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….”

Defending education in times of war and occupation: Iraqi academics

The Brussells Tribunal,  the University of Ghent-Menarg, Vrede vzw and others organise a conference on Iraqi academics and their struggle to defend education and independent scholarship under occupation. Between March 9th and 11th, numerous academics and journalists, including Dahr Jamail and Raymond Baker, will report on the current state of intellectual life and the right to education in Iraq and discuss solutions. The third day is devoted to workshops. For registration and info go here.

Israel is a colony, remember?

I have been asked to spread the word on this conference, which aims to return the discussion of the zionist problem to its proper framework, which is that of a colonial issue. This used to be the way it was approached by academics and activists alike, way back when the world was not yet exclusively seen through the lenses of neo-liberalism and religious fundamentalism. Not to mention, in academic circles, through the lens of post-colonialism…

 

PAST IS PRESENT: SETTLER COLONIALISM MATTERS!

SOAS Palestine Society Conference Organizing Collective

On 5-6 March 2011, the Palestine Society at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London will hold its seventh annual conference, “Past is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine.” This year’s conference aims to understand Zionism as a settler colonial project which has, for more than a century, subjected Palestine and Palestinians to a structural and violent form of destruction, dispossession, land appropriation and erasure in the pursuit of a new Jewish Israeli society. By organizing this conference, we hope to reclaim and revive the settler colonial paradigm and to outline its potential to inform and guide political strategy and mobilization.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often described as unique and exceptional with little resemblance to other historical or ongoing colonial conflicts. Yet, for Zionism, like other settler colonial projects such as the British colonization of Ireland or European settlement of North America, South Africa or Australia, the imperative is to control the land and its resources — and to displace the original inhabitants. Indeed, as conference keynote speaker Patrick Wolfe, one of the foremost scholars on settler colonialism and professor at La Trobe University in Victoria, Australia, argues, “the logic of this project, a sustained institutional tendency to eliminate the Indigenous population, informs a range of historical practices that might otherwise appear distinct–invasion is a structure not an event.”

Therefore, the classification of the Zionist movement as a settler colonial project, and the Israeli state as its manifestation, is not merely intended as a statement on the historical origins of Israel, nor as a rhetorical or polemical device. Rather, the aim is to highlight Zionism’s structural continuities and the ideology which informs Israeli policies and practices in Palestine and toward Palestinians everywhere. Thus, the Nakba — whether viewed as a spontaneous, violent episode in war, or the implementation of a preconceived master plan — should be understood as both the precondition for the creation of Israel and the logical outcome of Zionist settlement in Palestine.

Moreover, it is this same logic that sustains the continuation of the Nakba today. As remarked by Benny Morris, “had he [David Ben Gurion] carried out full expulsion–rather than partial–he would have stabilised the State of Israel for generations.”[ii] Yet, plagued by an “instability”–defined by the very existence of the Palestinian nation–Israel continues its daily state practices in its quest to fulfill Zionism’s logic to maximize the amount of land under its control with the minimum number of Palestinians on it. These practices take a painful array of manifestations: aerial and maritime
bombardment, massacre and invasion, house demolitions, land theft, identity card confiscation, racist laws and loyalty tests, the wall, the siege on Gaza, cultural appropriation, and the dependence on willing (or unwilling) native collaboration and security arrangements, all with the continued support and backing of imperial power.

Despite these enduring practices however, the settler colonial paradigm has largely fallen into disuse. As a paradigm, it once served as a primary ideological and political framework for all Palestinian political factions and trends, and informed the intellectual work of committed academics and revolutionary scholars, both Palestinians and Jews.

The conference thus asks where and why the settler colonial paradigm was lost, both in scholarship on Palestine and in politics; how do current analyses and theoretical trends that have arisen in its place address present and historical realities? While acknowledging the creativity of these new interpretations, we must nonetheless ask: when exactly did Palestinian natives find themselves in a “post-colonial” condition? When did the ongoing struggle over land become a “post-conflict” situation? When did Israel become a “post-Zionist” society? And when did the fortification of Palestinian ghettos and reservations become “state-building”?

Such an alignment would expand the tools available to Palestinians and their solidarity movement, and reconnect the struggle to its own history of anti-colonial internationalism. At its core, this internationalism asserts that the Palestinian struggle against Zionist settler colonialism can only be won when it is embedded within, and empowered by, the broader Arab movement for emancipation and the indigenous, anti-racist and anti-colonial movement-from Arizona to Auckland.

SOAS Palestine Society invites everyone to join us at what promises to be a significant intervention in Palestine activism and scholarship. For over 30 years, SOAS Palestine Society has heightened awareness and understanding of the Palestinian people, their rights, culture, and struggle for self-determination, amongst students, faculty, staff, and the broader public. SOAS Palestine society aims to continuously push the frontiers of discourse in an effort to make provocative arguments and to stimulate debate and organizing for justice in Palestine through relevant conferences, and events ranging from the intellectual and political impact of Edward Said’s life and work (2004), international law and the Palestine question (2005), the economy of Palestine and its occupation (2006), the one state (2007), 60 Years of Nakba, 60 Years of Resistance (2009), and most recently, the Left in Palestine (2010).

For more information on the SOAS Palestine Society 7th annual conference, Past is Present: Settler Colonialism in Palestine: www.soaspalsoc.org

SOAS Palestine Society Organizing Collective is a group of committed students that has undertaken to organize annual academic conferences on Palestine since 2003.

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[i] Patrick Wolfe, Settler Colonialism and the Transformation of Anthropology: The Politics and Poetics of an Ethnographic Event, Cassell, London, p. 163

[ii] Interview with Benny Morris, Survival of the Fittest, Haaretz, 9. January 2004, http://cosmos.ucc.ie/cs1064/jabowen/IPSC/php/art.php?aid=5412