The Lebanese daily newspaper Almustaqbal reported today that the head of Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) General Michel Aoun referred to Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist organisation’ in one of the Wikileaks cables (06Beirut413). Other media outlets reported the story referring to Almustaqbal, and one of them was Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) where I read this piece news (on their website).
Almustaqbal newspaper is owned by the political opponent and Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. If this is true, it will be a blow to the current alliance that exists between Michel Aoun and Hezbollah.
Actually, I read this cable before Almustaqbal, and soon after its release. I decided then NOT to blog about it, as I didn’t find anything unusual or already not available in the public domain.
There is a huge amount of spin added to the reporting on Wikileaks cables. Some journalists are taking some cables out of context to serve their political inclinations and objectives. This blog aims to uncover as many cables as possible, irrespective of the political party being damaged from the leaked cable. And consequently, Lebanon Spring will ‘name and shame’ any media outlet adding their own spin to the story.
You can check this blog’s previous posts under ‘Wikileaks’ section, which show that both March8 and March14 got their share of criticism. And by the way, more Wikileaks posts are on the way on Lebanon Spring.
Anyway, back to Almustaqbal’s story. They missed the point that American Ambassadors or the cables’ authors sometimes refer to Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation as a matter of principle and a style of reporting. This cable doesn’t quote Aoun at all saying the term ‘terrorist organisation’, rather than it comes in the context of referring to Hezbollah in a report from an embassy to its base.
This is a quotation from the cable, where the term ‘terrorist organisation’ was mentioned – appearing in 3 locations:
“When asked to explain the tortured language of Article 10, which appears to give open-ended license to Hizballah to retain its militia, Aoun argued just the opposite, saying the terrorist organization could keep its arms “only if national consensus allowed it.[…]The Ambassador reminded Aoun that just as Lebanon was finding its voice to question the rationale for Hizballah’s state-within-a-state status, the communique had done a good job of taking the wind out of everyone’s sails and given the terrorist organization an undeserved gift.[…]Even though the document represented “only a start,” Aoun said he was convinced that the terrorist organization eventually wanted to come in from the cold. In support of his theory, Aoun noted that the document even referred to Israel, not ‘Occupied Palestine’.”
As you can see, the term ‘terrorist organisation’ was not placed in quotations all. On the contrary, the cable emphasises Aoun’s position in reference to the ‘understanding’ or communique signed with Hezbollah, as he defends his move, which is totally opposite to what Almustaqbal tried to imply in its report. Please dispute in the below comments section, if you interpret the above text in a different way.
I think Almustaqbal are either liars or idiots (giving them the benefit of the doubt). I initially believed LBCI were non-professional for not validating the cable content, but they were brave to correct the mistake. They responded to my complaint on twitter this morning saying they looked into it, and agreed that Almustaqbal report was wrong…They said that the article was mere translation from the Arabic press without editing.
LBCI looking into the issue:
LBCI confirming Aoun didn’t call Hezbollah a terrorist organisation:
LBCI explaining that how the info appeared on their website – just a translation:
LBCI thanking me!
…And here, LBCI removed the article on their website