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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BEIRUT2685 2006-08-17 13:14:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

LAF DEPLOYMENT PLAYING INTO HIZBALLAH'S PLAN

Tags:   IS LE MOPS PREL PTER SY 
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VZCZCXRO3149
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHLB #2685/01 2291314
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 171314Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5121
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0110
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 002685 

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/SINGH/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/16/2016
TAGS: IS LE MOPS PREL PTER SY
SUBJECT: LAF DEPLOYMENT PLAYING INTO HIZBALLAH'S PLAN




1. (C/NF) SUMMARY: On August 17, Ambassador and emboff met
with Minister of Public Works and Transportation Mohammed
Safadi. Safadi (a Sunni from Tripoli and a member of the
March 14 coalition) argued that the deployment of LAF is not
in the interest of GOL and plays into the hands of Hizballah.
By sending 15,000 troops to the south the "protection,"
although perhaps only imagined, of the demarcation line
between Hizballah and non-Hizballah Lebanon is gone. The
GOL will be under political and some military attack from
Hizballah as it tries to expose the weakness of both LAF and
GOL. The Israelis will now have an address -- a GOL address
-- to attack, when Hizballah launches a strike against
Israeli positions. However, he assures that the March 14th
alliance will not let Hizballah take over Lebanon. END
SUMMARY



2. (C/NF) Safadi described the August 16 cabinet meeting as a
reflection on existing Lebanese shortcomings, particularly
the GOL's inability to properly communicate before the war.
He criticized his own March 14th alliance's lack of
consultancy and coordination, adding that even after the war
they were not prepared for yesterday's cabinet meeting.
Safadi said that he entered this most important cabinet
meeting with no idea what his own March 14 coalition's
position was regarding LAF deployment. He asked, if this
group cannot communicate properly, then how can the entire
government be expected to do so. He indicated that GOL's
lack of real communication -- a product both of the desire to
avoid perhaps debilitating conflict as well as of
traditionally dysfunctional systems -- was one of the
contributing factors to the conflict.

GOL Will Take
the Blame


--------------------------





3. (C/NF) Now GOL finds itself in a predicament. In the eyes
of Israel and the international community GOL is now
responsible for everything that happens on Lebanese soil,
including the actions of Hizballah. The deployment of LAF to
the south means that any conflict will be between GOI and GOL
and not GOI and Hizballah. Simultaneously Hizballah will
continue to be a threat because of its arms. An
"understanding" was reached that any exposed weapons can be
confiscated by LAF. While a Hizballah concession meant that
there are no longer "no-go" areas in the south, in practice
the LAF will need a search warrant to search warehouses,
homes, etc. for concealed weapons. The warrant can take a
day, week, or month to be issued. Safadi wants the LAF to
have the right to make searches without warrants. This will
be an issue raised at Parliament, he vowed.

LAF in South Suits
Hizballah


--------------------------





4. (C/NF) Safadi argued that the deployment of the LAF to the
south is not in the interest of GOL and plays into the hands
of Hizballah. The deployment to the south exposes LAF and
the rest of Lebanon. He argues that prior to their
deployment to the south, the LAF was informally seen as
protecting the demarcation line between east and west Beirut,
and the Hizballah and non-Hizballah trends of Lebanon more
generally. The LAF was considered by non-Shia as the last
line between them and possible Hizballah attack domestically.
By sending 15,000 troops to the south this "protection,"
although perhaps only imagined by Lebanon's non-Hizballah
population, is gone. With the LAF strength shifted
southward, the Sunnis, Christians, and Druse feel much more
exposed to Hizballah, at the same time as Hizballah and its
allies seem determined to launch some kind of coup d'etat.

Hizballah's New War


--------------------------





5. (C/NF) Safadi assures that both Hizballah and Israel will
uphold the cessation of hostilites in UNSCR 1701 -- for the
time being. However, the challenge now will be for GOL to
withstand the political attacks of Hizballah, withQinor
military attacks playing a supporting role. He believes that
the GOL will be under constant political attack from
Hizballah as it tries to weaken and ultimately dismantle the
current government to ensure a new pro-Hizballah government.
Eventually, Hizballah will try to embarrass the GOL by
performing small military operations in the south that expose
the weakness of both LAF and GOL. Israel will then attack

BEIRUT 00002685 002 OF 002


GOL installations, further weakening the state.



6. (C/NF) Hizballah's new war, he warns, will be to "get rid
of the government." However, in a stern voice he assured
that the Sunni, Christians, and Druze will not "stand by and
watch Hizballah take over the country." A letter is
currently being drafted to Parliament requesting that LAF be
granted the power it needs to full defend itself and the
land. Other than noting a reliance on the parliamentary
majority Safadi did not provide substantial ideas on how GOL
and the March 14th alliance will fight this new war.



7. (C/NF) Referring to Syrian President Asad's August 15
speech, Safadi said that it went too far even for Lebanon's
pro-Syrians. In a separate meeting, Minister of Economy and
Tradi Sami Haddad commented that Amin Shiri, Hizballah
Parliament member, was critical of the speech. Surprisingly,
Asad's speech, which made sharp remarks toward GOL, was not
discussed during the cabinet meeting.



8. (C/NF) Safadi concluded that the March 14th alliance must
work hard to extract itself from the "soup" it is in. The
group will aim to meet twice a week, but no less than once a
week, in spite of security concerns.

COMMENT


--------------------------





9. (C/NF) Safadi has ambitions to be prime minister. So
while he adheres to the March 14 movement he joined after the
assassination of Rafiq Hariri, he recognizes that the Hariris
will never fully trust an independent, and independently
wealthy, Sunni who could provide competition to Saad Hariri
moving into the premiership he sees as his birthright. But
Safadi's criticisms of the poor communication within the
March 14 bloc and the GOL more generally do not stem from
sour grapes alone: Saad Hariri's frequent and lengthy
absences from Beirut, Fouad Siniora's tendency to micromanage
and keep information close-hold, and the petty jealousies and
grievances dividing other March 14 policitians make
initiative and focus difficult to achieve. Hizballah, on the
other hand, is focused, disciplined, and extremely well
funded.
FELTMAN