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Cablegate: Lebanon: Nasrallah Extends Hand for Partnership, But

VZCZCXRO6497
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHKUK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #0770/01 1481214
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271214Z MAY 08 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2044
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 000770

(C O R R E C T E D C O P Y) ADDING SENSITIVE CAPTION

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PINR LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: NASRALLAH EXTENDS HAND FOR PARTNERSHIP, BUT
REMAINS FIRM ON WEAPONS

BEIRUT 00000770 001.2 OF 002


SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) During a ceremony held in the Beirut southern suburbs to mark
the eighth anniversary of the 2000 Israeli withdrawal from southern
Lebanon, Hizballah SYG Nasrallah delivered a televised speech in
which he extended to the GOL the hand for partnership and
cooperation, but at the same time justified the possession of the
resistance's weapons. He announced a new "liberation strategy" for
the Shebaa Farms and Kfarshouba hills in addition to the "national
defensive strategy" cited by President Sleiman in his inaugural
address. With no further elaboration, Nasrallah promised that
Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails will return to Lebanon soon. He
welcomed the election of Michel Sleiman as president and promised a
"quiet and calm" summer in Lebanon. End summary.

NASRALLAH ANNOUNCES LIBERATION
STRATEGY, CALLS FOR PARTNERSHIP
-------------------------------

2. (U) On May 26, at a Liberation Day ceremony marking the eighth
anniversary of the 2000 Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon,
Hizballah SYG Nasrallah delivered a televised speech in front of a
large crowd in Beirut's southern suburbs. In his speech, Nasrallah
said the resistance does not have to wait for a national or popular
consensus, but rather that it should carry weapons and proceed to
fulfill its liberation duties. He added, "We should not use the
resistance's weapons for any internal political gain" and warned the
government and army not to use its weapons against an opposition
political party, such as Hizballah.

3. (U) Nasrallah added a new condition to justify Hezbollah's
weapons when he called for the formulation of a new "liberation
strategy" for the Shebaa Farms and Kfarshouba hills, in addition to
the need for the arms as part of a "national defensive strategy."
Nasrallah also called for a true national partnership and urged
others to benefit from the thinking of late Prime Minister Rafiq
Hariri, who was capable of incorporating Hezbollah's weapons into a
national reconstruction plan following the end of the civil war.

NASRALLAH WELCOMES
SLEIMAN'S ELECTION
------------------

4. (U) Nasrallah also welcomed the election of Michel Sleiman as
president, which he said brings new hope for Lebanon. He praised
Sleiman's speech for its consensual spirit, saying, "This is what
Lebanon needs: consensus, partnership, and cooperation."

NATIONAL UNITY CABINET
WILL NOT BE LIMITED TO
USUAL OPPOSITION PARTIES
------------------------

5. (SBU) Nasrallah further added that a national unity cabinet
should be formed based on true representation; this formation will
be a success for all of Lebanon and not one party over the other.
He noted that the opposition's share will not be limited to
Hizballah, Amal, and Aoun's Change and Reform bloc, but will also
include other opposition parties. March Druze MP Akram Shuhayyeb
told Polstaff on May that he believed the opposition would nominate
members of the Syrian Baath party and Syrian Socialist Nationalist
Party (SSNP). He said MP Saad Hariri should not accept the
premiership if he will be surrounded by cabinet members from the
opposition Syrian parties.

HIZBALLAH DEMANDS
COEXISTENCE
-----------------

6. (U) Nasrallah clarified that Hizballah neither asked for a
change in the political structure of the state nor an amendment to
the Taif Agreement despite that all victorious resistance efforts in
the world either took control of power or demanded to have power.
He added, "Hizballah does not want power in Lebanon, nor to control
Lebanon, nor to rule Lebanon, nor to impose our project and thoughts
on the Lebanese people, because we believe Lebanon is a special and
pluralistic state. The existence of this country only comes about
through coexistence, and this is what we are demanding." He
repeated, however, that he is proud to be a member of the "Wilayat
el-Faqih," (Islamic-dominated state), and Hizballah is its party.

RETURN OF LEBANESE
PRISONERS FROM ISRAELI
JAILS
----------------------

7. (U) In his speech, Nasrallah disclosed that a major breakthrough
on the issue of Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails will be
achieved. He said, "Samir Qantar (the longest held Lebanese

BEIRUT 00000770 002 OF 002


prisoner) and others will soon be in Lebanon." He did not elaborate
on this issue.

QUIET AND CALM SUMMER
FOR LEBANON
--------------------

8. (U) Concluding his speech, Nasrallah promised to exert all
efforts to have a quiet and calm summer, in contrast to the hot
summer the USG and its "Pharaoh," President Bush, allegedly had
promised for Lebanon. He added that there are two dreams; a
Lebanese dream and a U.S. dream, "so let us fulfill the Lebanese
dream of a quiet and calm summer and not the U.S. dream of a hot
summer."

CELEBRATORY SHOTS
CAUSE INJURIES
----------------

9. (U) Following Nasrallah's speech, more than ten people were
injured as a result of celebratory shooting and provocative actions
in Beirut by Amal and Hizballah supporters. The army intervened and
contained the situation.

COMMENT
-------

10. (U) By calling for a national strategy to liberate Shebaa Farms
and Kfarshouba, Hizballah is seeking yet another justification for
retaining its arms. It suggests that Hizballah will maintain its
self-assigned role as Lebanon's first line of defense, while leaving
political and economic issues in the hands of the government. While
the speech otherwise differed little in tone or substance from
previous speeches, the timing was not appreciated by many Lebanese,
still celebrating the May 25 election of President Michel Sleiman,
who had hoped for a more conciliatory tone. Nasrallah's fiery
speech and aggressive body language, along with skirmishes between
Hariri's Future Movement and Amal in Beirut following the speech,
instead seem to indicate that the honeymoon will be short-lived.
End comment.

SISON

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