Wikileaks 2006 war: the full series…

Yalla, I haven’t had a lot of time to post sequels to the former posts and have been bypassed by the good people at Friday Lunch Club (several posts, scroll down) and Qifa Nabki, so I won’t bother quoting a lot of the other cables. The full series, by the way, can be accessed here on the invaluble Al Akhbar’s website (the actual cables are of course in the original English). Enjoy – or maybe rather, shudder to think…

Just one salient quote I cannot resist posting here: ‘Separately, former UNIFIL spokesman Timur Goksel told econoff that he saw the Israeli ground incursion as exactly what Hizballah wanted. Goksel’s contacts in Hizballah told him that they hope “Israel stays awhile.” Hizballah officials told Goksel that only 17 Hizballah fighters had delayed the Israeli advance on Maroun el-Ras and exacted a heavy price on the IDF. (Seven of those 17 were killed in the fighting, according to the same officials.) Hizballah officials also told Goksel that Hizballah has lost only 30 fighters in the two weeks of war so far. Hizballah officials were further encouraged, according to Goksel, because the heavy fighting that bloodied Israeli forces in Maroun el-Ras and Bint Jbeil was carried out by local Hizballah militiamen, not their elite “Special Forces.” According to Goksel, Hizballah is holding back its best fighters in the event of a larger Israeli invasion. 7. (C/NF) Hizballah welcomes ground fighting not only because it levels the playing field, according to Goksel. It also distracts from Hizballah’s anxiety over the aftereffects of the war. Many Hizballah officials are worried that, although morale within Hizballah’s military wing remains high, they will have to justify to their constituents the suffering caused by the war. An invasion would provide a convenient distraction and a ready justification to continue fighting.”‘

Meanwhile, the glorious IDF is doing again what it does best: terrorising unarmed civilians: today, freshly returned from bombing children in Gaza, the ‘most moral army in the world’ kidnapped two Lebanese shepherds. No IDF casualties were reported (yet)…

Lebanon 2006 wikileaks on Al Akhbar website

Links: http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/6853 to http://www.al-akhbar.com/node/6869

I love this one – /node/6860: august 5, towards the end: ‘UNSYG’s Personal Representative for Lebanon Geir Pedersen stressed that Israeli military action would not achieve the intended political objectives and that the longer it took to reach a cease-fire, the greater the prospect of a “total collapse” in Lebanon. Pedersen provided a laundry list of “doomsday” scenarios including a Hizballah attack on Tel Aviv, an influx of al-Qaeda-styled militants into Lebanon, and Samir Ja’ja “going mad and declaring his own kingdom.”

There is also the maronite patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir holding high christian values such as charity and love for fellow human beings in a distressed situation (node/6858): ‘Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, the highest authority in Lebanon’s Maronite Christian community, noted repeatedly in the meeting that he is troubled by the displaced Shi,a who are seeking refuge in Beirut and Mount Lebanon. He was clear that the Shia cannot remain in ‘this region’ and must go back to ‘their areas’. He acknowledged that resettling people from Beirut,s southern suburb, where crowded ten-story apartment buildings are now flattened, would be the starkest challenge. He added that jobs and temporary housing in the south are essential to attract Shia out of the schools and churches where they are currently housed. He warned that if immediate action is not taken to relocate the Shia back to the south they will move further into the Mount Lebanon region. Ambassador assured Sfeir that the return of displaced Shia to the south would be one of the top priorities in the post-conflict agenda.’

6869: a nice gem from the Israeli side (Dov Weissglas talking): ‘What would have Sharon done?

It is unlikely that Nasrallah expected that Hizballah’s strike would provoke a big crisis. There were too many variables that he could not have forecast, including that one of the cameras on the border had malfunctioned, allowing the Hizballah team to approach without being detected; that two soldiers would be captured alive; that the IDF would immediately launch a half-baked rescue attempt that would hit a mine and incur eight more casualties, upping the ante for Israel; etc.
— Given the circumstances, Sharon might not have even reacted to the kidnapping of the two soldiers, certainly not immediately. If he had responded, Sharon would have known not to set ambitious goals (e.g., the rescue of the soldiers; the destruction of Hizballah) that were beyond his power to

deliver. When Olmert and Peretz did, they were forced to continue military operations. The longer the war dragged on, the worse they looked.
— Instead, Sharon would have just said that we had to punish Hizballah. Then he could have let them have it for a few days and declared victory whenever he chose.
— Olmert and Peretz placed too much faith in what they were told and had no experience that could allow them to suggest alternatives. Sharon knew that IDF Generals always exaggerate capabilities. “Arik always said, take everything they tell you and divide it by ten.” Peretz, in particular, had no such “BS detector”.’

As always: check Friday Lunch Club for updates such as:’Elias Murr: “We will prevent missiles lauch from SOLIDERE … & Marwan Hamadeh: “We should erect an electric fence along the Syrian-Lebanese border“…’ and ‘Abdallah of Jordan: “Send a multinational force to destroy Hezbollah!”

More sources: Angry Arab should of course be daily reading for you anyway, and Nicholas Noe has this to say on the wikileaks, and especially on Naharnet – which should be avoided by anyone seriously interested in Lebanon anyway…

More 2006 leaks

Poor credulous misguided soul: “SUBJECT: SINIORA BELIEVES HE HAS THE CONFIDENCE OF HIS PEOPLE, THE SUPPORT OF HIS CABINET, AND THE COMMITMENT OF THE FRENCH”

Tayyar.org is publishing the cables in full here (thanks, Bilal) – be warned though: this is the website of Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement and they are likely to omit stuff that ius embarrassing for their party and allies…

Here is the link to this cable at al Akhbar, the Lebanese newspaper which has been receiving the cables directly from Wikileaks and publishing them first.
Jadaliyya sums it all up nicely: ‘So now we know. In 2006, as Israel was bombing Lebanese highways, power supplies, the airport, and oil reservoirs, the Lebanese Prime Minister was hoping that Israel would finish “the job” quickly and successfully. Now we know. As over a quarter of the population was displaced from their homes under the threat of missiles, tank fire and artillery, the then commander of the army and now president of Lebanon, was letting the Israeli government know that the Lebanese army would stand down. As 10,000 homes were destroyed and over 1,300 Lebanese citizens (1/3 of them children) were killed, the Lebanese government’s main concern was that that this very real and very brutal Israeli re-invasion might lead to a “reoccupation” of Lebanon by Syria.’

Wikileaks on 2006 Iraeli attack part 2

Document Beirut 2403: Excerpts – July 16, 2006/

Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman in a late night meeting with Terje Roed Larsen & Geir Pederson, in Larsen’s suite at the Phoenicia Hotel. Pederson later left the meeting to join other members of the UN delegation in Beirut and to prevent the interpretation that the US & UN were in cahoots….
Larsen said that he had an excellent meeting with Siniora and Berri who was overwhelmed by a inert desire to ‘seize the opportunity’ but was held back by the popular mood… Larsen was adamant to restrict his ‘initiative’ to Berri & Siniora, and did not wish the incorporation of the ‘naive ones like Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri.’

Walid Jumblatt & Marwan Hamadeh were clearly concerned with Israel’s MO of ‘surgical bombardment’, and hoped that it continues with it war until they inflict quasi destruction of Hezbollah’s infrastructure, even if this entailed the occupation of south Lebanon. Jumblatt stressed that publicly he was going to call for a cease fire but that he sees in the continuation of hostilities an opportunity to destro Hezbollah.
In that meeting, over a bottle of wine, 3 bottles of Corona & Vodka (the origin of which led to a long argument between Jumblatt and an overwhelmed room service waiter), the Druze leader went through an encapsulation of March14′ thinking.
Jumblatt was not happy to see that Israel has not destroyed enough of Hezbollah’s infrastructure and capabilities… and complsined that a cease fire would give Hezbollah a victory. He frankly conveyed that he prefers the continuation of the hostilities..
Ambassador Feltman asked Jumblatt what does Israel needs to do to inflict maximum damage on Hezbollah: Jumblatt replied that Israel is fighting a conventional war … What is needed is an invasion of south Lebabon, cleaning the area to allow the redeployment of the LAF … .Jumblatt concluded that there are only two possible outcomes: total victory or total defeat of Hezbollah, no gray zones!

Beirut Document 2490 – Meeting between Ambassador Feltman & Marwan Hamadeh, in the later’s home, attended by Ghassan Tueini…
Hamadeh told the ambassador that the July 27th’s meeting of the Council of Ministers saw an ‘epic’ confrontation between Hamadeh vs all of President Lahoud, the Shia’ ministers and some of ‘weak technocrats’ from Hariri’s Future bloc…
Hamadeh informed the ambassador that he called Saad Hariri in Saudi Arabia and told him “do not return now, because you will be swamped in Quraitem by 20,000 hungry beggars”. Hariri relayed the kindest regards from the Saudi leadership to Walid Jumblatt …

It is worth pointing out that ‘ambassador’ Feltman is currently personally directing the Saudi occupation forces in Bahrain. Also, look at Egypt right now: they are following Lebanon’s path – as soon  as M14 lost their hold on Lebanon’s security services, the latter started uncovering and dismantling one Israeli spy network after the other. The Egyptian security services – only halfway cleansed of Mubarak goons yet – are already following suit: ‘(…) the alleged spy ring was gathering information about the Egyptian army, who has been in control of the country following Former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster earlier this year. The group was allegedly spying on the armed forces during the uprising that led to Mubarak’s toppling. At the time, an Israeli Channel 10 correspondent was arrested by Egyptian intelligence as he photographed armed forces in Cairo. He was forced to return to Israel, as were three other journalists said to be of Israel’s Channel 2. Images of the trio had been broadcast prominently on Egyptian state television, with police officers holding up their passports to the cameras.’

 

 

Wikileaks on the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon – it is beginning!

Doc. Number 2602/ August 12, 2006
Hariri meeting Jeffrey Feltman (Excerpts) Original will be availbale once site releases it)
(…) Hariri believes that, despite Hezbollah’s bravado, the resistance is badly bruised and weakened politically.

Hariri said that Nabih Berri’s dream to to ‘get rid of Hezbollah’ and that Berri is upset with Hezbollah, waiting for the dust to settle to use his rejuvenated popular support to ‘pressure Hezbollah in order to control it…’ Hariri believes that it was Berri who imposed his will on Hezbollah and pressured them to accept the North-Litani redeployment … Hariri thinks these moves are the ‘beginning of the end’ for the resistance. (comment: when Ambassador feltman met with minister Ghazi Aridi he was told that parallel to the Paris conference of Donors, an Arab fund was being created and it would include Iran … This fund was to be ‘supervised by Berri’ ) Ambassador Feltman raised the ‘Berri family finances’ with Hariri and pressed upon him the need of preventing Berri and his wife Randa from tapping into any fund, as is customary.
Hariri asked ambassador Feltman to ‘keep his remarks confidential’ and reiterated the need to remove Lahoud, Suleiman & Georges Khoury (head of Army Intelligence) because they are certified Syrian & Hezbollah agents …and hoped to recruit Nabih Berri towards these noble goals! Hariri asked Feltman to help in keeping the pressure on Syria and Iran to ‘destabilize them’… Finally, Hariri asked that for an immediate formation of the ‘Tribunal’ in order to use it as a ‘sword above Syria & Iran’s necks’ and weaken their Lebanese agents!
Comment: Hariri spoke of his concerns that the airport was still being used to smuggle weapons for Hezbollah and belittled Nabih Berri’s reputation as ’embezzler’and said that he skimmed ‘only 10-15%’ to rebuild the South and line his pockets …
[Comment: Hariri wants to get rid of Lahoud and (especially) Suleiman but could not name anyone to replace them both ..
Hariri lowered his voice and shook his head .. We believe that was a sincere acknowledgement that he was thankful we pressed upon him to name Siniora instead of Bahij Tabbarah, despite a shaky start, rocked by jealousy … We believe that Siniora and Hariri will cooperate in the future, and hoped that Hariri would remain in Lebanon because his frequent leisurly travels with large entourage, and lavish stays at the Plaza Athenee, did not go down well when Lebanon was being bombarded, and that did not bode well for March 14. End comment]

Document number 2513/Beirut
(Excerpts below. Original to be released later)
August 1, 2006.
Meeting between Ambassador Feltman & MP Boutros Harb.
Harb, a presidential hopeful, lamented that albeit the toll of Israeli war on Lebanon was steep, it ‘remains without a good conclusion.’… Harb worries that Nasrallah could still cpme out a ‘winner’ from this debacle, because he is seemingly destroying the myth of an invincible IDF, and gaining international sympathy …
Harb worries that the war is now in its 20th day, and that is giving Arabs in general that Israel can be defeated and ultimately destroyed… He also warned that the attack on Qana was playing into Hezbollah’s hands and gaining it popular support …
Harb was saddened to see that the Israeli war did not weaken Hezbollah and stressed that a cesafire was going to make Hezbollah the ‘region’s Rambo!’.
Harb further stressed that it was going to be a ‘catastrphy’ should Hezbollah come out of all this ‘stronger’… Harb warned Feltman that if this happened, Hezbollah would be well positioned to impose the Wilayat al Faqih on all Lebanese, … and ultimately, spark the Sunni-Shii’ showdown it longs for.
Harb went on and made some ‘policy recommendations’ but acknowledged that it was ‘easier said than done’. Harb said that it was unfortunate that Hezbollah’s physical presence was not centralized, making it military defeat difficult. But Harb still hoped for a military defeat of Hezbollah, although he predicted that this defeat would be coensated by an increase in Hezbollah’s popularity.
Harb proposed that Israel advances into Lebanon, and occupies Hezbollah’s strogholds in Marun el Rass & Bint Jbeil .. Harb stressed the importance of this happening before the US imposition of a cease fire….”

Don’t even try – you can’t beat us…

From today’s Daily Star: “Those concerned about the lack of a government in Lebanon can take heart – the country is unlikely to come near the record-breaking 250 days without a coalition that Belgium is almost certain to reach Friday. At least that’s what Belgium’s bicycling ambassador to Lebanon, Johan Verkammen, thinks. In an interview with The Daily Star, Verkammen joked of the record, whose current holder is Iraq on 249 days, that “once we have a record, we want to keep it.” On a more serious note, he said he thought it was unlikely Lebanon would be without a government as long as Belgium. “I have the impression, although of course you never know, that talks have advanced already on the formation of this new government.” Regarding the probability that Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati will form a government without the March 14 coalition, Verkammen remarked that “it’s not up to [non-Lebanese] to say what kind of coalition should be in the government in Lebanon. Certainly coming from Belgium where we know how difficult it is, you will not hear me saying how the Lebanese should do it.” The lack of a governing coalition is not the only parallel between the two outwardly-different countries. Belgium’s system of government divides power between the federal government, the country’s three linguistic communities, and its three regions.
Lebanon’s confessional system, which comprises 18 confessional groups, is different and perhaps more complex than Belgium’s, but Verkammen said that “it’s perhaps a little easier for us [in Belgium] to understand how to manage this diversity within a country, with different communities.” Verkammen attributed the current Belgian deadlock to controversy over institutional reforms. “As you can see from the crisis in Belgium [democracy is] always a work in progress, it’s always evolving,” he said. “But if you can make it evolve according to the wishes of the people, and through democratic dialogue, that’s fine, I think.”

Meanwhile in the background…

It is easy right now, with revolutions going on and riots and protests raging all over the Arab world, to lose sight of the ongoing Israel-Hezbollah conflict. Yet challenges have recently been flying over and back on both sides, with Ehud Barak claiming in a speech on an IDF base that ‘we may have to go back in soon since Hezbollah seems to have forgotten the lesson we taught it in 2006 (sic)’ and Nasrallah retorting that ‘if you attack Lebanon again, we will liberate Northern Galilee’. Now both of these statements reveal nothing new. I have argued in this blog before that Israel is hidebound on a self-destructive, suicidal course. Its leaders are very akin to the Mubaraks and Ben Alis of this world: they are so used to having their every whim attended to without a whimper of criticism or protest, that they have long ago lost the ability to think clearly and see reality for what it is. In Barak’s case: despite facts on the ground and the Winograd commission’s conclusions about the dilapidated state of the IDF, he refuses to concede that the fourth strongest army in the world, with all its hi-tech gadgetry, was utterly unable to even seriously dent a group of lightly-armed but determined guerillas. All the IDF managed to do in 2006 was what it is actually good at: massacring unarmed civilians, preferably from a mile up in the sky. As soon as they were confronted with actual trained fighters, it was they who took a beating and were forced to retreat dismally licking their wounds. Even their much-vaunted Merkava tanks were no match for Hezbollah. But as some dude in the US state department once said: the Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then bangs his head with a hammer to put out the flames. They are unlikely to actually learn from their mistakes and will continue to underestimate their enemies. On the other hand, I have long argued on this blog that the logical next step for Hezbollah – not the type of people to get conceited and overly confident to the point of being blinded to all signs of reality – in any coming conflict would be to actually invade Israel. The mere psychological effect of the zionist state actually losing land for the first time in 70 years or so would be devastating enough to bring an  end to this religious colonial adventure. Having in all probability lost the support of the Egyptian dictatorship – depending on the outcome of the ongoing events – and additionally facing a situation where their other dictator friends in the Arab world, from Jordan to Saudi Arabia to Morocco, are now politically unable to be seen as even passively supporting any Israeli military adventures, the odds are in any case stacked against them much more than in 2006 or even 2008. Do not underestimate how the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions have galvanised minds both in the Arab world and in Europe in favour of the Arab ‘street’ (as opposed to its republican and monarchic dictatorships), or the importance of Bahrainis, Algerians, Libyans, Yemenis and Jordanians shedding their fear of their own regimes. With Palestinians already protesting both Fatah and Hamas – who both play a major part in protecting Israel – and Arabs in general emboldened and furious, going to war now would be the worst choice the zionist state could make – and if history isany guide, there is therefore a high likelihood that that is exactly the choice it will make. Don’t forget that Israel could have had peace for over ten years already, with all member states of the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, not to mention the UN backing the Saudi proposal for peace within the 1967 borders. Israel has consistently refused to even discuss this perfectly sensible option, just like it has consistently refused Syrian peace offers in return for the Golan Heights, and just like it keeps legitimising and strengthening Hezbollah by occupying the Shebaa farms and Ghajjar.

As Nick Noe puts it on Mideastwire today: “[An Israeli attack on Lebanon] is precisely what Hizbullah has said it very much wants… And I am convinced that this is indeed a genuine, shared strategic approach among key figures in the Party. In this changing strategic balance, Hizbullah seems to be calculating that a large ground invasion – as is being pumped up in Israel on a daily basis, i.e. the reason they “lost” the last war is because they did not punch hard enough into lebanon in 2006 with boots on the ground – that this movement which Barak confidently bellowed today will be a gross miscalculation on the part of the IDF… and would lead to the IDF’s effective collapse.”

Nick sees three possibler scenarios: “This is one end game: Hizbullah leaderships desired endgame I would submit. The other one is that Israel and the US change their negotiating positions enough re: Syria and the Palestinians and undercut the Resistance Axis…. or the third end game where Israel realizes it cannot reasonably ATTACK, it sits back behind its walls and domes and de-legit campaigns and steadily enough people emigrate from Israel, there is enough internal decay and division, that the Jewish state of Israel demographically collapses…”

Theoretically, these are indeed all possible endgames, but I think the US and Israel are too ideologically entrenched and power mad to go for the second option, while the third is not a realistic option because Israel cannot keep its various feuding factions united without the common enemy and regular warfare. In short, I do think the Israelis are getting desperate right now, and that additionally are blind, irrational and suicidal enough to lash out wildly at the nearest enemy ignoring all consequences of their actions. I am furthermore convinced that they will not only lose that war, but will lose ‘their’ country in doing so. But then, I have also regularly argued on this blog – and even more to friends and colleagues in Beirut – that the Arab populations were about to explode and that revolution was around the corner. Nobody listened then and I am not expecting anybody to listen now…