US embassy cable - 09BEIRUT548

LEBANON: PSP LEADER WALID JUMBLATT CONFIRMS HIS COMMITMENT TO MARCH 14

Identifier: 09BEIRUT548
Wikileaks: View 09BEIRUT548 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 2009-05-15 07:14:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PGOV PTER PINR IS SY LE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO5078
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0548/01 1350714
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 150714Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4905
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3784
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 000548 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA 
ALSO FOR IO A/S BRIMMER 
P FOR DRUSSELL, RRANGASWAMY 
USUN FOR WOLFF/GERMAIN/SCHEDLBAUER 
NSC FOR SHAPIRO, MCDERMOTT 
DOD/OSD FOR FLOURNOY/KAHL/DALTON 
DRL/NESA FOR WHITMAN, BARGHOUT 
OVP FOR HMUSTAFA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/14/2019 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, PINR, IS, SY, LE 
SUBJECT: LEBANON:  PSP LEADER WALID JUMBLATT CONFIRMS HIS 
COMMITMENT TO MARCH 14 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4 
(b) and (d) 
 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
1. (C) At a dinner hosted in honor of visiting NEA DAS Hale, 
March 14 Druze leader Walid Jumblatt said there were still 
some problems with March 14 candidate lists, notably in 
Beirut I and Keserwan  Jumblatt reaffirmed his commitment to 
March 14 and disclosed that a meeting for the coalition would 
be held soon.  MP Marwan Hamadeh said March 14 lacks a good 
campaign, and added the release of the four generals had had 
a "boomerang" effect.  Hale described a possible March 8 
election victory as a "strategic failure," and reaffirmed 
that a two-state solution to solve the Israeli-Palestinian 
problem is viable.  Hale also lauded Saudi officials for 
their engagement in Lebanon.  End summary. 
 
2. (C) On May 8, Druze leader Walid Jumblatt hosted a dinner 
in honor of NEA DAS David Hale.  Present at the dinner were 
Public Works and Transport Minister Ghazi Aridi, MP Marwan 
Hamadeh, vice-president of the Progressive Socialist Party 
Durayd Yaghi, and Mrs. Nora Jumblatt.  The Ambassador, 
Pol/Econ Chief and LES Political Specialist also attended. 
 
PROBLEMS REMAIN 
WITH MARCH 14 LISTS 
-------------------- 
 
3. (C) "The final touches for March 14's lists are being 
made," Jumblatt said, but noted there were ongoing problems 
with Lebanese Forces (LF) leader Samir Geagea over the 
Armenian seat in Beirut I district, as well as on the 
Keserwan list.  Jumblatt said Geagea is opposed to including 
former minister Fares Boueiz on the March 14 list in 
Keserwan.  In addition, Geagea's insistence on including 
Richard Kouyoumjian, the LF Armenian candidate in Beirut I to 
the March 14 list, could pose a threat to the success of this 
list.  "For the sake of history, we should praise Boueiz for 
being among the group of 29 parliamentarians who refused the 
Syrian dictate to extend former President Emile Lahoud's term 
in 2004," Jumblatt said.  He further described Boueiz as a 
"heavy-weight," and added that Boueiz has ties to Qatar, as 
well as French authorities through Claude Gueant. 
 
JUMBLATT STILL 
COMMITTED TO MARCH 14 
--------------------- 
 
4. (C) Jumblatt reaffirmed his commitment to March 14 and 
said that a meeting for the March 14 leaders would occur soon 
at Qoreitem to discuss the next steps.  According to 
Jumblatt, the leaders would also discuss the possibility of 
holding a larger meeting for all of the coalition member's at 
the residence of Minister of State Nassib Lahoud.  The 
purpose of the gathering would be to express March 14's 
solidarity with Lahoud, who withdrew from the race when he 
was excluded from independent MP Michel Murr's list. 
 
MARCH 14 LACKS STRONG 
ELECTORAL CAMPAIGN 
-------------------- 
 
5.  (C) Hamadeh called March 14's campaign advertisements 
"weak," while "Aoun's campaign is very aggressive in 
insulting his adversaries."  Furthermore, he noted that March 
14's campaign budget was depleted.  Hamadeh underscored the 
importance of television advertising, and said March 8 
figures had dominated television screens for the past two 
weeks.  He complained Hizballah figures and Telcom Minister 
Gebran Bassil were seen on television much more than March 14 
figures.  Jumblatt said he would be a guest on the popular 
"Kalam al-Nass" ("talk of the people") talk show with Marcel 
Ghanem on May 28.  He added that Ghanem is asking for USD 
25,000 from every candidate who wants to appear on his talk 
show. 
 
6. (C) Hamadeh also pointed out the relaunch of independent 
 
BEIRUT 00000548  002 OF 003 
 
 
media outlet MTV was a good start for March 14. MTV's 
technical platform appealed to youth, while the popular 
network LBC appears to attract an aging audience. 
 
RELEASE OF FOUR GENERALS 
HAD A BOOMERANG EFFECT 
------------------------ 
 
7. (C) "The release of the four generals from prison had a 
damaging effect on March 14," indicated MP Marwan Hamadeh. 
He added, "It also had a boomerang effect."  Hamadeh said 
people rallied around March 14 when they saw the four 
generals surrounded by notorious figures that reminded them 
of the Syrian occupation era.  Jumblatt sarcastically 
predicted if March 8 wins, the following figures would be 
appointed as ministers:  Michel Samaha for Foreign Affairs, 
Adnan Addoum for Justice, Jamil Sayyed, one of the four 
released generals, for Interior, Michel Aoun for Defense, and 
Nasser Qandil for Information.  Jumblatt did not believe 
former PM Najib Mikati would be appointed Prime Minister 
because tough remarks made by pro-Syrian figure Michel Samaha 
suggest the Syrians would not support Mikati. 
 
A MARCH 8,S VICTORY 
EQUALS A STRATEGIC FAILURE 
------------------ 
 
8.  (C) DAS Hale described a possible March 8 opposition 
victory as a "catastrophic and strategic failure."  Jumblatt 
cautioned that if March 8 wins, it would give Iran the upper 
hand in the region.  Jumblatt also warned that if aid to 
Lebanon is suspended, including military assistance and Paris 
III money, Iran would fill the vacuum.  Hamadeh said there 
was unspent money for projects never dispersed because the 
necessary approvals were not passed in parliament.  Hamadeh 
believed a March 8 majority, to its advantage, would pass the 
necessary legislation and ensure the disbursement of this 
money. 
 
STICK TO THE DOHA AGREEMENT 
--------------------------- 
 
9. (C) Jumblatt said the only option available,  in case of a 
March 8 victory, would be to side with President Michel 
Sleiman.  He said March 14 should give the President the 
blocking minority in the next cabinet.  Jumblatt defended his 
recent remarks that the 2008 Doha Agreement should continue 
after the elections, arguing the Doha Agreement was effective 
in reducing sectarian tensions.  Jumblatt added he did not 
intend to give the opposition the blocking third in the next 
cabinet. 
 
MARCH 14 MUST DO ITS HOMEWORK 
----------------------------- 
 
10. (C) When asked by DAS Hale about how the U.S. could best 
support March 14, Jumblatt stressed the need for March 14 to 
"do its homework."  On the other hand, Hamadeh said the 
international community should continue speaking about the 
Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).  Hamadeh cautioned that 
while pushing for the STL, the support should come in a 
subtle manner that would not politicize the Tribunal. 
 
ISRAELI WITHDRAW FROM GHAJAR? 
----------------------------- 
 
11. (C) Hamadeh noted the residents of Ghajar do not want to 
be under the Lebanese jurisdiction.  For his part, Jumblatt 
criticized Israel's clumsiness in handling the issue of 
Ghajar saying that Israel is not helping March 14 when it 
claims it wants to withdraw from Ghajar to help the Siniora 
government. 
 
TWO STATE SOLUTION VIABLE 
------------------------- 
 
12. (C) DAS Hale said a two state solution to solve the 
Palestinian-Israeli struggle was possible.  Hale informed 
Jumblatt that Special Envoy Mitchell wants to integrate the 
 
BEIRUT 00000548  003 OF 003 
 
 
Arab Peace Initiative (API) into his efforts and said the 
main issue for the Israeli public opinion is the perception 
that the API is non-negotiable and should be adopted in its 
entirety. 
 
13. (C) Hamadeh cautioned that Lebanon cannot engage in 
direct negotiations with Israel, and added the issue of 
Palestinian resettlement is crucial for Lebanon.  "Our only 
position is to stick to the truce agreement signed between 
Lebanon and Syria," Hamadeh noted.  Hale responded that while 
the U.S. recognizes the problems facing Lebanon with regards 
to Palestinian resettlement, and that no solution would come 
at the expense of Lebanon, it is unrealistic to assume that 
all Palestinian refugees would return to their homeland. 
 
SAUDI OFFICIALS REMAIN 
COMMITTED TO LEBANON 
----------------------- 
 
14. (C) DAS Hale lauded Saudi leadership for its involvement 
in Lebanon and described his recent visit to Saudi Arabia as 
"very good."  He said prior to his visit to the country, he 
was worried that Saudi officials would not pay attention to 
details in Lebanon.  "My meetings with Saudi officials proved 
the opposite," he said.  Hale said he met with Abed al-Aziz 
Bin Abdallah and Saudi Minister of Information Abed al-Aziz 
Khoja, and reported they were following Lebanon's details 
closely. 
 
SISON 

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