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85BEIRUT1683 1985-03-18 18:23:00 SECRET Embassy Beirut
Cable title:  

SOLVING THE CHRISTIAN CRISIS: THE PHALANGE

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1. SECRET ENTIRE TEXT.



2. SUMMARY: AMBASSADOR CALLED ON MINISTER OF PTT
JOSEPH HASHEM MARCH 18. HASHEM IS A PHALANGE
PARTY LEADER AND CLOSE ASSOCIATE OF PRESIDENT
GEMAYEL. HE IS ON THE COMMITTEE OF THREE (WITH
KARIM PAKKRADOUNI REPRESENTING THE DISSIDENTS
AND MICHEL MURR AS THE THIRD MAN WITH LINKS BETWEEN
BOTH SIDES) THAT HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH HAMMERING
OUT A SOLUTION. HASHEM SAID HE HAD JUST LEFT A
PHALANGE POLITICAL BUREAU MEETING TO MEET WITH
THE AMBASSADOR AND WOULD SHORTLY BE GOING INTO
A MEETING OF THE THREE-MAN COMMITTEE TO FINISH
A COMMUNIQUE WHICH WOULD "REASSURE EVERYONE."
THE CHIEF ELEMENT OF THE COMPROMISE APPEARS TO
BE A RESTRUCTURING" OF THE PHALANGE AND THE LF
WHICH WOULD GIVE THE LF DISSIDENTS MORE OF A
VOICE AND MORE INDEPENDENCE. HASHEM SAID THAT
THE USG HAD CONSIDERABLE INFLUENCE IN THE
CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AND APPRECIATED WHAT
THE AMBASSADOR HAD BEEN SAYING. AMBASSADOR
EXPRESSED SATISFACTION WITH PROGRESS ON THE
POLITICAL SOLUTION BUT NOTED IT SHOULD NOT COME
AT PRICE OF WEAKENING THE POSITION OF THE
PRESIDENT, OR THE COHESION OF THE CHRISTIAN
COMMUNITY, AND THE COMMITTMENT TO REALISM AND
FLEXIBILITY IN THE POLITICAL REFORM PROCESS.
END SUMMARY.



3. HASHEM ARGUED THAT THERE WERE NO MAJOR POLITICAL
DIFFERENCES WITH THE DISSIDENTS, WITNESS THEIR
OWN CONTACTS WITH SYRIA (A REFERENCE TO
PAKRADOUNI'S DISCUSSIONS WITH KHADDAM OVER THE
LAST FEW DAYS.) HE SAID THE PHALANGE PARTY
STRUCTURE HAD NOT BEEN REVAMPED FOR TEN YEARS
AND IT WAS NORMAL TO THINK OF RESTRUCTURING IT
NOW IN A WAY THAT WOULD GIVE THE DISSIDENTS
MORE PARTICIPATION AND POSITION, POLITICAL,
MILITARY, AND FINANCIAL. THIS WAS THE FOCUSS
OF THE CURRENT COMPROMISE EFFORT. THERE WOULD
PROBABLY ALSO BE A "NATIONAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL"
WHICH WOULD BE A BROADENED LEBANESE FRONT REPRESENTING
ALL CHRISTIAN GROUPS. IT WOULD BE ADVISORY AND
NOT "PARLIAMENTARY" (AND THEREFORE WOULD NOT
UNDERCUT THE PRESIDENT'S AUTHORITY OR SMACK
OF AN INDEPENDENT CHRISTIAN "CANTON".) HASHEM
SAID THE CHIEF CONCERN WAS THAT THE LEBANESE
FORCE MOVEMENT THREATENED TO UNDERCUT THE
PRESIDENT, TRIGGER ADVERSE REACTIONS FROM THE
LEBANESE MOSLEMS AND FROM SYRIA, AND UNDERMINE
THE EFFORTS AT REACHING POLITICAL ACCOMODATION. HE
KNEW THE USG SHARED THESE CONCERNS AND THE AMBASSADOR
WAS MAKING THIS CLEAR TO "ALL SIDES."



4. HASHEM SAID HE THOUGHT CONSIDERABLE PROGRESS
HAD BEEN MADE IN THE THREE-MAN COMMITTEE. HE HAD
BEEN DISCUSSING THE ISSUE JUST NOW IN THE SESSION
OF THE PHALANGE POLITICAL BUREAU WHICH HE HAD LEFT
TO MEET WITH THE AMBASSADOR. HE WOULD BE
MEETING WITH MURR AND PAKRADOUNI UPON LEAVING THE
MEETING WITH THE AMBASSADOR AND THOUGHT
THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO REACH A COMMUNIQUE WHICH
WOULD "REASSURE EVERYONE."



5. THE AMBASSADOR SAID THAT SINCE HASHEM WAS SO
WELL AWARE OF THE USG VIEWS ON THE SITUATION
HE WOULD NOT REPEAT THEM IN DETAIL. HE HOPED
THAT HASHEM WAS RIGHT THAT THE LF DISSIDENTS DID
NOT DIFFER GREATLY FROM THE MAIN POLITICAL
LINES THE PRESIDENT AND THE CHRISTIAN
COMMUNITY WERE ON. THAT SAID, MUCH OF WHAT
THEY SAID IN THE PAST, AND INDEED NOW, RAISED
QUESTIONS AS TO WHETHER THEY WOULD SHOW THE
REALISM AND FLEXIBILITY REQUIRED TO PROTECT THE
NATION'S DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS STARTING WITH
THE CHRISTIAN PRESIDENCY, WORK POLITICAL REFORMS
WITH THE MOSLEMS, PRESERVE THE WELL-BEING
OF THE CHRISTIANS, AND CONTAIN SYRIAN INFLUENCE.
IF THE COMPROMISES BEING WORKED ON IN THE
THREE-MAN COMMITTEE BEGAN A PROCESS WHICH
WOULD UNDERCUT THESE OBJECTIVES, THEN IT WOULD MEAN
A PYRRHIC VICTORY FOR THE CHRISTIANS AND FOR
LEBANON.



6. HASHEM SAID THAT HE FELT THINGS WERE ON TRACT
TOWARD A SOLUTION WHICH WOULD ASSURE EVERYONE
(INCLUDING THE MOSLEMS AND SYRIA) THAT LEBANON'S
"POLITICAL SYSTEM AND POLITICAL LINE" WILL BE
MAINTAINED. HE SAID HE WAS NEVERTHELESS CONCERNED
THAT SOME INDIVIDUALS AMONG THE LF DISSIDENTS
ESPECIALLY IDENTIFIED WITH ISRAEL COULD OBSTRUCT
THE PROCESS. HE THOUGHT THE USG COULD HELP HEAD
THIS OFF BY GETTING THE RIGHT WORD TO THESE IN-
DIVIDUALS AND TO THE ISRAELIS. THE AMBASSADOR
REPLIED THAT HE WAS SATISFIED THAT THE
ISRAELIS WERE NOT A MAJOR FACTOR IN EITHER THE
GENESIS OR THE DIRECTION OF THE LF DISSIDENT
MOVEMENT. DAVID KINCHE HAD YESTERDAY MADE
THIS PUBLIC AND UNDERSCORED THE LIMITS OF THE
ISRAELI INTEREST AND ROLE IN WHAT WAS HAPPENING
INSIDE THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. IN FACT, THE
ISRAELIS HAVE NO INTEREST IN SIGNIFICANTLY
"RE-ENGAGING" IN LEBANON BY PLAYING A MAJOR ROLE
IN THIS FRACAS -- OR ITS CONSEQUENCES.
THE ISRAELIS ARE ON THEIR WAY OUT OF LEBANON,
AND NOT ON THEIR WAY BACK IN (HASHEM NODDED
AGREEMENT TO THIS LAST STATEMENT.)



7. HASHEM CLOSED CONVERSATION BY REFERRING TO
AMBASSADOR'S UPCOMING MEETING WITH KARIM
PAKRADOUNI (ANNOUNCED OVER THE LF CONTROLLED
VOL.) HE REITERATED THAT THE U.S. HAS CONSIDERABLE
INFLUENCE IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. HE, THEREFORE,
THOUGHT IT IMPORTANT THAT THE AMBASSADOR MAKE
CLEAR IN ANY CONTACTS WITH THE DISSIDENTS THAT THEY
SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE LEBANON'S "POLITICAL
SYSTEM AND POLITICAL LINE", AND THAT THEY WILL
HAVE NO SUPPORT FROM THE OUTSIDE, FROM EITHER THE
U.S. OR OTHERS IF THEY DO. THE AMBASSADOR SAID
HE HAD MADE THE USG VIEW CLEAR IN ALL HIS
CONTACTS AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO.



8. COMMENTS: HASHEM WAS OBVIOUSLY TIRED FROM
THE UNENDING SERIES OF LATE-NIGHT MEETINGS THAT
HE AND ALL OTHER ACTORS IN THE MELEE HAVE BEEN
LIVING THROUGH. HE DID NOT APPEAR SPECIFICALLY
ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE POLITICAL COMPROMISE THAT
IS SHAPING UP, AND CERTAINLY DID NOT CONVEY THE
IMAGE OF A MAN READY TO CLAIM SUCCESS IN PUTTING THE
GENI BACK IN THE BOTTLE. IT WILL BE INTERESTING
TO SEE WHAT PAKRADOUNI HAS TO SAY IN HIS
MEETING WITH THE AMBASSADOR LATER TODAY. END
COMMENT.


BARTHOLOMEW