US embassy cable - 86BEIRUT6632

THE CAMPS WAR IN LEBANON

Identifier: 86BEIRUT6632
Wikileaks: View 86BEIRUT6632 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 1986-12-04 13:17:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: MOPS PREL LE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 041317Z DEC 86
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9884
INFO AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
AMEMBASSY CAIRO
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY NICOSIA
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY RIYADH
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
UNVIE MISSION VIENNA 0003
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 06632 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  MOPS, PREL, LE 
SUBJECT:  THE CAMPS WAR IN LEBANON 
 
1.  (SECRET/NOFORN - ENTIRE TEXT) 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  THE WAR OF THE CAMPS IN LEBANON CONTINUES 
UNABATED WITH FIERCE FIGHTING.  NOT SURPRISINGLY, 
LEBANESE POLITICIANS HAVE DIFFERING VIEWS ON THE WAR, 
DEPENDING ON THEIR POLITICAL OPTIC.  THERE FOLLOWS OBSER- 
VATIONS BY SEVERAL LEBANESE POLITICIANS IN CONVERSATIONS 
WITH AMBASSADOR DECEMBER 3 AND 4.  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  THE CAMPS WAR BETWEEN THE PALESTINIANS AND THE SHIA 
AMAL FORCES CONTINUES TO RAGE.  NOW IN ITS SIXTH WEEK, 
A MAJOR STRATEGIC CONFRONTATION CONTINUES AROUND SIDON. 
THE RASHADIYAH CAMP NEAR TYRE  REMAINS ENCIRCLED. 
SHATILA AND BURJ AL-BURAJINAH IN BEIRUT'S SOUTHERN 
SUBURBS CONTINUE UNDER RELENTLESS BOMBARDMENT.  AS 
REPORTED BY DAO/BEIRUT, ELEMENTS OF THE MUSLIM 6TH AND 
1ST BRIGADES OF THE LEBANESE ARMY HAVE JOINED WITH AMAL 
IN THE SIEGES OF SHATILA AND BURJ AL-BURAJINAH.  THE 
SYRIANS ARE PROVIDING AMMO AND LOGISTIC SUPPORT TO AMAL. 
THERE ARE UNCONFIRMED REPORTS OF UP TO 300 SYRIAN TROOPS 
IN AMAL UNIFORMS JOINING THE FIGHTING. 
 
4.  NATIONAL LIBERALS PARTY PRESIDENT DANY CHAMOUN 
(MARONITE CHRISTIAN) TOLD AMBASSADOR THAT HE IS DELIGHTED 
WITH THE WAR OF THE CAMPS.  CHAMOUN SAID THAT AS LONG AS 
THE SHIA AND THE PALESTINIANS ARE KILLING ONE ANOTHER AND 
LEAVING THE CHRISTIANS ALONE, THE SITUATION IS JUST FINE. 
 
5.  FORMER FOREIGN MINISTER FUAD BUTROS (ORTHODOX 
CHRISTIAN) SEES THE CAMPS WAR AS ENHANCING THE POSSIBILITY 
OF A RAPPROCHEMENT BETWEEN LEBANESE PRESIDENT GEMAYEL 
AND SYRIAN PRESIDENT ASSD.  BUTROS SAID THAT SYRIAN 
FAILURE TO HAVE THEIR SURROGATE AMAL FIGHTERS ACHIEVE 
VICTORY OVER THE PALESTINIANS HAS FURTHER UNDERMINED 
ASSAD'S POSITION, WHICH HAD ALREADY BEEN WEAKENED BY 
WESTERN PRESSURE FOLLOWING THE REVELATIONS OF SYRIAN- 
SPONSORED TERRORIST ACTS.  BUTROS BELIEVES THAT BECAUSE 
ASSAD IS WEAKENED, HE WILL BE MORE LIKELY TO BE 
ACCOMMODATING TO GEMAYEL. 
 
- 
6.  SHIA MODERATE DEPUTY RAFIQ SHAHIN (WHOSE CONSTITUENCY 
OF NABATIYAH INCLUDES THE MAGHDUSHAH AREA WHICH COMMANDS 
THE HEIGHTS OVERLOOKING SIDON) VIEWS THE WAR AS A SERIOUS 
CHALLENGE TO THE SHIA POSITION.  SHAHIN TOLD THE 
AMBASSADOR THAT THE SHIA CANNOT AFFORD TO ALLOW THE 
ESTABLISHMENT OF A PALESTINIAN ENCLAVE CENTERED AROUND 
SIDON AND INCLUDING THE HEIGHTS OF MAGHDUSHAH.  IF THE 
PALESTINIANS SUCCEED IN ESTABLISHING AND HOLDING SUCH AN 
ENCLAVE, SOUTHERN LEBANON AND THE SHIA WILL BE CUT IN 
HALF.  THE PALESTINIANS WILL CONTROL ACCESS BETWEEN 
BEIRUT AND THE SOUTH AND WILL BE IN A POSITION TO CHOKE 
IT OFF AT ANY TIME.  FURTHERMORE, PALESTINIAN RETENTION 
OF MAGHDUSHAH WILL PUT THE PALESTINIANS WITHIN A 
KILOMETER OR TWO OF LAHAD'S ISRAELI-SPONSORED "ARMY OF 
SOUTH LEBANON."  SHAHIN SAID LAHAD'S MILITIA OCCUPIES THE 
TERRAIN BETWEEN JEZZINE AND SIDON, OVERLOOKING MAGHDUSHAH. 
SHAHIN ASSERTED THAT A PALISTIANH CLAVE AROUND SIDO, 
WOULD MEAN UNREMITTING PALESTINIAN OPERATIONS AGAINST 
LAHAD AND ISRAEL. 
 
7.  SHAHIN DESCRIBED AMAL LEADE NABIH BERRI'S POSITION 
AS UNDER GREAT PRESSURE FROM ALL SIDES.  IF BERRI AND 
AMAL CANNOT REMOVE THE PALESTINIANS AROUND SIDON AND FORCE 
THEM BACK INTO THE CAMPS, BERRI AND AMAL AS A COHESIVE 
MOVEMENT WILL BE FINISHED.  THE DIVIDED SHIA COMMUNITY 
WOULD THEN BE PREY TO EVEN MORE EXPLOITATION BY THE 
IRANIAN-SPONSORED HIZBALLAH EXTREMISTS. 
 
- 
8.  SHAHIN SAID THAT BECAUSE OF OQE CURRENT SITUATION, 
HIZBALLAH FIGHTERS ARE FIGHTING AND DYING WITH AMAL. 
SHAHIN'S SON IN NABITIYAH DESCRIBED TO SHAHIN DECEMBER 3 
THE FUNERAL OF 15 SHIA FROM ONE VILLAGE:  12 AMAL 
FIGHTERS AND 3 HIZBALLAH.  SHAHIN SAID HIZBALLAH IS ALSO 
COOPERATING WITH AMAL AROUND TYRE AND IN BEIRUT.  THE 
HIZBALLAH LEADERSHIP DOES NOT LIKE SUPPORTING BERRI BUT 
BECAUSE OF THE EXTENSIVE BLOODSHED, THE SHIA ARE UNITED 
AGAINST THE PALESTINIANS. 
 
9.  SHAHIN ALSO DESCRIBED BLOODY ATROCITIES COMMITTED BY 
BOTH SIDES AGAINST NON-COMBATTANTS, WOUNDED, AND 
PRISONERS. 
 
10.  SHAHIN ALSO THOUGHT THAT THE FAILURE THUS FAR OF THE 
SYRIAN-SUPPORTED AMAL EFFORT ENHANCES GEMAYEL'S 
LEVERAGE WITH ASSAD. 
 
11.  COMMENT:  IT IS CLEAR THAT THIS THIRD VERSION OF THE 
CAMPS WAR DIFFERS FROM THE PREVIOUS TWO.  IF THE 
PALESTINIANS SUCCEED IN SECURING AN ENCLAVE IN AND AROUND 
SIDON, THEY WILL HAVE SUCCEEDED IN CHANGING THE MILITARY 
AND POLITICAL MAP OF LEBANON FROM BEIRUT TO THE 
ISRAELI BORDER. 
 
KELLY 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04