In my ‘Lebanon, the medieval Ottoman country’ post yesterday, I described 14March leaders as a bunch of sectarian warlords. I was not indicating only to their history during the Lebanese civil war, but rather to their current and recent history in peace time.
These leaders are currently advocating building a civil unarmed society in Lebanon (which is their main argument against Hezbollah), but in reality they do not mind getting armed to fight Hezbollah. I think they surely serve foreign interests in a way or another too, or at least they accept to be used. Let’s be practical here, we know how international politics is conducted, and politicians have to exploit international balances and political opportunities, and this is fine. But to ‘exploit’ opportunities to go back to civil war? I am not sure about that.
So the biggest scandal of all, which was revealed by the recently released American diplomacy cables by Wikileaks (and Al-Akhbar newspaper in Lebanon), was their readiness, intention and initiative to seek arms. I don’t deny that Hezbollah was acting like a militia then and still, but this problem surely can’t be solved by having other ‘too many militias’. After a 25 years of civil war (1975-1990), 200,000 estimated fatalities, 1 million wounded, and 350,000 displaced person, I am completely baffled that some Lebanese leaders and their supporters still believe that military fights can sort out political and social problems on the ground.
I list below the released cables with links to the original source, which show the Lebanese leaders hypocritical and stupid mentality:
25 Jan 2007 – Cable: 07BEIRUT133 – Par4: Saudi Arabia ambassador in Lebanon Khoja ‘whispered’ to the US ambassador that they must help 14March leaders with money and arms. Please note this was before 07 May 2008, which was the date when Hezbollah moved militarily in Beirut & Mount Lebanon, and tried to occupy them (in response to a 5 May government decision to remove Hezbollah’s secret communication network).
08 Apr 2008 – Cable: 08BEIRUT490 – Par8: Walid Jumblatt (the PSP – Porgressive Socialist Party – & Druze leader) confessed to the Americans that Saad Hariri (Future movement leader) was training a Sunni militia in Beirut and Tripoli. The same for Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces, and Suleiman Franjieh’s Marada who were due to start training – Franjieh is pro-Hezbollah).
09 May 2008 – Cable: 08BEIRUT642 – Par5: Samir Geagea Head of Lebanese Forces (Christian militia during the war) privately informed Washington that he had between 7,000 – 10,000 Christian fighters ready to fight. They just needed arms.
11 May 2008 – Cable: 08BEIRUT652 – Par8: Nayla Mouawad (a MP) and Amin Al-Gemayel (ex-president) suggested to the American diplomacy to arm 14March, and informed them that they are ready for fighting. They just need ‘quiet support’ in the next 5 to 6 days to defeat Hezbollah (during their Beirut invasion on 07 May 2008)
12 May 2008 – Cable: 08BEIRUT669 – Par11: Samir Geagea followed up on his previous request for ammunition. What was more dangerous about this request, was that he disclosed he was coordinating his efforts with the Lebanese Head of Internal security Forces Asharaf Rifi. He disclosed too that he was looking to buy arms at ‘list price’ from the market for him and Walid Jumblatt.
15 May 2008 – Cable: 08BEIRUT698 – Par9 & 10: Walid Jumblatt said that he wanted to prepare for round 2 with Hezbollah. And he planned to liaise with Saad Hariri, to check if the Saudis can arm his supporters. He even asked the American Charge and Defense Attache for land mines!
22 Dec 2008 – Cable: 08BEIRUT1780 – Par1: Although you might think it was less important, but it shows how the state establishments suffer on the expense of militias or vested interests. Defense Minister Elias Murr confessed to the Americans how he was trying to avoid receiving the Russian military support with the 10 MiG-29 fighter jets to the Lebanese Army. He (and the Americans) did not want to support the Army from Russia. It was all about internal politics and manoeuvres against Hezbollah.
I think the Americans were more sensible on these occassions, and we did not see direct milirary support. I am sure though there are more unsaid about the ridiculous, crazy, and criminal plans for these Lebanese leaders, and others on the other side. I just wonder when the Lebanese people will wake up to the truth. Similar cables have sparked revolutions somewhere else.
Are we just repeating the 1975 film, by just replacing the Palestinian PLO with Hezbollah? In all cases, they really earned their title: ‘warlords’.