US embassy cable - 85BEIRUT1997

DETERIORATING SITUATION IN SOUTH LEBANON

Identifier: 85BEIRUT1997
Wikileaks: View 85BEIRUT1997 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 1985-04-02 13:47:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL SREF IS LE SY
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 021347Z APR 85
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2472
INFO AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 01997 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PREL, SREF, IS, LE, SY 
SUBJECT:  DETERIORATING SITUATION IN SOUTH LEBANON 
 
REF:  BEIRUT 1974 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY.  ON APRIL 1, FIGHTING CONTINUED 
BETWEEN LF, LAF, AND PALESTINIAN FORCES IN SIDON. 
CASUALTIES WERE LOWER, BUT THE EXODUS OF CIVILIANS 
CONTINUED.  VISITING SYRIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE 
CHIEF KHOLI REPORTEDLY PROMISED SYRIAN MILITARY 
SUPPLIES FOR USE BY THE LAF IN THE SOUTH, AND LAF 
COMMANDER AOUN TRAVELED TO DAMASCUS TO WORK OUT 
THE DETAILS.  RECENTLY DELIVERED, U.S.-ORIGIN 
APC'S ARE ALSO TO BE SENT TO SIDON TO REINFORCE 
LAF UNITS THERE.  END SUMMARY. 
 
----------------- 
FIGHTING IN SIDON 
----------------- 
2.  (U) ON MORNING OF APRIL 1, FIGHTING CONTINUED 
IN THE SIDON AREA BETWEEN LF MILITIAMEN AND 
PALESTINIAN FORCES AND THEIR ALLIES IN THE 
VICINITY OF THE AYN AL-HILWAH AND MIYAH MIYAH 
REFUGEE CAMPS.  FIGHTING ALSO ERUPTED AGAIN 
BETWEEN THE LF AND LAF ALONG THE KAYAHA/KANAYA/MAR 
ELIAS FRONT.  ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS, THE 
SHELLING SPREAD TO OTHER AREAS OF SIDON INCLUDING 
THE PORT, WHICH BECAME THE TARGET OF LF SHELLING 
FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE RECENT FIGHTING.  THESE 
SAME UNCONFIRMED REPORTS INDICATED THAT AN ISRAELI 
NAVAL VESSEL APPEARED OFF THE COAST OF SIDON AND 
FIRED AT LEAST ONE SHELL ON AYN AL-HILWAH. 
 
3.  (U) FOLLOWING A LULL IN THE EARLY AFTERNOON, 
FIGHTING AGAIN ERUPTED AT ABOUT 1700 HOURS, 
REPORTEDLY WITH LF TANK POSITIONS OVERLOOKING THE 
CITY SHELLING THE REFUGEE CAMPS, DOWNTOWN SIDON, 
HAY TAAMIR, AND LAF POSITIONS ON MAR ELIAS HILL 
NORTHEAST OF THE CITY. 
 
4.  (U) INITIAL CASUALTY FIGURES INDICATE TWO 
DEATHS AND TEN INJURIES, I.E., CONSIDERABLY LESS 
THAN THE CASUALTY TOLL OVER THE MARCH 30-31 
WEEKEND. 
 
------------- 
REFUGEE FLOWS 
------------- 
5.  (U) AN UNWRA SOURCE QUOTED IN THE BEIRUT PRESS 
PROVIDED DETAILED FIGURES ON THE OUTFLOW OF 
PALESTINIAN REFUGEES FROM THE AYN AL-HILWAH AND 
MIYAH MIYAH CAMPS IN SIDON TO UNWRA CAMPS 
ELSEWHERE IN LEBANON.   OF A TOTAL OF 215 FAMILIES 
FLEEING SIDON, 187 HAVE COME TO CAMPS IN THE 
BEIRUT AREA, OF WHICH 76 TO SHATILA, 108 TO BURJ 
BRAJNAH, AND THREE TO MAR ELIAS.  THE TWENTY-EIGHT 
OTHER REFUGEE FAMILIES MOVED TO CAMPS AROUND 
TRIPOLI.  IN ADDITION, AN UNDETERMINED NUMBER OF 
REFUGEES HAVE RESETTLED IN THE RAWCHAH AND AYN 
MURAYSA NEIGHBORHOODS OF WEST BEIRUT.  THE UNWRA 
SOURCE PLACED THE NUMBER OF PALESTINIAN CASUALTIES 
IN SIDON SINCE MARCH 29 AT THIRTY-ONE KILLED AND 
ABOUT 100 INJURED. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
KHOLI VISIT; MILITARY SUPPLIES FOR SOUTH 
---------------------------------------- 
6.  (U) ON APRIL 1, SARG PRESIDENT ASSAD 
DISPATCHED SYRIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF 
MAJOR GENERAL MUHAMMAD KHOLI TO BEIRUT TO MEET 
WITH PRESIDENT GEMAYEL AND OTHER SENIOR GOL 
OFFICIALS.  PRESS REPORTS INDICATE THAT IN A 
LETTER CARRIED BY KHOLI, ASSAD LINKED THE 
DETERIORATING SITUATION AROUND SIDON WITH 
"PARTITIONIST PROJECTS" ALLEGEDLY UNDERTAKEN BY LF 
LEADER JA'JA' WITH ISRAELI BACKING.  ACCORDING TO 
THESE REPORTS, ASSAD AGREED TO PROVIDE LEBANON 
WITH UNSPECIFIED ARMS AND OTHER MILITARY SUPPLIES 
FOR USE AROUND SIDON. 
 
7.  (U) LATER ON APRIL 1, GENERAL MICHEL AOUN MADE 
A HASTY TRIP TO DAMASCUS, HIS FIRST SINCE BECOMING 
LAF COMMANDER IN CHIEF IN JULY 1984.  HE MET THERE 
WITH SYRIAN ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF HIKMAT SHIHABI AND 
DEFENSE MINISTER TLASS, REPORTEDLY TO WORK OUT THE 
DETAILS OF THE SYRIAN ARMS SUPPLIES. 
 
8.  (C) ACCORDING TO PRESS REPORTS CONFIRMED BY 
OMC, THE LAF PLANS TO REINFORCE ITS PRESENCE IN 
SIDON WITH TWENTY-EIGHT OF THE THIRTY RECENTLY 
DELIVERED, U.S.-ORIGIN M113 ARMORED PERSONNEL 
CARRIERS.  THERE ARE UNCONFIRMED REPORTS THAT THE 
LAF WILL ALSO SEND TO SIDON A BATALLION OF THE 1ST 
BRIGADE PRESENTLY STATIONED IN THE BIQA'. 
 
---------------- 
MUSLIM REACTIONS 
---------------- 
9. (U) MUSLIM RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LEADERS HAVE 
ALMOST UNANIMOUSLY ACCUSED THE CHRISTIAN LF 
MILITIA OF PROVOKING THE FIGHTING IN SIDON AT 
ISRAEL'S INSTIGATION AS PART OF AN ALLEGED SCHEME 
TO PARTITION LEBANON INTO SECTARIAN MINI-STATES. 
 
10. (U) ON APRIL 1, SUNNI RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL 
LEADERS INCLUDING EDUCATION MINISTER SALIM AL-HUSS 
MET AT DAR AL-FATWA, THE SEAT OF THE SUNNI MUFTI 
OF THE REPUBLIC, TO DISCUSS THE SITUATION IN 
SIDON.  THEY ISSUED A STATEMENT WHICH (A) URGED 
THE GOL TO HONOR ITS POLITICAL COMMITMENT TO 
REINFORCE, WITH ADDITIONAL MEN AND EQUIPMENT, LAF 
UNITS IN SIDON AND ELSEWHERE IN THE SOUTH; (B) 
REQUESTED THE GOL TO MOBILIZE ALL FORCES TO HALT 
THE MASSACRES IN SIDON, ITS EASTERN SUBURBS, AND 
THE REFUGEE CAMPS; (C) WARNED AGAINST THE SPREAD 
OF VIOLENCE TO THE IQLIM AL-KHARRUB, THE WESTERN 
BIQA', AND RASHAYA, AND TO THE COUNTRY AT LARGE; 
AND (D) URGED ALL LEBANESE POLITICAL AND FACTIONAL 
LEADERS TO "ADOPT A RESPONSIBLE HISTORIC STAND 
THAT WILL CHECK THE GROUP INVOLVED IN THE ISRAELI 
CONSPIRATORIAL AND PARTITIONIST DESIGN." 
 
10. (U) SHIITE AMAL LEADER NABIH BARRI REJECTED 
RECENT PROPOSALS FOR A NATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE 
SOUTH, STATING THAT SUCH A CONFERENCE WOULD ONLY 
"COVER THE (GOL'S) FAILURES AND INACTION."  BARRI 
CLAIMED THAT THE LF-LAF CLASHES WOULD NEVER HAVE 
OCCURRED IF THE (PREDOMINANTLY MUSLIM) LAF UNITS 
IN THE SOUTH HAD BEEN REINFORCED AS AGREED. 
 
------------------ 
CHRISTIAN REACTION 
------------------ 
11. (U) FOLLOWING THE APRIL 1 MEETING OF THE 
LEBANESE FORCES "EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE," KARIM 
PAKRADUNI ACCUSED ISRAEL OF INCITING VIOLENCE 
AMONG LOCAL MILITIAS IN SIDON IN ORDER TO DIVERT 
THEIR ENERGIES AND THEREBY ENSURE ITS OWN 
SECURITY.  AT THE SAME TIME, HE ACCUSED THE 
PALESTINIANS OF PROVOKING COMMUNAL DISCORD IN 
SIDON IN ORDER TO REESTABLISH THEIR HEGEMONY IN 
SOUTH LEBANON. THE SOUTH, HE SAID, IS THE LAST 
PART OF THE COUNTRY WHERE THE PALESTINIANS CAN ACT 
FOLLOWING THEIR LOSSES IN BEIRUT AND TRIPOLI. 
 
12.  (U) PAKRADUNI STATED THAT THE LF HAD PROPOSED 
A PLAN TO CREATE A WIDE NO MAN'S LAND BETWEEN THE 
COMPETING FORCES IN SIDON, THEREBY ENDING 
HOSTILITIES, PREVENTING THE INVASION OR 
INFILTRATION OF ANY GROUP, AND AVOIDING THE 
ESTABLISHMENT OF A NARROW DEMARCATION LINE SIMILAR 
TO THE "GREEN-LINE" BETWEEN EAST AND WEST BEIRUT. 
TO BUTTRESS THIS MILITARY PLAN POLITICALLY, 
PAKRADUNI CALLED FOR A MEETING OF SIDON'S 
POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS AND ALL THE 
PROTAGONISTS CURRENTLY ENGAGED IN THE CONFLICT. 
 
13. (U) MEANWHILE, FORMER PRESIDENT CAMILLE 
CHAMOUN STATED THAT ONLY THE LAF CAN ENSURE THE 
SECURITY OF SIDON, SINCE IT IS "THE ONLY FORCE 
WHICH ENJOYS THE CONFIDENCE OF ALL THE INHABITANTS 
OF THE REGION." 
 
LYNE 

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