US embassy cable - 85BEIRUT4000

GOL ANNOUNCES SECURITY PLAN FOR BEIRUT AIRPORT, AND MEASURES AGAINST U.S. EFFORTS TO SHUT DOWN BIA

Identifier: 85BEIRUT4000
Wikileaks: View 85BEIRUT4000 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 1985-07-05 11:00:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PTER EAIR LE
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 051100Z JUL 85
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3889
INFO AMEMBASSY DAMASCUS
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
C O N F I D E N T I A L BEIRUT 04000 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PTER, EAIR, LE 
SUBJECT:  GOL ANNOUNCES SECURITY PLAN FOR BEIRUT AIRPORT, 
AND MEASURES AGAINST U.S. EFFORTS TO SHUT DOWN BIA 
 
1.  (U) AMIDST MUCH FANFARE, LEBANESE AUTHORITIES 
HAVE SET OUT THE FIRST STEPS OF WHAT IS ULTIMATELY 
INTENDED TO BE A NEW SECURITY PLAN FOR BEIRUT 
AIRPORT.  THE PLAN WAS REPORTEDLY DRAWN UP AT A 
MEETING HELD AT THE AIRPORT ON JULY 3 WHICH WAS 
ATTENDED BY AIRPORT SECURITY OFFICIALS AND 
MILITIA REPRESENTATIVES, AND IS THEORETICALLY 
TO BE IMPLEMENTED WITHIN THE NEXT 48 HOURS. 
 
2.  (U) IN A SEPARATE BUT RELATED DEVELOPMENT, 
PRESIDENT GEMAYEL, AT A JULY 4 MEETING AT THE 
PRESIDENTIAL PALACE ATTENDED BY A WHO'S WHO OF 
THE LEBANESE MILITARY, INTELLIGENCE, SECURITY, 
CUSTOMS, AND AVIATION SECTORS (AS WELL AS THE 
SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE FOREIGN MINISTRY), 
INSTRUCTED THE PARTICIPANTS TO DRAW UP A SIX- 
PRONGED CAMPAIGN TO COUNTER THE U.S. MOVES TO 
SHUT DOWN THE AIRPORT. 
 
3.  (U) UNDER THE SECURITY PLAN, ARMED MILITIAMEN 
WOULD BE BARRED FROM THE AIRPORT, ALL UNAUTHORIZED 
ENTRANCES TO THE TWO RUNWAYS WOULD BE CLOSED OFF, 
AND CARS WOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO APPROACH THE MAIN 
TERMINAL BUILDING.  BEIRUT TELEVISION THURSDAY 
EVENING SHOWED FOOTAGE OF DIRT BERMS BEING CON- 
STRUCTED TO BLOCK TWO DIRT ROADS LEADING TO THE 
RUNWAYS, AND MEMBERS OF THE LAF SIXTH BRIGADE 
RIGOROUSLY SEARCHING PASSENGERS BOARDING MEA 
FLIGHTS AT THE AIRPORT.  THE PRESS QUOTES 
AIRPORT SECURITY PERSONNEL AS SAYING THAT THE 
PLAN WILL BE OBSERVED BY ALL PARTIES DUE TO A 
HIGH LEVEL "POLITICAL DECISION." 
 
4.  (U) CONTROVERSY OVER THE SECURITY PLAN HAS 
ALREADY BROKEN OUT.  GEN. YASSIN SWAYD, THE HEAD 
OF THE AIRPORT SECURITY APPARATUS, WHO SUBMITTED 
HIS RESIGNATION SEVERAL MONTHS AGO TO PROTEST THE 
CHAOS AT THE AIRPORT, ANNOUNCED THURSDAY THAT HE 
WILL NOT RETURN TO HIS JOB.  (THE GOL HAS NOT 
ACCEPTED HIS RESIGNATION.)  SWAYD, WHO ATTENDED 
THE THURSDAY MEETING AT BA'ABDA, PROTESTED THAT 
IN SPITE OF PRESS REPORTS THAT MEMBERS OF THE 
AIRPORT'S SECURITY APPARATUS ATTENDED THE WEDNESDAY 
NIGHT MEETING AT WHICH THE SECURITY PLAN WAS DRAWN 
UP, THIS WAS NOT THE CASE.  MOREOVER, HE SAID, 
"THE SITUATION AT THE AIRPORT WILL REMAIN AS IT 
IS UNTIL THE LEGITIMATE GOVERNMENT FORCES TAKE 
REAL CONTROL OF THE AIRPORT." 
 
5.  (U) THE SIX-PRONGED PLAN ORDERED BY THE 
PRESIDENT TO COUNTER THE U.S. MEASURES INVOLVES A 
SERIES OF "LOCAL, ARAB, AND INTERNATIONAL MOVES 
TO EXPLAIN LEBANON'S POSITION, AND THE MEASURES THAT 
LEBANON MIGHT TAKE TO PROTECT ITS RIGHTS AND TO 
PREVENT THE DAMAGE THAT MIGHT BE CAUSED TO ITS 
ECONOMY, NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, AND INTERNATIONAL 
REPUTATION."  THE PLAN WOULD INVOLVE A DIPLOMATIC 
OFFENSIVE, WHILE TASK FORCES HAVE BEEN CREATED IN 
THE AREAS OF DIPLOMACY, POLITICS, SECURITY, 
INFORMATION, CIVIL AVIATION, AND "ELECTRONIC 
FACILITIES."  A MILITARY SECURITY COMMITTEE, 
HEADED BY ARMY COMMANDER GEN. 'AWN, WAS CHARGED 
WITH DRAFTING A SECURITY PLAN (APPARENTLY SEPARATE 
FROM THAT ALREADY DRAWN UP) TO CONTROL THE SITUATION 
INSIDE AND AROUND THE AIRPORT.  ARMY CHIEF OF 
STAFF GEN. MAHMUD TAY ABU DARGHAM WILL CHAIR A 
COMMITTEE "TO ENSURE SECURITY BASED ON A POLITICAL 
AGREEMENT," MFA SYG TURK WILL HEAD THE COMMITTEE 
ON A DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE.  THE SIX TASK FORCES 
ARE SCHEDULED TO MEET AGAIN ON TUESDAY, JULY 16. 
 
6.  (C) COMMENT:  THE JADED LEBANESE HAVE LONG 
BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO HAVING SECURITY CONCERNS 
ADDRESSED BY YET ANOTHER "SECURITY PLAN."  THE 
GOL HAS OUTDONE ITSELF IN SPADES THIS TIME, WITH 
THE HAPLESS GEN. DARGHAM HAVING DRAWN THE UNENVIABLE 
TASK OF RESOLVING THE KEY PROBLEM OF ENSURING 
SECURITY BASED ON A POLITICAL AGREEMENT--A GOAL 
WHICH HAS ELUDED THE LEBANESE FOR THE PAST TEN 
YEARS OF CIVIL WAR. 
 
 
BARTHOLOMEW 

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