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06BEIRUT3234 2006-10-05 16:23:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beirut
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1. (C) MP and Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Leader General
Michel Aoun held a press conference in his Rabieh
headquarters October 4 with a delegation of FPM area
coordinators. Aoun continued his attack (following up on
statements made in the FPM "Right of Return" conference
September 30 and to Al-Diyar on the same day) against the GOL
and the March 14-aligned parliamentary majority. Aoun's
statement touched familiar themes but edged closer to
threatening language, in particular with attacks on U.S.
foreign policy and UNIFIL.



2. (C) Aoun, echoing Hassan Nasrallah's attack on the
frequency of the Ambassador's meetings with PM Siniora,
accused GOL leaders of taking their instructions from
embassies in Beirut. "When some say that General Aoun and
his colleagues in the FPM and the Change and Reform
parliamentary bloc have become Syrians and Iranians, I not
only doubt them, but also doubt their instructors and the
embassies they follow, as well as their policies and
credibility." Leaving no doubt that he meant that March 14
was following the U.S. Embassy, Aoun added, "what model are
the Americans presenting to us now, Iraq or Gaza?"



3. (C) Aoun appeared to justify potential attacks on UNIFIL
when he questioned UNIFIL's rules of engagement. "Why can't
there be any conflict in the air to stop the aerial
aggression on Lebanon...are actions prohibited on the
Lebanese territories from one side?" he asked, suggesting
that UNIFIL's role amounted to preventing the Lebanese from
defending themselves against Israeli attacks and airspace



4. (C) Repeating the frequent FPM complaint that the Ta'if
Agreement has not been fully implemented, to the detriment of
Lebanon's Christians, Aoun accused March 14 of implementing a
"bilateral Sunni-Shiite version, and the Christians remain
outside of this version." Aoun accused March 14 leaders of
corruption past and present. He said, "we will not only
criticize the corruption but also fight it."



5. (C) FPM will commemorate Aoun's October 13, 1989 expulsion
from Baabda at the hands of the Syrian military on October 15
of this year. While Aoun did not go into specifics in the
speech, the FPM is widely expected to mount a massive rally
in an open space next to Beirut's City Mall. The spot lies
just a few miles from the Embassy along the main traffic
artery linking the compound to central Beirut, which may
present difficulties for movement of Embassy personnel on
that day. The point of this rally, many people suspect, is
to remind people that Aoun stood against Syria in 1989 -- and
thus he can't be as pro-Syrian now as the March 14 supporters
(many of whom cheered on Syria's forced expulsion of Aoun)

6. (C) A school is next door to the mall, and the FPM has
already begun what is clearly a well-financed back-to-school
program at the school, including large orange banners and
free school materials. (Note: Such expenditures are hardly
in keeping with our FPM contacts' insistence that they have
no foreign resources, and that the FPM is a party run on the
volunteered time and money of its own officers and activists.
End Note.)



7. (C) Aoun's latest speech, his third public statement in a

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week, is a further escalation in the March 14/March 8 war of
words. In addition to PM Siniora and Walid Jumblatt's
preemptive strike on Aoun's September 30 conference, the
Council of Maronite Bishops released its monthly statement
the same day as Aoun's spech. The Bishops criticized calls
for a national unity government which "hides intentions to
foil the formation of an international tribunal in the
assassination case of ex-PM Hariri and all other
assassinations that followed." The Bishops continued that
Lebanese political actors "should not serve at the whim of
foreign partisans." The previous Bishops' statement from
September had subtly criticized Aoun for his presidential
ambition; this month's statement clearly had darker
accusations for Aoun and his March 8 allies.