GEAGEA SEES "SMALL WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY" WITH HIZBALLAH; MISSED OPPORTUNITIES WITH HARIRI

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id: 69966
date: 6/30/2006 15:31
refid: 06BEIRUT2221
origin: Embassy Beirut
classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
destination: 06BEIRUT2171
header:
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TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4401
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 002221

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/WERNER/SINGH

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/29/2016
TAGS: IS, LE, PGOV, PTER, SY
SUBJECT: MGLE01: JA'JA SEES "SMALL WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY"
WITH HIZBALLAH; MISSED OPPORTUNITIES WITH HARIRI

REF: BEIRUT 2171

Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman. Reason: Section 1.4 (d).

SUMMARY
--------

1. (C/NF) On June 29, the Ambassador and econoff met with
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Ja'Ja and his adviser Elie
Khoury at the Embassy. Ja'Ja was upbeat about the day's
National Dialogue session, saying that Hizballah Secretary
General Hassan Nasrallah was restrained. Nasrallah, along
with Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri, pledged that there
would be no attacks along the Blue Line during Israel's
military operation in Gaza. Regarding Hizballah's arms,
Ja'Ja saw a "small window of opportunity" when Nasrallah
seemed to acquiesce to a plan to strengthen the Lebanese
state until Hizballah's arms were no longer needed. Ja'Ja
was critical of MP Michel Aoun, who contributed nothing to
the discussion. However, Ja'Ja was open to a rapprochement
with Aoun and suggested including him in the government by
giving him the three cabinet positions currently reserved for
pro-President Lahoud ministers. Ja'Ja was concerned about
growing Christian tensions with MP Saad Hariri. He saw
Hariri's attempts to expand the ISF intelligence branch and
appoint his own man to head it as an attempt to usurp the
mission of the traditionally Christian LAF G-2. Ja'Ja
considered the Israeli operation in Gaza as having bad
implications for Lebanon, but speculated that Hizballah was
working to calm the situation. Finally, Ja'Ja and Khoury
raised the case of former Lebanese Forces intelligence chief
Ghassan Touma, currently living in the U.S. End Summary.

HIZBALLAH MILD AT
NATIONAL DIALOGUE
------------------

2. (C/NF) On June 29, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Ja'Ja
and his adviser Elie Khoury arrived in s ecret to the Embassy
for a meeting with the Ambassador and econoff. Ja'Ja was
upbeat about the day's National Dialogue session. Hizballah
Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah did not use the Israeli

SIPDIS
military operations in Gaza to say "we are right" about
Israel. Instead, Nasrallah was restrained during the
meeting. Ja'Ja said he had a gut feeling that Hizballah is
looking for a way to relax the current confessional tensions.

3. (C/NF) Regarding Hizballah's arms, Ja'Ja saw a "small
window of opportunity." The discussion centered around first
building up a strong state, and then the need for Hizballah's
arms would grow less and less. Ja'Ja promised the meeting
participants that he would prepare a proposal for the next
session on July 25 that would move this idea forward. He was
pleasantly surprised when he pulled Nasrallah aside at the
end of the meeting and asked: "Did I get this right?"
Nasrallah simply replied, "yes."

4. (C/NF) Ja'Ja was also pleased when Nasrallah and Speaker
of Parliament Nabih Berri promised to not hold an operation
against Israel along the Blue Line during Israel's military
operation into Gaza. Nasrallah gave his word to the dialogue
participants that nothing would happen from southern Lebanon
against Israel. He also called for the army and security
forces to keep an eye on Palestinian militants. Nasrallah
asked, however, that his pledge not be made public to avoid
giving Palestinian militants a reason to start trouble along
the Blue Line. Overall, Nasrallah's demeanor was neither
passive nor aggressive, according to Ja'Ja. Berri, too, was
relatively quiet. When asked about his recent trip to
Damascus, Berri simply replied that it was positive, and
added no details.

AOUN CONTRIBUTES LITTLE
-----------------------

5. (C/NF) The Ambassador asked Ja'Ja how MP Michel Aoun
behaved at the dialogue. Ja'Ja replied contemptuously that
Aoun did nothing; he has no plan. Aoun said: "It is not
important to have arms, but who is the one who orders arms in
or out." Ja'Ja interpreted Aoun's statement to mean that the
GOL must decide.

6. (C/NF) Ja'Ja was critical of Aoun in general, saying
that Aoun has no overall strategy. Aoun simply opens
rhetorical fire on Saad Hariri all the time. However, Ja'Ja
said that he was willing to compromise with Aoun. He even

BEIRUT 00002221 002 OF 003

suggested that Aoun could be brought into the Cabinet by
giving him the three minister slots currently reserved for
President Emile Lahoud. The Ambassador pointed out that
doing so would cause the March 14 majority to lose two votes
in cabinet since Defense Minister Elias Murr and Charles Rizk
have become de facto allies of March 14 (the insufferable
Minister of Environment Yaccoub Sarraf is still Lahoud's
man). Ja'Ja said that bringing in Aoun would still be worth
it. Ja'Ja even admitted that it was March 14 who excluded
Aoun when he returned to Lebanon, not the other way around.
Aoun would be like Hizballah: out of government they were
always critical, but once inside "they shut up."

ISF CHANGES ARE A MICROCOSM
OF HARIRI-CHRISTIAN TENSIONS
----------------------------

7. (C/NF) Ja'Ja reported that prior to the June 29 National
Dialogue session, he and other March 14 leaders met with
Hariri to address Christian tensions over Hariri's security
appointments. Ja'Ja denied that March 14 Christians are
drifting away from Hariri. He believed March 14 could stay
together until President Lahoud's term ends in November 2007.
However, he saw the issue of Internal Security Forces (ISF)
appointments as a serious one representing Christian concerns
that Sunnis were taking more than their fair share of
government jobs. "It just adds to the Christian losses of
the last 15 years" and drives Aoun crazy, asserted Ja'Ja.

8. (C/NF) Ja'Ja was alarmed that Hariri wanted to appoint
his own man, Lt. Col. Wissam al-Hassan, to head the ISF
intelligence branch. Ja'Ja is worried that Hariri intends to
expand the size and mission of the traditionally Sunni ISF
intelligence branch to make it into a peer competitor with
the traditionally Christian Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) G-2
and the traditionally Shia Surete General. Hariri wants a
Cabinet decree to upgrade the ISF intelligence branch from to
a section, which is bigger than a branch. Ja'Ja raised his
concerns with Hariri, who replied that the ISF intelligence
always had a branch. Ja'Ja replied that Hariri wants to
upgrade to a section, which constitutes a legal change.
Hairi did not seem to register the distinction, which Ja'Ja
interpreted as Hariri's lack of a grasp of details.

9. (C/NF) Hariri's appointment of someone so close to him
to head the ISF intelligence branch, as well as his proposal
to expand it to a section, is causing serious discord and
anxiety in the ISF and LAF, according to Ja'Ja. He was
concerned that the LAF will feel threatened and draw closer
to President Lahoud. Christian LAF officers are alarmed
because they fear Hariri is trying to create his own
(Sunni-led) G-2. The Ambassador pointed out that ISF
commander Maj. Gen. Rifi tends to make a good impression on
visitors as professional and capable, while LAF G-2 commander
George Khoury comes across as unprofessional and a
complainer. Ja'Ja sighed in agreement. But, he continued,
we are stuck with the LAF officers we have because the
president is the patron of the LAF. Ja'Ja added that it
seems LAF commander Lt. Gen. Michel Sulayman still maintains
his Syrian ties.

10. (C/NF) Ja'Ja added that he has talked with Maronite
ministers Pierre Gemayel and Nayla Mouawad, and they agree
that Hariri is very stubborn. They are paying a high
political price with their Christian constituents because of
Hariri. This is exacerbated by the Siniora-Hariri rift.
Hariri can be managed, clarified Ja'Ja, but Prime Minister
Siniora acts as if he is head of state. "He is a one-man
show," asserted Ja'Ja. Siniora is not consulting anyone else
on civil service appointments, including the foreign
ministry. Siniora does not want to share power, according to
Ja'Ja. He will listen to others, but once he has taken a
decision, he is very stubborn.

11. (C/NF) Ja'Ja said that Hariri was very upset about
Mufti of the Republic Qabbani's charges that the ISF was
mistreating those arrested after the February 5 riots
(reftel). According to Ja'Ja, Hariri called Qabbani and told
him that if he has a concern, to call Hariri, and not make a
public statement. Ja'Ja added that he does not envy Hariri
on this issue because Qabbani is unreliable, but it is too
difficult to remove from his position as Mufti of the
Republic.

GAZA OPERATION "BAD"
--------------------

BEIRUT 00002221 003 OF 003

12. (C/NF) Ja'Ja raised the fighting in Gaza, saying that
the Israeli actions would be bad for Lebanon and the region.
He noted, however, that there has been no significant
reaction inside Lebanon. He speculated that Hizballah may be
playing a calming role. By contrast, Ja'Ja was in favor of
the Israeli Air Force's buzzing of Syrian President Bashar
Asad's summer home. It is good that the Syrians know they
are accountable, said Ja'Ja.

"ACCIDENTAL TORTURE"
---------------------

13. (C/NF) At the close of the meeting, Ja'Ja and Khoury
asked the Ambassador to look into the case of Ghassan Touma,
the chief of Lebanese Forces intelligence during the civil
war. Ja'Ja said that Touma is living in the U.S. but has no
legal status. He cannot take airline flights because he is
on a TSA no-fly list, according to Ja'Ja. Touma was
convicted of war crimes in a Lebanese court in 1993, so he
cannot return to Lebanon. Ja'Ja and Khoury disputed reports
that Touma had tortured prisoners during the civil war, which
they said came from Canadian intelligence. "He sometimes did
only what was necessary to take confessions...but he is not
that type," said Ja'Ja, adding that Touma was held to
standards of conduct, "as if this were Switzerland." Khoury
unhelpfully added: "Sometimes there is accidental torture,
but I don't think Touma did it." The Ambassador said he
would look into the case, but emphasized he could not make
any guarantees.
FELTMAN

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