US embassy cable - 85BEIRUT1683

SOLVING THE CHRISTIAN CRISIS: THE PHALANGE VIEW

Identifier: 85BEIRUT1683
Wikileaks: View 85BEIRUT1683 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 1985-03-18 18:23:00
Classification: SECRET
Tags: PREL PGOV LE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 181823Z MAR 85
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2249
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 01683 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PREL, PGOV, LE 
SUBJECT:  SOLVING THE CHRISTIAN CRISIS:  THE PHALANGE 
VIEW 
 
1.  SECRET ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  AMBASSADOR CALLED ON MINISTER OF PTT 
JOSEPH HASHEM MARCH 18.  HASHEM IS A PHALANGE 
PARTY LEADER AND CLOSE ASSOCIATE OF PRESIDENT 
GEMAYEL.  HE IS ON THE COMMITTEE OF THREE (WITH 
KARIM PAKKRADOUNI REPRESENTING THE DISSIDENTS 
AND MICHEL MURR AS THE THIRD MAN WITH LINKS BETWEEN 
BOTH SIDES)  THAT HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH HAMMERING 
OUT A SOLUTION.  HASHEM SAID HE HAD JUST LEFT A 
PHALANGE POLITICAL BUREAU MEETING TO MEET WITH 
THE AMBASSADOR AND WOULD SHORTLY BE GOING INTO 
A MEETING OF THE THREE-MAN COMMITTEE TO FINISH 
A COMMUNIQUE WHICH WOULD "REASSURE EVERYONE." 
THE CHIEF ELEMENT OF THE COMPROMISE APPEARS TO 
BE A RESTRUCTURING" OF THE PHALANGE AND THE LF 
WHICH WOULD GIVE THE LF DISSIDENTS MORE OF A 
VOICE AND MORE INDEPENDENCE.  HASHEM SAID THAT 
THE  USG HAD CONSIDERABLE INFLUENCE IN THE 
CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY AND APPRECIATED WHAT 
THE AMBASSADOR HAD BEEN SAYING.  AMBASSADOR 
EXPRESSED SATISFACTION WITH PROGRESS ON THE 
POLITICAL SOLUTION BUT NOTED IT SHOULD NOT COME 
AT PRICE OF WEAKENING THE POSITION OF THE 
PRESIDENT, OR THE COHESION OF THE CHRISTIAN 
COMMUNITY, AND THE COMMITTMENT TO REALISM AND 
FLEXIBILITY IN THE POLITICAL REFORM PROCESS. 
END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  HASHEM ARGUED THAT THERE WERE NO MAJOR POLITICAL 
DIFFERENCES WITH THE DISSIDENTS, WITNESS THEIR 
OWN CONTACTS WITH SYRIA (A REFERENCE TO 
PAKRADOUNI'S DISCUSSIONS WITH KHADDAM OVER THE 
LAST FEW DAYS.)  HE SAID THE PHALANGE PARTY 
STRUCTURE HAD NOT BEEN REVAMPED FOR TEN YEARS 
AND IT WAS NORMAL TO THINK OF RESTRUCTURING IT 
NOW IN A WAY THAT WOULD GIVE THE DISSIDENTS 
MORE PARTICIPATION AND POSITION, POLITICAL, 
MILITARY, AND FINANCIAL.  THIS WAS THE FOCUSS 
OF THE CURRENT COMPROMISE EFFORT.  THERE WOULD 
PROBABLY ALSO BE A "NATIONAL CHRISTIAN COUNCIL" 
WHICH WOULD BE A BROADENED LEBANESE FRONT REPRESENTING 
ALL CHRISTIAN GROUPS.  IT WOULD BE ADVISORY AND 
NOT "PARLIAMENTARY" (AND THEREFORE WOULD NOT 
UNDERCUT THE PRESIDENT'S AUTHORITY  OR SMACK 
OF AN INDEPENDENT CHRISTIAN "CANTON".)  HASHEM 
SAID THE CHIEF CONCERN WAS THAT THE LEBANESE 
FORCE MOVEMENT THREATENED TO UNDERCUT THE 
PRESIDENT, TRIGGER ADVERSE REACTIONS FROM THE 
LEBANESE MOSLEMS AND FROM SYRIA,  AND UNDERMINE 
THE EFFORTS AT REACHING POLITICAL ACCOMODATION.  HE 
KNEW THE USG SHARED THESE CONCERNS AND THE AMBASSADOR 
WAS MAKING THIS CLEAR TO "ALL SIDES." 
 
4.  HASHEM SAID HE THOUGHT CONSIDERABLE PROGRESS 
HAD BEEN MADE IN THE THREE-MAN COMMITTEE.  HE HAD 
BEEN DISCUSSING THE ISSUE JUST NOW IN THE SESSION 
OF THE PHALANGE POLITICAL BUREAU WHICH HE HAD LEFT 
TO MEET WITH THE AMBASSADOR.  HE WOULD BE 
MEETING WITH MURR AND PAKRADOUNI UPON LEAVING THE 
MEETING WITH THE AMBASSADOR AND THOUGHT 
THEY WOULD BE ABLE TO REACH A COMMUNIQUE WHICH 
WOULD "REASSURE EVERYONE." 
 
5.  THE AMBASSADOR SAID THAT SINCE HASHEM WAS SO 
WELL AWARE OF THE USG VIEWS ON THE SITUATION 
HE WOULD NOT REPEAT  THEM IN DETAIL.  HE HOPED 
THAT HASHEM WAS RIGHT THAT THE LF DISSIDENTS DID 
NOT DIFFER GREATLY FROM THE MAIN POLITICAL 
LINES THE PRESIDENT AND THE CHRISTIAN 
COMMUNITY WERE ON.  THAT SAID, MUCH OF WHAT 
THEY SAID IN THE PAST, AND INDEED NOW, RAISED 
QUESTIONS AS TO WHETHER THEY WOULD SHOW THE 
REALISM AND FLEXIBILITY REQUIRED TO PROTECT THE 
NATION'S  DEMOCRATIC INSTITUTIONS STARTING WITH 
THE CHRISTIAN PRESIDENCY, WORK POLITICAL REFORMS 
WITH THE MOSLEMS, PRESERVE THE WELL-BEING 
OF THE CHRISTIANS, AND CONTAIN SYRIAN INFLUENCE. 
IF THE COMPROMISES BEING WORKED ON IN THE 
THREE-MAN COMMITTEE BEGAN A PROCESS WHICH 
WOULD UNDERCUT THESE OBJECTIVES, THEN IT WOULD MEAN 
A PYRRHIC VICTORY FOR THE CHRISTIANS AND FOR 
LEBANON. 
 
6.  HASHEM SAID THAT HE FELT THINGS WERE ON TRACT 
TOWARD A SOLUTION WHICH WOULD ASSURE EVERYONE 
(INCLUDING THE MOSLEMS AND SYRIA) THAT LEBANON'S 
"POLITICAL SYSTEM AND POLITICAL LINE" WILL BE 
MAINTAINED.  HE SAID HE WAS NEVERTHELESS CONCERNED 
THAT SOME INDIVIDUALS AMONG THE LF DISSIDENTS 
ESPECIALLY IDENTIFIED WITH ISRAEL COULD OBSTRUCT 
THE PROCESS.  HE THOUGHT THE USG COULD HELP HEAD 
THIS OFF BY GETTING THE RIGHT WORD TO THESE IN- 
DIVIDUALS AND TO THE ISRAELIS.  THE AMBASSADOR 
REPLIED THAT HE WAS SATISFIED THAT THE 
ISRAELIS WERE NOT A MAJOR FACTOR IN EITHER THE 
GENESIS OR THE DIRECTION OF THE LF DISSIDENT 
MOVEMENT.  DAVID KINCHE HAD YESTERDAY MADE 
THIS PUBLIC AND UNDERSCORED THE LIMITS OF THE 
ISRAELI    INTEREST AND ROLE IN WHAT WAS HAPPENING 
INSIDE THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.  IN FACT, THE 
ISRAELIS HAVE NO INTEREST IN SIGNIFICANTLY 
"RE-ENGAGING" IN LEBANON BY PLAYING A MAJOR ROLE 
IN THIS FRACAS -- OR ITS CONSEQUENCES. 
THE ISRAELIS ARE ON THEIR WAY OUT OF LEBANON, 
AND NOT ON THEIR WAY BACK IN (HASHEM NODDED 
AGREEMENT TO THIS LAST STATEMENT.) 
 
7.  HASHEM CLOSED CONVERSATION BY REFERRING TO 
AMBASSADOR'S UPCOMING MEETING WITH KARIM 
PAKRADOUNI (ANNOUNCED OVER THE LF CONTROLLED 
VOL.)  HE REITERATED THAT THE U.S. HAS CONSIDERABLE 
INFLUENCE IN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.  HE, THEREFORE, 
THOUGHT IT IMPORTANT THAT THE AMBASSADOR MAKE 
CLEAR IN ANY CONTACTS WITH THE DISSIDENTS THAT THEY 
SHOULD NOT UNDERMINE LEBANON'S "POLITICAL 
SYSTEM AND POLITICAL LINE", AND THAT THEY WILL 
HAVE NO SUPPORT FROM THE OUTSIDE, FROM EITHER THE 
U.S. OR OTHERS IF THEY DO.  THE AMBASSADOR SAID 
HE HAD MADE THE USG VIEW CLEAR IN ALL HIS 
CONTACTS AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO. 
 
8.  COMMENTS:  HASHEM WAS OBVIOUSLY TIRED FROM 
THE UNENDING SERIES OF LATE-NIGHT MEETINGS THAT 
HE AND ALL OTHER ACTORS IN THE MELEE HAVE BEEN 
LIVING THROUGH.  HE DID NOT APPEAR SPECIFICALLY 
ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT THE POLITICAL COMPROMISE THAT 
IS SHAPING UP, AND CERTAINLY DID NOT CONVEY THE 
IMAGE OF A MAN READY TO CLAIM SUCCESS IN PUTTING THE 
GENI BACK IN THE BOTTLE.  IT WILL BE INTERESTING 
TO SEE WHAT PAKRADOUNI HAS TO SAY IN HIS 
MEETING WITH THE AMBASSADOR LATER TODAY.  END 
COMMENT. 
 
 
BARTHOLOMEW 

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