US embassy cable - 85BEIRUT2486

FALLOUT FROM SIDON

Identifier: 85BEIRUT2486
Wikileaks: View 85BEIRUT2486 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 1985-04-27 11:37:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL LE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O 271137Z APR 85
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2820
INFO AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 02486 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, LE 
SUBJECT: FALLOUT FROM SIDON 
 
REF: BEIRUT 2456 
 
1.  C-ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  CONFUSION CONTINUES ABOUT EXACT SITUATION IN VILLAGES 
EAST OF SIDON (REFTEL) WITH BEIRUT PARTIES PLAYING USUAL 
ROLES IN GREEK CHORUS ON SIDELINES.  PALESTINIAN AND 
FUNDAMENTALIST MUSLIM FORCES APPARENTLY CONTINUE TO OCCUPY 
SEVEN CHRISTIAN TOWNS THEY SEIZED EAST OF SIDON.  REPORTS 
FILTER IN ABOUT SOME 25,000 TO 75,000 CHRISTIAN REFUGEES 
FROM REGION FLEEING TO EITHER JEZZIN OR BEIRUT. 
 
3.  MEANWHILE, ESLEWHERE: 
-  ASL COMMANDER LAHAD REPORTEDLY ISSUED STATEMENT 26 
APRIL THREATENING TO SHELL SIDON UNLESS PALESTINIANS AND 
MUSLIM MILITIA CEASE OFFENSIVE.  HE ALSO IS QUOTED AS 
WARNING LAF AGAINST SENDING TROOPS TO JEZZIN "BEFORE 
BRINGING THE SECURITY SITUATION IN SIDON UNDER CONTROL AND 
FORCING THE PALESTINIANS BACK INTO THEIR CAMPS." 
 
-  PRESIDENT GEMAYEL TELEPHONED SYRIAN PRESIDENT ASSAD TO 
BRIEF HIM ON DEVELOPMENTS IN SIDON; TWO LEADERS AGREED 
TO KEEP IN TOUCH. 
 
-  CHRISTIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS MET 26 FRIDAY AND DEPLORED 
SITUATION IN SIDON, CALLED ON FRIENDLY COUNTRIES 
("PARTICULARLY SYRIA"), "ALL FREE NATIONS", AND POPE TO 
HELP.  OTHER CHRISTIAN LEADERS, LED BY CAMILLE CHAMOUN, 
ISSUED SIMILAR STATEMENTS 
 
-  GEMAYEL, PARLIAMENT SPEAKER HUSSEINI, AND PM KARAMI 
MET 26 APRIL TO REVIEW SITUATION.  KARAMI AFTER MEETING 
COMMENTED IN PART THAT RECENT ATTACKS IN SIDON WERE 
"REACTIONS WHICH EXPOSED OUR BROTHERS...TO WHAT HAD 
HAPPENED TO THEIR BROTHERS IN SIDON", COMMENT WHICH 
SPARKED SHARP CHRISTIAN REACTION AGAINST WHAT THEY 
VIEWED AS EXAMPLE OF KARAMI'S LACK OF CONCERN FOR 
CHRISTIANS WOES.  REMAINDER OF KARAMI'S REMARKS AND THOSE 
OF HUSSEINI AND OTHER MUSLIM LEADERS WERE DUTIFULLY 
SOLEMN. 
 
-   SIDON DEPUTY NAZIH BIZRI ISSUED A STATEMENT 
CONGRATULATING THE INHABITANTS OF SIDON FOR 
THEIR, "VICTORY AGAINST THE LEBANESE FORCES AND 
THE AGENTS OF ISRAEL."  ACCORDING TO BIZRI, 
"WHAT HAS COME TO PASS IS THE WORK OF 
SIDONIANS," NOT OF ARAFAT PALESTINIANS.  HE 
CALLED THE EXODUS OF CHRISTIAN VILLAGERS AN 
"ISRAELI PLOT," AND CALLED ON THE REFUGEES TO 
RETURN TO THEIR HOMES. 
 
-  JA'JA'S CALL FOR A GENERAL STRIKE IN EAST 
BEIRUT FOR APRIL 27 AS A PROTEST AGAINST SIDON 
EVENTS, A CALL IN WHICH THE PHALANGE PARTY 
JOINED 26 APRIL, HAS PROVED SUCCESSFUL, WITH 
ONLY OCCASIONAL GAS STATIONS, BAKERIES, MOM AND 
POP CORNER GROCERY STORES, PHARMACIES, AND 
SIDEWALK NEWSTANDS OPERATING. 
 
-   CHRISTIAN STUDENT DEMONSTRATORS 26 APRIL 
NUMBERING AN ESTIMATED 500 STUDENTS, MOSTLY FROM 
THE SOUTH, MARCHED ON THE MINISTRY OF DEFENSE TO 
CRITICIZE THE FAILURE OF LAF TO DEPLOY TO 
PROTECT THE VILLAGES AFTER THE WITHDRAWAL OF THE 
LEBANESE FORCES.  DELEGATIONS OF DEMONSTRATORS 
MET WITH LAF COMMANDER GENERAL A'OUN.  THE ONLY 
LAF REACTION THUS FAR HAS BEEN A CALL BY GENERAL 
A'OUN FOR LAF SOLDIERS IN THE SIDON REGION TO 
REPORT TO THEIR UNITS. 
 
-  ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION BY SOUTHERNERS 
RESIDING IN BEIRUT OCCURRED 26 APRIL ON THE 
AUTOSTRADE NORTHEAST OF THE CAPITAL, WITH 
DEMONSTRATORS BLOCKING ROADS, BURNING TIRES, AND 
FIRING IN THE AIR.  OTHER DEMONSTRATIONS IN EAST 
BEIRUT ARE REPORTEDLY SCHEDULED FOR APRIL 27. 
 
-   APPARENTLY AS THE RESULT OF AMAL LEADER 
BARRI WORKING WITH CHRISTIAN LEADERS, AMAL HAS 
REPORTEDLY DEPLOYED IN STRENGTH OUTSIDE THE 
CHRISTIAN VILLAGE OF MAGHDUSHAH (POP. 8000) NEAR 
MIYAH MIYAH TO PROVIDE PROTECTION TO THE VILLAGE 
AGAINST ADVANCING PALESTINIAN/MUSLIM FORCES. 
MAGHDUSHAH REMAINS CALM AND SECURE 27 APRIL. 
 
4.  COMMENT.  ESTIMATES OF NUMBERS OF REFUGEES 
APPEAR EXAGGERATED, AS DO LOCAL STORIES OF 
"PALESTINIAN HORDES LOOTING AND BURNING." 
NONETHELESS, THIS PERSPECTIVE REFLECTS DEEP 
CHRISTIAN ANXIETY OVER THE SIDON EVENTS.  THE 
MAIN TARGETS FOR CHRISTIAN REACTION ARE LAF, FOR 
ITS FAILURE TO DEPLOY AS AGREED TO REPLACE 
DEPARTING LF FORCES, AND MUSLIM LEADERS FOR 
"FAILING TO KEEP THEIR WORD" TO PROTECT 
CHRISTIANS IN THE SOUTH AS AGREED ALSO AS THE 
PRICE OF LF PULLOUT.  BARRI'S AMAL GETS GRUDGING 
CREDIT FOR DEPLOYING OUTSIDE MAGHDUSHAH. 
 
5.  LAF DEPLOYMENT AWAITS "POLITICAL COVER" 
WHICH A'OUN TRIES TO INSIST ON BEFORE ACTING. 
SATURDAY, APRIL 27, IS FULL OF MEETINGS, 
CONSULTATIONS, TRAVELS, ETC., TRYING TO SET UP 
BACKSTAGE ARRANGEMENTS WHICH WOULD PROVIDE SUCH 
COVER. 
 
6.  SOME CHRISTIANS INTERPRET THE ABSENCE OF 
"POLITICAL COVER" FOR LAF DEPLOYMENT AS A 
REFLECTION OF AN AGREEMENT TO COMPENSATE THE 
SUNNIS IN SIDON FOR WHAT THEY LOST IN WEST 
BEIRUT.  THE MAIN WINNER THUS FAR, HOWEVER, 
APPEARS TO BE THE ARAFATI PLO, WHICH HAS 
EXPANDED ITS CONTROL AND STRENGTHENED ITS 
POSITION AROUND THE CAMPS, A RESULT WHICH 
PRESUMABLY WILL NOT WARM ASSAD'S HEART. 
 
7.  THE PHALANGE'S JOINING IN THE CALL FOR A 
GENERAL STRIKE IN PROTEST AGAINST THE SIDON 
EVENTS AND GOVERNMENT/LAF INACTION MAKES IT MORE 
DIFFICULT TO PORTRAY BEIRUT DEMONSTRATIONS AS 
LF-INTIFIDA ALONE DEFENDING CHRISTIAN INTERESTS, 
BUT FASTER REACTION WOULD HAVE GAINED THEM MORE 
CREDIT.  END COMMENT. 
 
BARTHOLOMEW 

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