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July War Cables— Seniora: Peace and Stability to “Israel”, Disarming Lebanon

July War Cables— Seniora: Peace and Stability to “Israel”, Disarming Lebanon
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SINIORA BELIEVES HE HAS THE CONFIDENCE OF HIS PEOPLE


id: 73250
date: 8/1/2006 7:01
refid: 06BEIRUT2504
origin: Embassy Beirut
classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
destination: 06BEIRUT2504
header:
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4843
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY


----------------- header ends ----------------

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 002504
SIPDIS
NOFORN
SIPDIS
NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/SINGH/HARDING
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2016
TAGS: IS, LE, MOPS, PGOV, PREL, PTER, SY
SUBJECT: TFLE01: SINIORA BELIEVES HE HAS THE CONFIDENCE OF
HIS PEOPLE, THE SUPPORT OF HIS CABINET, AND THE COMMITMENT
OF THE FRENCH

Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman. Reason: Section 1.4 (b).

SUMMARY
-------
1. (C/NF) In a meeting with the Ambassador and poloff late
on July 31, Prime Minister Siniora explained that his
declaration to not negotiate until a cease-fire had been
implemented gave him the credibility and support he needs
across Lebanon's political spectrum to conclude a durable
cease-fire agreement. He implied that if he had conducted
diplomatic business-as-usual in the aftermath of Qana, his
ability to conclude an agreement would have been destroyed.
Siniora said his discussions with French FM Douste-Blazy
earlier in the day had focused on the composition and
deployment timing of the proposed multi-national
stabilization force (which Siniora sees as a UN force), and
as a result of these talks, felt reasonably confident the
French would rapidly deploy 1,000 troops to serve as the
nucleus for the full force. Siniora stated enthusiastically
he still had the full support of his Cabinet with regard to
his seven-point plan, but became somewhat annoyed when asked
what his fallback position would be if GOI refused some of
those points. Responding to the Ambassador's skepticism,
Siniora also projected an unexplained confidence that, upon
implementation of the cease-fire, he could convince Hizballah
to either move north of the Litani or surrender their heavy
weapons to the LAF. End summary.

A WAKE UP CALL
--------------
2. (C/NF) PM Siniora described the current situation with
IDF and Hizballah locked in close combat as extremely
difficult, with neither side able to break free of the other.
He said yesterday's attack on Qana had "opened eyes" and
might actually help make progress to a durable cease-fire.
Concerning his July 30 declaration to Lebanon's diplomatic
corps that his Government would not negotiate until a
cease-fire was called, Siniora said it had been a political
imperative. If he had continued his schedule to meet with
SecState, Siniora maintained, his credibility would have
evaporated with the Lebanese people, and his ability to
conclude any negotiation would have been mortally wounded.
"Yesterday, we did the right thing," he stated.

3. (C/NF) Siniora said that, intellectually, he understood
the Israeli government when it states that it cannot accept a
cease-fire unless a credible stabilization force is already
in place. But for a multi-national force to step in right at
the moment of the guns going silent, he maintained, would
require a firm political solution in the form of a detailed
UN Security Council resolution. Siniora said that the
situation on the ground does not permit a cease-fire to be
delayed. The Ambassador explained that U.S. thinking is
revolving around a cease-fire at the time of the passage of a
UNSC, but there must be a clear framework for a sustainable
cease-fire in the UNSCR and the stabilization force must
deploy as close to passage of the UNSCR as possible.

4. (C/NF) Referring to his lengthy discussions with FM
Douste-Blazy, Siniora said the French are already writing the
initial draft resolution. He parried the Ambassador's
suggestion that his Government preface the introduction of
any resolution with a letter to the Security Council
requesting such action -- thereby making it more difficult
for Russia and China to object. Siniora maintained it was
already clear what was needed -- a detailed resolution -- and
such a letter would just add another step to the process. He
estimated that a resolution with the required specificity
could be ready for the Council's consideration late this
week.

5. (C/NF) Pressed by the Ambassador repeatedly by phone
throughout the evening about the need for a letter and for
him to play a leadership role by detailing what a
stabilization force would do, Siniora become increasingly
annoyed. Douste-Blazy, he said, does not see a letter as a
necessity. Moreover, Iranian Foreign Minister Mottaki was
arriving in Beirut later that evening (where he met with the
French). Mottaki surely is coming to enlist Hizballah
ministers, and perhaps Nabih Berri, to try to block a
stabilization force and adopt more hard-line positions in
general. Thus, Siniora said, the chances of his cabinet
BEIRUT 00002504 002 OF 003
approving a letter (which, under the limited powers Lebanon's
constitution gives the PM is a necessity) are "zero." If he
brings the proposed letter to the cabinet, not only will it
be rejected, but there is a danger the cabinet will then
break the hard-fought consensus on the "seven points."

DEFENDS HIS SEVEN POINTS APPROACH
---------------------------------
6. (C/NF) With his domestically well-received Sunday
statement, PM Siniora said he hoped both his Government and
that of Israel could expeditiously accept the deal outlined
in his seven points. When asked if thought his plan would be
accepted without change, Siniora argued that if all the
points were addressed and an effective multi-national force
available to enforce its implementation, Israel would achieve
something it had not been able to achieve for decades -- a
secure and stable northern border. "They are getting what
they have always wanted," he declared, implying that if
Israel tried to get a better deal, the opportunity may well
be lost.

7. (C/NF) The Prime Minister said both GOI and GOL were
getting tied up in "details" and risked losing the main
objective -- peace and security for Israel, and peace and a
disarmed Hizballah for Lebanon. Siniora argued that only the
Iranian and Syrian regimes benefited from bickering over the
proposed cease-fire agreement and its related UNSC resolution.
8. (C/NF) When asked about his inexplicable confidence that
Hizballah would either move north of the Litani with its
heavy weapons, or allow itself to be disarmed by the LAF,
Siniora said he wasn't certain, but his on-going
communication with Hizballah through Nabih Berri and other
Shia interlocutors led him to believe they were "considering"
and close to such action.

BELIEVES FRENCH READY TO LEAD THE FORCE
---------------------------------------
9. (C/NF) Another area where PM Siniora felt rapid progress
was being made was the willingness of France to take a
leading role in the multi-national stabilization force (which
Siniora usually referred to as the "UN force"). Siniora said
his discussions with FM Douste-Blazy have been detailed and
fruitful. (Note: Both PM Siniora and his senior advisor,
Ambassador Mohammad Chatta, came into the meeting straight
from their talks with Douste-Blazy in ebullient spirits. End
note.)

10. (C/NF) Siniora said he was reasonably confident the
first contingent on the ground would be a 1,000 man French
unit, and that these personnel would form the nucleus of the
rapidly deployed stabilization force. He said getting the
French commitment was one of the two primary reasons for
Douste-Blazy's visit -- the other being coordination on the
wording of the draft UN resolution.

11. (C/NF) Midway through the meeting, PM Siniora took a
lengthy call from PM Tony Blair and when he returned,
indicated the British Prime Minister was also on board with
the French as the vanguard unit. He also obliquely referred
to a British commitment to provide "reconnaissance" to assist
with the required monitoring function of the force.

"CREATING THE CONDITIONS"
-------------------------
12. (C/NF) Prime Minister said he believed his Minster of
Culture Tarek Mitri would capably represent the Government in
the intense deliberations about to commence in New York. And
he conveyed almost unnatural confidence that things were
falling into place quite well. He said he had created the
"conditions" that were necessary to win Lebanese support for
the cease-fire agreement that treated the critical concerns
of both governments.

13. (C/NF) As he has in almost every previous meeting, he
re-emphasized the centrality of the Shebaa Farms issue --
characterizing it as the key with which to break Hizballah's
hold on Lebanese sympathies. He then rather hastily ended
the meeting with his observation that the U.S. had been "in
the dock" long enough in Lebanese and Arab public opinion,
and now it was time to put Iran there. That is possible with
BEIRUT 00002504 003 OF 003
the adoption of his point on Shebaa Farms (that is, a
temporary UN stewardship over the area).

COMMENT
-------
14. (C/NF) Our message to Siniora -- both in the meetings
and in the subsequent phone calls -- was that he needs to
send a letter to the UNSC defining his needs, especially in
relation to a stabilization force. He was not,
unfortunately, in receive mode. We will meet Marwan Hamadeh
(the cabinet minister least prone to flinching) today to try
to work the idea from inside the cabinet. We will also ask
to see the suddenly (and curiously) inaccessible French
Ambassador in an attempt to find out whether Douste-Blazy
really said that a GOL letter is not necessary -- and whether
the French really are, as Siniora claimed, ready to send the
vanguard of a stabilization force. (The last time we saw
Ambassador Emie a few days ago, he was decidedly cool on the
idea and almost visibly hostile to our ideas, a sad
development after nearly two years of Franco-American
partnership on Lebanon that achieved so much.)

15. (C/NF) Siniora, on the verge of seeing his cabinet
collapse in the aftermath of the Qana incident, has now
rebounded on a populist high. His 7/30 vow not to negotiate
until a cease-fire is in place appealed to the beleagured
Lebanese masses (nearly a quarter of whom are now displaced,
putting strains across the entire country). As even moderate
Christian leaders are warning, our position is interpreted
here as "immoral," as any delay in a cease-fire is seen as
our acceptance of further civilian deaths and destruction.
At heart a reasonable and sensible man, Siniora has not yet
drunk from that from that toxic cup of know-nothing
anti-Americanism that so many Arab leaders have used to
maintain a grip on power. But he has discovered that being
seen to stand up to American requests shores up his cabinet
and popular base. We got nowhere yesterday on convincing him
to send a letter, and we doubt that, after his meetings today
with the Iranian Foreign Minister, he'll be any more eager to
confront his cabinet with something he believes won't be
acceptable to the Shia ministers.

FELTMAN
=======================CABLE ENDS============================

Source : Al Akhbar Newspaper

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