Search

 

Cablegate: Visit of Inl Assistant Secretary to Lebanon March 30-31,

VZCZCXRO6106
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHKUK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0483/01 0991012
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081012Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1468
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 2381
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2113

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 000483

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR INL/AAE, NEA/ELA, NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/HARDING

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PINS PREL PBTS NAS PGOV IS SY LE
SUBJECT: VISIT OF INL ASSISTANT SECRETARY TO LEBANON MARCH 30-31,
2008

REF: BEIRUT 451

1. (U) Summary: During his official visit to Lebanon March 30 to
March 31, 2008, Assistant Secretary of State for International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), David T. Johnson
reaffirmed the U.S. government commitment to a sovereign, democratic
Lebanon, and discussed INL's continuing support to enhance the
capabilities of the Lebanese security forces. Discussions with
Lebanese government officials, Internal Security Force's Command
Staff and visits to the three principal training facilities of the
ISF highlighted the continuing need for USG funded training,
equipment and infrastructure upgrades to strengthen the ISF so that
it can develop into a modern, professional police force capable of
combating the terrorist and other criminal threats Lebanon faces.
End summary.

2. (U)Accompanied by Charge d'Affaires (CDA) Michele Sison, INL
Beirut Director, Virginia Sher Ramadan, INL officers Adam Bloomquist
and Cassandra Stuart and White House Fellow Kathryn Spletstoser, A/S
Johnson discussed capacity building and security issues with
Lebanese government officials, including Prime Minister Fouad
Siniora, Minister of Interior and Municipal Affairs Hassan Sabaa,
Director General of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), Achraf Rifi,
and members of his command staff, and General Siham Harakeh of the
Directorate General of General Security (DGS).

SINIORA: ASSISTANCE NECESSARY,
BUT SO ARE SOLUTIONS TO MIDDLE EAST ISSUES
------------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Prime Minister Siniora expressed his appreciation for the
security assistance and training that INL has promised and
delivered. With the Director General of the ISF seated beside him,
the PM noted that a strong ISF is essential for Lebanese security,
and that the lack of security has contributed to the difficult times
Lebanon is facing. Siniora remarked that although all of the USG
assistance programs are important to enhance Lebanon's security, the
real problem is the Israeli occupation, and the lack of readiness to
resolve it. (See Reftel for further reporting on PM Siniora's
comments on the Lebanese political situation).

MINISTER OF INTERIOR STRESSES
NEED TO STRENGTHEN BORDER SECURITY
----------------------------------

4. (SBU)In his first meeting with Interior Minister Sabaa, whose
Ministry has nominal authority over both the ISF and the DGS,
Johnson made clear that INL assistance is part of the broader USG
commitment to Lebanon. He explained INL's increasing assistance to
help stabilize post-conflict societies and its programs to
strengthen democracies through criminal justice related
institutional development. Sabaa thanked the USG for its support,
and for recognizing the essential role the ISF plays.

Sabaa urged that border secuity assistance should be a top
priority. Not only would border controls hinder the currently
unimpeded smuggling of arms and terrorists into Lebanon across the
porous Eastern border with Syria, it would also help to control the
smuggling of drugs, cultivated in and exported from the Beqaa areas
controlled by Hizbollah.

He explained that although the Northern Border Pilot Program aims to
create a common border force including all four security agencies,
in reality border security is currently under the control of one of
the agencies of the Lebanese Armed Forces. Sabaa hopes that the ISF
will one day have sufficient capacity to assume a larger protective
role along the border and around the Palestinian camps, and assume
its traditional policing responsibilities, now provided by the LAF.


ISF: CONTINUED ASSISTANCE NECESSARY
-----------------------------------

5. (SBU) General Rifi, the well respected Commander of the ISF,
Explain that the ISF suffered through 30 years of Syrian control,
and that it lacks technical expertise because of the Syrian
occupation, Rifi thanked the USG for its ongoing assistance and
expressed his appreciation for the team efforts of the USG in
working with the ISF to combat terrorism. Rifi highlighted that the
ISF has expanded from 12,000 police to 23,500 since the withdrawal
of the Syrians in 2005, but has not received any commensurate
increase in its operating budget to handle the augmented costs

BEIRUT 00000483 002 OF 003


associated with the greater number of personnel.

Noting that initially ISF coordinated on its own all assistance
offered by international donors, Rifi admitted that with the
increase in the number of donors and the amount and type of the
foreign assistance offered in the last year, there is a need for
greater coordination to avoid duplication and redundancy. He sought
USG assistance to help generate ideas to strengthen its operations
and training and to coordinate the international donations.

6. (U) Rifi stated that the ISF is intent on providing more human
rights training for its staff and recruits, and wants to bring in
women to the ISF, with an ultimate goal of hiring 3,000 to 4,000
female police. INL's refurbishing plans for the Police Academy are
being drawn to accommodate the first group of women cadets with
separate dormitories and facilities. Currently the ISF has only a
handful of women, all computer specialists. (Note: the DGS has more
female officers and inspectors; among its top command staff at least
two are women officers, both of whom met with the A/S during this
trip.)

DGS: BORDER SECURITY AND NEED FOR BIOMETRICS
AND TRAINING
--------------------------------------------

7. (U) At the headquarters of the Directorate General for General
Security (DGS) A/S Johnson met with the general in charge of border
security, General Siham Harakeh, (filling in for General Wafiq
Jezzine who fell ill the day before), and the head of the
intelligence branch, Colonel Jumana Daniel. DGS is the security
agency responsible for immigration and border inspection matters,
including passports, visas, foreign residency papers, travel
documents for refugees and naturalization. Although INL's ongoing
assistance program in Lebanon has concentrated on the ISF, this week
INL provided data mining software, 20 computers and training in the
use of the software to the DGS, which is one of the four agencies of
the nascent Common Border Force.

Harakeh reported that DGS has approximately 1,000 immigration
inspectors, 350 of whom are assigned to the Beirut International
Airport and 700 at the four land border crossings (soon to be
expanded to five). DGS inspectors have received little
international training, apart from a short course in document fraud
provided by the Germans. In order to properly protect Lebanese
borders from unlawful entrants, Harakeh requested USG assistance for
digital fingerprint or eye scan equipment and the necessary training
in its use. Currently immigration and nationality checks are made
only against name and birth date and place data, with no method to
uncover identity fraud through biometric verifications. Harakeh and
DGS also have responsibility over the detention of undocumented and
trafficked foreigners in Lebanon, and DGS have worked to help
establish protocols to combat trafficking in persons and provide
refuge through the establishment of a safe house for trafficked
women. A/S Johnson expressed USG support for continued cooperation
in immigration and border security programs to strengthen Lebanese
control over its border.

INL ASSISTANCE TO ISF
---------------------

8. (U) The meetings with the Director General of the ISF, Rifi, and
his command staff, over the two day visit concentrated on discussing
the progress of the ongoing training program and the provision of
equipment and proposed infrastructure improvements. The multi-year
U.S. Government assistance program to the ISF is focused on
training, equipment donations and infrastructure development. Ten
American police advisors, with three U.S. police specialists are
currently working with ISF trainers and officers to train 8,000
police recruits and 1,200 instructors over a four year period in
modern police practices, administration, democratic policing, human
rights, criminal investigations and other essential law enforcement
skills. U.S.-sponsored training also assists Lebanese police
advisers in drafting curriculum and training police recruits. As
the training program develops further, additional classrooms will be
provided, police dormitories refurbished, and dining and kitchen
facilities upgraded.

9. (U) The U.S. Government has been assisting the ISF in its
development since October 2006 through several different programs.
These programs have provided 3000 sets of civil disorder management
equipment to the ISF Mobile Forces, 60 new sports utility vehicles
and duty gear to 4000 cadets in various ISF units, and new academy

BEIRUT 00000483 003 OF 003


classrooms, offices, firing range and equipment with which to
provide training. Over the next three months, 300 new police cars
will be delivered, and the program will finance the refurbishment of
11 police operation centers and substations with technologically
advanced communications equipment, computers and GPS/GIS type
software with the ultimate goal of providing communications
connectivity to the entirety of the ISF.

VISITS TO THE TRAINING CENTERS
------------------------------

10. (U) ISF training is divided among three centers: the main
Academy at Warwar in Beirut (where basic training for recruits takes
place), the Mobile Forces headquarters in Dbaye, a suburb of Beirut
(where training of the SWAT team and the Black Panthers occurs) and
in Aramoun near the Beirut airport, (where the ISF Information
Bureau trains its special forces). The ISF would like to consolidate
training at Aramoun, and has been seeking funding from international
donors to build a new $30 to $50 million academy/ training facility
on the 220,000 square meters Aramoun site. ISF is currently
drafting plans for a new facility. A/S Johnson and CDA Sison
affirmed the USG's commitment to work with other donors who could
provide funding for the proposed training facility in Aramoun, and
stated that the USG would be prepared to rechannel funding to equip
portions of the new facility in cooperation with other donors.

11. (U) A/S Johnson visited all three training centers. At Warwar,
he addressed the assembled press and the first class of 181 cadets
of the INL Police Training Program, after taking a tour of the
facilities and the INL funded classrooms. At Aramoun, the
Information Bureau's Special Forces presented demonstrations on VIP
protection and urban intervention and rescue techniques, as well as
rappelling and firing range exhibits and obstacle course training.
In Dbaye, the mobile forces presented a simulated labor
demonstration/riot, and showed how they can control it with an array
of internationally donated advanced equipment, including armored
vehicles, truck mounted water cannons to disperse crowds, and riot
and crowd control gear provided by INL. General Robert Jabbour, head
of the Mobile Forces, showed the delegation the 15 new Dodge Charger
Police Cars that had just arrived from the U.S. as part of INL's
Lebanon equipment donation program.

12. (U) Press coverage of the entire visit was extensive and
positive. Print and broadcast media representing all political
factions covered the visit and noted the aim of the INL program to
support the democratic government of Lebanon and help it
professionalize its security institutions.

13. (U) This message has been cleared by Assistant Secretary
Johnson.

SISON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC