US embassy cable - 87DAMASCUS3087

SYRIAN EXPULSION OF THE ABU NIDAL ORGANIZATION

Identifier: 87DAMASCUS3087
Wikileaks: View 87DAMASCUS3087 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Damascus
Created: 1987-06-10 13:16:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PTER PREL SY US LE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 101316Z JUN 87
FM AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0077
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 DAMASCUS 03087 
 
TERREP EXCLUSIVE 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PTER, PREL, SY, US, LE 
SUBJECT:  SYRIAN EXPULSION OF THE ABU NIDAL ORGANIZATION 
 
REF:  A) DAMASCUS 3020, B) DAMASCUS 3026 
 
1.  SECRET - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  EVERY SOURCE WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FOLLOW 
UP WITH CONCERNING ABU NIDAL'S EXPULSION FROM SYRIA 
HAS CONFIRMED THE STORY IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.  NO ONE, 
HOWEVER, CAN SAY AUTHORITATIVELY THAT THE SYRIAN BAN ON 
THE ANO HAS EXTENDED TO THE CAMPS IN THE BIQA' VALLEY. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  POST HAS DONE EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO FOLLOW UP 
INITIAL REPORTS THAT THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT HAS EXPELLED 
THE ABU NIDAL ORGANIZATION FROM ITS TERRITORY.  EVERY 
SOURCE WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CONTACT IN THE PAST TWO DAYS 
HAS SAID THE SAME THING:  THE ANO IS GONE. 
 
4.  POLOFF SPOKE WITH LEBANESE BA'TH PARTY LEADER QANSUH 
JUNE 7 WHO STATED UNEQUIVOCALLY THAT THE SYRIANS HAVE 
EXPELLED THE ANO.  QANSUH SAID QADHAFI HAD SENT A SENIOR 
EMISSARY TO GET THE EXPULSION ORDER REVERSED OR DELAYED, 
BUT ASAD HAD REJECTED THE APPEAL.  MICHEL SAMAHA TOLD 
POLOFF THE SAME DAY THAT HE HAD JUST COME FROM MEETINGS 
WITH KHADDAM, SHARA', AND KHOULI, ALL OF WHOM CONFIRMED 
THE ANO HAD BEEN OUSTED, ADDING THAT THIS WAS A POLITICAL 
DECISION TAKEN "A MONTH AGO" BUT EXECUTED AT A MOMENT 
(JUST BEFORE THE VENICE SUMMIT) TO MAXIMIZE ITS 
PROPAGANDA VALUE IN THE WEST. 
 
5.  AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY OFFICERS HAVE TALKED WITH PNSF 
CHAIRMAN KHALID AL-FAHOUM, PNSF INDEPENDENT SHAHABI, AND 
A MEMBER OF THE PFLP POLITBURO.  ALL THREE PALESTINIAN 
SOURCES TOLD THE AUSTRALIANS PRACTICALLY THE SAME THING: 
ABU NIDAL IS OUT.  THE ONE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE THREE 
PALESTINIANS WAS THAT FAHOUM INDICATED THAT A FEW ANO 
MEMBERS REMAIN IN DAMASCUS TAKING CARE OF LAST MINUTE 
TRANSPORTATION DETAILS, BUT THAT THEY TOO WILL BE GONE BY 
FRIDAY, JUNE 15.  THE OTHER SOURCES SAID THOSE ANO MEMBERS 
NOT HOLDING SYRIAN DOCUMENTATION WERE ALREADY GONE. 
THE AUSTRALIANS' PALESTINIAN CONTACTS ELABORATED ON THE 
QUESTION OF "SYRIAN DOCUMENTATION."  THOSE ANO MEMBERS 
WHO HOLD THE PALESTINIAN IDENTITY DOCUMENTS NORMALLY 
ISSUED BY THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT TO PALESTINIANS ARE 
PERMITTED TO STAY.  THESE ARE BASICALLY REFUGEES WHO 
ARRIVED IN SYRIA IN 1948 AND THEIR CHILDREN WHO WERE BORN 
IN SYRIA.  PERMISSION TO STAY APPARENTLY DOES NOT EXTEND 
TO ANO MEMBERS WHO HAVE RECEIVED SYRIAN PASSPORTS IN THE 
COURSE OF THEIR ANO "DUTIES."  THOSE ANO MEMBERS WHO DO 
REMAIN ARE ABSOLUTELY PROHIBITED FROM ENGAGING IN ANO 
ACTIVITIES.  THEY WILL LIKELY BE CLOSELY WATCHED AND, IF 
ARRESTED FOR ANY VIOLATIONS, WILL BE TREATED AS ORDINARY 
SYRIAN CITIZENS.  THESE PALESTINIAN SOURCES, FINALLY, 
SUGGEST THE REASONS FOR THE SARG'S DECISION RELATE TO THE 
DESIRE TO RELIEVE WESTERN PRESSURES REGARDING TERRORISM 
AS WELL AS REFLECT SYRIAN WRATH OVER ABU NIDAL'S MEETING 
WITH FATAH LEADERS IN ALGIERS. 
 
6.  YUGOSLAV DCM REPORTED THAT TWO "RESPONSIBLE" 
PALESTINIAN OFFICIALS (WHOM HE OTHERWISE DECLINED TO 
IDENTIFY), HAVE ALSO INSISTED THE ANO HAS LEFT SYRIA. 
LIKE THE AUSTRALIANS' SOURCES, THE YUGOSLAV'S CONTACTS 
SAY THAT MOST HAVE GONE DIRECTLY TO LIBYA, WITH A FEW TO 
ALGIERS.  THE YUGOSLAV TOLD US THAT HIS SOURCES SAY THE 
REAL REASON FOR THE SARG'S IMMEDIATE WRATH WAS THAT SYRIA 
INTELLIGENCE HAD "CAUGHT" ANO OPERATIVES "SPYING" ON 
SYRIA. 
 
7.  THE BRITISH EMBASSY HAS ALSO TOLD US THAT RELIABLE 
PALESTINIAN CONTACTS HAVE CONFIRMED THE ANO'S OUSTER AND 
DEPARTURE. 
 
8.  COMMENT:  EVERY SIGN HERE IS THAT THE SYRIAN GOVERN- 
MENT FINALLY HAS TAKEN THE "DIFFICULT STEP" TO ELIMINATE 
THE ANO PRESENCE IN DAMASCUS.  CERTAINLY A SIGNIFICANT 
MOTIVATION HAS BEEN THE DESIRE AND NEED TO ALLEVIATE 
WESTERN PRESSURES AND SANCTIONS.  SEVERAL SYRIAN AND 
LEBANESE CONTACTS HAVE ALL BUT PLEADED THAT AMERICA MUST 
NOW RESPOND TO ASAD'S "GESTURE" BY RETURNING THE U.S. 
AMBASSADOR.  THE PALESTINIANS, ON THE OTHER HAND, WHILE 
ACKNOWLEDGING THE IMPORTANCE OF WESTERN PRESSURES, INSIST 
THAT DAMASCUS HAD COMPELLING REASONS OF ITS OWN FOR 
SHUTTING DOWN ABU NIDAL WHICH WILL STAND UP TO ARAB 
SCRUTINY.  THEY POINT OUT, TOO, THAT THE BULK OF THE ANO 
OPERATIONS HAD ALREADY BEEN SHIFTED OUT OF SYRIA OVER 
THE PAST SEVERAL MONTHS TO ESCAPE INCREASINGLY ONEROUS 
SYRIAN SUPERVISION AND RESTRICTIONS AND IN THE FACE OF 
SYRIA'S UNRELENTING PRESSURE ON ALL THE PALESTINIANS, 
INCLUDING THE ANO, IN THE CAMPS' WAR. 
 
9.  COMMENT CONTINUED:  WE HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO COME UP 
WITH CONFIRMABLE EVIDENCE THAT THE SYRIAN DECISION TO 
SEVER TIES WITH ABU NIDAL HAS EXTENDED TO THE TRAINING 
CAMPS IN THE SYRIAN OCCUPIED BIQA' VALLEY.  AT THE SAME 
TIME, NO ONE SAYS THEY ARE STILL IN OPERATION EITHER. 
A "SOMETIMES RELIABLE" JOURNALIST INSISTS THAT THE BIQA' 
CAMPS HAVE BEEN CLOSED FOR SOME TIME, AND OFFERED TO 
ARRANGE FOR DAMASCUS POLOFF TO VISIT THE CAMPS WITH 
SYRIAN MILITARY ESCORT.  SAMAHA VENTURED WHAT HE ADMITTED 
WAS A GUESS THAT THEY HAD BEEN OR WOULD BE CLOSED.  NO 
ONE ELSE CLAIMS TO KNOW.  THE YUGOSLAV DCM HAS TOLD US 
THAT HE WAS UNABLE TO GET INFORMATION TO DATE FROM HIS 
PALESTINIAN CONTACTS, BUT WAS CERTAIN HE WOULD HAVE 
SOMETHING "IN A WEEK OR SO."  POST WILL KEEP TRYING. 
 
 
LINO 

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