US embassy cable - 85BEIRUT2370

SOUTH LEBANON: THE ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL CONTINUES WHILE NEW EFFORTS ARE MADE TO BRING PEACE TO SIDON

Identifier: 85BEIRUT2370
Wikileaks: View 85BEIRUT2370 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 1985-04-22 14:48:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL LE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 221448Z APR 85
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2743
INFO AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 02370 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PREL, LE 
SUBJECT:  SOUTH LEBANON:  THE ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL 
CONTINUES WHILE NEW EFFORTS ARE MADE TO BRING PEACE 
TO SIDON 
 
REFS:  (A) BEIRUT 2330,  (B) TEL AVIV 6070 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  ISRAEL REPORTEDLY CONTINUES CONTACTS AIMED AT 
USING INDIGENOUS FORCES TO MAINTAIN BORDER SECURITY 
AFTER THE JUNE 1 WITHDRAWAL OF ISRAELI TROOPS. 
ACCORDING TO LOCAL PRESS, THE ISRAELIS HAVE REACHED 
A COMPROMISE WITH THE DRUZE OF THE HASBAYA REGION 
WHEREBY THE DRUZE INHABITANTS WILL FORM A 
"CIVIL GUARD," BUT WILL NOT HAVE DIRECT TIES TO THE 
ASL OR ANY OTHER ISRAELI-BACKED ORGANIZATION.  IF 
THESE REPORTS ARE TRUE, THIS DEAL REPRESENTS A VICTORY 
FOR THE LOCAL DRUZE WHO HAVE ALLEGEDLY BEEN RESISTING 
ISRAELI PRESSURE (WHICH INCLUDED A BLOCKADE OF THE 
VILLAGES OF AKA KAMA AND MIMAS) TO RECRUIT THEM INTO 
THE ASL. 
 
3.  IN THE JAZZIN AREA, LOCAL PRESS REPORTS THAT 
EFFORTS ARE UNDERWAY TO ESTABLISH A 300-400 MAN 
CHRISTIAN FORCE INDEPENDENT OF THE ASL.  THESE 
REPORTS SUPPORT OTHER INFORMATION THE EMBASSY HAS 
RECEIVED CONCERNING A DEAL ALLEGEDLY STRUCK BETWEEN 
WALID JUMBLATT AND THE CHRISTIANS OF JAZZIN CONCERNING 
SECURITY ARRANGEMENTS FOR JAZZIN AND THE IQLIM 
AL-KHARRUB.  DETAILS WERE REPORTEDLY HAMMERED OUT AT 
A MEETING HELD LAST WEEK IN MUKHTARA ATTENDED BY 
JUMBLATT, JEAN AZIZ, JAZZIN DEPUTY EDMOND RIZK, AND 
AN UNIDENTIFIED ISRAELI OFFICER.  AT THIS MEETING, 
JUMBLATT REPORTEDLY ACCEPTED THE FORMATION OF THIS 
CHRISTIAN FORCE, PROVIDED IT HAD NO OVERT CONNECTION 
WITH THE ASL; HE ALSO APPARENTLY SAID HE WOULD NOT 
ATTACK THE CHRISTIANS OF THE JAZZIN AREA OR THE 
IQLIM AL-KHARRUB AND OFFERED TO OPEN THE CHUF ROAD TO 
CHRISTIAN TRAFFIC IF THE COASTAL ROADS WERE CLOSED TO 
THEM.  IN RETURN, JUMBLATT ASKED FOR AN OPEN ROAD 
FROM THE CHUF TO THE DRUZE VILLAGES OF HASBAYA AND 
ROSHAYYA IN THE SOUTH, AND REMOVAL OF LF ELEMENTS 
FROM OUTSIDE THE AREA. 
 
4.  IN SIDON, THE TWO AXES OF CONFRONTATION REMAINED 
ACTIVE OVER THE WEEKEND.  ONE FRONT PITS LF FIGHTERS 
IN THE VILLAGES OF ABRA, HLALIYAH, AND QAYYA 
(SOUTHEAST OF SIDON) AGAINST SUNNI AND PALESTINIAN 
MILITIAMEN SUPPORTED BY THE LAF'S SUNNI TAWEED 98TH 
BRIGADE FROM TRIPOLI LOCATED ON THE HILL OF MAR ELIAS. 
ON THE OTHER FRONT, ALSO LOCATED IN THE EASTERN 
SUBURBS, LF MILITIAMEN BASED IN THE VILLAGES OF 
MIYAH MIYAH, MAGHDUSHEH, AND DARB AL-SIM CONFRONT THE 
PALESTINIAN CAMPS OF MIYAH MIYAH AND AYN AL-HILWAH. 
ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, FOR THE FIRST TIME, 155 MM 
SHELLS FELL ON THE LAF'S ZGHAYB BARRACKS IN CENTRAL 
SIDON.  LOCAL PRESS REPORTS CASUALTY FIGURES AS 
HIGH AS 26 KILLED AND WOUNDED IN WEEKEND FIGHTING. 
 
5.  ON THE POLITICAL FRONT, SIDON DEPUTY NAZIH BIZRI, 
CLAIMING TO HAVE LOST ANY HOPE FOR LAF REINFORCEMENT 
OR LF WITHDRAWAL, CALLED APRIL 19 ON THE 
CITIZENS OF SIDON TO TAKE UP ARMS IN THEIR OWN 
DEFENSE.  USAMA SAAD, VP OF THE "NASSERITE POPULAR 
ORGANIZATION," WHO HAD ACCOMPANIED BIZRI TO DAMASCUS 
EARLIER IN THE WEEK, ALSO CALLED UPON THE AREA'S 
CHRISTIAN VILLAGERS "TO FORCE THE LF FROM THEIR 
VILLAGES SO THEY DON'T BECOME THE TARGETS OF A 
MILITARY SOLUTION." 
 
6.  IN CONTRAST TO THE INFLAMMATORY RHETORIC EMANATING 
FROM SIDON'S MUSLIMS, THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY SEEMS 
INTENT ON DAMPING DOWN THE LEVEL OF TENSION. 
FOLLOWING A VISIT TO ISRAEL (REF B) DURING WHICH 
HE WAS REPORTEDLY WARNED BY THE ISRAELIS NOT TO 
MAKE TROUBLE IN SIDON, AND AFTER A WEEKEND OF 
CONSULTATIONS WITH FORMER PRESIDENT CAMILLE CHAMOUN, 
SAMIR JA'JA' HELD A MORNING PRESS CONFERENCE ON 
APRIL 22 TO ANNOUNCE LF MEASURES AIMED AT DEFUSING THE 
CRISIS.  ALTHOUGH WE HAVE NOT SEEN THE TEXT OF JA'JA'S 
STATEMENT, WE UNDERSTAND THESE TO INCLUDE: 
 
--  A.  A UNILATERAL CEASEFIRE EFFECTIVE 1600 LOCAL 
TIME ON APRIL 22; 
 
--  B.  A WITHDRAWAL OF NON-INDIGENOUS LF FORCES FROM 
THE SIDON AREA BEGINNING 1100 LOCAL TIME ON APRIL 23. 
THIS WITHDRAWAL IS IN ORDER TO "GIVE THE CENTRAL 
GOVERNMENT A CHANCE TO UNDERTAKE ITS RESPONSIBILITIES." 
(MILITIAMEN NATIVE TO THE AREA WILL REMAIN); 
 
--  C.  A CALL FOR THE PRESIDENT, PM, GOVERNMENT, AND 
LAF COMMAND TO ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR SECURITY 
VIOLATIONS. 
 
JA'JA' FURTHER STATED HIS HOPE THAT THESE MEASURES 
WOULD CONSTITUTE A FIRST STEP TOWARD A SETTLEMENT 
AND CALL FORTH PEACE INITIATIVES FROM THE OTHER 
PARTIES INVOLVED.  HE INVITED JOURNALISTS TO WITNESS 
TOMORROW'S WITHDRAWAL. 
 
7.  ON THE MILITARY LEVEL, THE QUADRIPARTITE MILITARY 
COMMISSION IS REPORTED BY THE PRESS TO BE WORKING 
FOR THE DEPLOYMENT OF AN ADDITIONAL LAF UNIT TO 
SIDON.  NO DETAILS OF ARMAMENT OR CONFESSIONAL 
COMPOSITION ARE AVAILABLE.  IN ANY EVENT, PAST HISTORY 
INDICATES THAT IT CANNOT BE DEPLOYED IN THE ABSENCE 
OF A PRIOR POLITICAL AGREEMENT. 
 
8.  ONE USUALLY WELL INFORMED LOCAL PRESS SOURCE TELLS 
US THAT SYRIA IS TRYING TO PUT IN PLACE A SCENARIO 
WHEREBY SUNNIS OF SIDON CAN CLAIM VICTORY OVER THE LF 
AS A SOP FOR RECENT SUNNI LOSSES IN WEST BEIRUT.  THE 
PRICE OF SUCH A DEAL, HOWEVER, IS ALLEGED TO BE 
RENUNCIATION BY SUNNIS OF THEIR LINKS WITH PRO-ARAFAT 
PLO PALESTINIANS AND ACCEPTANCE OF RELIANCE UPON DRUZE 
AND ABU MUSA PALESTINIANS IN THEIR STEAD.  THE ALTERNA- 
TIVE, ACCORDING TO THIS SOURCE, IS FOR DRUZE, ABU MUSA 
MILITIA, AND AMAL TO ADMINISTER THE SAME LESSON IN 
SIDON THAT THEY DID IN WEST BEIRUT. 
 
9.  IN TYRE, ISRAELI FORCES CONTINUE THEIR 
PREPARATIONS FOR WITHDRAWAL.  IDF SPOKESMEN HAVE 
ANNOUNCED A WITHDRAWAL DATE OF APRIL 24, BUT ACTIVITIES 
ON THE GROUND INDICATE IT MAY OCCUR UP TO 24 HOURS 
EARLIER.  ALL BUILDINGS AND INSTALLATIONS OF 
POTENTIAL USE TO THE RESISTANCE ARE BEING DYNAMITED, 
THERE IS AS YET NO WORD ON POSSIBLE LAF DEPLOYMENT 
AFTER THE ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL. 
 
BARTHOLOMEW 

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