wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08BEIRUT1407 2008-09-25 15:05:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

LEBANON: HARIRI MEETS HIZBALLAH'S REPS; WILL SEE

Tags:   PREL PGOV PTER PINR UNSC MARR MOPS LE 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO1673
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #1407/01 2691505
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 251505Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3169
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2978
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3191
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 001407 

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA
ALSO FOR IO ACTING A/S HOOK, PDAS WARLICK
P FOR DRUSSELL AND RRANGASWAMY
USUN FOR KHALILZAD/WOLFF/SCHEDLBAUER
NSC FOR ABRAMS/RAMCHAND/YERGER/MCDERMOTT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/24/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PINR UNSC MARR MOPS LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: HARIRI MEETS HIZBALLAH'S REPS; WILL SEE
NASRALLAH AFTER "VISIBLE PROGRESS"

REF: BEIRUT 1375

Classified By: Charge d'Affairs a.i. William K. Grant for reasons 1.4 (
b) and (d).

SUMMARY
--------



1. (C) Ghattas Khoury, advisor to majority leader Saad
Hariri, provided a readout to Charge on September 25 of the
previous day's meeting when Hizballah MP Mohammed Raad led a
delegation to invite Hariri to meet Hizballah Secretary
General Hassan Nasrallah. Raad urged Hariri to meet with
Nasrallah. Hariri expressed his willingness to meet
Nasrallah to end Shia-Sunni clashes, emphasizing that he is
not interested in a larger political agreement. He
conditioned such a meeting, said Khoury, on progress on the
ground, including a decrease in violence. Khoury suspected
Hizballah's eagerness for the meeting was driven by a fear of
Israel; i.e., not wanting to have bad relations with Lebanese
if Hizballah is engaged in a clash with Israel. Hariri also
demanded that Hizballah take down its political posters,
noting that he had agreed to do the same. Khoury expected
that the two would not meet until after Ramadan (ending
on/around September 30), adding that Hariri should
accommodate Nasrallah's security concerns by agreeing to any
location.



2. (C) Khoury was unconcerned about the recent buildup of
Syrian troops along the northern Lebanese-Syrian border. In
advance of the September 27 scheduled parliamentary debate on
the electoral law, Khoury reported that the March 14 alliance
would convene to agree on a common position. End summary.

HIZBALLAH TO SUNNIS:
WE BOTH MADE MISTAKES


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





3. (C) Reading from typed notes, Ghattas Khoury, senior
advisor to majority and Sunni leader Saad Hariri, recounted
for Charge Grant and PolOff, a play-by-play of Hariri's
September 24 meeting with Hizballah. According to Khoury,
the delegation's visit, led by MP Mohammed Raad, was the
first time Hizballah officials have visited the Hariri
residence Qoreitem since paying condolence calls after former
Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri's assassination in February 2005.



4. (C) Khoury quoted Raad as saying that Hizballah and Hariri
should find a solution because the situation cannot stay as
it is. Raad reportedly stressed that Hizballah did not have
negative intentions against Hariri. Referring to the May
clashes, Raad asserted that Hizballah had made some mistakes,
adding that Hariri was also guilty of making mistakes.
Hariri reportedly categorized his mistakes as different from
those of Hizballah.

HARIRI DOES NOT WANT
POLITICAL DEAL WITH
HIZBALLAH


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





5. (C) According to Khoury, Raad insisted that Hizballah
wanted the "best relations possible" with Hariri, but
complained that the media and the public's mood were working
against the organization. Khoury said Hariri stressed that
he was not interested in any deal or political agreement, but
was focused on stopping the violence between Sunnis and Shias
in the streets. "The only political agreement we want to see
implemented is the Taif accord," Hariri stated.



6. (C) After Raad urged Hariri to meet Hizballah SYG Hassan
Nasrallah, who possesses "all of the solutions," Hariri
purportedly responded that it was not important to meet
Nasrallah. "The important thing," Hariri said, "is for
people to feel there is a solution to the fighting." Khoury
explained that Hizballah is most concerned about an Israeli
threat and therefore is looking to get its domestic house in
order. Hariri cautioned Raad that Hizballah should therefore
avoid civil strife because that was precisely what played
into Israeli interests.

BEIRUT 00001407 002 OF 003





7. (C) "I am not asking for an apology for what happened in
May," Hariri reportedly told Raad, adding, "The people will
judge who was right in the parliamentary elections. If the
people determine that you are right, then you will become the
government and we will be the opposition."

NO MORE POLITICAL POSTERS


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





8. (C) Raising the issues of political posters, Hariri
reported to Raad that he had agreed with Parliament Speaker
Nabih Berri to remove all posters. Raad responded that
Hizballah was also willing to remove political paraphernalia.

STREET FIGHTING MUST
STOP BEFORE A MEETING


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





9. (C) Hariri expressed his willingness to meet Nasrallah,
but conditioned it on seeing a decrease in violence in Beirut
and the Bekaa. (Note: Khoury explained that while Hizballah
was also blamed by some for the violence in Tripoli, it does
not in reality have influence over the Alawites who clashed
with Sunnis in that area. Therefore, he said, Hariri was
expecting progress only in Beirut and the Bekaa. End note.)
In addition to the removal of political posters and a
decrease in violence, Hariri also demanded the implementation
of the security aspects of the Doha agreement and a
declaration of the airport road as a "free zone."



10. (C) Khoury concluded that Hariri would meet Nasrallah
soon, but because he wanted progress first, a meeting should
not be expected until after Ramadan (ending on/around
September 30). He noted that Nasrallah had hoped for a
meeting as soon as possible. Khoury speculated that
Hizballah will indeed carry out good faith measures because
it was sincerely interested in an agreement with Hariri.
"Plus," Khoury said, "a deal with Hariri will give Hizballah
a big boost in the public's eye." Khoury acknowledged that
Hariri's Sunni supporters do not want Hariri to talk to
Hizballah, but at the same time, they are very concerned
about their security.

WHERE TO MEET?


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





11. (C) Remarking that President Michel Sleiman had hoped for
an immediate meeting between Hariri and Nasrallah, Khoury
said it was not possible because Nasrallah was not willing to
go to the Presidential Palace out of security concerns
(reftel). Khoury said he recognized that Hariri could not
suggest a location, and relayed that he was advising Hariri
to go anywhere Hizballah proposed. "Otherwise," he
speculated, "if Israel killed him, we would surely be
blamed!"

UNCONCERNED BY
SYRIAN DEPLOYMENT


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





12. (C) Khoury said emphatically that he did not believe the
recent deployment of Syrian troops along the northern
Lebanese/Syrian border signaled any preparation for an
invasion. He claimed that some Syrian troops were killed
recently when combating smugglers, which prompted the
deployment. He explained that some of his March 14 allies
had made a fuss about it in the news, but only to win points
from the voting public.

UNITING MARCH 14 PRIOR
TO ELECTORAL LAW DEBATE


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





13. (C) In preparation for parliament's September 27 debate
on the electoral law, Khoury said March 14 members were
trying to reach an agreement on a position. Khoury explained
that they agreed on almost everything except the issue of
amending the clause requiring mayors to resign two years
before they become eligible to run for parliament. Khoury

BEIRUT 00001407 003 OF 003


said Hariri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt wanted to amend
the clause to allow the Mayor of Deir al Kamar, Dory Chamoun,
to run in the elections after a six-month resignation.
According to Khoury, the Lebanese Forces opposed amending the
clause because they believed Chamoun's candidacy would
replace one of their own, MP George Adwan.

HARIRI STILL MOST
POPULAR SUNNI LEADER


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





14. (C) Khoury downplayed the popularity of Tripoli
politicians including former PMs Najib Mikati and Omar
Karami, MP Mosbah Ahdab, and Economy and Trade Minister
Mohammed Safadi. He stressed that Hariri still retained the
support of about 70 percent of the Sunnis nationwide, noting
that the Tripolitans' popularity was localized.
GRANT