Cablegate: Scenesetter for a/S Johnson's Jan 10-11 Visit To


DE RUEHLB #0015/01 0061411
P 061411Z JAN 10




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: U.S. Embassy Beirut welcomes your January
10-11 visit as one of the first high-level visits to Lebanon
of 2010. As Lebanon emerges from a six-month struggle to
form a new national unity government, your meeting with
Interior Minister Ziad Baroud will reinforce the message that
the U.S. is committed to supporting Lebanon's state
institutions and the new government. Our robust U.S.
assistance programs aim to strengthen state institutions,
promote economic growth, support education, and build civil
society. Your visit to Lebanon will show continued U.S.
support for Lebanon's sovereignty and stability, in addition
to highlighting the state's obligation to exert control over
all of its territory. Your meeting with Baroud will provide
an opportunity to evaluate current INL programs in Lebanon
and discuss new possibilities, such as anti-narcotics
assistance and border control training. You will also attend
a police graduation ceremony, meet with senior police
officers, discuss regional UNDP anti-corruption programs, and
interface with INL contractors. End Summary.


2. (SBU) The new Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, was able to
form a cabinet in December after nearly six months of
negotiations only after he granted the opposition key
concessions. Although the contentious cabinet negotiations
weakened the March 14 coalition and strengthened those allied
with Syria and Iran, most Lebanese leaders appear to be
seeking a period of calm after years of tumult following
former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination and the
withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon.

--------------------------------------------- ----------------

3. (SBU) Strengthening Lebanese state institutions has been
and continues to be the primary U.S. objective in Lebanon.
The U.S. has committed over $1 billion in security assistance
to the military and police since 2005 in order to help them
extend their control over all Lebanese territory, including
those areas dominated by Hizballah. President Obama
underscored this vision by emphasizing the importance of
controlling arms smuggling into Lebanon during President
Michel Sleiman's recent visit to Washington. On the civilian
side, USAID manages robust programs targeting the judicial,
educational, and agricultural sectors. The embassy also
promotes civil society development and supports various
initiatives targeting institutional reform through the Middle
East Partnership Initiative and other USG programs.

4. (SBU) Your visit is an opportunity to reaffirm U.S.
support for security reform in Lebanon and our ongoing
commitment to the various Lebanon-related UN Security Council
Resolutions (UNSCR), such as UNSCRs 1559 and 1701, that call
for extending the state's control over all its territory.
Existing INL programs in Lebanon train and equip the Internal
Security Forces (ISF), and we are ready to explore new
initiatives that will strengthen Lebanon's ability to control
its borders. The new government has not clearly defined its
strategy for the Common Border Force (CBF), and your visit
will offer a chance to urge progress on the CBF and indicate
our interest in supporting it through training and equipment.


5. (SBU) Our assistance program to the ISF, totaling $64
million over the last three years, has raised public respect
for the institution, increased its professionalism, and built
its capacity to gradually expand its operations into
Hizballah-controlled areas and Palestinian refugee camps.
This year's INL program will total $20 million, and the
budget request for 2012 is $30 million. We met our
commitment to train 8,000 new ISF cadets at the ISF academy,
and we are also training hundreds of supervisors while
developing an in-service training program for the 16,000
deployed ISF officers who have not passed through our cadet

6. (SBU) We have focused, in particular, on helping the ISF
develop its presence in the Nahr Al-Barid Palestinian camp,
which was completely destroyed in a battle between terrorists
and the Lebanese security forces in 2007. As part of this
effort, we have offered intensive community policing training
for the ISF contingent that will police the camp. We are
also evaluating tenders for a police station in the area
adjacent to the camp, and we expect to break ground by March.

7. (SBU) On the equipment side, we have provided the ISF over

480 vehicles, refurbished 45 armored personnel carriers, and
fully equipped over 4000 ISF cadets with uniforms and
non-lethal equipment. This year, we will also start
upgrading the ISF communications system, since ISF officers
in the field -- who do not have access to a secure
communications network -- communicate via cell phone. This
upgrade will take several years and cost up to $50 million.


8. (SBU) Ziad Baroud, a popular independent affiliated with
President Sleiman, returned in the new cabinet as Interior
Minister. Your meeting with Baroud, under whom the ISF
falls, will provide an opportunity to evaluate current INL
programs and discuss additional ways in which INL can assist
the Lebanese security forces. We are especially interested
in enhancing the ability of the ISF to expand its operations
and authority in areas where its presence is historically
weak, such as regions dominated by Hizballah and in the
Palestinian refugee camps. Possible ways to achieve this
goal are providing anti-narcotics programs (including
eradication support) in the Biqa' Valley and expanding
policing in the Palestinian camps using the Nahr Al-Barid
model. We could also consider developing a training program
for the CBF, nominally headed by the ISF, once the GOL
develops its border strategy.


9. (SBU) You will speak at the graduation ceremony for three
ISF classes, and the event will be covered by the press.
Your presence at this event will demonstrate U.S. commitment
to a professional and proficient ISF and answer common
criticisms of our motives for supporting it. You may also
meet the six ISF generals who recently completed a two-week
study tour of community policing practices in the U.S. They
will explain how the ISF intends to implement community
policing practices nationwide, not just in Nahr Al-Barid.
Your meeting with the over 40 U.S. and 80 local contractors
supporting the INL program will allow you to thank them for
their service and hear their perspectives. We also look
forward to discussing UNDP regional anti-corruption programs
during your visit, as well as meeting with the donor
community on border security issues.

© Scoop Media

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