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Cablegate: Lebanon: Siniora Hits Back at Nasrallah's

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PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHKUK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #3797/01 3421727
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 081727Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6806
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0611

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 003797

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/MARCHESE/HARDING
STATE FOR NEA/ELA, NEA/FO:ATACHCO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: SINIORA HITS BACK AT NASRALLAH'S
ACCUSATIONS

SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) In a rebuttal to Hassan Nasrallah's speech the
previous day, PM Siniora rejected threatening language and
the label "traitor," stressing the unity of all Lebanese.
Siniora condemned the arrogance that had led Nasrallah to
judge his fellow leaders' patriotism and honesty, and to
determine when the Prime Ministership needed to be changed.
Siniora dropped bombshells when he revealed that the LAF had
been ordered to support Hizballah, not oppose it, during the
Israel-Hizballah War; and that Tehran sought to keep the
Shebaa Farms occupied to provide a pretext to Hizballah to
keep its weapons indefinitely. End Summary.

REBUTTAL
--------

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2. (SBU) Prime Minister Siniora spoke today in response to
Hizballah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah's December 7
tirade, delivering a point-by-point rebuttal of its
accusations. Siniora urged Nasrallah to calm down, a
reference to the sweat-streaked brow and strident language
that had typified Nasrallah's delivery the previous day.

NASRALLAH'S ARROGANCE
---------------------

3. (SBU) Siniora indicted Nasrallah's arrogance, describing
it as "amazing" that Nasrallah should hand out or withhold
"certificates of patriotism" for Lebanese leaders, as if he
were the arbiter of who is patriotic and who is a traitor.
Siniora expressed special resentment for the "traitor" label,
which Nasrallah had employed liberally in several previous
speeches.

4. (SBU) In response to Nasrallah's call for early
parliamentary elections and the replacement of the Prime
Minister, Siniora asked how Nasrallah could decide who would
be PM in a democratic country unless he intended to change
the government by force.

5. (SBU) Finally, Siniora returned Nasrallah's
frequently-repeated accusation of corruption within the March
14-led cabinet. The PM asked how Nasrallah could determine
which funds were clean and which not clean. Throwing the
accusation back, he asked whether or not Hizballah funding
from Iran should be considered "clean."

BOMBSHELLS
----------

6. (SBU) The Prime Minister had one major bombshell in his
speech for the Lebanese political scene. He recounted that,
in an August meeting at the Serail, the Iranian Ambassador
had asked Siniora not to seek the return of the Shebaa Farms
from Israel. The Ambassador intended to indefinitely
preserve the pretext under which Hizballah had been
maintaining its arsenal of heavy weapons.

7. (SBU) In another headline maker, Siniora gave the lie to
one of Nasrallah's principal accusations -- that the GOL had
issued orders to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to disrupt
Hizballah weapon shipments during Hizballah's July-August war
with Israel. Siniora cited LAF Commander Michel Sleiman's
communique earlier that day that clarified that on the single
occasion on which the LAF confiscated a weapons shipment, the
central government ordered the weapons returned to Hizballah.
(Siniora's rebuttal, of course, causes problems in our
direction.)

UNITY AND STEADFASTNESS
-----------------------

8. (SBU) Siniora rejected Nasrallah's use of the term "camps"
to describe Lebanon's feuding political factions. We are all
Lebanese, he stressed. He added that he resented threats and
incitement on the part of the opposition.

9. (SBU) Responding to the Hizballah leader's ultimatum that
Siniora should "make a deal while he still can," the Prime
Minister concluded that the door to negotiations was still

BEIRUT 00003797 002 OF 002


open, but that he would not resign.
FELTMAN

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