US embassy cable - 85BEIRUT1646

JA'JA'S "CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT": RELATIONS WITH THE U.S., MOTIVES, AND OBJECTIVES

Identifier: 85BEIRUT1646
Wikileaks: View 85BEIRUT1646 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 1985-03-15 17:52:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PINS PREL LE US
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 151752Z MAR 85
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2218
INFO AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 01646 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PINS, PREL, LE, US 
SUBJECT:  JA'JA'S "CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT": 
RELATIONS WITH THE U.S., MOTIVES, AND OBJECTIVES 
 
REF:  BEIRUT 1635 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  POLOFF MET MARCH 15 WITH LONGTIME CONTACT NAOUM 
FARAH, DIRECTOR OF EXTERNAL RELATIONS OF THE LEBANESE 
FORCES AND NOW AN ACTIVE PARTICIPANT IN JA'JA'S 
"CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT."  FARAH, WHO UNTIL 
EARLY MARCH WAS ALSO THE OFFICIAL LF SPOKESMAN, REQUESTED 
THE MEETING. 
 
----------------------- 
RELATIONS WITH THE U.S. 
----------------------- 
3.  FARAH STATED AT THE OUTSET THAT THE LEBANESE FORCES 
(WHICH HE CONSIDERS SYNONYMOUS FOR ALL INTENTS AND 
PURPOSES WITH JA'JA'S "CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT") 
HAD BEEN "BOTHERED" BY THE USG STATEMENT ON MARCH 13 
CHARACTERIZING EVENTS OF THAT DAY IN EAST BEIRUT AS 
A "NEGATIVE DEVELOPMENT."  HE ALSO EXPRESSED DISMAY 
OVER STATEMENTS ORIGINATING IN WASHINGTON THAT AMERICAN 
EMBASSY PERSONNEL WERE BEING EVACUATED BECAUSE OF EVENTS 
IN EAST BEIRUT.  SUCH STATEMENTS, HE SAID, GIVE A FALSE 
IMPRESSION OF THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND AND THE 
OBJECTIVES OF THE MOVEMENT. 
 
4.  WHILE HE SAID THE MOVEMENT FULLY UNDERSTOOD THE 
U.S. DECLARATION IN SUPPORT OF "LA LEGALITE," HE 
COULD NOT CONSIDER RECENT EVENTS A  "NEGATIVE DEVELOPMENT. 
TO THE CONTRARY, HE SAID, WHAT IS HAPPENING IS "VERY 
HEALTHY FOR THE CHRISTIANS AND FOR THE WEST, STARTING 
WITH THE U.S."  "WE HOPE," FARAH CONTINUED, "THAT 
THE UNITED STATES WILL NOT CONTINUE TO TAKE FROM THE 
VERY BEGINNING A HOSTILE POSITION TOWARDS THIS MOVEMENT, 
A POSITION WHICH COULD JEOPARDIZE THE FUTURE OF OUR 
RECIPROCAL RELATIONS."  "WE WANT TO ENSURE," HE SAID, 
"THAT OUR RELATIONS ARE EXCELLENT WITH THE U.S., BECAUSE 
WE CONSIDER THAT WE ARE FIGHTING THE SAME FIGHT, 
CONFRONTING THE SAME ENEMY." 
 
5.  POLOFF RESPONDED THAT, AS FARAH WAS ALREADY AWARE 
FROM THE DEPARTMENT'S STATEMENT AND FROM CONVERSATIONS 
EMBOFFS HAD ALREADY HAD WITH MEMBERS OF THE "CHRISTIAN 
DECISION MOVEMENT," THE U.S. CONSIDERED THE EVENTS OF 
THIS WEEK A NEGATIVE DEVELOPMENT BECAUSE THEY DIVIDED 
THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AND UNDERCUT THE PRESIDENT 
PRECISELY WHEN THEY NEEDED TO BE STRONG AND UNITED 
TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUE OF POLITICAL REFORMS. 
 
---------------------- 
MOTIVES AND OBJECTIVES 
---------------------- 
6.  FARAH INTERRUPTED TO "ASSURE THE U.S. OFFICIALLY" 
THAT THE MOVEMENT (A) WAS  NOT AN ATTEMPTED COUP D'ETAT, 
(B) WAS NOT DIRECTED AGAINST THE PRESIDENCY OR THE 
PRESIDENT HIMSELF ("WE HAVE NOT ASKED HIM TO RESIGN."), 
AND (C) IS AGAINST THE USE OF FORCE AND AGAINST BLOODSHED. 
FARAH ADDED THAT THE MOVEMENT HAD CALLED FOR, SINCE 
YESTERDAY, MARCH 14R THE REOPENING OF THE DOG RIVER 
TUNNEL AND THE BRIDGES WHICH HAD BEEN BLOCKED BY THE 
"FOLKS FROM THE METN," I.E., PHALANGE MILITIAMEN LOYAL 
TO THE PRESIDENT.  FARAH CLAIMED THAT THESE LATTER 
FORCES HAD TURNED OVER THESE CHOKE POINTS TO THE LAF 
AND THAT WITHIN A FEW HOURS TRAFFIC COULD FLOW FREELY 
AGAIN. 
 
7.  AS FOR THE MOTIVES UNDERLYING THE "CHRISTIAN DECISION 
MOVEMENT,"  FARAH SAID THAT FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS 
PRESIDENT GEMAYEL HAS TRIED TO PLAY SIMULTANEOUSLY TWO 
INCOMPATIBLE ROLES:  FIRST THAT OF PRESIDENT OF THE 
REPUBLIC, I.E., OF ALL LEBANESE REGARDLESS OF THEIR 
CONFESSIONAL AFFILIATION, AND SECOND THAT OF LEADER OF 
THE CHRISTIANS.   THESE TWO ROLES ARE INCOMPATIBLE, 
FARAH EXPLAINED, BECAUSE, AS CHIEF OF STATE, GEMAYEL 
IS OBLIGED TO MAKE CERTAIN CONCESSIONS THAT HE SHOULD NOT 
MAKE AS LEADER OF THE CHRISTIANS. 
 
8.  FARAH CITED THE SPECIFIC EXAMPLE OF THE MARCH 9-10 
BIKFAYYA TALKS WHERE GEMAYEL "FACED FOUR ENEMIES:  KHADDAM 
KARAMI, BARRI, AND JUMBLATT," AND WHERE HE MADE CONCESSION 
WHICH WERE UNACCEPTABLE FOR HIM TO MAKE AS THE CHRISTIAN 
LEADER.  THERE SHOULD HAVE BEEN, FARAH SAID, A SEPARATE 
CHRISTIAN REPRESENTATIVE PRESENT SO THAT THE PRESIDENT 
COULD HAVE PLAYED THE OVERARCHING ROLE OF CHIEF OF STATE. 
 
9.  FURTHERMORE, FARAH CLAIMED, GEMAYEL'S PLAYING THESE 
TWO INCOMPATIBLE ROLES HAS STYMIED THE DECISION-MAKING 
PROCESS  WITHIN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.  FOR SEVERAL 
MONTHS, HE SAID, NO ONE IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY HAS 
DARED TO SPEAK THEIR MIND. 
 
10.  THE OBJECTIVE OF THE "CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT," 
FARAH STATED, IS TO REMEDY THIS SITUATION BY THE 
FORMATION OF A COUNCIL COMPRISING REPRESENTATIVES FROM 
ALL LEBANESE CHRISTIAN GROUPS, INCLUDING BOTH POLITICAL 
AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS.  VARIOUS POLITICAL PARTIES AND THE 
LEBANESE FORCES WOULD BE REPRESENTED ON THE COUNCIL. 
THE ROLE OF THE COUNCIL WOULD NOT BE MERELY CONSULTATIVE, 
FARAH STRESSED, BUT ALSO "DECISIONAL."  THE COUNCIL 
WOULD FORMULATE CHRISTIAN POLICIES,AND A REPRESENTATIVE 
SELECTED BY THE COUNCIL WOULD PARTICIPATE IN NEGOTIATIONS 
WITH THE MUSLIMS UNDER THE AUSPICES OF THE CHIEF OF STATE. 
 
11.  FARAH THEN SET FORTH THREE STEPS WHICH GEMAYEL MUST 
NOT/NOT TAKE:  (A) HE MUST NOT ATTEMPT TO USE THE LAF 
AGAINST THE MOVEMENT BOTH BECAUSE THE LAF WOULD NOT FOLLOW 
HIS ORDERS AND BECAUSE THE LAF WOULD DISINTEGRATE AND 
MUCH OF ITS EQUIPMENT WOULD FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE 
LF MILITIA. (FARAH CLAIMED THAT GEMAYEL HAD ACTUALLY 
CALLED ON THE ARMY TO INTERVENE EARLY ON MARCH 13 BUT THAT 
THE ARMY LEADERSHIP HAD REFUSED.)  (B) HE MUST NOT PUSH 
THE PHALANGE PARTY TO USE WHAT REMAINS OF ITS METN-BASED 
MILITIA AGAINST THE LF BECAUSE THE LF WILL EASILY CRUSH 
THEM.  AND (C) HE MUST NOT EVEN THINK OF ASKING SYRIAN 
FORCES TO INTERVENE, BECAUSE IF ONE SYRIAN SHELL STRIKES 
THE CHRISTIAN REGION GEMAYEL WILL LOSE ALL CREDIBILITY AND 
THE "CHRISTIAN DECISION MOVEMENT" WILL SIMPLY GAIN SUPPORT 
 
12.  AS A FOOTNOTE, FARAH ADDED THAT THE RECONCILIATION 
COMMITTEE CHAIRED BY THE MARONITE PATRIARCH HAD ALREADY 
MET SEVERAL TIMES WITH JA'JA' AND OTHER FIGURES IN 
THE MOVEMENT (INCLUDING FARAH) AND THAT IT WAS CLEAR 
THAT THE COMMITTEE FOUND THE MOVEMENT'S MOTIVES TO BE 
WELL-FOUNDED AND REASONABLE.  RECALLING WHAT POLOFF HAD 
SAID (PARA. 5) ABOUT THE NEGATIVE EFFECT OF DIVISIONS 
WITHIN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AT THIS TIME, FARAH SAID 
THAT HE AND MANY OTHERS IN THE MOVEMENT HOPED THAT THE 
ULTIMATE RESULT WOULD BE POSITIVE, I.E., A MORE UNIFIED 
CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY, SURE OF THE DIRECTION IN WHICH IT 
IS HEADED, AND SOLIDLY BEHIND THE PRESIDENT.  HE CONCLUDED 
BY ASKING FOR U.S. "UNDERSTANDING AND PATIENCE." 
 
13.  COMMENT.  FARAH WENT TO GREAT LENGTHS TO SET FORTH 
CLEARLY THE MOTIVES AND OBJECTIVES OF THE "CHRISTIAN 
DECISION MOVEMENT."  AWARE OF THE TOUGH REPUTATION (TO 
SAY THE LEAST) OF THE MOVEMENT'S LEADERS, HE EVIDENTLY 
WANTED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY HAD WIDE BACKING WITHIN 
THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY , THAT THE MOVEMENT WAS PROCEEDING 
RATIONALLY AND REASONABLY, AND THAT IT DESERVED U.S. UNDER- 
STANDING IF NOT SUPPORT. 
 
BARTHOLOMEW 

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