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Cablegate: Lebanon: Saad Hariri: What Is the U.S. Waiting For?

VZCZCXRO2091
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0663/01 1331654
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 121654Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1819
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2264
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2568
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000663

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA
ALSO FOR A/S SILVERBERG AND PDAS WARLICK
USUN FOR KHALILZAD/WOLFF/KUMAR/PHEE
NSC FOR ABRAMS/SINGH/YERGER/GAVITO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/11/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PINR ASEC UNSC EAIR SA IR LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: SAAD HARIRI: WHAT IS THE U.S. WAITING FOR?

REF: A. BEIRUT 618
B. BEIRUT 652

Classified By: CDA Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4
(b) and (d).

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) On May 12, Future Movement and majority leader Saad
Hariri and advisors Nader Hariri and Ghattas Khoury implored
the Charge for stronger U.S. support within the next 24
hours, warning that U.S. help was needed "in hours, not
days!" Saad suggested the U.S. fly a plane over Syria or
deploy the U.S. Navy's Sixth Fleet to Syrian shorelines. He
warned that March 14 leaders could not hold out much longer
against Hizballah, acknowledging that they might be forced to
"make a deal" if they did not receive stronger support soon.
Saad stressed the importance of an imminent arrival of the
Qatari-led Arab League delegation, and expressed his
suspicion and grave concern that it was not expected for
another two days, on May 14. Saad relayed that he and fellow
March 14 leader Walid Jumblatt agreed that the Cabinet should
withdraw its decisions to transfer the head of airport
security and declare Hizballah's fiber optics network
illegal. End summary.

CABINET SHOULD WITHDRAW ITS DECISIONS
-------------------------------------

2. (C) At 1500 local time on May 12, the Charge, accompanied
by PolOff, met with Future Movement and majority leader Saad
Hariri, his cousin and advisor Nader Hariri, and senior
advisor Ghattas Khoury, where the three were holed up at
Saad's Qoreitam residence. An energetic Saad told the Charge
that the Cabinet should withdraw its May 5 decisions to
transfer the head of airport security and declare Hizballah's
fiber optics network illegal (Ref A). "It is useless to let
the opposition keep using these decisions as an excuse to
keep fighting," Saad asserted. He noted that March
14/Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) Walid Jumblatt concurred
with him but that Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea did not.

WHERE IS THE U.S.?
------------------

3. (C) The Lebanese are greatly disappointed and have no more
faith in March 14 and in the international community, Saad
remarked. He quoted the May 9 White House statement on
Lebanon, "We hope..." "What is this?" Saad declared.
"'Hope' does not deter Syria. If the U.S. decision is to do
nothing, then OK -- we know." Saad strongly urged that the
U.S. "just fly a plane over Damascus as a threat." He also
suggested the U.S. send the Sixth Fleet to Syria's shore.
"Do something in Syria, not Lebanon," he pressed. Playing on
something Prime Minister Fouad Siniora had told us the
previous day, Ghattas Khoury said, "Because we are Arab
nationalists, we want to see you do something in Syria!"

4. (C) Saad said that March 14 needed a clear position from
the U.S., "We need something that goes beyond encouragement
to" 'Stay strong,' he argued, adding that otherwise, "We will
make a deal. This is becoming humiliating. We are breaking
our bones and we don't want to lose anymore." He asserted
that he and Jumblatt had agreed to stay strong, but, if they
do not see any support from the U.S., he wondered, why should
they should still be allied with the U.S. "Siniora does not
want any blood spilled on his watch," Saad added. The more
we stay in this conflict, Saad cautioned, the more we will
lose.

5. (C) Ghattas Khoury said that within the next 24 hours, he
hoped the U.S. would demonstrate its support by imposing a
no-fly zone over Syria, increasing its sanctions against
Syria, and/or threatening Iran. Nader Hariri added, "It's
about hours, not days! Otherwise, the Siniora government
will fall. The PM has to feel a security network is
supporting him and his government." Saad asked that the
Charge tell Washington, "You know what you need to do. I
don't know what you're waiting for." He continued, "Tell
Washington, not me, to 'be strong'!"


BEIRUT 00000663 002 OF 002


6. (C) "Iran is taking over and the international community
is watching," complained Saad. "In a few months, the
problems will be much bigger," he predicted. Ghattas Khoury
added, "We are currently in a civil war, and we need to come
out!"

ARAB LEAGUE DELEGATION MUST ARRIVE IMMEDIATELY
--------------------------------------------- -

7. (C) Saad remarked that it was strange that the Arab League
delegation (Ref B), headed by Qatari Prime Minister and
Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassim, would not be arriving
until Wednesday, May 14. He expressed his concern that the
next two days will allow more advances on the ground. "Why
the delay?? We need them here now!" Saad implored. On the
rumor that the Arab League was planning to hold a follow up
round of talks in Doha, Saad insisted that he will stay in
Beirut because he reasoned that if he left, the conflict
would worsen. Besides, he said, holding long hours of
discussion must take place after a president is elected.

8. (C) During the meeting, Jumblatt's Druze rival Talal
Arsalan made televised remarks on Al-Arabiyya warning
Jumblatt that he "must give up his arms or else." Saad
reasoned that this "ultimatum" is why it will take two days
for the Arab League delegation to arrive, saying, "Probably
Damascus told the delegation to hold off on coming."

JUMBLATT BEING SACRIFICED IN ALEY FIGHTING
------------------------------------------

9. (C) Saad said he did not anticipate that the fighting
against Hizballah in predominately-Sunni Tripoli would get
out of hand. On the other hand, he said, what happened in
Aley between Hizballah and Jumblatt's PSP Druze fighters was
a disaster. He does not expect that fighting there will stop
as easily. Saad believed Walid has made a major sacrifice in
Aley and is concerned that Jumblatt will be killed by
Hizballah just as his father and other family members were
killed by the Syrians.

LAF RESIGNATIONS SYMBOLIC
-------------------------

10. (C) Saad said that approximately 100 Sunnis in the LAF
tendered their resignations the previous day, and that he
believed more were imminent. However, he noted, the
resignations are symbolic -- they were not accepted by the
LAF authorities and the officers are at work today.

SISON

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