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Cablegate: Lebanon: Estimated Numbers of Potential Evacuees

VZCZCXYZ2534
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLB #0337/01 0651411
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051411Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA PRIORITY 3120
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1201
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE PRIORITY
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS BEIRUT 000337

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

WASHINGTON PLEASE PASS TO SES-O/CMS AND TO JO-ANN HUNTER
CA/OCS/ACS.

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AEMR CASC CY AMGT LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: ESTIMATED NUMBERS OF POTENTIAL EVACUEES
FOR BEIRUT NONCOMBATANT EVACUATION OPERATIONS

1. (SBU) In 2006 the USG evacuated approximately 15,000
American Citizens and their families from Lebanon during
hostilities between Israel and the Lebanon-based group
Hizballah. Embassy Beirut recognizes the importance of
accurately forecasting the number of Americans in the country
as it allows us and others to anticipate how many Americans
might participate in any future evacuation. We have updated
the F-77 document used to make this estimate (NOTE: the F-77
can be found on the unclassified intranet at
http://ses.state.gov/f77-posts/viewreports.as px and on the
classified SIPRnet at:
http://ses.state.sgov.gov/f77/viewreports.asp x END NOTE).

2. (SBU) We estimate that there are 59,400 U.S. citizens in
Lebanon. Attempting to come up with an accurate number of
Americans in Lebanon is a difficult task; the vast majority
of Americans in the country also hold Lebanese citizenship;
this means that the Lebanese government does not count them.
The GOL provides Embassy a breakdown by month of Americans
that enter the country on their American passports, and from
these data we estimate that the number of Americans who are
in the country claiming only American citizenship at any
given time is between 3500 and 7000
depending on the season. However, an informal survey of
American citizens that came into the Embassy for routine
services revealed that the number of dual nationals
outnumbered those who held only a U.S. Passport by a ratio of
18 to 1. Our estimate of 59,400 citizens is based on this
and is significantly higher than previous estimates. It is,
however, important to note that not all American citizens in
the country would participate in an evacuation.

3. (SBU) To provide logistics coordinators with an easier
measure of potential evacuees we have created a number of
scenarios that might necessitate an evacuation along with
low, mid-range, and high estimates as to the number of
evacuees. The number of evacuees we have listed is meant to
be the total number of evacuees; as such, it includes not
only American citizens in Lebanon, but their family members
and third country nationals.


Situation One: Limited Attack from Outside Neighbor
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (SBU) Possible Scenario: Hizballah forces provoke
Israeli forces who, in turn, conduct military operations in
Lebanon. Israeli attacks are targeted at southern Lebanon
and the southern suburbs of Beirut as well as targets of
military value elsewhere in Lebanon (supply routes, airport
etc.). Ths would be not unlike the Israeli attack of
JulyAugust 2006.

Estimated Number of Evacuees:
LOW: 13,000
MID: 23,000
HIGH: 28,000

5. (SBU) Rationale: The number of evacuees would likely be
higher than in 2006 due to heightened concern among those in
Lebanon that a second Israeli attack would be more brutal
than the first. Furthermore, in 2006 thousands of people
left the country with commercial carriers at their own
expense; many left through Syria after hearing that they
would be charged a substantial fee to be evacuated by the
USG. All charges for the 2006 evacuation were eventually
forgiven, so the assumption now among Amcits -- despite
efforts to convince them of the contrary -- is that the USG
will arrange for future evacuations free of charge.


Situation Two: Civil War - Limited in Scope
--------------------------------------------

6. (SBU) Possible Scenario: The political impasse in
Lebanon grows and tensions between various political
parties/religious groups reach a breaking point. Violence
between the factions escalates and members of individual
groups only feel safe in neighborhoods controlled by their
faction. A defensive civil war ensues where groups fight to
retain control of their neighborhoods.

Estimated Number of Evacuees:

LOW: 16,000
MID: 28,000
HIGH: 36,000

7. (SBU) Rationale: Even a low intensity civil war would
likely affect a greater number of people in the country than
an incursion by a foreign power. For many, a civil war
scenario would raise memories of Lebanon's 15-year long civil
war 1975-90, in contrast to the month long 2006
Hizballah-Israel war. With the expectation that there might
not be a speedy end to the violence, Americans would feel
compelled to leave -- even if they owned property or had
other ties to Lebanon.


Situation Three: Civil War - Widespread in Scope
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. (SBU) Possible Scenario: The political impasse leads to
a situation where Hizballah and their allies feel they can
seize control of the country. Violence becomes widespread,
with the more heavily armed Hizballah forces conducting
incursions into other neighborhoods. Christian neighborhoods
become divided based on political differences and violence is
no longer between communities but within them. It becomes an
"offensive civil war" with internally displaced persons and
casualties numbering in the thousands.

Estimated Number of Evacuees:
LOW: 20,000
MID: 32,000
HIGH: 63,000

9. (SBU) Rationale: We assess that a widespread civil war
with thousands of casualties is not likely to occur. While
there are tensions between political and religious groups in
Lebanon, none is advocating annihilation of the other.
However, if this unlikely situation was to occur, the number
of American Citizens and their families in need of evacuation
could be substantial.


SISON

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