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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06BEIRUT437 2006-02-14 16:48:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

MGLE01: SAAD HARIRI LEADS MASS RALLY IN BEIRUT ON

Tags:   KISL LE PGOV SY 
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VZCZCXRO6863
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHKUK RUEHLZ RUEHMOS
DE RUEHLB #0437/01 0451648
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141648Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2004
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000437 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/WERNER/SINGH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KISL LE PGOV SY
SUBJECT: MGLE01: SAAD HARIRI LEADS MASS RALLY IN BEIRUT ON
THE ANNIVERSARY OF HIS FATHER'S ASSASSINATION


SUMMARY
--------



1. (SBU) On February 14, MP Saad Hariri led a massive rally
in Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut to commemorate the
assassination of his father Rafiq Hariri. Pleasant weather
helped facilitate a large turnout carrying mostly Lebanese
flags, but also Lebanese Forces and Progressive Socialist
Party flags. Press reports suggested that as many as one
million Lebanese showed up, although we cannot not confirm
this estimate. Joining Hariri behind the bullet-resistant
glass at the podium were MP Walid Jumblatt, Minister of
Social Affairs Nayla Mouawad, MP Boutros Harb, former MP
Nassib Lahoud, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Ja'Ja', Minister
of Telecommunications Marwan Hamadeh, MP Bassem Saba, and
former President Amin Gemayel. Also speaking were Nayla
Tueni, Dory Chamoun, and Gamea Islamiyya's Head of Political
Office Assad Harmuch. Journalist and assassination survivor
May Chidiac spoke from Paris. In his speech, Saad Hariri
listed all the factions that attended, noticeably omitting
the absent General Michel Aoun, and the Amal and Hizballah
political parties. Samir Ja'Ja' declared that "the
Presidency is ours." Walid Jumblatt delivered the most
vitriolic speech saying that forgiveness of Syria and its
allies was impossible. Jumblatt rejected the Shebaa Farms
pretext and instead called for liberating the "Farms of
Baabda." Some local observers found the speeches, the
ubiquitous Lebanese Forces flags, and the omission of Aoun's
Free Patriotic Movement to portray a divisive message. All
speakers called for the removal President Lahoud; each time
they did so, the crowd roared with approval. End summary.

LARGE, PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION
WITH IMPRESSIVE SPEAKER LIST


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





2. (U) According to press reports, as many as one million
Lebanese attended MP Saad Hariri's demonstration in Martyrs'
Square in downtown Beirut on February 14. The rally, held on
the first anniversary of the assassination of former Prime
Minister Rafiq Hariri, was organized and inspired by Saad
Hariri upon his return to Lebanon after months of
self-imposed exile in Paris and elsewhere. Most of the key
figures in the 2005 Independence movement and March 14
coalition attended and spoke. Weather was on Hariri's side,
as the usually rainy chill of Lebanon's winters subsided in
favor of a sunny, mild day. The crowd was a sea of Lebanese
flags, along with a large number of Lebanese Forces flags, a
few Progressive Socialist Party flags, and a French flag.
Television gave continuous coverage to the rally. Images
showed a diversity in age of the demonstrators, whose ranks
included families with small children. Government offices
and most shops were closed for the day.



3. (U) Hariri assembled an impressive group of speakers to
deliver brief remarks behind the bullet-resistant glass
encased podium. Among the speakers were MP Saad Hariri, MP
Walid Jumblatt, Minister of Social Affairs Nayla Mouawad, MP
Boutros Harb, former MP Nassib Lahoud, Lebanese Forces leader
Samir Ja'Ja', Minister of Telecommunications Marwan Hamadeh,
MP Bassem Saba, and former President Amin Gemayel. Also
speaking were Nayla Tueni (daughter of Gibran Tueni),
National Liberal Party leader Dory Chamoun, and Gamea
Islamiyya Head of the Political Office Assad Harmuch.
Journalist and assassination survivor May Chidiac spoke from
Paris. The speakers repeatedly invoked the names of Rafiq
Hariri as well as the other Lebanese assassinated in the past
year, including Gibran Tueni, Samir Kassir, and George Hawi.
Former MP Nassib Lahoud garnered extra applause when he
called for "one state, one nation, one army, one armament," a
reference to disbanding Hizballah's state within a state and
its militia.

NOTABLE OMISSIONS, POTENTIALLY
DIVISIVE LANGUAGE


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





4. (SBU) Saad Hariri took the podium after an emotional
visit to his father's gravesite accompanied by Sunni clerics.
Hariri gave a fairly generic speech thanking those who
attended the rally and calling for the Syrians to withdraw
from Baabda, a reference to President Emile Lahoud. Hariri
spent a considerable portion of his speech listing the
factions and parties that attended the rally, noticeably
omitting the absent Free Patriotic Movement, Amal, and
Hizballah. (Comment: Our FSN political specialists

BEIRUT 00000437 002 OF 002


commented that Hariri sent a divisive message by listing only
the factions that attended. It suggested an "us versus them"
approach towards Aoun and Amal-Hizballah. End comment.)



5. (SBU) Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Ja'Ja' was
enthusiastically applauded as he took the podium. The crowd
affectionately chanted "Al Hakim" (in Arabic "The Ruler").
Ja'Ja's speech was fairly bland other than his statement that
"the Presidency belongs to us" and "we will take it back."
(Comment: Our FSN political specialists interpreted Ja'Ja's
statement as staking a claim on the Presidency at the expense
of not only President Lahoud, but also Michel Aoun. End
comment.) More notable were the chants of LF supporters in
the audience: "God, Lebanese Forces, Al Hakim." This
appeared to be a reference to the top three loyalties of LF
supporters, blatantly omitting mention of loyalty to the
country of Lebanon. The crowd also chanted: "Lahoud get
out!" At the end of his speech, Ja'Ja' introduced Druze
leader Walid Jumblatt and held hands with him in a victory
gesture. They were quickly joined on stage by Hamadeh and
Hariri, who had virtually "body surfed" through the crowd to
join them.



6. (SBU) Druze leader Walid Jumblatt provided the most
blustery speech. He called Syria and its allies criminals
and said that forgiveness for their crimes is impossible. He
repeated the word "impossible" in Arabic several times for
effect. Jumblatt said: "We want revenge for Lahoud and
Bashar." Anjar is dead, continued Jumblatt, but said that
real independence is impossible without the implementation of
international resolutions. He rejected the Shebaa Farms
pretext and the Syrian-Iranian alliance. Jumblatt, instead,
called for the liberation of the "Farms of Baabda," a
reference to removing President Lahoud from power.



7. (SBU) No member of Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement
took part in the demonstration. A deputy from Aoun's bloc
told us his party was concerned for their "security and
dignity" if they showed up at the event. Their concerns stem
in part from a February 5 incident during which LF supporters
attacked Aoun's car at a local church.

FELTMAN