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Cablegate: Lebanon: Mindef Murr Meeting On 11 May 2008

VZCZCXRO3416
OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0681/01 1342132
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 132132Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1850
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2279
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 2583
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 000681

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/07/2018
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PTER MCAP MARR EAIR IR LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: MINDEF MURR MEETING ON 11 MAY 2008

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

SUMMARY
-------

1. (C) In a May 11 meeting, Defense Minister Elias Murr told
Charge that Hizballah fighters were moving into his
neighborhood to take up positions around Michel Aoun's
residence. Murr thinks that the incidents of 8-10 May prove
that Army Commander Sleiman and Army Intelligence Chief
Georges Khoury are "in the pocket" of Hizballah and that
everyone has made a deal for their own benefit. Murr
expressed an unwavering commitment to the government saying
they (Hizbullah) would have to enter his house and kill him
before he gives up on the two cabinet decisions that led to
Hizbullah's actions on the streets of Beirut. Murr
anticipates trouble among army officers, especially the
Sunnis, based on the Army's performance in Beirut where they
allowed Hizballah to take over Sunni-dominated West Beirut.
Murr feels that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are the most important
players to affect the current situation in Beirut, "if they
are in the deal." Murr has been under increasing criticism
from Lebanese politicians about his relationship with the USG
saying his alliance has been a "failure" because there has
been no real assistance to help Lebanon against Syria and
Iran.

2. (C) Charge, accompanied by Defense Attach and PolOff, met
with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Elias Murr
at his residence in Rabieh on Sunday, May 11 at 10:00 a.m.

HIZBALLAH IS JUST OUTSIDE MY WALLS
OVER 200 FIGHTERS MOVED IN LAST NIGHT
--------------------------------------

3. (C) Murr set the stage for our early Sunday morning by
telling us about his newest neighbors. Evidently, Free
Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader Michel Aoun has received 200
new body guards to protect his residence in Rabieh which is
not far from Murr's home. These fighters had infiltrated into
Rabieh on dirt tracks that were not guarded. Now, according
to Murr, his nine year old daughter asks him, "who are those
dirty men with beards outside?" (Comment. If Murr were really
in distress about this new development, it is unlikely that
he would still have his two children in the house while his
ex-wife was out of the country. End Comment.)

4. (C) In addition to the 200 fighters around his house, Murr
told us that he knew of an additional 400 fighters that had
infiltrated the Dikwayne areas of the Metn. Murr assessed
that all of these forces were being brought in to intimidate
Amine Gemayel's Phalange Party and to prepare to cut the main
highway leading north out of Beirut. (Note. Defense Attach
noted a significant increase in the number of LAF armored
vehicles deployed on this highway on the morning of 11 May.
This was the first time Defense Attach has seen armored
personnel carriers on this highway in the last two years. End
Note.)

ARMY COMMANDER AND INTELLIGENCE CHIEF
IN HIZBULLAH'S BACK POCKET
-------------------------------------

5. (C) Murr, clearly upset with the LAF's lack of
performance, told Charge that Sleiman was a "coward." Charge
recalled USDP Edelman's question to Sleiman about a lack of
LAF action leading to questions of either caution or
collusion on the part of the LAF. Murr agreed saying , "these
are Sleiman's three C's; caution, coward, collusion." (Note.
Former President

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