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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BEIRUT745
2007-05-25 15:55:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

LEBANON: UNIFIL COMMANDER POSITIVE ON MANDATE,

Tags:   MARR  MOPS  PGOV  PREL  PTER  LE 
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O 251555Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8306
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 1154
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 000745 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/MARCHESE/HARDING
STATE FOR NEA/ELA, NEA/FO:ATACHCO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2017
TAGS: MARR MOPS PGOV PREL PTER LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: UNIFIL COMMANDER POSITIVE ON MANDATE,
CONCERNED ABOUT LAF

Classified By: Jeffrey D. Feltman, Ambassador. Reason: Section 1.4 (d
).

SUMMARY
-------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 000745

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/MARCHESE/HARDING
STATE FOR NEA/ELA, NEA/FO:ATACHCO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2017
TAGS: MARR MOPS PGOV PREL PTER LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: UNIFIL COMMANDER POSITIVE ON MANDATE,
CONCERNED ABOUT LAF

Classified By: Jeffrey D. Feltman, Ambassador. Reason: Section 1.4 (d
).

SUMMARY
--------------


1. (C) UNIFIL Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano feels
confident that UNIFIL's mandate would be renewed by the UNSC
in August and, if given the opportunity for a wish list, he
would like to expanded UNIFIL,s area of operations beyond
the Litani River and have a clearer interpretation of the
rules of engagement. He indicated that the Lebanese Armed
Forces (LAF) are "overstretched" and may have problems
maintaining deployments in the south, but any security vacuum
caused by a short-term redeployment of LAF troops to the
north could be temporarily handled by UNIFIL. UNIFIL has
been able to hamper Hizballah's movement of weapons in the
south and keep them from reestablishing its bunkers near the
border. Graziano concluded by stating that the LAF-IDF
technical plan for demarcating the Blue Line, and later
resolution of Sheba,a Farms, could be achieved, but progress
on these issues rests more with the Israelis than the
Lebanese. End Summary.

GRAZIANO: POSITIVE ON EXTENSION OF UNIFIL'S MANDATE
-------------- --------------


2. (C) On May 23, the Ambassador, along with DATT and Poloff,
hosted lunch for United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
(UNIFIL) Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano, UNIFIL
Political Affairs Officer Milos Strugar, and UNIFIL military
aides. Graziano gave a positive impression of UNIFIL's
activities in the south, and indicated that he was confident
that UNIFIL,s mandate would be renewed by the UNSC in New
York in August. He seemed unconcerned about whether or not
the GOL specifically requested such a renewal, although he
expected that the Siniora government would continue to give
its approval for UNIFIL's continued deployment in Lebanon.


CHAPTER VII COULD BE USED TO MAINTAIN UNIFIL
IN CASE OF TWO GOVERNMENTS
--------------


3. (C) Graziano did not doubt the Siniora government's
support for UNIFIL. But he did indicate some concern that if
the ongoing political stalemate resulted in a second,
parallel government, such a scenario could call into question
the legitimacy of UNIFIL,s monitoring operations in the
south. He theorized that if such a scenario came about, the
UNSC could consider passing a Chapter VII resolution to
maintain UNIFIL in the field, but the UNSC process could
prove difficult because the Council would have identify the
specific "bad guys" as the rationale for adoption -- that is,
be explicit about Hizballah. This aspect would make it
unlikely that the UNSC could garner nine votes with no
vetoes. Milos Strugar added that hopefully the two
government scenario will come to pass and a "simple rollover"
of the current mandate will be achieved.

MANDATE IMROVEMENTS: EXPANDED OPERATIONS
AND CLEAR RULES OF ENGAGEMENT
--------------


4. (C) Graziano indicated that if given the opportunity to
have a wish list to change UNIFIL's mandate, he would enlarge
the area of operations for UNIFIL. He specifically
highlighted the area between the towns of Kafr Kila and
Metulla that runs north along the Litani river. In this
area, UNIFIL's monitoring is restricted to a narrow strip of
land that lies between the Litani River and the border of
Israel. He explained that UNIFIL,s mandate does not allow
for patrolling beyond the Litani River. Theoretically,
Hizballah could set up rocket positions on the other side of
the river and fire over the strip of land and hit Israeli
territory. Graziano added that the route along this piece of
land presents a "bottleneck" to which Hizballah militants
could set up rocket positions to target UNIFIL units. Also,
Graziano indicated that he would like to see a renewed
mandate "clarify" the rules of engagement for UNIFIL troops.
He indicated that he wanted a clear interpretation that would

BEIRUT 00000745 002 OF 003


allow him to fulfill the UNIFIL mandate and show a strong
commitment to enforcing UNSC 1701.

LAF OVERSTRETCHED AND NEEDS
MATERIAL ASSISTANCE
--------------


5. (C) Graziano put forward his concern that the LAF was
"overstretched" and ill-equipped to handle all of its
security duties in Lebanon, and especially its deployments in
the south. The drain on troops and materiel due to the
fighting with Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camp
in Nahr el-Bared has only highlighted the shortages in
personnel and equipment. He stressed that the LAF does not
have enough weapons, ammunition and equipment to sustain
long-term combat situations. Graziano recognized the recent
USG effort to provide 5.56mm ammunition to the LAF, but
advocated that Western countries needed to increase their
military assistance in areas such as artillery rounds and
communications equipment.


6. (C) Graziano indicated that the conflict in the North
could start to affect the LAF's ability to maintain
deployments in the south. While concerned by this
development, he stated that any "temporary" redeployment of
LAF troops, but no more than 2,000, from the south to the
north could be handled by UNIFIL. He said that it would not
pose a loss of security in the south because UNIFIL could
fill the vacuum and monitor the area. The DATT asked how
long "temporary" meant; Graziano indicated that UNIFIL could
fill the gap for "60 to 90 days" without a significant drop
in monitoring and patrolling in the South.

UNIFIL HAS HAMPERED HIZBALLAH ARMS MOVEMENT
IN THE SOUTH
--------------


7. (C) Graziano said that Hizballah's ability to move arms
and weapons around had been greatly restricted by UNIFIL's
presence. He indicated that UNIFIL's success in monitoring
has resulted in Hizballah moving its bigger weapons north of
the Litani River outside of UNIFIL's area of operation.
There has been little evidence that Hizballah has rebuilt its
bunkers or tried to reestablish its battle positions near the
Blue Line. Graziano did admit that small quantities of small
arms may be entering the area, but not at the level required
for Hizballah to regain its pre-war posture.

DEMARCATION OF BLUE LINE AGREEMENT
AWAITING ON ISRAELI APPROVAL
--------------


8. (C) Graziano indicated that at the last tripartite meeting
on May 2, there had been agreement by Lebanon and Israel to a
standard text on a technical plan to demarcate the Blue Line.
While cleared by the LAF and IDF on the technical level and
approved by the Lebanese government, it was still awaiting
approval by the Israeli government. Graziano seemed to put
the blame on the Israelis for the lack of approval, but
further discussion indicated that the delay might be more a
question of Israeli bureaucracy rather than a refusal to
approve the plan. Milos Strugar stated that one possible
explanation for the Israeli delay could be that the Lebanese
favor a method of using precise points based on the 2000
demarcation line, while Israel favors a more "vague"
definition of the line which can be discussed between parties
and adjusted.

IDF WITHDRAWAL FROM SHEBA'A FARMS REQUIRES SECURITY AGREEMENT
-------------- --------------


9. (C) Graziano stated that resolution of Sheba'a Farms would
depend more on getting the IDF to agree on a security plan
which would allow them to withdraw from the area and turn
over security to UNIFIL troops, than on settling the issue of
whether Lebanon or Syria had sovereignty over the area. He
explained that resolving the issue of Sheba,a Farms is
extremely difficult, because the geographical area is hard to
identify. A cartographer is needed to define the area and
identify exact geographical boundaries. Second, getting the

BEIRUT 00000745 003 OF 003


IDF to agree on the exact process for turnover of the area
has taken longer than expected. Graziano stated that
Israelis really do not want to have to deal with Sheba'a
Farms and are willing to give it up, but agreeing to a
process for turning over security seems to be the main
impediment.


10. (C) Milos Strugar explained another complication, which
is that UNIFIL,s mandate does not cover Sheba,a Farms.
UNIFIL's mandate most likely would have to be changed to
accommodate the expanded area of operations. Strugar said
one option that is being considered is having the United
Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) Observer Group
set up a "de-militarized zone" and patrol the Sheba'a Farms
area after the IDF withdraws its forces. Since UNTSO's
mandate covers all of Lebanon, it would not have to go
through a lengthy UN process to authorize such a change.
FELTMAN