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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BEIRUT858
2007-06-14 09:35:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

LEBANON: EXPLOSION KILLS MARCH 14 PARLIAMENTARIAN

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  LE 
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VZCZCXRO4918
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0858/01 1650935
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 140935Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8495
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 1235
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000858 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/MARCHESE/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/13/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: EXPLOSION KILLS MARCH 14 PARLIAMENTARIAN


Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d
).

SUMMARY
-------
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000858

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/MARCHESE/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/13/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: EXPLOSION KILLS MARCH 14 PARLIAMENTARIAN


Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d
).

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

1. (C) March 14 MP Walid Eido was killed June 14 in what
sources tell us was a targeted bombing on Beirut's waterfront
corniche. Eido, an outspoken opponent of Syrian interference
in Lebanon, was a member of Saad Hariri's Future Movement and
a close personal friend of Social Progressive Party leader
Walid Jumblatt. Eido's death will have serious political,
morale, and security ramifications. In particular, it
further erodes March 14's parliamentary majority to just 68
out of 128 deputies -- only three more than the 65 needed to
win a simple majority vote, including a vote of confidence
for the Siniora cabinet. End summary.


2. (C) March 14 MP Walid Eido, a member of Saad Hariri's
Future Movement, along with his eldest son, two bodyguards,
and at least eight others, died in an explosion in Beirut's
waterfront Manara district late in the afternoon of June 13.
Progressive Socialist Party leader and Eido's close personal
friend Walid Jumblatt called the Ambassador shortly after the
explosion to inform him that Eido was the target of the
bombing and had been killed. ISF and MOD sources confirmed
to Embassy officers shortly thereafter that Eido and his
oldest son, along with two bodyguards, died in the blast, the
result of a bomb placed in a car along the route Eido was
traveling. (Note: Similar techniques were used in the
December 2005 assassination of anti-Syrian March 14 MP Gebran
Tueni. End note.)


3. (C) This is the fifth MP killed starting with the February
14, 2005 assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri and the
first political assassination since the November 21, 2006
killing of MP Pierre Gemayel. Eido, like all of the Lebanese
leaders who have been killed since the Hariri assassination,
worked hard to promote democracy and stability in Lebanon and
was a staunch critic of Syrian interference in Lebanon, often
appearing on weekend talk shows to voice his opposition.
Eido, a Sunni, joined the Future Movement and became
stridently anti-Syrian following Hariri's assassinati
on,
recently voicing harsh criticism of the six opposition
Ministers who resigned their posts last December in an effort
to derail the GOL's efforts to establish a Special Tribunal.
Indeed, as our March 14 contacts all note, Eido's death is a
blatant affront to the international community's decision to
move ahead with the Tribunal.

MARCH 14 LOSING ITS GRIP ON PARLIAMENTARY MAJORITY
-------------- --------------


4. (C) Eido's assassination is an extremely serious
development. Because of deaths, assassinations, and
intimidation, March 14's parliamentary majority has shrunk
from 72 to 68 since the 2005 election (assuming party
discipline and no more defections) -- just three votes more
than the 65 required to win a simple majority vote in the
128-member house. March 14 would have no difficulty filling
the seats of either Eido or Gemayel in the event of new
elections. However, judging by the experience of Gemayel's
death, President Lahoud probably will continue to refuse to
sign the decrees allowing elections to be held, saying they
come from an "illegal" government. If March 14 continues to
lose deputies, it will have a difficult time electing a
President of its choice in the September 25 election. There
is even a risk that March 14 could lose a vote of confidence
in the Siniora cabinet, should parliament be convened once
March 8-Aoun leaders decide it is in their interest to do so.


5. (C) March 14 politicians will certainly rally around
Eido's death in the short-term -- he was an old-school
politician liked by all (though, some would argue, not
entirely untainted by corruption, particularly regarding his
financial dealings with the Hariris). However, the longer
term impact is potentially quite damaging. Those sitting on
the fence will be all the more reluctant to side with March
14 if it looks like it is losing support (even if only
through assassinations), and this in turn will have spillover
effects on the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and other
institutions.


6. (C) The security ramifications are equally worrying. Eido
was a Sunni killed in West Beirut, a predominantly Muslim
area, and Sunnis will be out for revenge. Security sources
tell us the LAF and Internal Security Forces were immediately
moved to the area to help maintain the calm. 150 Sunni

BEIRUT 00000858 002 OF 002


gathered near the bomb site following the explosion, but no
violence was reported. However, March 14 leader Hariri will
not be able to maintain his own leadership credibility if he
continues to tell his followers to turn the other cheek. As
of this writing, Hariri has been able to keep his followers
in check, although anti-Shia, anti-Syrian, and anti-Nasrallah
comments were reported from Sunni neighborhoods last night.


7. (C) In addition, Sunni anger could translate into Sunni
solidarity with Sunni militias, making it more difficult for
the LAF to pursue its offensive against Fatah al-Islam in the
Nahr al-Barid camp. If Beirut were to erupt into panic (and
already we have noted visibly decreased traffic and numerous
school closings, both signs the Lebanese are staying close to
home), it is quite probable the GOL would call back some of
the LAF's best commandos from Nahr al-Barid. Such a move
would provide those who oppose the LAF's offensive in Nahr
al-Barid with a convenient excuse to halt the operations.
Further, pro-Syrian politicians no doubt would use the
opportunity to blame the USG for not providing the "right"
kind of military equipment, leaving the LAF no choice but to
withdraw.


8. (C) Our March 14 and GOL contacts are watching how the
international community reacts and what actions we take in
response to Eido's killing. For their part, they have
already authorized PM Siniora to request the UN to extend
UNIIIC investigative assistance to the Eido assassination,
and they are considering how to promote by-elections to
replace the vacant March 14 seats despite Emile Lahoud's
opposition. In the immediate aftermath of Eido's killing, we
detect as well as lessening of the already tepid enthusiasm
for the French dialogue proposal and a National Unity Cabinet.
FELTMAN