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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BEIRUT594 2009-05-29 15:26:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

LEBANON: JUMBLATT TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAY

Tags:   PREL PGOV PTER PINR UNSC MOPS MARR LE 
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					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000594 

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DEPT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA
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P FOR DRUSSELL, RRANGASWAMY
USUN FOR WOLFF/GERMAIN/SCHEDLBAUER
NSC FOR SHAPIRO, MCDERMOTT
DOD/OSD FOR FLOURNOY/KAHL/DALTON
DRL/NESA FOR WHITMAN
OVP FOR HMUSTAFA

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/28/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PINR UNSC MOPS MARR LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: JUMBLATT TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAY
2008 CLASHES

REF: BEIRUT 585

Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY AND COMMENT
--------------------



1. (C) On a popular political talk show televised live May
28, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt called on March 14 leader
Saad Hariri to seek only the truth, and not justice, from the
Special Tribunal for Lebanon, believing that justice that
incriminates Hizballah could spark "internal sedition"; i.e.,
Sunni-Shia tensions. In an overture to Hizballah, Jumblatt
took partial responsibility for the two decisions by the
March 14-led government on Hizballah's telecommunications
network that led to the May 2008 clashes. This could pave
the way for a Nasrallah-Jumblatt meeting, now expected
immediately after the elections. Jumblatt called for more
sophisticated weaponry for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF)
and criticized the United States for not sufficiently arming
the LAF. End summary and comment.

NEED TRUTH, NOT
JUSTICE, FROM STL


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





2. (SBU) Druze leader Walid Jumblatt appeared on a May 28
televised interview with journalist Marcel Ghanem. He called
the recent "Der Spiegel" article alleging Hizballah's
involvement in the assassination of former PM Rafiq Hariri
(reftel), a "nuclear bomb." He postulated that the Israelis
were behind the article to "sow Sunni-Shia tensions", saying,
"We all know about this paper's affiliation with Israel."



3. (SBU) He called on March 14 leader Saad Hariri to "simply
find satisfaction in the truth alone (rather than seek
justice) if the court decision were to cause internal
sedition" and stressed that the interest of the country is
more important than the court ruling. Bizarrely blaming the
international community, he said that UN Security Council
Resolution 1559 "killed Hariri," implying that the resolution
calling for no foreign interference in Lebanon led to
Hariri's death.

TAKES RESPONSIBILITY
FOR MAY 2008 CLASHES


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





4. (SBU) Jumblatt also took responsibility for the two
government decisions regarding Hizballah's telecommunication
network that led to violence in May, 2008. "Despite the
warnings of the LAF director of intelligence, I pushed to
adopt these two decisions out of nervousness and because we
were under severe tension and assassinations," he said.
However, he blamed "some" individuals for delaying the
retraction of these two decisions during a cabinet meeting
held one week after the May 7 clashes.



5. (SBU) Hedging his bets on the parliamentary elections'
outcome, he said, "We all made mistakes especially when we
labeled Hizballah pro-Syrian and Iranian and when it labeled
us as traitors." Jumblatt cautioned that Hizballah's weapons
could prompt other parties to ask for weapons, drawing an
analogy between the PLO acquiring weapons in the 1970s, which
contributed to Christian militias arming themselves.

SUGGESTS HIZBALLAH SHOULD
SUPPORT THE LEBANESE STATE


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





6. (SBU) Jumblatt said there was no longer consensus on the
role of Hizballah as a resistance because the "mutual
bickering submerged them (Hizballah) in the Lebanese mud."
He reiterated his call on Hizballah to support the state
because "it will be your best protection." Jumblatt asked
rhetorically, "Who will protect you from that Lebanese mud?
Is it better for you to be singled out as a party and sect by
Israel or have the Lebanese unanimously vote to protect you?"


BEIRUT 00000594 002 OF 002




7. (SBU) Jumblatt requested Hizballah SYG Hassan Nasrallah to
"help us in order to prevent Lebanon from being a battlefield
because it appears that Israel, the United States, and Syria
do not want Lebanese sovereignty." Calling it a vicious
cycle, Jumblatt complained that the army is weak because the
"U.S. and Iran do not give the army equipment to perform its
duties properly," yet Hizballah will not disarm before having
a strong army. He thanked Vice President Biden for the
military equipment he gave Lebanon during his visit to
Lebanon, but added that he wanted more sophisticated weaponry
for the LAF.



8. (SBU) Criticizing the U.S. without naming it, he said,
"Some countries wanted us to confront Hizballah while at the
same time, they are engaging with Iran and Syria over issues
of interest for them, especially Afghanistan and Pakistan."
On elections, Jumblatt warned of negative economic
consequences if March 8 wins because the West might impose
sanctions on Lebanese banks.

COMMENT


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





9. (C) Jumblatt disclosed to fellow March 14 leaders on May
26 that he planned to take responsibility for setting in
motion the May 2008 events, a move that was rejected by his
coalition partners. We view this overture to Hizballah as
yet another step taken by Jumblatt to plant one foot firmly
in each camp to protect himself and the Druze community after
the June 7 parliamentary elections. Jumblatt's apology for
May 2008 could be the final step to pave the way for a
Nasrallah-Jumblatt meeting, now expected immediately after
the elections. End comment.
SISON