US embassy cable - 86BEIRUT1023

CONFLICT BETWEEN HIZBALLAH AND THE LEBANESE COMMUNIST PARTY

Identifier: 86BEIRUT1023
Wikileaks: View 86BEIRUT1023 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 1986-02-26 11:00:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PINR LE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 261100Z FEB 86
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6574
INFO AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY 
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY 
C O N F I D E N T I A L BEIRUT 01023 
 
SIPDIS 
E.O. 12356:  DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PINR, LE 
SUBJECT:  CONFLICT BETWEEN HIZBALLAH AND THE LEBANESE 
          COMMUNIST PARTY 
 
REF:  BEIRUT 1006 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  DURING BRIEF CONVERSATION WITH POLOFF ON FEBRUARY 26, 
DR. JAMIL NAHMI, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF PUBLIC SECURITY 
(SURETE GENERALE), OFFERED HIS ANALYSIS OF THE RECENT 
CLASHES IN WEST BEIRUT BETWEEN HIZBALLAH AND LEBANESE 
COMMUNIST PARTY(LCP) MILITIAS. 
 
3.  NAHMI FIRST NOTED THE DEEP IDEOLOGICIAL DIVIDE WHICH 
SEPARATES RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM AND COMMUNIST 
DOCTRINE.  UNLIKE MANY OTHER OPPOSING MILITIAS IN LEBANON 
WHICH MAINTAIN SOME CONTACTS DESPITE THEIR ANIMOSITIES, 
THE IDEOLOGICAL DIVIDE BETWEEN HIZBALLAH AND THE LPC WAS 
SO DEEP THAT IT HAD PRECLUDED ANY WORKING CONTACTS 
BETWEEN THE TWO ORGANIZATIONS. 
 
4.  AGAINST THIS BACKGROUND, NAHMI SITUATED THE ORIGIN OF 
THE CURRENT HIZBALLAH/LPC CONFLICT IN SOUTH LEBANON.  HE 
ASSERTED THAT OVER THE PAST TWO MONTHS AMAL HAD SUCCEEDED 
IN REDUCING SSNP AND LPC PRESENCE IN SOUTH LEBANON AND 
THAT MANY COMMUNIST MILITIAMEN HAD MIGRATED TO WEST 
BEIRUT.  SIMULTANEOUSLY, A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF 
HIZBALLAHI HAD ALSO COME TO WESMV BEIRUT FROM THE SOUTH. 
THUS, NAHMI EXPLAINED, THESE TWO FUNDAMENTALLY OPPOSING 
MILITIAS FOUND THEMSELVES CONCENTRATED IN WEST BEIRUT, 
WHICH IS A RELATIVELY SMALL AREA.  THIS CONCENTRATION OF 
FORCES IN WEST BEIRUT, THE GENERAL LAWLESSNES AND 
DISORDER THERE, AND THE LACK OF ADEQUATE COUNTERVAILING 
SECURITY FORCES HAD PROVIDED FERTILE GROUND FOR A 
HIZBALLAH/LPC CONFLICT.  THE CLASHES HAD APPARENTLY 
ERUPTED AT THE STREET LEVEL AND SIMPLY ESCALATED. 
 
5.  ASKED ABOUT REPORTS (REFTEL) THAT SHIITE AND SUNNI 
MUSLIM FUNDAMENTALISTS WERE COOPERATING IN WEST BEIRUT 
AGAINST THE COMMUNISTS, NAHMI RESPONDED THAT THERE WAS 
SOME "COINCIDENCE OF OBJECTIVES" BETWEEN PRO-IRANIAN 
FUNDAMENTALIST GROUPS, BE THEY SHIITE OR SZNNI.  THEY 
BOTH TOOK GUIDANCE FROM TEHRAN, WHOSE OWN RELATIONS WITH 
SYRIA HAVE DETERIORIATED, AND THEY BOTH HAD THEIR OWN 
REASONS TO OPPOSE PRO-SYRIAN LEFTIST GROUPS SUCH AS THE 
LCP AND THE SSNP.  SUNNI FUNDAMENTALISTS SUCH AS THE 
TAWHIID MOVEMENT REMAINED BITTER OVER THEIR DEFEAT IN 
TRIPOLI LAST FALL BY SSNP XD LCP FORCES BACKED BY 
SYRIA.  THE SHIITE FUNDAMENTALISTS SUCH AS HIZBALLAH WERE 
NOW DETERMINED TO OPPOSE MORE DIRECTLY PRO-SYRIAN LEFTIST 
GROUPS, BOTH BECAUSE OF THE RELIGIOUS-VERSUS-SECULAR 
IDEOLOGICAL SPLIT AND BECAUSE OF THEIR DETERIORATING 
RELATIONS WITH SYRIA ITSELF.  NAHMI PREDICTED, HOWEVER, 
THAT THE TRADITIONAL RIFT BETWEEN SHIITE AND SUNNI 
FUNDAMENTALISTS WOULD QUICKLY REAPPEAR WHEN THEY NO 
LONGER FACED A COMMON ENEMY. 
 
6.  IN A BRIEF ASIDE, NAHMI MENTIONED THAT HE HAD MET 
SEPARATELY WITH PSP LEADER JUMBLATT AND AMAL LEADER BARRI 
OVER THE PAST TEN DAYS.  HE SAID JUMBLATT SEEMED TO KNOW 
WERE HE STANDS WITHIN HIS COMMUNITY AND SPOKE WITH SOME 
CONFIDANCE AND AUTHORITY.  BARRI, HOWEVER, SEEMED 
"EXTREMELY ILL AT EASE" ABOUT HIS POSITION AND ACTED AS 
IF HE WERE "WALKING ON SHIFTING SANDS."  UNFORTUNATELY, 
THE CONVERSATION WAS PREEMPTED AT THIS POINT, AND WE 
CALD NOT DRAW NAHMI M FURTHER ON HIS ASSESSMENT OF 
BARRI'S POSITION WITHIN THE SHIITE COMMUNITY. 
 
7.  BIOGRAPHIC NOTE.  JAMIL NAHMI HAS A DOCTORATE IN 
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND WAS THE DIRECTOR OF THE LEBANESE 
UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL.  A STAUNCH GEMAYEL LOYALIST, NAHMI 
WAS ALSO AFFILIATED WITH THE "HOUSE OF THE FUTURE," THE 
PRESIDENT'S THINK TANK AND PUBLISHING HOUSE.  ALTHOUGH A 
PHALANGIST, NAHMI COMES FROM KFAR AKKA NEAR AMIUN IN 
NORTH LEBANON, I.E., FROM THE FRANJIYYAH HEARTLAND. 
 
 
BARTHOLOMEW 

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