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Cablegate: Lebanon: March 14 Workshop: Impossible to Coexist With

VZCZCXRO5585
PP RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHKUK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHLB #1087/01 2061646
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241646Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2571
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIRUT 001087

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

DEPT PASS TO S/P

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER LE
SUBJECT: LEBANON: MARCH 14 WORKSHOP: IMPOSSIBLE TO COEXIST WITH
HIZBALLAH'S ARMS

REF: (A) BEIRUT 392
(B) BEIRUT 510

1. (SBU) Summary. On July 23, the March 14 Secretariat held a
workshop at the Bristol Hotel in Beirut to discuss and incorporate
public opinion into a draft paper on civil peace and building a
state of independence. The paper concluded that it is impossible to
build such a state while Hizballah possesses weapons. The paper
also called for and outlined how to revitalize the solidarity
sparked by the 2005 Cedar Revolution. The workshop is part of the
Secretariat's ongoing efforts to reconnect with its constituency and
develop a common political program. End Summary.

ATTENDEES OF VARIOUS
BACKGROUNDS
--------------------

2. (U) Approximately 70 people attended the March 14 workshop
entitled "Civil Peace and Building of the State of Independence" at
the Bristol hotel in Beirut on July 23. Representatives from the
March 14 coalition attended, including March 14 SYG Fares Souaid,
MPs Samir Franjieh, Mostafa Allouch (Future Movement), George Adwan
(Lebanese Forces, LF), Elias Atallah (Democratic Left), Dory
Chamoun, head of the National Liberal Party, former MP Camille
Ziadeh and Antoine Haddad(from the Democratic Renewal Party of
Minister Nassib Lahoud), Michel Mecattaf (Kataeb party) and Eddy
Abillama (LF), as well as journalists, academics, civil society and
youth representatives from March 14. Independent Shia figures such
as Lokman Slim, Malek Mroueh, and Jad Akhaoui, and Tom Harb and
Kamal Batal from the World Council of the Cedar Revolution also
attended.

SYG: MARCH 14 IS MADE
BY THE LEBANESE PEOPLE
----------------------

3. (U) In his opening remarks, March 14 SYG Fares Souaid,
suggesting that some people are hoping March 14 will break apart,
asserted that, "The secret of March 14 is that it is made by the
Lebanese people and is not a political movement." He added that
these workshops aim to engage public participation and to clarify a
common political view. Souaid noted that the workshop March 14
planned to hold on Syrian-Lebanese relations was postponed because
of the May clashes but will be held soon. The Secretariat
previously held workshops on the Ta'if Agreement (Ref B) and
electoral reform.

INDEPENDENCE CANNOT COEXIST
WITH HIZBALLAH'S ARMS
---------------------------

4. (U) The workshop draft paper stressed that a "state of
independence cannot be built in the presence of Hizballah weapons."
It also called for revitalizing the Lebanese solidarity sparked by
the 2005 Cedar Revolution in order to build a civil modern state.
The paper outlined six ways to reignite this solidarity:

-- Asserting the state's right to sole authority over the armed
forces;

-- Isolating Lebanon, at the military and security levels, from the
regional conflict;

-- Ensuring Lebanon's protection by asserting its allegiance to a
new modern and open Arab regional scheme;

-- Reinforcing national co-existence through building a strong state
that is less influenced by confessional and partisan conflicts;

-- Protecting the society by restoring the credibility of the
Lebanese values that have been aggressed upon by the Syrian hegemony
and corruption within the governmental institutions;

-- Protecting civil peace.

VIEWS FROM THE PUBLIC
---------------------

5. (SBU) Kamal Batal, from the World Council of the Cedar
Revolution, called for placing all of Lebanon under UN Chapter VII
authority and to prevent all weapon smuggling into the country. He
also spoke about abolishing all political parties that do not
believe in the Lebanese entity, naming in particular the Syrian
Socialist National Party and the (radical) Sunni Liberation party.

BEIRUT 00001087 002 OF 002


6. (SBU) A youth from the Lebanese Forces noted that March 14's
existence has become fragile and called for strengthening its
position in the political arena. He further questioned the position
of some unnamed March 14 leaders, implying Carlos Edde (who recently
left the alliance) and Walid Jumblatt.

REPRESENTATIVE FROM
THE "ORIGINAL" FPM
-------------------

7. (SBU) MP Samir Franjieh informed the audience that the paper was
only a draft and their opinions would be taken into consideration
for the final document, which will be presented to March 14 leaders
for approval.

COMMENT
-------

9. (SBU) One of March 14's biggest challenges in the run-up to the
2009 parliamentary elections is reconnecting with its supports and
regaining the momentum and unity that sparked the 2005 Cedar
Revolution. The convention that the bloc held on March 14th at the
Biel conference center (Ref A) and follow-up workshops are the
result of the Secretariat's efforts to address this challenge. End
comment.

GRANT

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