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Cablegate: Tfle01: Sources: Hizballah Feels It Is Winning

VZCZCXRO8062
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHLB #2518 2141054
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021054Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4865
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L BEIRUT 002518

SIPDIS

NOFORN
SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/SINGH/HARDING

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/01/2016
TAGS: IR IS LE MOPS PTER
SUBJECT: TFLE01: SOURCES: HIZBALLAH FEELS IT IS WINNING

Classified By: Ambassador Jeffrey D. Feltman. Reason: Section 1.4 (d).

SUMMARY
--------

1. (C/NF) On August 1, three reliable sources on Hizballah
told us that Hizballah believes it is winning the war with
Israel. Former UNIFIL spokesman Timur Goksel said that
Hizballah has already won in the minds of the Lebanese people
for standing up to Israel. Israeli tactics and
ineffectiveness has also rallied some non-Shia to support
Hizballah. Regarding the ground fighting in southern
Lebanon, Goksel said that Hizballah is eager for Israel to
occupy some land and is holding back its best fighters in the
event of a larger Israeli invasion. Shia journalist Abbas
Sabbagh told us that morale is high among both the Shia
populace and among Hizballah fighters. Shia MP Ali Osseirran
reported that Hizballah's popularity is growing, even among
Sunnis and Christians in Sidon. End summary.

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"HIZBALLAH'S ALREADY WON"
------------------------

2. (C/NF) On August 1, econoff and polstaff talked to three
reliable sources with at least indirect access to Hizballah.
Former UNIFIL spokesman Timur Goksel, Shia journalist Abbas
Sabbagh, and MP Ali Osseirran all assessed that Hizballah
believed it was winning the war with Israel. Goksel said
that Hizballah has already won in the minds of the Shia
population, and much of the non-Shia population, by standing
up to the IDF this long. In addition, Goksel said that
Lebanese across the board view certain Israeli military
actions--razing villages, killing civilians even if
unintentional--as atrocities. This is causing the southern
population to seek protection with Hizballah. He was
recently surprised to see Sunnis supporting Hizballah and
calling them heroes. Goksel commented that Hizballah will
likely come out of the conflict stronger for which "we will
all pay the price."

3. (C/NF) Analyzing Hizballah military tactics, Goksel said
that Hizballah is waiting for Israel to occupy southern
Lebanon. Then Hizballah can begin its guerrilla operations
in earnest and "it will get really ugly." As he reported
last week, Goksel said that it appears Hizballah is using
only local militiamen to combat the limited Israeli ground
incursions thus far. Hizballah is keeping its elite fighters
in reserve to counter a larger invasion.

MORALE HIGH
-----------

4. (C/NF) Shia journalist Abbas Sabbagh based in south
Beirut told us that morale among Hizballah fighters and the
Shia populace is high. He did not see how any Israeli
military campaign can defeat Hizballah at this point. The
only way to disarm Hizballah would be an internal Lebanese
decision to do so, he commented. According to Sabbagh, the
decrease in Hizballah rocket launches during the Israeli
self-described 48-hour airstrike pause was due to the visit
of the Iranian foreign minister. The message was: "We can
turn the spigot on or off whenever we want."

5. (C/NF) Ali Osseirran, a Shia MP nominally in Speaker
Berri's parliamentary bloc, told us that in confessionally
diverse Sidon, Shia, Sunni, and Christian residents are
showing solidarity with Hizballah. Hizballah's support in
the Shia community remains high not only because of the
perceived brutality of Israeli tactics, but because of the
perception that Israel's military campaign has been
ineffective against Hizballah. This support has been getting
stronger everyday, according to Osseirran. Regarding the
proposed multi-national stabilization force, Osseirran
commented: "Did you forget what happened during the '80s?"

FELTMAN

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