE. HE WENT ON TO SAY THAT HE HAD HAD LUNCY THAT DAY WITH RAYMOND EDDE. HIS PARTY WAS FOR EDDE IN PRINCIPLE BUO NO FINAL DECISION HAD BEEN MADE.
5. IN CONNECTION WITH THE ABOVE, JUMBLATT SAID THAT THE CHRISTIANS WERE BY NO MEANS UNITED. CHAMOUN WOULD ACCEPT ANY CANDIDATE PROVIDED HE WAS SUFFICIENTLYHPAID OFF TO DO SO. FATHER KASSIS HAD MADE AN APPROACH FOR A DIALOGUE. JUMBLATT WAS WILLING IF IT WERE KEPT SECRET. PIERRE GEMAYEL’S SON, BACHIR, HAD MADE AN APPROACH. THERE WERE EVEN DIFFERENCES WITHIN GEMAYEL’S PARTY, I.E., BETWEEN BACHIR GEMAYEL AND THE POLITBURO.
6. JUMBLATT ONCE AGAIN RAISED THE POSSIBLITY OF A ROUND TABLE TO START A DIALOGUE, HINTING THIS TIME THAT IT DID NOT NECESSARILY HAVE TO TAKE PLACE OUTSIDE THE COUNTRY.
7. ON THE QUESTION OF SECURITY, JUMBLATT CLAIMED THIS COULD BE PROVIDED WITHOUT BRINGING IN MORE FORCES THAN THOSE ALREADY HERE. WHILE OPPOSING ADDITIONAL FORCES, HE MADE CLEAR WHEN PUSYED THAT HIS DEMAND FOR IMMEDIATE DEPARTURE OF SYRIANS MEANS IN THE FORESEE- ABLE FUTURE AND NOT RPT NOT TOMORROW.
8. HE HAD IN MIND ORGANIZING AN INITIAL FORCE OF ABOUT 2500 MEN IN THE SHOUF. THE HEAD OF THE LEBAMESE ARMY COULD CHOOSE THE COMMANDING OFFICER. A COUNCIL COULD BE SET UP REPRESENTING THE VARIOUS FACTIONS. THERE WAS NO NEED TO WORRY ABOUT ANY DIFFI- CULTIES FROM “THAT LITTLE CORPORAL KHATIB” WHO COULD BE TAKEN CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 STATE 109747 CARE OF. THIS FORCE COULD BE USED AS A NUCLEUS TO RESTORE ORDER IN BEIRUT ONCE IT WAS ORGANIZED AND TRAINED. THE DRUZE, HE NOTED, HAD TRADITIONALLY ACTED AS A BRIDGE BEWTEEN CHRISTIANS AND MOSLEMS.
9. ON MY PART I STRESSED THE NEED FOR STOPPING THE FIGHTING AND GETTING ON WITH THE POLITICAL PROCESS. I STATED MY VIEW THAT THERE ARE TWO SORTS OF WAR GOING ON: ONE, AT LINE DIVIDING THE PARTIES; OTHER CONSISTING OF UNAIMED ARTILLERY AND MORTAR FIRE. LATTER HAD TO BE STOPPED IMMEDIATELY. AT STAKE WAS FUTURE VIABILITY OF LEBANON WHICH MUST CONCERN HIM. I PUSHED AHEAD ON THIS. ALSO SAID FIGHTING IN PORT HAD TO STOP AS NEXT STEP. IN DISCUSSING THIS HE DID NOT DENY THAT IT HAS BEEN LEFTISTS WHO HAVE BEEN DOING THE PUSHING IN THE PORT AREA. JUMBLATT FKLLY AGREED BUT, WHEN QUETIONED, SAID HE WAS NOT SURE IF ELECTIONS COULD TAKE PLACE ON SATURDAY AY SCHEDULED. I AGAIN INSISTED ON THE IMPORTANCE OF NO DELAYS, REMINDING HIM THAT I HAD DELIVERED THE SAME MESSAGE TO JOUNIEH WHEN THIS SEEMED NECESSARY.
10. JUMBLATT AGREED WITH ME ON THE NECESSITY OF STOPPING THE FIGHTING AND SAID HE WOULD WORK IN THIS DIRECTION. I AGAIN REMINDED HIM THAT TIME WAS RUNNING OUT AND THE WORLD COULD TURN ITS BACK ON LEBANON. SO FAR, HOWEVER, THE UNITED STATES REMAINED DEEPLY INTERESTED IN LEBANON’S WELFARE AS PRESIDENT FORD HAD PERSON- ALLY ASSURED ME WHEN I WAS IN WASHINGTON.
11. I LEFT THE QUESTION OF A PRESS STAEMENT TO JUMBLATT. IT TURNED OUT THAT ONE OF THE POINTS HE MADE WAS THAT THE U.S. DID NOT FAVOR ANY CANDIDATE BUT HOPED THAT THE NEW PRESIDENT WOULD BE A STRONG MAN WITH STRONG BACKING. HE ALSO CALLED FOR CESSATION OF FIGHTING.
12. THERE IS SOME INDICATION THAT JUMBLATT’S MORE CONSERVATIVE ADVISERS ARE GETTING SOMEWHAT FED UP WITH DELAYS. WE WERE INFORMED THAT DEPUTY PARTY CHIEF KHALAS AND DRUZE ADVISER ABOU-DIAB DECIDED NOT TO ATTEND THE MEETING. MOREOVER, KHALAF HAS DECIDED TO RO TO THE STATES MAY 8 WHETHER ELECTIONS TAKE PLACE OR NOT.
BROWN
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 04 STATE 109747
UNQUOTE SISCO
CONFIDENTIAL
NNN
TALK WITH JUMBLATT JULY 1
1976 July 3, 23:25 (Saturday)
1976STATE166467_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
SUMMARY: JUMBLATT SPOKE FOR ALMOST 2 HOURS WITH ME ON WIDE RANGE OF SUBJECTS. HE OUTLINED THE “SINS” OF THE CHRISTIANS AND THE NEED TO REALIZE HOW MUCH THEY HAD TO LOSE IN SPECIFIC TERMS FROM THEIR CURRENT ALLIANCE WITH THE SYRIANS. HE ATTACKED SYRIAN POLICY AND THOUGHT THE FIRST STEP IS THAT SYRIANS GET OUT BEFORE A ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION CAN PROCEED. HE WAS GENERALLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT CHANCES OF ENDING THE FIGHTING IN THE NEAR FUTURE (THOUGH GIVING NO SPECIFIC EVIDENCE OF THIS BEYOND THE GENERAL FEELING THAT “PEOPLE NEED A REST”), AND SAID TIME HAD COME FOR COMPROMISE. HOWEVER, ROUND TABLE DISCUSSIONS MUST BE CAREFULLY PREPARED, AND GAVE AS AN EXAMPLE TALKS HE AND THE PALESTINIANS HAVE HAD WITH BASHIR GEMAYEL, SON OF PIERRE GEMAYEL. HE OUTLINED SOME REFORMS, INCLUDING PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION AND DE-CONFESSIONALIZATION OF THE STATE, AS
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 STATE 166467 TOSEC 180003
EXAMPLES OVER WHICH COMPROMISE CAN BE REACHED. THOUGH RESTED AND SPEAKING IN REASONABLE TERMS, HE WAS NOT VERY CONVINCING THAT PEACE IS AROUND THE CORNER. END SUMMARY.
1. I TOOK LAMBRADIS WITH ME TO CALL ON JUMBLATT JULY 1. HE LOOKED RESTED AFTER SOMETIME IN HIS MOUNTAIN RETREAT, WHERE HE WAS NOT VERY INVOLVED WITH CURRENT POLITICS OVER THE PAST WEEK OR SO. HE WAS WELL-DRESSED, HAD A NEAT HAIRCUT, AND GENERALLY PRESENTED A VERY RELAXED IMAGE AS HE OFFERED US FRUIT AND DEVOURED IT HIMSELF, AS IS HIS AFTERNOON HABIT.
2. NOTING THAT HE HAD NEVER MET AMBASSADOR MELOY PERSONALLY, HE BEGAN WITH EXPRESSIONS OF PERSONAL SORROW AT THE DEATH OF ROBERT WARING. HE HAD CONSIDERED HIM AN HONEST FRIEND AND HAD NOTED THINGS HE HAD DISCUSSED WITH WARING WERE LISTENED TO IN WASHINGTON, SINCE HE HAD SEEN PLAYBACKS OF THEM A FEW DAYS LATER IN PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENTS OR PRESS REPORTS. WHEN ASKED FOR HIS CURRENT BEST ESTIMATE OF WHO THE MURDERERS WERE, JUMBLATT SAID HE THOUGHT THE MURDERS HAD BEEN ORDERED BY DR. HADDAD, WHO IS GEORGE HABASH’S DEPUTY IN THE PFLP. HE SAID HE HAD NOT BEEN IN TOUCH MORE RECENTLY WITH SPECIFICS OF THE INVESTIGATION, BUT WOULD LOOK INTO IT FOR US. I PRESSED HIM ON THIS SCORE, AND HE SEEMED COMPLETELY WILLING TO DO WHAT HE COULD. HE NOTED HIS OWN SISTER’S DEATH AND THE WOUNDING OF HIS NIECES. SUCH PERSONAL GRIEF HELPS ONE APPRECIATE THE GRIEF OF OTHERS, HE SAID.
3. I EXPLAINED MY MISSION TO THE LEBANON, AND NOTED THAT IN EARLIER CONVERSATIONS SINCE MY ARRIVAL CERTAIN SUGGESTIONS HAD COME UP ON WHICH I HAD CONSISTENTLY TRIED TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. I HAVE BEEN POINTING OUT THAT THE US IS AGAINST LEBANESE PARTITION. I HAVE MADE A POINT OF MENTIONING UNITY OF LEBANON IN MY PUBLIC UTTERANCES. I ALSO HAVE TRIED TO DEBUNK LIES SUGGESTING THERE IS A SYRIAN-ISRAELI-CHRISTIAN-USG CONSPIRACY TO SUPPRESS THE PALESTINIAN AND THE LEFT IN LEBANON. I NOTED THAT THE PRESS AND RADIO NEVERTHELESS CONTINUED TO INSIST ON THIS THEME DESPITE ANYTHING THE USG OR I CAN SAY. JUMBLATT NODDED HIS UNDERSTANDING.
4. JUMBLATT ADVERTED INDIRECTLY TO US-SYRIAN COLLUSION. HE
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 STATE 166467 TOSEC 180003
SAID HE BELIEVED US WHEN WE SAY WE ARE AGAINST PARTITION. HOWEVER, US USED TO BE VERY STRICT ON QUESTION OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF LEBANON. THIS CAME UP IN 1958 EVEN IN CONNECTION WITH US FACILITATING THE ELECTION OF GENERAL CHEHAB. ISRAEL HAD BEEN WELL AWARE OVER THE YEARS OF US SUPPORT FOR LEBANESE INDEPENDENCE. HOWEVER, THERE HAVE BEEN SOME CURIOUS EVENTS RECENTLY IN SYRIA. ASSAD HAS “TURNED COSSACK” AGAINST THE SOVIETS. HE HAS RENEWED UNDOF MANDATE ON GOLAN HEIGHTS WITHOUT ANY FUSS. ONE CANNOT ESCAPE THE CONCLUSION THAT US PERMISSION HAS BEEN GIVEN TO SYRIANS TOH TO VERY FAR INDEED. EVERYONE BELIEVES THIS, AND JUMBLATT HAD TOLD THIS TO AMBASSADOR BROWNN WHO HE SAID OF COURSE DENIED IT. ONE CANNOT IMAGINE THE SYRIANS WOULD DARE ALLOW THEIR TROOPS TO ENTER LEBANON WITHOUT SOME KIND OF US GO-AHEAD. THIS IS A “PLOT” OF WHICH EDDE HAS BEEN TALKING FOR A YEAR AND A HALF.
6. JUMBLATT SAID HE BELIEVED SECRETARY KISSINGER HAS A METHOD WHICH JUMBALTT ADMIRES IN ITS TACTICAL EFFICACY. IT LETS PEOPLE FIGHT EACH OTHER UNTIL THEY ARE TIRED AND THEN KISSINGER STEPS IN WITH A SOLUTION. BUT US SHOULD BE CAREFUL NOT TO LOSE ITS FRIENDS IN THE LEBANON. A SOCIALIST STATE MIGHT RISE IN THE LEBANON OVER THE NEXT 2 TO 4 YEARS. (IN REPLY TO MY QUESTION, JUMBLATT INSISTED HE WAS SPEAKING ABOUT A SOCIALIST STATE, NOT A COMMUNIST.)
7. SOCIAL REFORM HAD BECOME NECESSARY TO COUNTER MARONITE PRIVILEGE, WHICH IS EXERCISED IN TERMS REMINISCENT OF THE MIDDLE AGES. FIVE PROPRIETORS OWN MOST OF THE BEKAA. THERE ARE UNCULTIVATED LANDS GOING TO WASTE WHILE HUNDREDS AND THOUSANDS ARE MISERABLE IN THEIR POVERTY. THE COUNTRY NEEDS TRUE DEMOCRACY. PROGRESSIVE FORCES WHICH JUMBLATT LEADS BELIEVE IN LIBERTY. THEY DO NOT BELIEVE IN COMMUNISM, NOR CLASS WARFARE, OR IN COUPS D’ETAT. HE CLAIMED ALONG THAT LINE TO HAVE PREVENTED GENERAL AHDAB FROM MARCHING AGAINST FRANGIE WHEN FRANGIE DID NOT RESIGN IN MARCH. THIS WAS NOT THE DEMOCRATIC WAY, JUMBLATT SAID. (AS WE RECALL IT, JUMBLATT’S GROUP MAY HAVE HAD A PART IN THIS, BUT IT IS FAR FROM CLEAR THAT HE ALONE PREVENTED AHDAB FROM MARCHING.)
8. THE MARONITES MUST UNDERSTAND THAT OPPOSITION TO THEM CAN
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 04 STATE 166467 TOSEC 180003
CONTINUE FOR YEARS IF THEY DO NOT YIELD. JUMBLATT IS PREPARED TO DISCUSS THINGS OVER THE ROUND TABLE, BUT NOT TO CONTINUE ACCEPTING MARONITE MASTERY OF THE COUNTRY. MARONITES HAVE SEVERAL SPECIFIC THINGS THEY SHOULD THINK ABOUT: FIRST, IT IS NOT CLEAR HOW FAR COMMUNISTS MIGHT GO IN LEBANON. JUMBLATT SAID HE DID NOT LIKE THE COMMUNISTS HIMSELF (AND IN FACT EXPECTS GREATER DEMOCRATIZATION IN THE SOVIET UNION BY ABOUT 1985). HOWEVER, MARONITES SHOULD FEAR COMMUNIST TREND IN LEBANON IF CONDITIONS ON WHICH THEY BREED ARE NOT CHANGED. SECOND, MARONITES SHOULD FEAR EMIGRATION OF THEIR OWN PEOPLE IF THEY MAINTAIN CURRENT SEPARATENESS BEHIND THEIR GUNS. JUMBLATT WAS TOLD 80 PERCENT OF DOCTORS HAVE ALREADY FLED THE COUNTRY. THESE STUBBORN MARONITES MAY SOME DAY FIND THEIR NUMBERS SO REDUCED THAT THEY WILL BE FACED BY A CRUSHING MAJORITY OF ISLAM. THIRD, MARONITES SHOULD FEAR SYRIA. SOME SUCH AS BASHIR GEMAYEL WISELY OPPOSED SYRIAN INTERVENTION FOR THIS REASON; OTHERS — PARTICULARLY THE MONKS AND CLERICS OF THE CATHOLIC FRONT — MAINTAIN THEIR HOPES FOR A NEW CRUSADE. SYRIANS BELIEVE THEY HAVE A CHANCE TO REPLACE MOTHER FRANCE AS PROTECTOR OF LEBANON, AND IN PARTICULAR THE MARONITES. BUT ONE DAY THERE COULD BE A CHANGE OF REGIME IN SYRIA WITH SUNNIS OVERTHROWING THE REGIME AND LIVING UP THEIR FORCES IN LEBANON WITH THE LEFT. TOP CHRISTIAN LEADERS SHOULD REALIZE THIS. (COMMENTING SPECIFICALLY ON GEMAYEL, JUMBLATT SAID HE SUFFERED FROM HALLUCINATIONS AND HAD NO INTELLECTUAL BAGGAGE. CLINICALLY HIS FATHER HAD SUFFERED FROM HALLUCINATIONS.)
9. FINALLY, CHRISTIANS SHOULD REALIZE FORTUNE THEY MADE IN THE PAST WAS BASED ON EXPLOITATION OF ARAB OIL AND SERVICES TO OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES. MARONITES HAVE LOST MUCH OF THIS MONEY (HE SPOKE OF 50,000 LEBANESE IN FRANCE, MANY OF THEM IN FINANCIAL NEED AT PRESENT). MARONITES MUST REALIZE THAT THESE ARAB STATES WILL TURN AGAINST EHEM AND ISOLATE THEM IF THEY CONTINUE TO BEHAVE AS THEY DO. JUMBLATT HIMSELF HAD TO INTERVENE SOME MONTHS AGO FOR FRIENDS WHO WERE ABOUT TO BE EXPELLED FROM LIBYA AND KUWAIT.
10. TROUBLE WITH MARONITES, JUMBLATT SUMMED UP, IS THAT THEY ARE OBSESSED BY FEAR. SARKIS MAY TURN OUT TO BE THE LAST
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 05 STATE 166467 TOSEC 180003
MARONITE PRESIDENT OF LEBANON. THEY MADE A BIG MISTAKE IN CURRENT ATTACK ON TELL ZAATAR, WHICH HE WAS SORRY TO SEE BASHIR GEMAYEL ALSO JOINED IN ON FINALLY. MUSLIMS COULD HAVE DONE NASTY THINGS TO CHRISTIAN VILLAGES SUCH AS DEIR EL-QAMAR (IN THE CHOUF), BUT THEY WOULD NOT. NOR WOULD MUSLIMS ATTACK CHRISTIANS IN RAS BEIRUT, AS MANY SEEMED TO FEAR. MARONITES MUST HAVE CONFIDENCE IN DEMOCRACY AND ACCEPT WESTERNIZING THE COUNTRY INSTITUTIONS. BY THIS HE MEANT REFORMS TO SUPPRESS SECTARIANISM AND ESTABLISH GOVERNMENT ON MODERN PRINCIPLES.
11. I ASKED HIM IF HE HAD NOT ACCEPTED THE COMPROMISE AGREEMENT ANNOUNCED LAST FEBRUARY BY FRANGIE. JUMBLATT SAID THOSE POINTS HAD BEEN ACCEPTABLE THEN, BUT CHRISTIANS HAD REJECTED THEM, AND SITUATION HAS CHANGED. THE LEFT ALLIANCES PARTIES WILL NO LONGER ACCEPT THEM. IN THIS SENSE MARONITES ARE ARABS, AND HAVE BEEN ACTING AS ARABS HAVE ACTED HISTORICALLY TOWARDS ISRAEL — THEY ACCEPT NOTHING UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE.
12.COURSE AHEAD, JUMBLATT SAID, MUST BE TO PREPARE A COMPROMISE AGREEMENT. THIS MUST BE PRECEDED BY NEGOTIATIONS THROUGH QUIET OR PUBLIC CONTACTS BETWEEN THE SIDES, BEFORE FINAL AGREEMENT IS BROUGHT TO A ROUND TABLE AND SANCTIONED THERE. THEN THERE SHOULD BE A NEW PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION ACCORDING TO THE NEW PRINCIPLES AGREED UPON. WHEN ASKED TO SPECIFY REFORMS HE WANTED, HE MENTIONED PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION IN PARLIAMENT WITH THE OBJECTIVE OF GETTING MORE YOUNG PEOPLE IN. HOWEVER, THIS SHOULD BE LIMITED TO NO MORE THAN THREE PARTIES BEING ELECTED, AND LIST SHOULD PERMIT VOTERS TO EXPRESS INDIVIDUAL PREFERENCES FOR PEOPLE ON THE LIST. A SECOND CHAMBER SHOULD BE CREATED IN ACCORDANCE WITH HIS WELL-PUBLICIZED PROGRAM. OBJECTIVE IS TO ABOLISH CONFESSIONALISM AND ELEIMINATE MEDIOCRITY IN PARLIAMENT. I ASKED IF HE MEANT ELIMINATING FEUDAL REMNANTS. NO, JUMBLATT INSISTED, HE MEANT ELIMINATING MEDIOCRITY. (COMMENT: JUMBLATT OF COURSE DERIVES HIS MOST STEADY SUPPORT FROM HIS TRADITIONAL FEUDAL SUZERAINTY OVER MUCH OF THE DRUZE COMMUNITY).
13. PHALANGE (PROBABLY BASHIR GEMAYEL) HAS ACCEPTED PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION, JUMBLATT ASSERTED, BUT NOT AN END TO CONFESSIONALISM. JUMBLATT THOUGH PARTIES OF THE LEFT CAN IMPOSE ON OTHER, MORE CONSERVATIVE MUSLIMS A REFORM
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 06 STATE 166467 TOSEC 180003
PROGRAM WHICH WOULD, FOR EXAMPLE, PERMIT CIVIL MARRIAGE AND SIMILAR CHANGES WHICH MANY CHRISTIANS SUPPORT. YOUNG PEOPLE, BOTH CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM, ARE IDEALISTIC. THEY WILL INSIST ON TOUGH REFORMS. THERE IS LITTLE DIFFERNENCE BETWEEN THESE YOUNG PEOPLE, EXCEPT THAT THE CHRISTIAN YOUTH DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE PALESTINIANS AND HOW TO HANDLE THEM. MEANWHILE, COMPETITION AMONG TRADITIONAL CHRISTIAN LEADDERS SUCH AS CHAMOUN AND GEMAYEL LENDS TO ESCALATION OF RHETORIC AND MILITARY ACTION FOR NO GOOD REASON. THIS SHOULD END.
14. AS TO PALESTINIANS, ELIMINATION OF SAIQA HAS BEEN A GOOD THING. OF COURSE SOME GROUPS SUCH AS PFLP RESORT INOPPORTUNELY TO TERRORISM (HERE JUMBLATT SHOWED HE DID NOT APPROVE RECENT AIR FRANCE HIJACKING). THERE ARE ALSO TROUBLE-MAKING SMALL GROUPS BACKED BY LIBYANS AND IRAQIS AS WELL AS SYRIANS. HOWEVER, WITH SAIQA DISAPPEARANCE, PALESTINIANS CAN NOW IMPOSE THEIR OWN LAW AMONG MOST OF THEIR PEOPLE. LEBANESE MUST LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH PALESTINIANS, OFFER THEM A BETTER LIFE. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT PEOPLE NUMBERING THREE MILLION THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. THEY DO NOT WANT TO LIVE HERE ONLY AS AN ARMY. IN THIS SENSE, JUMBLATT SAID HE HAD NO FEAR FOR THE FUTURE OF THE COUNTRY. PEOPLE MAY EVEN HAVE BENEFITED FROM THEIR EXORCISM OF BLOOD….
15. SPECIFICALLY, JUMBLATT SAID, 1969 DAIRO ACCORD IS OUT OF DATE, BUT MODUS VIVENDI CAN BE REACHED WITH PALESTINIANS. HE NOTED THAT PALESTINIANS REMAIN IN TOUCH WITH CHRISTIANS THROUGH ABU HASSAN WHO GOES BACK AND FORTH ACROSS THE DIVIDING LINE, AS DOES PHALANGE’S BAYIR GEMAYEL. HE THEN MADE SOME REMARKS ABOUT A VIABLE PALESTINIAN STATE TO INCLUDE JORDAN, AND THE 1,200,000 PALESTINIANS HAVING A COANCE TO RETURN TO THEIR HOMES IN HAIFA, ETC. ETC. (JUMBLATT IS CLEARLY BEYOND HIS DEPTH OR INTEREST WHEN HE STARTS TALKING ABOUT THE LARGER PALESTINIAN PROBLEM).
16. SPECIFICALLY ON SYRIANS, JUMBLATT SAID THAT THEY MUST LEAVE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. ALL MUSLIMS ARE AGAINST THEM. ASSAD IS A MEDIOCRE MAN WHO HAS REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO TAKE OPPORTUNITIES TO GET OUT OF THE LEBANON. AS TO REASONS FOR SYRIAN INTERVENTION, JUMBLATT SPECULATED, SOME SAY SYRIA WANTS THE BEKAA. OTHERS SAY SYRIA WISHES TO REPLACE FRANCE
CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 07 STATE 166467 TOSEC 180003
AND HAS TAKEN THIS HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY TO GET CLOSE TO THE MARONITES. JUMBLATT CLAIMED ASSAD HAS SPECIFICALLY TOLD HIM THIS ON FREQUENT OCCASIONS WHILE THEY WERE STILL IN CONTACT, AS OF A FEW MONTHS AGO. ALSO, ASSAD HOPED TO WIN A CARD IN HIS DIPLOMATIC GAME, GOING TO FRANCE AS A FRIEND OF JORDAN ON THE ONE HAND AND WITH CONTROL OVER LEBANON AND THE PALESTINIANS ON THE OTHER. THIS WOULD HAVE HELPED HIM IN US EYES TOO AND MAYBE HELPED GET A GOLAN SETTLEMENT OF THE KIND HE WANTS. HOWEVER, EGYPT IS NOW BEGINNING TO REPLACE SYRIA IN THE LEBANON AS IS NORMAL. AT LEAST SADAT IN HIS SINAI II POLICY WAS FRANK. HE HAS WON MUCH RESPECT.
17. JUMBLATT TENDED TO DOWN-PLAY THE PROBLEM OF SECURITY IN LEBANON. HE SAID THE VARIOUS PARTIES ARE BEGINNING TO TAKE SECURITY IN HAND. THERE ARE FEWER ASSASSINATIONS NOW AND LOOTING IS LESS BOTH IN BEIRUT AND IN THE MOUNTAINS. THE LEBANESE ARMY WILL BE REBUILT. THE POPULACE, ONCE IT HAS PEACE, WILL SELL ITS ARMS. WITH $20 MILLION, JUMBLATT SAID, THE STATE COULD BUY BACK THE ARMS ITSELF. PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY. AGAIN HE RETURNED TO HIS THEME THAT YOUNG PEOPLE MUST BE ALLOWED TO TAKE POWER IN THIS COUNTRY.
18. FINALLY, JUMBLATT WISHED ME WELL. HE SAID DEAN BROWN DID A GOOD JOB HERE. HE PERHAPS LACKED PATIENCE. IT IS BETTER TOWORK A LITTLE MORE SLOWLY AND PATIENTLY AND PERHAPS WITH LOWER PROFILE, BUT US CAN BE HELPFUL.
19. SUMMING UP HIS VIEWS, JUMBLATT SAID HE EXPECTED THE WAR TO END SOON. EVEN THOUGH HE ADMITTED HIS OWN AIMS ARE WHAT AMOUNT TO A CONTINUOUS REVOLUTION UNTIL POWER MOVES FROM THE HANDS OF THE MARONITES TO HIS OWN AND THOSE OF OTHERS ALLIED WITH HIM, HE THOUGHT MEDITERRANEAN PEOPLE SUCH AS THE LEBANESE AND PALESTINIANS NEED A REST. TIME HAS COME FOR COMPROMISE, AND HE IS PREPARED FOR THAT. WHEN I ASKED WHETHER CONCENTRATED BITTERNESS BETWEEN FACTIONS MIGHT NOT IMPEDE COMPROMISE, HE SAID PEOPLE TEND TO FORGET THE CARNAGE, BLOOD, AND DESTRUCTION, PARTICULARLY IF A CATASTROPHE IS BIG ENOUGHT. MEANWHILE NOTHING CAN BE DONE BY WAY OF FORMAL PEACEMAKING UNTIL THE SYRIANS WITHDRAW TOTALLY FROM THE LEBANON.
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20. COMMENT: AS I HAVE BEEN TOLD TO EXPECT, JUMBLATT HAS AN UNCANNILY WINNING PERSONALITY. IT IS HARD TO DISLIKE THE MAN FACE TO FACE. HE HAS MANY MOODS AND MANY GUISES AND SEEMS TO BE SPEAKING FRANKLY AT ALL TIMES. HOWEVER, WHAT HE SAID OFTEN STRUCK ME AS UNREALISTIC TO SAY THE LEAST. IN PARTICULAR, I WAS STRUCK BY HIS GREAT OPTIMISM TO ME IN VIEW OF HIS SIMULTANEOUS PUBLIC PRONOUNCEMENTS THAT THE WAR WILL CONTINUE AND VIETNAMIZATION MAY RESULT IF THE CHRISTIANS DO NOT STOP THEIR ATTACK ON TELL XAATAR. HE IS CLEARLY A MAN WHOSE WORDS SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AT FACE VALUE. BUT HE IS ALSO A LEADER WHO SEEMS INDISPENSIBLE IN THE CURRENT POLITICAL MAKEUP HERE. HE IS OUT TO BECOME NUMBER ONE IN THE LEBANON, EVEN IF THIS TAKES A FEW MORE YEARS.
SEELYE
UNQTE ROBINSON
CONFIDENTIAL
<< END OF DOCUMENT >>

The War Files (Part III) – The Brown-Chamoun Meetings Of 1976

President Camille Chamoun amd wife at home playing with pet dog May 1958 (Image Credit LIFE Magazine James Whitmore)

President Camille Chamoun and wife at home playing with pet dog, May 1958 (LIFE Magazine/ James Whitmore)

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.

Dean Brown was a U.S. envoy who was sent in 1976 in order to try to find a peaceful solution to the civil war. But in Lebanon, he isn’t famous for this job: The Christians will tell you that he told Chamoun he was intending to move the Lebanese Christians to Canada or the United States  (It’s arguably the most important rumor/conspiracy theory of the civil war), while the Muslims will tell you that his sole plan was to strengthen Syria and the Christians and throw the PLO outside of Lebanon (“WE CAN ONLY SEE IN THE MISSION OF THE AMERICAN EMISSARY A GROSS FORM OF IMPERIALIST INTERVENTION IN OUR INTERNAL AFFAIRS THROUGH WHICH THE USA TRIES DIRECTLY TO HINDER THE TRANSFORMATION OF LEBANON FROM A TRIBAL AND CONFESSIONAL FEUDALISM INTO A STATE UNIFYING THE PEOPLE IN THE FRAMEWORK OF A DEMOCRATIC SECULARIZED SYSTEM”).

I was never really convinced that Brown might have actually suggested mass immigration from one country to another, so I did some digging on WikiLeaks, and found several cables about Brown’s meetings with the Christian leaders. Apparently, Chamoun wanted Brown to support an independent Christian state, and Brown did not give the green light to Chamoun’s proposal, which could have angered Chamoun (and pushed him to accuse Brown of trying to transfer the Christians to Canada?)

Now of course, other things might have been mentioned in other meetings, but something as important as mass immigration would have at least been mentioned in the following cables (Spoiler alert: Brown never mentioned it in those). Anyway, take a look at the cables (Trust me, it’s worth it). There are tens of other cables, but I only put those mentioning meetings between Chamoun and Brown. I also organized the cables chronologically from the oldest to the newest so you could see how things changed between the first meetings and the last ones. And if you really, really don’t care about anything but the conversations with Chamoun, look for his name in red.

TALK WITH CHRISTIAN LEADERS
1976 April 2, 18:03 (Friday)
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Margaret P. Grafeld Declassified/Released US Department of State EO Systematic Review 04 MAY 2006
SUMMARY: MET WITH CHRISTIAN LEADERS TODAY. BASED ON WHAT WE SAW, I AM RELATIVELY RELAXED ON THEIR PROSPECTS FOR HOLDING OUT. FRANGIE WORRIED ABOUT NEED FOR SYRIAN OR OTHER TROOPS TO GUARANTEE CEASEFIRE, BUT APPEARS PREPARED TO RESIGN IN CONTEXT OF CONSTITUTIONAL SOLUTION WHICH WOULD FOLLOW. END SUMMARY
1. GOT METICULOUS PRESENTATION OF CHRISTIAN POSITION FROM PRESIDENT FRANGIE TODAY, WHO WAS JOINED HALF-WAY THROUGH BY CHAMOUN AND GEMAYEL IN MEETING WHICH LASTED ALMOST THREE HOURS. ALL EMPHASIZED PROBLEM WAS NOT LEBANESE BUT HAD
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BEGUN WITH PALESTINIANS. GENERAL THEME OF FOREIGNERS AND LEFTISTS IDEOLOGICALLY INSPIRED BY SOVIETS AND BANK- ROLLED BY LIBYANS, IRAQIS, ETC., HIGHLIGHTED PRESENTATION. FRANGIE WAS THE MOST INFORMATIVE AND SPECIFIC. CHAMOUN CONCENTRATED ON ALARMIST DESCRIPTION AIMED AT PRODUCING SOME KIND OF U.S. ACTION. GEMAYEL WAS THE MOST EMOTIONAL AND REPETITIOUS, EMPHASIZING LEBANESE PATRIOTISM. ALL DESCRIBED WILL TO FIGHT TO THE END IN VERY DESPERATE TERMS, BUT WERE SHORT ON FACTS TO SUPPORT DESPARATE CONCLUSIONS.
2. WHEN I ASKED POINT-BLANK HOW LONG CHRISTIANS COULD HOLD OUT, FRANGIE SAID WITH OUTSIDE HELP INDEFINITELY. WITHOUT SUCH OUTSIDE HELP, 10 TO 20 DAYS. CHAMOUN PRODUCED CHURCHILLIAN NEAR-QUOTE: “GIVE US THE TOOLS AND WE WILL DO THE JOB.” FRANGIE REPEATEDLY EMPHASIZED THAT IF NEED BE, MARONITES COULD HOLD OUT IN THE MOUNTAINS INDEFINITELY, AS THEY HAD DONE FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS IN THE PAST. BY SAME TOKEN,NUMBER OF SENIOR CHRISTIAN OFFICERS WITH WHOM WE TALKED ON OUR WAY TO THE MEETING IN JOUNIEH DISPLAYED NO ALARM OVER MILITARY SITUATION AND DID NOT MENTION SHORTAGES IN AMMUNITION, BEYOND NOTING THAT IT WAS USED MORE SPARINGLY BY THEM THEN BY PROFLIGATE OTHER SIDE WHICH SEEMED TO ENJOY UNLIMITED SUPPLIES.
3. FRANGIE DESCRIBED AIMS OF OTHER SIDE AS EITHER (A) MAKING LEBANON A MOSLEM COUNTRY (WHICH WAS TRADTIONAL AIM OF MOSLEMS) OR (B) CHANGE POLITICAL REGIME (WHICH WAS NEW AIM OF LEFTISTS SUPPORTED FROM OUTSIDE). ALL THREE DESCRIBED PRESENT OFFENSIVE AGAINST PRESIDENT AS AIMED AT INSTITUTION OF THE PRESIDENCE, WHICH LEFTISTS WISH TO DEMOLISH JUST AS LEFTISTS ARE INDISCRIMINATELY DEMOLISHING LEBANESE COMMERCE, INDUSTRY AND REAL ESTATE. FRANGIE IN PARTICULAR MADE MUCH OF WHAT HE DESCRIBED AS CONSTANT NEW LEFTIST DEMANDS AND EXPLAINED MARONITE INTRANSIGENCE (INCLUDING HIS WEASELING ON HIS OWN RESIGNA- TION) IN TERMS OF DANGER OF SLIPPERY SLOPE.
4.FRANGIE SAID ANY CEASEFIRE HAD BE GUARANTEED IF IT NOT TO FAIL AS HAD DOZENS OF EARLIER ONES. BY THIS HE
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MEANT FORCE AND LOTS OF IT. HE AND OTHERS MADE CLEAR THAT THEY DID NOT LIKE SADAT ARAB PLAN BUT SUPPORTED SYRIAN MILITARY INTERVENTION. THEY SAID SYRIANS HAD BEEN PREPARED TO INTERVENE IN FORCE BUT WERE PREVENTED BY U.S. DECLARATIONS OPPOSING ANY UNILATERAL INTERVENTION. I TOLD THEM IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS THAT INTERVENTION IS NOT A LIGHT MATTER AND THAT THEIR ADVOCACY OF IT SHOULD BE RATIONALLY AND NOT JUST EMOTIONALLY THOUGHT THROUGH, ESPECIALLY WITH REGARD TO REACTIONS IT MIGHT PROVOKE THROUGHOUT THE MIDDLE EAST. I KNOW THE POINT GOT THROUGH.
5. THE THREE OF THEM, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS A GROUP, SAE LITTLE PROSPECT FOR SYRIANS TO PLAY CEASEFIRE POLICING ROLE,USING ONLY THOSE SYRIAN-CONTROLLED TROOPS, SUCH AS PLA AND SAIQA, WHICH ARE ALREADY IN COUNTRY. SAID THIS WOULD ASSUME HIGH DEGREE OF PALESTINIAN MODERATION AND WILLING- NESS TO ABIDE BY CAIRO ACCORDS (WHICH, INCIDENTALLY, FRANGIE MADE AN ABSOLUTE CONDITION OF ANY PERMANENT CEASE- FIRE). GEMAYEL WAS LESS CATEGORIC THAN OTHERS. HE SUGGESTED IT MIGHT BE WORTH CONSIDERING IF U.S. BELIEVED AFTER TALKING TO SYRIANS THAT THEY HAD ENOUGH FORCES IN LEBANON.
6. IF CEASEFIRE, COUPLED WITH SOME GUARANTEE OF ENOUGH FORCE TO MAKE IT STICK,WERE ACHIEVED, FRANGIE TOLD US HE SAW NO PROBLEM FOLLOWING AGREED CONSTITUTIONAL COLUTION. THIS WOULD BE AMENDMENT OF ARTICLE 73 OF THE CONSTITUTION BY THE PARLIAMENT AND ELECTION OF EW PRESIDENT UNDER CONDITION FREE OF PRESSURE, AFTER WHICH REMAINDER OF HIS PERIOD OF OFFICE WAS TOO SHORT TO BE WORHTWHILE AND HE WOULD TAKE A BADLY NEEDED REST. THIS STATEMENT OF WILLINGNESS TO RESIGN WAS PERHAPS THE SINGLE MOST SOLID PIECE OF INFORMATION WE GOT FROM FRANGIE. HE SOUNDED CONVINCED ENOUGH, BUT I DID WONDER WHY HE DID NOT REPEAT THIS STATEMENT IN FRONT OF CHAMOUN AND GEMAYEL. IN THEIR PRESENCE, HE LIMITED HIMSELF TO ARGUING,AS THEY WERE, THAT CALL FOR HIS RESIGNATION WAS A FALSE ISSUE.
7. ALSO SAW MARONITE PATRIARCH. HE TOLD ME HE WOULD BE
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SEEING FRANGIE ET AL SOONEST AND WOULD MAKE POINT THAT CONSTITUTIONAL AMENITIES CANNOT STAND IN WAY OF POLITICAL REALITIES. HE IS A REFRESHING BREATH OF FRESH AIR IN THIS FETID ATMOSPHERE WHERE SHORT TERM AIMS ARE TOO EASILY CONFUSED WHICH LONG TERM DEVELOPMENTS.
BROWN
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AMB BROWN’S MEETING REPORTS LEBANON SITUATION
1976 April 5, 19:05 (Monday)
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1. HAD COMPLETELY PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS WITH GEMAYEL, MALIK AND CHAMOUN. FRANGIE HAD REPORTER AND INTERPRETER (LUCIEN DAHDAH) PRESENT. TALKED TO THEM FROM FOLLOWING POINTS.
2. FIRST GAVE GENERAL IMPRESSION OF TALKS WITH MUSLIM, DRUZE AND CHRISTIANS. SAID I FOUND GENERALIZED DESIRE FOR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC CHANGE AND A WISH ON PART OF MOSLEMS FOR GREATER POLITICAL RECOGNITION. POORER CLASSES, MOSTLY SHIA, WHILE NOT STARVING, BELIEVE THEY ARE NOT SHARING SUFFIENTLY IN ECONOMIC PROGRESS. WITH IMAM THERE WAS NORE SORROW THAN ANGER BUT EVEN MOST MODERATE PUSH FOR MORE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE POOR MUSLIM AREAS. AS THEY ASKED, I TOLD THEM THAT MUFTI WWAS TAKING A HARDER LINE ON RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL PROBLEMS AND THAT THEY KNEW HIS TENOR OF THINKING.
3. I TOLD HIM THAT JUMBLATT WAS PREPARED TO EXTEND THE TRUCE IF THE POLITICAL PROCESS WAS WELL UNDER WAY BUT THAT HE HAD GIVEN NO SOLID GUARANTEES FOR THE FUTURE WHICH THEREFORE NECESSITATED FORWARD MOVE- MENT SOON.
4. I THEN SAID I WOULD LIKE TO DISCUSS WITH THEM THOUGHTS WHICH I HAD NOT YET CHECKED OUT WITH WASHINGTON AS I WANTED THEIR VIEWS BEFORE SO DOING. FIRST WAS WHETHER AS A TEMPORARY MEASURE WE COULD GE TSOME SORT OF SECURITY INTO THE CITY OF BEIRUT TO PUT A STOP TO THE MINDLESS LOOTING AND KILLING NOW GOING ON. WOULD THEY BE PREPARED TO CONTRIBUTE FORCES TO A JOINT FORCCE WITH THE PALESTINIANS, SAIQA AND ARMY? THE SECOND THOUGHT WAS COULD THEY ENVISAGE THE CREATION OF AN INTER- NATIONAL CONSORTIUM ESTABLISHED AT THE REQUEST OF THE NEW LEBANESE GOVT WHOSE TASK WOULD BE TO ASSIST IN THE REBUILDING OF THE SHATTERED ECONOMY, IN SO DOING ALSO CONTRIBUTING TO THE REESTABLISHMENT OF LEBANESE SECURITY FORCES. I ASKED THEM IN TURN IF THEY COULD AGREE TO THE PRINCIPLE OF THE NEED FOR REFORM.
5. I MADE IT PLAIN TO THEM THAT WE ARE CONCERNED BY THE PLIGHT OF THE MARONITES AND BY THEIR MILITARY DIS- ADVANTAGE. WE THOUGHT THEY SHOULD BE STRONG ENOUGHT TO NEGOTIATE BUT NOT TOO WEAK TO HAVE TO CAPITULATE. I PERSONALLY SAW NO POSSIBILITY OF EITHER PARTITION OR OF A DREAM OF MILITARY VICTORY AS A WAY OUT. THERE- FORE, THERE HAD TO BE NEGOTIATION. IT IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT THAT THE PALESTINIAN FORCES BE KEPT PEACEFUL AND I DID NOT SEE HOW WE COULD BE HOPEFUL IN THE CONTEXT UNLESS THERE WAS SOUND HOPE FOR NEGOTIA- TIONS.
6. I SAID IT SEEMED TO ME AFTER ALL MY TALKS IN LEBANON THAT THE IMPORTANT THING WAS TO CARRY THROUGH THE GENERALLY AGREED UPON PLAN BOTH PROMPTLY AND IN GOOD FAITH. THERE IS NOT TIME LEFT FOR POLITICAL GAMES AND REALITIES HAVE TO BE ACCEPTED. I CONCLUDED BY SAYING THAT I REALIZED THAT SECURITY IS VERY MUCH IN THEIR MIND. SO IT IS IN OURS.
7. GEMAYEL’S REACTION. GEMAYEL WAS ENTHUSIASTIC. HE SAID HE WOULD BE DELIGHTED TO CONTRIBUTE THE PMALANGE. HE SAID IT COULD BE DONE WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE MIXED ARMISTICE COMMISSION (PALESTINIANS, SYRIANS, LEBANESE. HE EXPLAINED HE MEANT A REGULAR LEBANESE ARMY OFFICER. HE GREATLY APPROVED OF AN INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM PROVIDED IT WAS A LEBANESE INITIATIVE AND THOUGHT THIS SHOULD BE THE FIRST TASK OF A NEW PRESIDENT. HE THOUGHT THAT THE INTERNATIONAL CON- SORTIUM SHOULD INCLUDE FORCES OF OTHER COUNTRIES WHOS OSTENSIBLE ROLE WOULD BE TO RETRAIN THE LEBANESE ARMY. IN THIS WAY THERE COULD BE AN ECHELON MOVE- MENT FROM SECURITY CONTROLLED BY THE MIXED COMMISSION THROUGH SOME INTERNATIONAL FORCES WHO WOULD TRAIN THE LEBANESE AND EVENTUAL ASSUMPTION OF THE LEBANESE OF THEIR OWN DEFENSE. IT VITAL THAT SYRIA BE BROUGHT EARLY INTO THE PROCESS AND INVOLVED THROUGHTOUT.
8. GEMAYEL DID NOT THINK THE WHOLE THING THROUGH AS DID FRANGIE AS YOU WILL SEE LATER BUT HE WILL SUPPORT IT UNLESS OTHERS PRESS HARD ON HIM.
9. WE DISCUSSED ON HIS INITIATIVE THE UPCOMING POLITICAL CHANGES. HE WANTS A NEW PRESIDENT, MARONITE NATURALLY, WHO CAN ATTRACT AS BROAD A CON- SENSUS OF PARLIAMENTARY PROCESS AS POSSIBLE. HE FEELS THAT A PRESIDENT ELEECTED BY A NARROW VOTE WOULD SOON FAILZM I ASKED HIM IF HE HAD VETOES OF ANY CANDIDATE. HE DENIED THIS SAYINF IA STRONG CON- SENSUS DEVELOPS HE WILL NOT STAND IN ITS WAY. (I HAVE CONSIDERABLE DOUBTS ABOUT THIS AS HE IS PPREJUD- ICED AGAINST EDDE AND WILL PROBABLY MAKE IT KNOWN AS THE CONSENSUS IS WORKED OUT.) HE SAID, AS DID THE OTHER, THAT HE WAS IN CONSTANT CONTACT WIITH VARIOUS POLITICAL ELEMENTS ABOUT THE CANDIDATES.
10. IN VIEW OF THE IDEA OF A JOINT FORCE I ASKED HIM WHAT HIS RELATIONS WERE WITH ‘ARAFAT. HE SAID THAT HE HADN’T HAD ANY DIRECT RELATIONSHIP IN MONTHS BUT THAT HE WAS PERFECTLY WILLING TO TALK TO HIM IF IT WOULD GET ANYWHERE.
11. FRANGIE. FRANGIE AS DID THE OTHERS HAD COMMENTS ON MY ANALYSIS OF WHAT I THOUGHT I HAD FOUND.HE TROTTED OUT A WHOLE SERIES OF STATISTICS TO SHOW THAT PRACTICALLY ALL OF THE BUDGET OF LEBANON IS SPENT TO HELP THE POOR PEOLPEL AND THIS MEANS THE MOSLEMS. I TOLD HIM THAT I KNEW THESE STATISTICS. WHAT I WAS TRYING TO DESCRIBE TO HIM WAS A BELIEF OF THE PEOPLE AND THAT STRONGLY-HELD BELIEFS ARE OFTEN MUCH STRONGER THAN STATISTICS. FRANGIE IS SKEPTICAL AS TOO WHETHER THE JOINT COMMISSION CAN BE ESTABLISHED BUT IS QUITE WILLING FOR MARONITE FORCES TO TAKE A PART IN IT. I SAID THE ONLY WAY TO FIND OUT IS TO TRY AND THAT HE MUST AGREE WITH MM, AS HE DID, THAT IT IS VITAL TO PUT AN END TO THE GANGS WHICH ARE TORMENTING THE CITY. AS FOR THE CONSORTIUM IDEA HE AGREED COM- PLETELY THAT IT COULD SERVE AS A SIGN OF HOPE FOR THE PEOPLE WHO COULD SAY TO THEMSELVES THAT THE NEW TASK IS RECONSTRUCTION IN WHICH THE WORLD IS HELPING.
12. AT ONE MOMENT HE SAID THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. WE ARE SICK AND WE CANNOT TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES. WE NEED GOOD DOCTORS, FRIENDLY ONE TO COME AND EXAMINE THE CAUSES OF THE SICKNESS AND PROVIDE THE REMEDIES. THEY HAVE TO HAVE THE BEST INTEREST OF LEBANON AT HEART.
13. HE SAID THAT THE SYRIANS WERE THE ONLY ONES TO OFFER MEDIATION. HE HAD ESTABLISHED PERSONAL RELATIONS WITH ASAD WHEREIN THEY HAD TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN EACH OTHER. IT WAS ONLY BECAUSE OF THIS HE HAD BEEN ABLE TO ACCEPT THAT MEDIATION. THIS PERSONAL CONTACT WILL BE LOST WHEN HE LEAVES OFFICE. THE SYRAIN REGIME IS ALWAYS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. LEBANON CANNOT AND SHOULD NOT COUNT ON LONG DURATION OF SYRIAN EFFORT. IT SHOULD BE BACKED BY WESTERN COUNTRIES.
14. I TOLD HIM THAT I UNDERSTOOD HIS POINT. IF SYRIA IS NOT IN THE ACT FROM THE BEGINNING, THERE IS LITTLE CHANCE FOR WHAT I HAD PROPOSED. WHILE IT COULD BE TRUE THAT THE PRESENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES IS BASED ON THE TRUST THEIR PRESIDENTS HAVE IN EACH OTHER, A CONSORTIUM WITH SYRAIN PARTICIPATION COULD TRANSFORM THAT PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP INTO SOMETHING MORE FORMAL AND A POSSIBLE SUCCESSOR SYRAIN GOVT WOULD FIND ITSELF INNVLVED IN AN INTERNATIONAL EFFORT. WHILE I COULD NOT GIVE HIM ANY GUUARANTEES I THOUGHT THESE CONSIDERATIONS MIGHT EASE HIS MIND ABOUT THE FUTURE. 14. FRANGIE REPLIED THAT HE WANTED ME TO KNOW THAT HE WOULD USE ALL HIS PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ASAD TO EASE ANY POSSIBLE SYRIANS SENSITIVITY.
15. WE RUNED TO A POSSIBLE COMPOSITION OF A CONSORTIUM. FRANGIEESAID HE WOULD PREFER IT TO BE WESTERN BUT THAT HE UNDERSTOOD THE VALUE OF HAVING ARABS IN IT FOR TWO REASONS: FIRST, TO TAKE CARE OF SYRIAN SENSIBILITIES AND SECOND TO SECRET SECRET PAGE 03 BEIRUT 02979 02 OF 03 052151Z GET ACCESS TO ARAB FUNDS. HE WOULD LIKE THE SYRIANS, JORDANIANS AND SAUDIS IN THE CONSORTIUM. HE DID NOT WANT ARAB COUNTRIES (E.G., IRAQ OR LIBYA) WHO HE CLAIMED WERE INVOLVED IN THE INTER- NATIONAL AFFAIRS OF LEBANON.
16. HE THEN WENT ON TO SAY IT WAS AQUESTION OF HOW TO APPROACH THE SYRAINS. WHO? CERTAINLY NOT THE PRIME MINISTER WHO WAS ANTI-WESTERN BUT WHO WOULD IN THE END GO ALONG IF THE SYRAINS APPROVED. HE SAID THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR SHOULD DO IT.
17. I ENTERED AGAIN TO REMIND HIM THAT I WAS ONLY TALKING ABOUT A PRIVATE IDEA AND THAT I WOULD REPORT ALL OF OUR CONVERSATION TO MY GOVT BUT I COULD NOT TAKE ON ANY COMMITMENTS AT THIS TIME. HE SAID HE UNDERSTOOD.
18. HE TOLD ME THAT IN ONE OF HIS EARLIER TALKS WITH THE SYRIANS, THE SYRIANS TOLD HIM THAT THEY WOULD BE HAPPY TO HAVE THE US PLAY A ROLE IN THE MEEDIATION EFFORT IF THERE WAS SOME SORT OF UN APPROVAL. WHILE THIS DID NOT APPLY DIRECTLY TO WHAT WE WERE DISCUSSING, HE THOUGHT IT WAS A HOPEFUL SIGN. HE SAID AGAIN THAT HE WOULD DO ALL POSSIBLE IN TALK WITH PRES ADAD.
19. WE THEN TURNED TO A POSSIBLE AGENDA OF ACTION. AFTER MUCH TO AND FROM THIS IS WHAT HE THINKS IS GOOD: (A) GET THE AGREEMENT OF THE US; (B) SOMEONE TALK TO SYRIA; (C) THE US TALK TO FRANCE, OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES AND KING KHALED; (D) GET THE NEW PRESIDENT SOLLIDLY ON BOARD AND SET UP THE MECHAN- ISM BY WHICH THE REQUEST WOULD BE MADE.
20. FRANGIE SAID SADLY IF THIS FAILS THEN THE ONLY RECOURSE WILL BE SYRIAN INTERVE TION. HE ASKED IF I THOUGHT IF THE CONSORTIUM WORKED WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE FOR FURTHER SYRAIN FORCES TO ENTER THE COUNTRY AS A PART OF THE CONSORTIUM’S EFFORT TO REBUILD THE LEBANESE ARMY. PERHAPS THIS WOULD BE ONE WAY TO ASSURE THE ISRAELIS.
21. LUCIEN DAHDAH INTERJECTED TO SAY THAT ALL THE ABOV REALLY DEPENDED ON WHETHER THERE COULD BE SECURITY IN THE INTERIM. FRANGIE SAID THERE IS A REAL PROBLEM HERE BECAUSE LARGE NUMBERS OF THE DEPUTIES, FORTY HE ESTIMATED, WERE IN DISTRICTS UNDER PALESTINIAN DOMINATION. THIS INCLUDES KARAME AND KAMEL AL-ASSAD. THAT’S ONE PROBLEM. THE OTHER IS THAT MANY ARE AFRAID TO PUT THEMSELVES UNDER THE PROTECTION OF SAIQA. THE GENERAL QUESTION IS TO MAKE SURE THE ELECTION IN PARLIAMENT IS FREE. IF IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS FORCED IN ANY WAY ON THE DEPUTIES BY NON-LEBANESE EITHER SYRIAN OR PALESTINIAN THEN “THE REVOLUTION WILL CHANGE SIDES AND PARTITION WILL FOLLOW”.
22. HE THOUGHT IT ESSENTIAL FOR THE MARONITES TO AGREE ON ONE CANDIDATE AND NOT TO PROVIDE A DIVIDED FRONT. IF THIS IS DONE AND THERE IS SECURITY, EVENTUALLY THE OTHER PARLIAMENTARIANS WILL FOLLOW. HE PLANS TO MEET TODAY WITH OTHER MARONITE LEADERS ON THIS SUBJECT.
23. THEN CAME THE FIRST PROBLEM. FRANGIE SAID THAT AMIXED COMMISSION COULD PROBABLY BE SET UP IN 48 HOURS. IT WOULD MEAN MAKING SURE OF JUMBLATT, GEMAYEL AND CHAMOUN. THE MIXED COMMISSION WILL HAVE TO USE FORCE AND THIS MUST BE UNDERSTOOD. NEGOTIA- TION WITH LAWLESS BANDS WON’T WORK. BUT THE FIRST TASK OF THE MIXED COMMISSSION WOULD BE TO DEAL WITH THAT AND BY SO DOING SHOW PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THE DEPUTIES, THAT SECURITY CAN BE PROVIDED FOR THE PARLIAMENT. HE THOUGHT THIS WOULD DELAY THINGS AND STRESSED IN ANY CASE INASMUCH AS NO CONSENSUS ON ANY CANDIDATE HAS EMERGED, THE LEBANESE COULD NOT PROCEED AS FAST AS I HAD TOLD HIM THEY SHOULD. THE SECOND PROBLEM RAISED BY FRANGIE CAME UP TOWARDS THE END OF OUR CONVERSATION. HE ASKED HOW HE COULD GET SOME ARMS FAST TO THE LEBANESE ARMY. I ASKED HIM WHAT LEBANESE ARMY. HE SAID SOLDIERS ARE BEGINNING TO DRIFT BACK ON BOTH SIDES OF THE LINE. HE THOUGHT AT A MAXIMUM 4-5,000 MEMBERS OF THE ARMY WERE RECUPERABLE, HALF CHRISTIAN, HALF MOSLEM. IF ARMED AND WELL-OFFICERED THEY COULD PROVIDE A REAL FORCE WITHIN A RELATIVEL SHORT TIME. I TOLD HIM THIS WAS A BIG PROBLEM BUT THAT I WOULD REPORT HIS REQUEST. AS WE ENDED OUR CON- VERSATION, FRANGIE SAID HE ACCEPTED THE TWO SUGGESTIONS I HAD MADE WITHOUT RESERVE. HE BELIEVES THAT THERE MUST BE TWO GUARANTEES TO PROVIDE THE NECESSARY TRANQUILITY OF MIND FOR THE FUTURE. FIRST IS THAT THE REGIME IN ITS PRESENT FORM–EVEN WITH REFORMS WHICH HE HIMSELF WOULD BE GLAD TO SEE MUST SURVE. THE LEBANESE PEOPLE WANT THE DEMOCRACY THE HAVE. SECOND IS THAT THE LEBANON, CREATED AS A COUNTRY WHERE MOSLEMS AND CHRISTIANS HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS, HAS ALSO TO BE MAINTAINED. THE CHRISTIANS NEED GUARANTEES IN THE FUTURE THAT THEY BE ABLE TO LIVE LIKE THEY HAVE ALWAYS LIVED AND THAT THEY NOT BECOME SECOND RATE CITIZENS AS THEY ARE IN OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES WHERE CHRISTIANS ARE ONLY TOLERATED.
24. CHAMOUN. CHAMOUN WAS ANOTHER CASE. HE HEARD ME OUT ON AND THEN SAID HE WANTED ME TO KNOW ONE THING WHICH HE HAD NOT BEEN ABLE TO SAY IN FRONT OF FRANGIE THE OTHER DAY. THE AIM OF THE SYRIANS IS TO BUILD A STATE IN LEBANON WHICH IS 100 PERCENT HOSTILE TO ISRAEL. THE MARONITES WILL NEVER FIGHT THE ISRAELIS. THEY HAVE GOOD RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL. THEY ARE TWO MINORITIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST. THEY SHOULD WORK TOOGETHER TO PRESERVE THEM- SELVES AND IF THE WEST WAS REALLY ASTUTE, IT WOULD ACCEPT THIS AND HELP THEM BOTH. IN LEBANON THIS MEANT CONFEDERATION WHERE TWO COMMUNITIES COULD BE UNDER ONE FLAG BUT MAINTAIN THEIR SEPARATE RIGHTS. PROPOSALS I HAD MADE ARE SHORT TERM. THEY WILL ONLY LEAD TO ANOTHER WAR IN A FEW YEARS. THE CONSORTIUM COULD BE HELPFUL IF IT HAD ON ITS TASK SETTING UP THE CONFEDERATION.
25. I TOLD HIM THAT IN ALL HONESTY, I THOUGHT HIS PROPOSAL WAS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE ONE. THE LEBANESE CHRISTIANS WOULD HAVE TO FIND THEIR SECURITY IN OTHER WAYS. CONFEDERATION AS HE PROPOSED IT IS ONLY PARTITION. I ASKED HIM TO THINK THIS OVER AGAIN AND TO ASK HIMSELF IF WHAT HE PROPOSED WAS REALLY THE DESIRE OF THE MARONITE AND CHRISTIAN PEOPLE.
26. MALIK. MALIK IS ENTHUSIASTIC. SEES PROBLEMS AS WOULD ANY LEBANESE AND WILL TALK TO HIS CHRISTIAN BROTHERS ABOUT IT.
27. MONKS. ARE ACKNOWLEDGED AS IMPORTANT ELE- MENT IN THE MARONITE COMMUNITY. THEY HAVE BEEN STUDYING THE FUTURE FOR THE PAST YEAR AND GAVE ME THE WHOLE LOF OF REFORM PROPOSALS BOTH POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC WHICH I PROMISED TO STUDY. THE LEADERS TOLD ME PRIVATELY SEVERAL TIMES THAT WE WOULD GET NOWHERE WITH CHAMOUN BUT THAT THEY WOULD WORK ON BOTH FRANGIE AND GEMAYEL AND ON OTHER IMPORTANT LEVERS IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. THEY ARE VERY FEARFUL OF THE EVENTUAL ISLAMIZATION OF LEBANON WITH THE CHRISTIANS IN INFERIOR POSITIONS.
28. IT HAS BEEN A LONG DAY. I APOLOGIZE FOR THE LENGTHH OF THIS BUT I WANTED TO GET THEIR THINKING FIRST HAND. I WILL COMMENT LATER.
BROWN
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1. WHILE WE HAVE DISCUSSED THE LEBANESE SITUATION FROM TIME TO TIME WITH DINITZ AT THIS END, WE HAVE NOT GIVEN HIM A SYSTEMATIC ACCOUNT OF DEAN BROWN’S ACTIVITIES IN LEBANON. YOU SHOULD THEREFORE CONVEY TO ALLON, FROM ME, FOR HIS VERY RESTRICTED USE, THE FOLLOWING POINTS TO KEEP THE ISRAELIS UP TO DATE.
2. AMBASSADOR BROWN HAS HELD INTENSIVE ROUNDS OF TALKS WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF THE PRINCIPAL LEBANESE FACTIONS, IN PARTICULAR THE CHRISTIAN LEADERS ON THE ONE SIDE AND JUMBLATT ON THE OTHER, BUT HE HAS ALSO SEEN MODERATE MOSLEM LEADERS. ASIDE FROM HEARING THE POINTS OF VIEW OF THE LEBANESE, HE HAS FOCUSSED HIS ATTENTION ON TWO MAIN POINTS: THE NEED FOR ALL SIDES TO MAINTAIN THE CEASEFIRE AND TO BE FLEXIBLE IN REACHING THE POLITICAL COMPROMISES THAT WILL BE NECESSARY IN THE NEXT WEEKS; AND THE PROBLEMS ARISING FROM THE ABSENCE OF ANY CENTRAL SECURITY FORCE IN THE COUNTRY.
3. IN HIS FIRST TALK WITH FRANGIE, CHAMOUN AND GEMAYEL, HE FOUND THE CHRISTIAN LEADERS CONCERNED ABOUT THE MILITARY SITUATION, ALTHOUGH THE CHRISTIAN MILITARY OFFICERS THEM- SELVES COMMENTED MAINLY ON THE NEED TO CONSERVE AMMUNITION. THE POLITICAL LEADERSHIP CLEARLY FELT UNDER CONSIDERABLE PRESSURE FROM JUMBLATT, AND FRANGIE EXPRESSED PARTICULAR CONCERN ABOUT THE ESCALATING DEMANDS OF THE DRUSE LEADER. THEY SAID THEY BELIEVED THE LEFT-WING OFFENSIVE AGAINST THE PRESIDENT HAD BEEN DIRECTED AGAINST THE INSTITUTION OF THE PRESIDENCY, WHICH THE LEFTISTS WISHED TO DEMOLISH ALONG WITH OTHER ASPECTS AND INSTITUTIONS OF LEBANESE LIFE. FRANGIE, IN A PRIVATE CONVERSATION, SAID HE SAW NO PROBLEM IN AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION AND ELECTING A NEW PRESIDENT IF THIS COULD BE DONE FREE OF OUTSIDE PRESSURE. HE INDICATED HE WOULD BE PREPARED TO RESIGN THEREAFTER.
4. IN A SUBSEQUENT SERIES OF MEETINGS WITH THE CHRISTIAN LEADERSHIP ON APRIL 5, AFTER HIS FIRST TALK WITH JUMBLATT, BROWN TOLD THEM THAT THE DRUSE LEADER SEEMED PREPARED TO EXTEND THE TRUCE IF THE POLITICAL PROCESS WAS WELL UNDERWAY BUT HAD MADE NO SOLID GUARANTEE FOR THE FUTURE. BROWN STRESSED THE IMPORTANCE OF MAKING FORWARD MOVEMENT. HE MADE CLEAR THAT THE U.S. IS DEEPLY SYMPATHETIC TO THE SITUATION OF THE MARONITES AND THEIR MILITARY DISADVANTAGE, THAT WE BELIEVE THEY MUST RETAIN NECESSARY STRENGTH TO NEGOTIATE ARRANGEMENTS THAT WILL ENSURE SECURITY OF THEIR COMMUNITY, BUT THAT HIS TALKS HAD LED HIM TO BELIEVE THE BEST WAY FOR THEM TO MOVE IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES WAS TO CARRY THROUGH THE GENERALLY AGREED-UPON PLAN FOR POLITICAL REFORM PROMPTLY AND IN GOOD FAITH. HE THEN TURNED TO THE SECURITY QUESTION, PUTTING FORWARD AS HIS PERSONAL SUGGESTION THE IDEA OF A JOINT FORCE WITH CHRISTIANS, PALESTINIANS, SAIQA AND ARMY ELEMENTS TO PROVIDE SECURITY IN THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE WHILE A NEW GOVERNMENT IS BEING FORMED AND THE NECESSARY POLITICAL AND OTHER CHANGES ARE BEING MADE. FOR THE LONGER RUN HE SUGGESTED, ALSO PERSONALLY, AN INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM, TO BE REQUESTED BY THE LEBANESE GOVERNMENT, THAT WOULD HELP IN REBUILDING THE LEBANESE ECONOMY AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE REESTABLISHMENT OF A LEBANESE SECURITY FORCE.
5. GEMAYEL AND FRANGIE WERE QUITE WILLING TO CONTRIBUTE THE PHALANGE TO A JOINT SECURITY FORCE, GEMAYEL SAYING THIS COULD BE DONE WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE SYRIAN- PALESTINIAN-LEBANESE COMMISSION ARRANGEMENT. FRANGIE WAS LESS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE FEASIBILITY OF THE FORCE. BOTH AGREED WITH THE IDEA OF A CONSORTIUM FOR THE LONGER RUN FUTURE. GEMAYEL MADE THE POINT THAT IT WOULD HAVE TO INCLUDE FORCES OF OTHER COUNTRIES AND EMPHASIZED THAT SYRIA WOULD HAVE TO BE INVOLVED IN THE PROCESS THROUGH- OUT. CHAMOUN, ON THE OTHER HAND, DID NOT REACT FAVORABLY TO THESE PERSONAL IDEAS OF BROWN’S. HE THOUGHT THAT SOME FORM OF CONFEDERATION WAS THE ONLY SOLUTION. BROWN TOLD HIM THAT IN HIS VIEW THE CONFEDERATION IDEA WAS NOT AN ACCEPTABLE ONE. CONFEDERATION AS CHAMOUN CONCEIVED IT MEANT ONLY PARTITION AND CONTINUING INSTABILITY, AND BROWN SAID HE BELIEVED THE LEBANESE CHRISTIANS WOULD HAVE TO FIND THEIR SECURITY IN OTHER WAYS.
6. IN BROWN’S FIRST MEETING WITH JUMBLATT, THE DRUSE LEADER DESCRIBED HIS OBJECTIVES IN TERMS THAT WOULD REQUIRE MAJOR CHANGES IN THE LEBANESE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SYSTEM, GOING FAR BEYOND THE ARRANGEMENT WORKED OUT WITH SYRIAN ASSISTANCE IN JANUARY. JUMBLATT ALSO DID NOT RULE OUT A RESUMPTION OF FIGHTING IF HE DID NOT GET THE REFORMS HE SOUGHT. BROWN TOLD HIM FORCE- FULLY THAT THE MAJOR CHANGES HE SOUGHT WERE UNREALISTIC IN CURRENT CIRCUMSTANCES AND WARNED HIM OF THE DANGERS IF THE CEASEFIRE WERE NOT MAINTAINED AND A POLITICAL SOLUTION WERE NOT RAPIDLY ACHIEVED. BROWN IS CONTINUING TO MEET WITH JUMBLATT AND WE WILL LET THE ISRAELIS KNOW ABOUT FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS.
7. THE SECRETARY WANTS ALLON TO KNOW THAT WE HAVE BEEN SECRET  CONTINUING TO PRESS THE SYRIANS NOT TO INTERVENE MILITARILY, WHILE INFORMING THEM OF OUR EFFORTS TO HELP BRING ABOUT A POLITICAL SOLUTION ALONG THE GENERAL LINES OF THE JANUARY SOLUTION. IT IS CUR IMPRESSION THAT THE SYRIANS HAVE TAKEN SERIOUSLY THE WARNINGS WE HAVE CONVEYED TO THEM ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF INTERVENTION, DESPITE THE OBVIOUS PRESSURES THEY FEEL TO INTRODUCE ORDER INTO THE SITUATION IN LEBANON, AND HAVE CONDUCTED THE LIMITED AUGMENTATIONS OF SYRIAN CONTROLLED FORCES IN A WAY MOST CALCULATED TO AVOID PRESENTING THE ISRAELIS WITH A SITUATION IN WHICH THEY MIG;T REACT. WE SHOULD ADD THAT IN HIS TALKS WITH THE LEBANESE LEADERS, SOME OF WHOM HAVE TOLD US OF THEIR HOPE FOR SYRIAN INTERVENTION, WE HAVE ALSO MADE CLEAR OUR OPPOSITION TO THIS COURSE OF ACTION.
8. THE SECRETARY WANTS TO NOTE IN THIS CONNECTION THE REPORT THAT ALLON HAS DOUBTLESS RECEIVED (WE INFORMED DINITZ AND SUBSEQUENTLY MINISTER BAR-ON IMMEDIATELY ON RECEIVING THE REPORTS FRIDAY MORNING) ABOUT THE MOVEMENT OF SYRIAN TROOPS ACROSS TO THE LEBANESE SIDE OF THE BORDER ALONG THE DAMASCUS-BEIRUT ROAD. THE NUMBER OF TROOPS INVOLVED IS VARIOUSLY REPORTED AS FROM 700 TO 2,000. ACCORDING TO REPORTS WE HAVE SEEN THEY ARE LIGHTLY ARMED. THEY APPEARED AS OF EARLY FRIDAY (WASHINGTON TIME) TO BE DIGGING IN NEAR THE CUSTOMS POST AT MASNA, AT THE FOOT OF THE HILLS ABOUT THREE KILOMETERS IN FROM THE FRONTIER ON THE LEBANESE SIDE, THOUGH SOME ELEMENTS WERE REPORTED TO BE MOVING ON ACROSS THE VALLEY. OUR INITIAL AND TENTATIVE INTERPRETATION OF THE MOVE IS THAT THE SYRIANS ARE CONDUCTING A SHOW OF FORCE BY TAKING CONTROL OF THE PASS AND APPROACH AREAS TO MAKE MORE CREDIBLE THE PRESSURE THEY WOULD LIKE TO MAINTAIN ON THE LEFTISTS BASED ON THE THREAT OF SYRIAN INTERVENTION.
9. FINALLY, THE SECRETARY WISHES ALLON TO KNOW THAT WE FEEL THE ISRAELI REACTIONS TO THE LEBANESE CRISIS, WITH THEIR RESTRAINT, HAVE CONTRIBUTED TOWARD CONTROLLING THE SITUATION. THIS IS IN THE INTERESTS OF BOTH OF US AND WE VERY MUCH HOPE ISRAELI ACTIONS WILL CONTINUE TO BE GUIDED
CHAMOUN
1976 April 13, 17:30 (Tuesday)
1976BEIRUT03288_b
SECRET
UNCLASSIFIED
1. IN PRIVATE TALKMONDAY WITH CHAMOUN I MOVED HIM BACK FROM THE PRECIPICE. I TOLD HIM MODERN WORLD IS MOVING TOWARDS INTERDEPENDENCE AND THAT HIS PARTITION PROPOSALS WOULD ONLY RESULT IN CREATION OF SMALL, NON-VIABLE STATES WITHOUT ANY SOLID BASE FOR INDUSTRIAL/ FINANCIAL/ENTREPOT DEVELOPMENT,HE SHOULD BE LOOKING MORE INTO FUTURE AND TOWARDS EVENTUAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG GENERATIONS.
2. HE FINALLY SAID HE WOULD OPERATE WITHIN LEGAL/ CONSTITUTITDL FRAMEWORK TO SEE IF HIS PEOPLE’S RIGHTS COULD BE SAFEGUARDED IN WHAT WILL BE TIME OF CHANGE. HE WOULD GIVE SYSTEM THREE-FIVE YEARS TO PROVE IT COULD WORK.
3. THIS IS SOME SLIGHT PROGRESS ON AN ISSUE WHICH DOES NOT LOOM LARGE AT THIS MOMENT, GIVEN ALL THE OTHER PROBLEMS,BUT WHICH REMAINS VERY MUCH IN THE MIND OF THE MARONITES.
BROWN
SECRET
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MEETING WITH FRANGIE – SAYS HE WILL SIGN
1976 April 23, 15:15 (Friday)
1976BEIRUT03656_b
CONFIDENTIAL
UNCLASSIFIED
1. AMBASSADOR BROWN SPOKE WITH FRANGIE FOR AN HOUR AND A HALF APRIL 23RD IN JOUNIEH BEFORE RETURNING TO BEIRUT AIRPORT BY HELICOPTER AND TAKING PLANE TO LONDON. DURING LAST HALF HOUR PARTY WAS JOINED BY CHAMOUN. GEMAYEL UNFORTUNATELY COULD NOT MAKE IT.
2. AMBASSADOR REVIEWED WITH FRANGIE ALL THE ELEMENTS CONTAINED IN HIS INSTRUCTIONS SUPPORTING IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT WITHOUT DELAY. HE PLACED PARTICULAR EMPHASIS ON OUR INTEREST IN THE WELL BEING OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. AT FIRST FRANGIE WAS ADAMANT, CLAIMING THAT THE SECURITY CONDITIONS ON WHICH THE AMENDMENT WAS IN PART BASED DID NOT PREVAIL. AMBASSADOR THEN TACKLED THIS “VICIOUS CIRCLE” ARGUMENT AND FINALLY GOT FRANGIE TO AGREE TO SIGN THE AMENDMENT. HOWEVER, AS APRIL 23RD WAS A HOLIDAY, FRANGIE SAID HE WOULD DELAY HIS SIGNATURE UNTIL THE FOLLOWING DAY. (NOT CLEAR WHETHER FRANGIE WAS REFERRING TO GREEK ORTHODOX GOOD FRIDAY OR TO THE FACT THAT THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WORK AFTER 1100 HOURS ON FRIDAY IN DEFERENCE TO THE MOSLEMS.)
3. FRANGIE HAS SAID BEFORE HE WOULD SIGN BUT HAS BACKED DOWN. HE IS MEETING WITH MARONITES THIS AFTERNOON. THEY MAY PERSUADE HIM NOT TO SIGN, BUT OUR READING IS THAT THE MAJORITY ARE IN FAVOR OF SIGNATURE.
4. IF THE AMBASSADOR WON ON THE SIGNATURE, IT WAS NOT A COMPLETE VICTORY. FRANGIE WENT ON TO SAY THAT, EVEN IF A NEW PRESIDENT WAS ELECTED, HE WOULD NOT RESIGN IF ADEQUATE SECURITY CONDITIONS DID NOT EXIST. BUT THIS IS A BRIDGE WE CAN CROSS WHEN WE GET TO IT.
5. CHAMOUN’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE CONVERSATION WAS TO START OFF ON THE NECESSITY OF ESTABLISHING A SEPARATE STATE. AFTER A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF TALKING TO, THE AMBASSADOR FINALLY GOT CHAMOUN MOVED TO WHAT APPEARS TO BE HIS STANDARD FALL-BACK POSITION, NAMELY THAT HE WOULD HOLD OFF A FEW YEARS TO GIVE THE PRESENT GOVERNMENT A CHANCE.
WARING
CONFIDENTIAL
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MEETING WITH CHRISTIAN LEADERS
1976 May 6, 17:15 (Thursday)
1976BEIRUT04055_b
SECRET
UNCLASSIFIED
1. FOLLOWING MY MEETING WITH PRESIDENT FRANGIE ON MAY 6TH I HAD A GENERAL MEETING WITH CHRISTIAN LEADERS, WHEN FRANGIE WAS JOINED BY CHAMOUN, GEMAYEL AND FATHER KASSIS. I WENT OVER THE SAME GROUND JUST COVERED WITH FRANGIE AND AGAIN ELICITED GENERAL DISSATISFACTION THAT WE HAD NO SPECIFIC PLAN AND WERE ALLEGEDLY BLOCKING SYRIA FROM PROVIDING THE SECURITY NEEDED FOR THE COUNTRY’S CONTINUED EXISTENCE.
2. CHAMOUN BEGAN THE DISCUSSION BY NOTING THAT LEBANESE DIFFICULTIES COULD BE ATTRIBUTED MAINLY TO THE PALES- TINIANS. HE WAS PLEASED THAT I HAD CONCEDED THAT THE PALESTINIAN PRESENCE HAD CONTRIBUTED TO THE LOCAL DIFFICULTIES. THE CHRISTIANS IN LEBANON HAD BEEN ATTACKED. THEIR VERY EXISTENCE HAD BEEN THREATENED. THEY WERE PREPARED TO FIGHT ON IF NECESSARY. THE COMMUNISTS HAVE BEEN FISHING IN TROUBLED WATERS AND HAD AGGRAVATED THE SITUATION. OTHER COUNTRIES HAD BEEN THREATENED AND THE UNITED NATIONS INTERVENED. IT WAS INEXCUSABLE THAT THE UNITED NATIONS NOT INTERVENE IN THE PRESENT SITUATION IN LEBANON. LEBANON WAS GOING UP IN FLAMES WHILE THE WESTERN CIVILIZED WORLD WAS SITTING ON ITS HANDS. THERE WOULD BE NO SOLUTION IN LEBANON UNTIL A MIDDLE EAST SETTLEMENT WAS REACHED. THIS WAS DELAYED NOT ONLY BY THE ELECTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES BUT ALSO BY THE ISRAELI ELECTIONS THE FOLLOWING YEAR. INTERESTINGLY ENOUGH, ALTHOUGH CHAMOUN STRESSED THE NECESSITY OF GETTING THE UNITED NATIONS INTO THE ACT, HE LATER REMARKED THAT NO LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER (ALWAYS A MOSLEM) WOULD ASK THE UNITED NATIONS TO INTERVENE.
3. PIERRE GEYMAYEL THEN EXPRESSED HIS GRAVE DISCOURAGEMENT. HE TOO SAW CONSIDERABLE COMMUNIST ACTIVITY IN LEBANON AIMED AT DESTROYING THE COUNTRY. ON THE OTHER HAND, MOST OF THE PROBLEMS COULD BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE PALESTINIANS. HE DID NOT WISH TO LECTURE THE WESTERN COUNTRIES BUT HE WANTED TO POINT OUT THAT SECURITY IN LEBANON WAS THE MAJOR ISSUE. WITHOUT SECURITY THERE WAS NO POINT IN DISCUSSING RECONSTRUCTION. ATTEMPTS HAD BEEN MADE TO INTEREST THE UNITED NATIONS IN LEBANON BUT THESE WERE UNSUCCESS- FUL. SYRIA, HOWEVER, WAS PREPARED TO PROVIDE THE SECURITY THAT THE UNITED NATIONS WAS UNABLE TO PROVIDE. FOR TWENTY YEARS HIS PARTY HAD BEEN ACTIVELY OPPOSED TO SYRIA. HE WAS NOW CONVINCED OF SYRIAN GOOD INTEN- TIONS. IN ANY EVENT, LEBANON HAD NO ONE ELSE TO TURN TO SO THEY HAD TO COUNT ON THE SYRIANS AND WERE PREPARED TO DO SO. UNFORTUNATELY, THE UNITED STATES, WHILE NOT IN A POSITION TO PROVIDE DIRECT ASSISTANCE IN THE SECURITY FIELD, WAS ALSO PREVENTING SYRIA FROM DOING SO. HE APPEALED TO THE UNITED STATES TO GIVE THE GREEN LIGHT TO SYRIA. REFERRING TO THE PRESENT DELAYS IN THE ELECTION OF THE PRESIDENT, GEMAYEL RECALLED THAT HE HAD STRONGLY URGED PRESIDENT FRANGIE NOT TO CONTRIBUTE TO DELAYS AND TO SIGN THE AMENDMENT ALLOWING FOR NEW PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS. IN LIGHT OF WHAT HAD TRANSPIRED SINCE THEN HE FELT ASHAMED.
4. FATHER KASSIS THEN MADE COMMENTS OF HIS OWN. START- ING OUT BY NOTING THAT HE WAS SPEAKING IN THE NAME OF THE CHURCH, HE SAID THAT ONE HAD TO LIVE BEFORE ONE COULD PHILOSOPHIZE. HE THOUGHT THAT LEBANON HAD PERHAPS CHOSEN THE WRONG FRIENDS. IT WAS PREFERABLE TO BE A LIVE COMMUNIST THAN A DEAD DEMOCRAT. THE SOVIET UNION HAD COME TO THE AID OF THOSE WHO SOUGHT ITS HELP IN ANGOLA. PERHAPS THE TIME HAD COME FOR THE LEBANESE CHRISTIANS TO SEEK THE AID OF THE SOVIET UNION AND BECOME A COMMUNIST STATE. INDEED, LEBANON COULD NOT ONLY BECOME A COMMUNIST STATE, BUT IT COULD ALSO HELP SPREAD SOVIET DOCTRINE IN THE AREA. KASSIS’ STATEMENT WAS SO STRONG THAT EVEN PRESIDENT FRANGIE INTERVENED TO SAY THAT HE DID NOT SHARE THESE VIEWS. ON THE OTHER HAND, KASSIS, WHETHER WANTING TO EXPRESS HIS GENUINE FEELINGS OR MERELY DESIRING TO GET BACK INTO THE GOOD GRACES OF HIS AUDIENCE, REMARKED THAT HE HAD IN MIND SEEKING SOVIET ASSISTANCE IN THE SAME WAY THE EGYPTIANS HAD SOUGHT IT. ONCE ORDER WAS RESTORED, LEBANON COULD THROW THE SOVIETS OUT IN THE SAME WAY THAT THE EGYPTIANS HAD DONE SO.
5. AT THE END OF THE MEETING LUCIEN DAHDAH TRIED TO MAKE SOME SUMMARIES. AS HE SAW THE SITUATION, THREE ALTERNATIVES WERE POSSIBLE. THE FIRST ALTERNATIVE INVOLVED SOME SORT OF SYRIAN-U.S. AGREEMENT. THIS COULD BE FOLLOWED BY A U.S.-USSR AGREEMENT GUARANTEEING THE EXISTENCE OF THE PALESTINIANS IN LEBANON UNTIL IT WAS POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO HAVE A STATE OF THEIR OWN, WHICH EACH FAVORED. A FOUR COUNTRY CONSORTIUM COULD BE PUT TOGETHER TO ASSURE THE RECONSTRUCTION OF LEBANON. THE SECOND ALTERNATIVE WOULD INVOLVE A SITUATION WHERE LEBANON WOULD HAVE TO GO IT ON ITS OWN WITH THE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF OUTSIDE ASSISTANCE. THIS WOULD INVOLVE ELECTING A PRESIDENT AND TRYING TO PROVIDING SUFFICIENT SECURITY FOR A GOVERNMENT TO BE FORMED AND THE COUNTRY TO GET BACK ON THE ROAD TO RESTORATION. THE THIRD ALTERNATIVE WOULD BE PARTITION.
6. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT, WHILE I HAD MADE ARRANGE- MENTS TO SPEAK TO EACH OF THE PRINCIPAL CHRISTIAN LEADERS SEPARATELY, THESE ARRANGEMENTS WERE IGNORED, SO THAT I ENDED UP SPEAKING TO THE GROUP TOGETHER. THIS WAS PROBABLY AS A RESULT OF A LITTLE SKULL- DUDGERY ON THE PART OF LUCIEN DAHDAH. IN COLLABORATION WITH FRANGIE. I DID HAVE A PARTICULAR MESSAGE TO DELIVER TO PIERRE GEMAYEL ON DIALOGUE AND WAS AT LEAST ABLE TO DO THAT AS THE RESULT OF A MINUTE OR TWO WITH GEMAYEL ALONE AFTER THE MEETING (SEE SEPTEL.) BROWN
SECRET
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MEETING WITH PRESIDENT FRANGIE
1976 May 6, 17:35 (Thursday)
1976BEIRUT04060_b
SECRET
UNCLASSIFIED
— N/A or Blank —
ACTION NODS
Electronic Telegrams
1. MET WITH PRESIDENT FRANGIE MORNING OF MAY 6TH. HIS ADVISER LUCIEN DAHDAH WAS PRESENT.
2. REPORTED TO FRANGIE ON MY MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT AND CONVEYED TO HIM THE PRESIDENT’S INTEREST IN LEBANON. POINTED OUT THE PRESIDENT HAD ALREADY GIVEN HIS APPROVAL TO A MEASURE AIMED AT PROVIDING 20 MILLION DOLLARS AS AN INITIAL CONTRIBUTION OF AID FOR LEBANON.
3. FRANGIE, LIKE OTHER LEBANESE OFFICIALS WITH WHOM I SPOKE, WAS DISAPPOINTED THAT I HAD NOT RETURNED WITH SOME SORT OF CLEAR-CUT PLAN THAT WOULD SOLVE ALL HIS COUNTRY’S PROBLEMS. HE THEN RAISED THE QUESTION OF A CONSORTIUM FOR LEBANON IN WHICH SYRIA WOULD PARTICIPATE AND BE RESPONSIBLE FOR SECURITY MATTERS. THE SYRIANS HAD INFORMED HIM, HE SAID, THAT THEY WERE PREPARED TO FULFILL THIS ROLE. THEY WERE DESIROUS, HOWEVER, OF RECEIVING SOME SORT OF INDICATION FROM THE UNITED STATES THAT THE U.S. CONCURRED IN THIS ROLE.
4. I POINTED OUT TO FRANGIE THAT WE WERE VERY MUCH INTERESTED IN THE RECONSTRUCTION OF THE COUNTRY AND APPROVED IN PRINCIPLE THE IDEA OF A CONSORTIUM. WITH RESPECT TO THE SYRIAN ROLE IN THE FIELD OF SECURITY, HOWEVER, THIS WAS SOMETHING THAT COULD ONLY BE DECIDED WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE VIEWS OF NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES SUCH AS ISRAEL AND OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES, AS WELL AS THE PARTIES WITHIN LEBANON.
5. GENERALLY SPEAKING, FRANGIE LIMITED HIS REMARKS TO SECURITY. HE INSISTED ON THE FACT THAT SECURITY WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE AND THAT HE DID NOT SEE HOW THIS COULD BE PROVIDED WITHOUT THE ASSISTANCE OF THE SYRIANS. THE ROLE THE PALESTINIANS COULD PLAY IN THE FIELD OF SECURITY WAS HIGHLY DUBIOUS. IN THE PAST THE PALESTINIANS HAD BEEN THE AGRESSORS AND THERE WERE NO ASSURANCES THAT THEY WOULD NOT ASSUME THIS ROLE AGAIN. LIBYA AND IRAQ WERE CONSTANTLY CAUSING TROUBLE. UNLESS THE UNITED STATES WITHDREW ITS OBJECTIONS TO SYRIAN INTERVENTION, THE ONLY SOLUTION WAS PARTITION.
6. I REITEREATED TO FRANGIE THE PROBLEMS CONNECTED WITH SYRIAN MILITARY INTERVENTION WITHIN CONTEXT OF POSSIBLE ISRAELI REACTION AND I REVIEWED THE ARGUMENTS AGAINST PARTITION.
7. THE MEETING ENDED WITH THE ARRIVAL OF CHAMOUN, GEMAYEL AND FATHER KASSIS. IT WAS EVIDENT BY THAT TIME THAT FRANGIE WAS DISAPPOINTED THAT THE U.S. POSITION DID NOT CALL FOR ADEQUATE SECURITY MEASURES FOR HIS COUNTRY WHILE AT THE SAME TIME, IN HIS OPINION, PREVENTED SYRIA FROM PROVIDING THIS.
8. COMMENT: FRANGIE LIKE OTHER OLD-TIME MARONITE LEADERS WANTS A MAGIC SOLUTION. THEY WANT THE U.S. TO IMPOSE IT AND CANNOT RECONCILE THEMSELVES TO THE FACT THAT 1976 IS NOT REPEAT NOT 1958. THEY HAVE SOMEHOW CONVINCED THEMSELVES THAT OUR CONCERN THAT THEY REMAIN STRONG IN ORDER TO NEGOTIATE TRANSLATES, OR CAN BE MADE TO TRANSLATE, INTO IRONCLAD GUARANTEES FOR THEIR FUTURE. THUS, NO DETAILED PROGRAM ELABORATELY SPELLED OUT, EVEN BEFORE THERE IS ANY SORT OF CENTRAL GOVERNMENT WITH WHOM WE MIGHT WORK, IS A GRAVE DISAPPOINTMENT TO THEM. IT COULD BE, AS WELL, IN INCENTIVE TO THEM TO DO THE BEST POSSIBLE UNDER THE EXISTING POLITICAL SYSTEM AND NOT REPEAT NOT COUNT ON THAT MAGIC. BROWN
SECRET
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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)
1975BEIRUT04830_b
SECRET
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
SECRET SECRET PAGE 02 BEIRUT 04830 01 OF 02 151513Z
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
SECRET SECRET PAGE 03 BEIRUT 04830 01 OF 02 151513Z
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.
SECRET NNN SECRET PAGE 01 BEIRUT 04830 02 OF 02 151521Z 44-S ACTION NEA-09 INFO OCT-01 EUR-12 ISO-00 NEAE-00 SSO-00 NSCE-00 INRE-00 CIAE-00 INR-07 NSAE-00 DODE-00 IO-10 SP-02 SAM-01 PRS-01 SCCT-01 SY-05 OC-05 CCO-00 SS-15 NSC-05 /074 W ——————— 016602 O 151420Z APR 75 FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3888 INFO AMEMBASSY AMMAN IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY ANKARA IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY ATHENS IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY CAIRO IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY ROME IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY TEHRAN IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV IMMEDIATE USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GER IMMEDIATE S E C R E T SECTION 2 OF 2 BEIRUT 4830
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.
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PRIME MINISTER KARAME OUTLINES POLICY HOPES
1975 July 29, 09:00 (Tuesday)
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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.
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MARONITES AND PLO
1976 April 4, 17:05 (Sunday)
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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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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
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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.
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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
SECRET SECRET PAGE 04 BEIRUT 07786 021304Z
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

CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 BEIRUT 05568 151427 Z
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
CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 BEIRUT 05568 151427 Z
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
– CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 BEIRUT 12035 031805Z
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.
GODLEY
CONFIDENTIAL
NNN
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
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE LIMITED OFFICIAL USE PAGE 02 BEIRUT 12187 080659Z
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.
GODLEY
LIMITED OFFICIAL USE
NNN

How Lebanon Inspired The Syrian Civil War

Beirut's Green Line

Beirut’s Green Line

Lebanon looked at the Syrian border with disgust this week, as the jihadi militants who once overran the town of Arsal in August executed one of the Lebanese soldiers that were taken hostage.

Since the civil war began in Syria, Lebanon was amazed how a simple conflict can so quickly turn into a sectarian one, forgetting that one of the most brutal sectarian wars had happened on the streets of Beirut 40 years ago.

Lebanon was amazed how easy calls for partition can be well received, forgetting that in 1975, one of Lebanon’s founding fathers ironically called for separatism.

Lebanon was amazed how quickly a sectarian state within a state could emerge from the rubble of war and how organized it could become, forgetting for a while here about moments like this one in the Lebanese civil war.

Lebanon was amazed when the Syrian militants started taking foreign journalists, photographers and aid workers as hostages, forgetting for a while here about our numerous hostage crises in the 1980s. Lebanon was also amazed  when the Syrians militants mistreated those hostages and started the executions of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, forgetting for a while here about names such as Michel Seurat and Arkady Katkov.

Lebanon was amazed how both sides of the conflict looted multiple heritage sites and souks in Syria, forgetting for a while here how the Lebanese militias’ first most admirable achievement (and yes, that’s sarcastic) was the looting and destruction of hundreds of years of rich history in Beirut. Yes, there were days when Lebanon had actual, historic Souks, you know.

Lebanon was amazed how both sides of the conflict were destroying Syria’s infrastructure. And yet the very first thing a Lebanese will tell you about the Lebanese civil war is some battle involving hotels. Each side will tell you how heroic that battle was, and everyone will skip the part where the Hotel district, the symbol of Lebanon’s once touristic era, was reduced to rubble.

Lebanon was amazed how both the Syrian sides of the conflict are waging a war of attrition and besieging cities and starving their cities to death. As if Zahle wasn’t besieged. As if Beirut wasn’t besieged.

Lebanon was amazed how foreign fighters and Europeans and Lebanese have now active roles on the battlefield in Syria. As if the Syrians never entered Lebanon in 1976, or the Israelis in 1978, or the Americans and Italians and French in 1982. As if the Palestinians never carried weapons, and as if the Lebanese never hired non-Lebanese mercenaries.

Lebanon was amazed how Syrian members of the same “coalition” or sect could turn on each other’s back in their quest to power. As if the war of the camps never happened. As if the Aoun-Geagea wars never happened. As if the Amal-Hezbollah infighting never happened.

But here, lies the most disgusting of all ironies. Lebanon was amazed how Syrians could kill each other and commit massacres for the simple reason of belonging to a certain tribe or religious group. As if Lebanon wasn’t the country that innovated the concept of killing based on the citizen’s sect (ذبح عالهوية). As if the black Saturday hadn’t happened. As if one of the biggest massacres (Sabra and Chatila) that had ever happened since the Nazi era, was never committed in Beirut.  As if Karantina and Damour never happened.

As if 1975 hadn’t happened. As if 1976 hadn’t happened. As if 1977 hadn’t happened. As if 1978 hadn’t happened. As if 1979 hadn’t happened. As if 1980 hadn’t happened. As if 1981 hadn’t happened. As if 1982 hadn’t happened. As if 1983 hadn’t happened. As if 1984 hadn’t happened. As if 1985 hadn’t happened. As if 1986 hadn’t happened. As if 1987 hadn’t happened. As if 1988 hadn’t happened. As if 1989 hadn’t happened. As if 1990 hadn’t happened. As if 1975 hadn’t happened.

Why are you amazed, Lebanon?

Let me reformulate here.

How can you be amazed , Lebanon?

How can you be amazed, and not be a hypocrite?

There is no generation gap here. A big number of the Lebanese politicians/citizens that once fought the civil war in their twenties are the same ones, now in their forties, or fifties, or sixties, criticizing the brutality of the Syrian Civil War.

There is no possible way to describe the hypocrisy of the Lebanese. If you want to blame anyone, do not blame the terrorists or the tyranny. Do not blame the terrorists or the tyranny. Do not blame the terrorists or the tyranny.

Blame the terrorists or the tyranny you inspired.

Most Lebanese, directly blame Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey or Russia for everything that’s happening in Syria. It doesn’t matter. The inspiration, the ideas, they come from the 1980’s. They come from Beirut.

Perhaps Gold, diamonds, and Jewellery aren’t Lebanon’s top exports.

Perhaps after all, sectarian brutal civil wars are Lebanon’s top export.

Here’s a small message to the neighbors next door: You know those people who are destroying your country? There will come a day when they will all rule you, via a consensual dictatorship, and tell you that you’re in a beautiful democratic republic.

And – for a reason no one could ever understand – you’ll be happy about it, and amazed at the brutality of another civil war next door.

Lebanon In The Valley Of Despair – Wikileaks And The Lebanese Civil War

WikiLeaks

“Lebanon in the valley of despair” is the name of a U.S. diplomatic cable dating from 1975.  The best way to commemorate the civil war is by remembering its brutality and the failure of the peace negotiations. I hereby leave you with some parts  of the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables of 1975-1976.

1975 March 6 – The Very Beginning

TENSIONS GENERATED THROUGHOUT LEBANON OVER PAST
WEEK BY CLASHES BETWEEN LEBANESE ARMY AND “ARMED
ELEMENTS” IN SIDON (REFTELS) HAD BEGUN TO LESSEN
PERCEPTIBLY LATE MAR 5, FOLLOWING COUNTRY-WIDE MANIFES-
ATIONS BY CITIZENS (MOSTLY CHRISTIANS BUT SOME SHI’A)
DEMONSTRATING IN SUPPORT OF ARMY AND GOL. DEMONSTRATIONS
WENT OFF MORE OR LESS PEACEFULLY, WITH ONLY ONE PERSON
REPORTED KILLED (ACCIDENTALLY BY STRAY BULLET).

(see full text here)

1975 September 26 – Dialogue

LEBANON HAS WAGERED MUCH ON A SINGLE CAST OF THE DICE WITH
THE FORMATION OF THE 20 MAN “COMMITTEE OF NATIONAL DIALOGUE”
(REFTEL). AN EXAMINATION OF PREVIOUS ROUNDS THIS YEAR WILL
SHOW THAT TEMPORARY OF A SIDE ISSUE WHICH HAD ASSUMED CENTRAL
IMPORTANCE IN THE COURSE OF THE FIGHTING. ROUND ONE WAS BROUGHT
TO VMA CLOSE BY GEMAYEL’S AGREEMENT TO TURN OVER FOR QUESTIONING
SEVERAL INDIVIDUALS ACCUSED OF COMPLICITY IN SO-CALLED AIN
RUMMANEH “MASSACRE” OF APRIL 14. ROUND TWO TAPERES OFF FOLLOWING
THE RESIGNATION OF THE MILITARY CABINET WHICH ASSUMED POWER
ONLY AFTER RPT AFTER THAT ROUND BEGAN; AND ROUND THREE ENDED
WITH NAMING OF KARAME CABINET. FOLLOWING SUCCESSION OF ABORTIVE
CEASEFIRE, LEBABESE, WITH ASSISTANCE OF SYRIANS, HAVE SETTLED
UPON DIALOGUE COMMITTEE AS DEVICE FOR HOPEFULLY BRINGING RELIEF
FROM STRIFE WHICH HAS BROUGH THIS COUNTRY AS NEAR TO NATIONAL
COLLAPSE AS ANY DEVELOPMENT IN ITS TROUBLED HISTORY.

(see full text here)

1975 November 1 – Clashes

AT TIME OF DRAFTING THIS CABLE, CLASHES IN MAIN
HOTEL DISTRICT ADJACENT TO EMBASSY CONTINUE. SMALL ARMS FIRE
IS HEARD, PUNCTUATED OCCASIONALLY BY EXPLOSIONS. ELSEWHERE
IN CITY, SECURITY SITUATION
DETERIORATED AFTERNOON OCTOBER 31 AND HEAVY FIGHTING
WAS REPORTED OVERNIGHT. IN ADDITION TO HOTEL
DISTRICT, SHIA/AIN RUMANNEH/FURN ASH SHURBAH
COMPLEX BROKE DOWN BEGINNING APPROX 1300 HOURS
YESTERDAY. CLASHES THERE OVERNIGHT WERE REPORTEDLY
AS BAD AS ANY PREVIOUSLY EXPERIENCED AND CASUALTIES
IN THAT SECTOR ALONE WERE ALLEGED TO BE BETWEEN 40
AND 100 DEAD. AS OF MID-MORNING TODAY, ONLY MACHINE
GUN EXCHANGES WERE REPORTED BETWEEN SHIAH AND AIN
RUMMANEH, BUT WE HAVE NO MORE RECENT INFORMATION.
EXCHANGES OF UNDETERMINED FEROCITY WERE EXPERIENCED
OVERNIGHT ALONG CENTRAL AXIS PARALLELING BESHARA
AL-KHOURY STREET (I.E., SODOCE, RAS AN NABEH, NASRA,
WESTERN ASHRAFIYAH, ETC.); BETWEEN QARANTIANA AND
NORTHERN ASHRAFIYAH; AND BETWEEN SUBURBS OF HADATH AND LAYLAKI.

IN SUMMARY, DESPITE PERSISTING EFFORTS
TO IMPOSE A CEASE-FIRE, WE NOW BACK TO SQUARE MINUS
ONE ON SECURITY SCENE.

(see full text here)

1975 November 6 – Another Day Of Calm

1. SUMMARY: LIKE A BOXER PUNCH-DRUNK FROM FOUR GRUELING
ROUNDS OF PUNISHMENT, BKEIRUT CONTINUES NOV 6 TO RISE FROM THE
CANVAS; THE LEGS ARE WOBBLY, THE VISION BLURRED. THERE ARE
RISING HOPES BUT AS YET LITTLE CONFIDENCE, THAT THE CITY WILL
NOT HAVE TO ANSWER THE BELL FOR ROUND 5. END SUMMARY.

2. BEIRUT AND MOST OF LEBANON ENJOYING ANOTHER DAY OF CALM
NOV6, WITH ONLY RARE BURSTS OF MACHINEGUN FIRE TO MAR THE
FAMILIAR CIVILIAN NOISE POLLUTION OF HAMRA AND OTHER REAWAKEN-
ING COMMERCIAL DISTRICTS. TWO ROCKETS WERE FIRED INTO
ASHRAFIYEH OVERNIGHT, BUT GENERAL ABSENCE OF BACKGROUND
EXPLOSIONS ALMOST EERIE. DESPITE CALM, LEBANESE VENTURING
OUT IN FALL FINERY WEAR A WARY EXPRESSION AND COMPETENT
OBSERVERS ARE NOT RPT NOT PREPARED TO DECLARE PEACE IN OUR
TIME. SOME, IN FACT, ARE PREDICITING A RETURN TO ARMS AS EARLY
AS NEXT MONDAY. TRIPOLI REPORTEDLY IS TENSE FOLLOWING DISCO-
VERY OF UNIDENTIFIED BODY, BUT WAVE OF KIDNAPPING IN BEIRUT IS
APPARENTLY FINISHED AS OF THIS REPORT.

(see full text here)

1975 December 18 – Dialogue Is Failing

SAEB SALAM AND KAMAL JUMBLATT SEPARATELY ISSUED CALLS
FOR THE RESIGNATION OF FRANGIE AND MININT CHAMOUN, THOUGH
IT MUST BE SOURCE OF EMBARRASSMENT TO TWO MEN OF SUCH
DIFFERENT TEMPERAMENT AND PHILOSOPHY THAT THEY AGREE ON
THIS QUESTION.

(see full text here)

1976 January 14 – The Battle For Beirut Continues

SUMMARY: THE BATTLE OF BEIRUT AND SUBURBS CONTINUES.
TRIPOLI AND ZAHLE AREAS ALSO REPORTED TO BE HOT.
MARONITE MEETING JAN 13 RESULTED IN HARD POSITION ON ISSUE
OF PALESTINIAN PRESENCE BUT A HINT OF FLEXIBILITY OF INTERNAL
POLITICAL REFORMS. PRES FRANGIE IS CONTINUING CONSULTA-
TIONS AMONG CHRISTIAN LEADERS PRIOR TO MEETING WITH
SYRIAN PRES ASAD. THIS MEETING IS STILL PROJECTED FOR
JAN 17. END SUMMARY

2. EXCEPT FOR BRIEF BREATHING SPELL FOR THE BATTLE OF BEIRUT
AND SUBURBS HAS CONTINUED. FIGHTING IN AND AROUND TEL
ZAATAR, THE NORTHERN BRIDGES OVER BEIRUT RIVER, AND THE
HOTEL DISTRICT FIGURES MOST PROMINENTLY. TEL ZAATAR AND
JISR EL PACHA APPEAR TO BE HOLDING OUT WITH LITTLE SIGN THAT
PHALANGISTS HAVE MADE MUCH PROGRESS IN THEIR AREAS.  ONE

REPORT STATES THAT JISR EL PACHA HAS BEEN EVACUATED.THIS
IS NOT CONFIRMED BUT PHALANGISTS MAY HAVE TIGHTENED THEIR
HOLD ON THE CAMP. NUMBEROUS ATTEMPTS BY PALESTINIANS
AND THEIR ALLIES TO FORCE THEIR WAY FROM CHIAH PAST HAZMIEH
HAVE FAILED SO FAR, BUT HAVE SERVED TO KEEP THE POT BOILING
FROM FURN EL CHEBBAK THROUGH HADATH-LEIGLCPAM PHALANGISTS
PERSIST IN THEIR EFFORTS TO BRING THE WAR HOME TO TARIK
JADIDE AND MAZRAA BY SHELLING, WHICH HAS RESULTED IN A
GROWING NUMBER OF CASUALTIES.

(see full text here)

1976 April 4 – Syria’s Asad becomes a Crusader

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.

(see full text here)

Some events are very similar to what happened in the past few months:

“TRIPOLI REPORTEDLY IS TENSE”, “LEBANESE HAVE SETTLED UPON DIALOGUE COMMITTEE”, “BRING THE WAR TO TARIK
JADIDE”, “WAVE OF KIDNAPPING IN BEIRUT IS APPARENTLY FINISHED AS OF THIS REPORT”.

Ironically, a wave of kidnapping is also apparently finished as of this post.

 Sad.