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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BEIRUT334 2006-02-06 16:45:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

MGLE01: EU REPORTS ON ATTACKS AGAINST DANISH AND

Tags:   PTER PGOV PREL ASEC AU LE DK 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000334 

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NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/WERNER/SINGH

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/06/2016
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL ASEC AU LE DK
SUBJECT: MGLE01: EU REPORTS ON ATTACKS AGAINST DANISH AND
AUSTRIAN MISSIONS


Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman. Reason: Sections 1.4 (b) a
nd (d).

SUMMARY
--------



1. (C) The EU Commission delegation in Beirut reported to
us that the Danish Consulate and Austrian Embassy in Beirut
suffered considerable damage from fire and rioting on
February 5, but neither mission was physically entered.
There were light attacks against the buildings that housed
the Dutch Embassy and the honorary Slovak Consulate. The EU
assesses that once the attack against the Danish Consulate
took place, rioters fanned out to attack any other symbols of
foreign presence in the area. EU heads of mission met for
two hours on February 6 to coordinate an agreed statement and
review security. The EU troika representatives in Beirut
were to meet with Prime Minister Siniora to convey their
concerns about the unchecked violence of February 5 and
Vienna Convention obligations of the host country. Only the
Dutch Embassy plans to revise its travel advisory. We
understand that as of February 6, only six of 400 Danish
nationals in Lebanon had chosen to depart the country. End
summary.

EU Heads of Mission Convene


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





2. (C) EU Commission Delegation DCM Francisco Acosta
reported to DCM that EU heads of mission held a lengthy
meeting the morning of February 6 to review the previous
day's events that included an attack against the building
housing the Danish Consulate and the Austrian Embassy.
Acosta said that the two missions were located in an
eight-story building, and that the fires set in the building
damaged all but the top two stories. Neither diplomatic
mission was entered physically, however, in light of the
secure doors and reinforced walls and windows. In addition,
he said, the Lebanese Internal Security Forces made efforts
to prevent anyone from entering the diplomatic premises.
Acosta added that less well-protected commercial offices in
the building were entered. Several EU contacts have
commented to us that the rioting which spread throughout the
predominantly Christian neighborhood of Achrafiyah, where the
Danish and Austrian missions were located, involved marauding
demonstrators who were looking for any indications of a
foreign, and for that matter, Christian, presence.



3. (C) The Danish Consulate, the ostensible object of the
demonstration in light of the caricatures which had appeared
in the Danish press, is run by locally engaged staff,
including a Danish national resident in Lebanon. One of the
Consulate's staff members told us late February 6 that they
had not re-entered their premises since the February 5
rioting. A Danish MFA official who is traveling to Beirut
will meet with DCM on the morning of February 7. In the
meantime, we have conveyed the Department's informal offer of
assistance to the Danes in addressing the needs of the Danish
Consulate and the Danish community in Lebanon. We understand
that as of midday February 6, only six of the 400 Danish
nationals resident in Lebanon have departed the country in
response to the Embassy attack.



4. (C) Acosta of the EU Commission delegation said that EU
heads of mission met at length the morning of February 6 to
assess the situation. Acosta, like our other EU contacts,
indicated an EU sense that once the attack against the Danish
Embassy had been launched, rioters fanned out through the
Achrafiyah neighborhood to attack any nearby symbols of
foreign presence, in addition to the violence against local
stores and the St. Maroun church. UK DCM Chris Poole said
that rioters observed the Slovak flag displayed on the
balcony of the Slovak honorary consul's residence. The flag
prompted the rioters to enter the apartment building and seek
out the honorary consul's private residence. According to
Dutch Charge Kees Sibinga, the rioters engaged the Slovak
honorary consul in an unpleasant exchange of accusations and
threats. Poole himself resides in a building in Achrafiyah
that houses the Argentine residence; rioters saw the
Argentine plaque on his building and threw stones at it.



5. (C) EU heads of mission sought to draft a consensus
statement, to be issued in Beirut, condemning the attacks
against the Danish and Austrian missions and related
violence. As of late February 6, there was still no
consensus on the text, given differing member state attitudes

BEIRUT 00000334 002 OF 002


about how toughly the statement should read. Dutch Charge
Sibinga said the Austrian EU Presidency will recommend that
the EU also issue a statement out of Brussels. Acosta said
the Dutch are the only EU member state embassy contemplating
a change in their travel advisory.



6. (C) Acosta reported that the EU Troika representatives
in Beirut (Austria, Germany, EU Commission) would see Prime
Minister Siniora late afternoon on February 6. Their message
would be straightforward: extreme concern about the
violence, and the need for Lebanon to adhere to its
obligations under the Vienna Convention with respect to
protection of diplomatic premises. Dutch Charge Sibinga
characterized the meeting of heads of mission as "not too
alarmist," and noted that he expected the Dutch to be the
only mission to advise strengthening its travel advisory for
Lebanon.

Directed Efforts against the Dutch


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





7. (C) Sibinga also provided an interesting account of an
attempt to attack the building housing the Dutch Embassy.
Rioters approached the high rise building where the Dutch
Embassy occupies the 9th and 10th floors. They made no
progress in entering the building, given that the ground
floor tenants were a well-protected bank and equally
well-protected jewelry store. Sibinga said that according to
his Embassy's contract security guards who were on site at
the time, it had become clear after some effort by the
demonstrators that the building would be difficult to enter,
and evident "leaders" of the demonstration called off the
attack, with the rest of crowd immediately obeying these
leaders. Those attacking the Dutch Embassy's building used
mainly sticks, and a few others tried to climb an adjacent
wall to obtain entry. Sibinga said that according to his
contract guards, there was no question that the attack was
led and directed by specific individuals.



8. (C) Sibinga also commented wryly on what he considered
poor responsiveness from the Lebanese security services. He
said that on Friday, February 3, an ISF General had visited
the Dutch Embassy to tell him that a peaceful demonstration
would be taking place on Sunday, February 5. The security
services would have the events well under control by
maintaining a "cordon sanitaire" around the demonstrators.
When events went out of control on February 5, Sibinga said
he tried repeatedly and vainly to get a response from both
the Internal Security Services and the Lebanese Armed Forces,
but no one replied. He said he was also surprised that the
security services had done nothing to control, through
checkpoints or otherwise, the vehicles and people who
converged for the demonstration. Finally, he said that he
would be recommending a stiffening of the Dutch travel
advisory for Lebanon, up to advising against non-essential
travel to Lebanon. He said he was not only concerned about
the anti-European violence, but also about the threat of
indigenous sectarian tensions in Lebanese, which he considers
especially high for the next couple of weeks.
FELTMAN