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Monday, March 28, 2011

Lebanese political parties really hated Hezbollah during 2006 war

The Lebanese al Akhbar newspaper has been revealing a large number of Wikileaks cables from the 2006 Lebanon war, and they seem to show one overriding theme: Lebanese political parties really didn't support Hezbollah's kidnapping of Israeli soldiers and its subsequent war.

NowLebanon has an analysis:
Indeed, several of the cables, written by the former US ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, show not Hezbollah’s enemies, but its allies expressing discomfort, or displeasure, with the party. They include two parliamentarians from Michel Aoun’s bloc, Farid el-Khazen and Ibrahim Kanaan, and the former health minister, Muhammad Jawad Khalifeh, who is close to the parliament speaker, Nabih Berri (and who described Berri’s anger with Hezbollah)
The links to the cables, and excerpts, can be seen here:

06BEIRUT2390 (July 14, 2006) |Subject: HIZBALLAH’S RECKLESSNESS SPLITS AOUN’S ADVISORS

“Aounist advisor MP Ibrahim Kanaan expressed frustration and deep concern over the present course of events in Lebanon and said he has advised his party leader General Michel Aoun to put distance between himself and Hassan Nasrallah. Kanaan is convinced that Hizballah, with “its extreme overconfidence,” will soon lose control over the rapidly escalating hostilities. In his view, the resulting loss of life and stability will produce a severe backlash in Christian, and possibly Sunni, communities that could destroy Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, since it is currently viewed as a Hizballah ally. Kanaan suggested, however, that the current crisis may offer an opportunity for Aoun and PM Siniora to form a pro-reform “partnership.” Senior Aoun advisor Gebran Bassil, on the other hand, defended Hizballah’s actions and said Siniora’s government was merely reaping the whirlwind created by its passivity and refusal to share power. Moderate Aounist MP Farid el-Khazen, meanwhile, split the difference: strongly criticizing Hizballah’s duplicity and recklessness, while recommending aloofness from the star-crossed Siniora government.”

“In a July 13 discussion with poloff, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, who is frequently used as an intermediary and spokesperson by Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader Michel Aoun, said that FPM’s association with Hizballah has been a mistake. Declaring that Michel Aoun did not have the slightest idea that Hizballah was planning such a provocative act, Kanaan professed deep concern that Hizballah was now effectively steering the ship of state. When asked if he thought Hassan Nasrallah was acting like a Minister of Defense, Kanaan retorted, “no, no, much more than that.”

“Kanaan half-heartedly defended the troublesome February 6 compact between the FPM and Hizballah, saying it originally held the promise of bringing Hizballah into Lebanon’s political mainstream. But he conceded that the previous day’s “reckless” ambush in Israeli territory is threatening to completely undo Lebanon’s struggling democracy and threatens to deliver the country back into the tender mercies of Syria.”

06BEIRUT2403 (July 17, 2006) | Subject: LARSEN TO PROPOSE HANDOVER OF ISRAELI SOLIDIERS TO GOL…

“Mid-way through the meeting three visitors arrived at Larsen’s room unannounced. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, Minister of Telecommunications Marwan Hamadeh, and Minister of Information Ghazi Aridi entered the room in good humor and indulged in generous orders to room service with the others present. The three Lebanese politicians reacted positively to Larsen’s proposal to call for a transfer of the Israeli soldiers to the GOL…”

“Over a glass of red wine, a large bottle of vodka (the quality of which sparked a long exchange between Jumblatt and the startled room service waiter), and three bottles of Corona beer, Jumblatt gave a briefing on the thinking of the March 14 coalition which had met that evening. Jumblatt noted the heavy destruction of Lebanese infrastructure but bemoaned the irony that Hizballah’s military infrastructure had not been seriously touched. Jumblatt explained that although March 14 must call for a cease-fire in public, it is hoping that Israel continues its military operations until it destroys Hizballah’s military capabilities.”

“Responding to Jumblatt’s complain that Israel is hitting targets that hurt the GOL while leaving Hizballah strategically strong, the Ambassador asked Jumblatt what Israel should do to cause serious damage to Hizballah. Jumblatt replied that Israel is still in the mindset of fighting classic battles with Arab armies. “You can’t win this kind of war with zero dead,” he said. Jumblatt finally said what he meant; Israel will have to invade southern Lebanon. Israel must be careful to avoid massacres, but it should clear Hizballah out of southern Lebanon. Then the LAF can replace the IDF once a cease-fire is reached. A defeat of Hizballah by Israel would be a defeat of Syrian and Iranian influence in Lebanon, Hamadeh added. For emphasis, Jumblatt said that the only two outcomes are total defeat or total success for Hizballah.

06BEIRUT2443 (July 23, 2006) | Subject: AMINE GEMAYEL SAYS CEASE-FIRE SHOULD SECURE BORDER FIRST…

“Gemayel said Aoun had cooperated with Mossad through the duration of Lebanon’s civil war, and said he allied himself with Syria and Hizballah now because he believed they offered him the best chance at winning his long coveted seat in Baabda Palace.”

06BEIRUT2513 (August 1, 2006) | Subject: MP BOUTROS HARB: NASRALLAH CANNOT BECOME REGION’S RAMBO
Quote: “[Harb] recommended that a strong Israeli advance that completely controls the Hizballah strongholds of Maroun El Ras and Bint Jbeil would provide a chance for the U.S. impose a ceasefire while showing that Hizballah has been overpowered… He also stressed that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a reluctant Hizballah ally, will become the political victim of Hizballah.” 

Lebanese support for Hezbollah today seems to be more because it is the "strong horse" and not because anyone is particularly supportive of the group. .