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Cablegate: Lebanon: Media Reaction, March 11, 2008

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DE RUEHLB #0365/01 0710925
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 110925Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1264
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 3168
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 2515
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA PRIORITY 3736
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2039
RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL//CCPA PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000365

SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ELA - SOMERSET, NEA/PPD, R, INR/R/MR
INR-PARENT
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA
LONDON/POL
PARIS/POL

WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC
USCENTCOM FOR CCPA

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KMDR OPRC KPAO PREF PREL KISL KPAL LE
SUBJECT: Lebanon: Media Reaction, March 11, 2008


Atmospherics:
------------

Most media outlets highlighted Washington's reaction to Speaker
Berri's sixteenth postponement of the presidential election session.
A few media outlets, however, continued to express optimism about
the possibility of electing General Sleiman as president before the
Arab Summit.

Arab nationalist As-Safir carried an editorial that contained
information leaked by the Hizballah leadership. The information
seemed to be an attempt to alay Lebanese fears that either Hizballah
or Israel will launch a war in the foreseeable future. The
editorial cited a source in the Hizballah leadership who explained
Hizballah's strategy as follows, "We will not declare war, and we
will not take the initiative and launch a war. It is not our hobby
to open military fronts or involve ourselves in wars, but at the
same time we are ready to defend Lebanon if Israel tries to attack
it again." The same source also cited several reasons for
concluding that Israel will not launch a war against Lebanon
either.

Selected Headlines:
-------------------

"U.S. Slams 16th Delay of Election as 'Unacceptable'" English
language, Beirut based The Daily Star

"Optimism About The Possibility of Electing a President Before the
Summit Despite Decision to Postpone Today's Presidential Election
Session" Centrist Al-Anwar

"Washington Denounces Postponement and Tehran Denounces
'Interference'" Independent Al-Balad


Block Quotes:
-------------

"Hizballah Believes that a War is Unlikely Even Though It is Ready
for it; For these Reasons, No Israeli War Is Expected In The
Foreseeable Future," an editorial by Imad Marmal (known for his
links to Hizballah) in Arab nationalist As-Safir (3/11):

"Will there be an Israeli war against Lebanon soon? This question
is on the minds of many people, and is taking a lot of their time.
This question is more important to them than whether a Lebanese
president will be elected soon or not. Obviously, the answer to
this question can be a series of interpretations and probabilities.
...It was clear the last several weeks that many Lebanese citizens,
who were obsessed with worry over the possibility of a new war,
behaved as if a war is definitely coming: some prepared their
passports and others rented houses away from what they assumed to be
the military front. ...Some believe that the deployment of U.S.
military ships off the Lebanese Coast intensified this fearful
atmosphere. ...Others truly believe that Israel will never accept
its failure in 2006 and will launch a new war to re-balance the
situation with Hizballah. Are all above indications, however,
enough? Many observers believe that there will be no war in the
foreseeable future. ...Hizballah, whoseleadership has been involved
in a long discussion over the possibility of war, also believes that
a war is unlikely. Obviously, this does not mean that Hizballah is
not ready if a war erupts. The strategy of the Hizballah Party is
clear: 'We will not declare war and we will not take the initiative
and launch a war. It is not our hobby to open military fronts or
involve ourselves in wars, but at the same time we are ready to
defend Lebanon if Israel tries to attack it again.' . . . Hizballah
(has) completed its 'defensive preparations.' The last two speeches
by Hizballah Secretary General, Hassan Nasrallah, can also be placed
within this framework ... A source in the Hizballah leadership
believes that the decision to launch a war is extremely complicated.
Israel will not find it easy to take such a decision despite the
fact that it really needs to erase its failure in the 2006 war.
...The same source expressed the belief that Israel will not take
the risk of launching a war...and clarified that the expected

BEIRUT 00000365 002 OF 002


response by Hizballah to avenge Mughniyeh's assassination does not
mean that Hizballah has taken a decision to launch a war.
...Finally, the same source cited the following reasons making
Hizballah confident that Israel will not launch a war soon: 1)
Israel is not confident that if it launches a war against Hizballah
it will succeed; 2) Israel has lost its war against Gaza; 3) the
element of surprise can no longer be used because all parties are
prepared for war; 4) the schools in Israel are continuing
normally..."

Sison

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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