Monday, 6 December 2010


WikiLeaks reveal that, in Lebanon, there is no minister, no defense, no nation, no enemy and there is even no people

  • Monday, 6 December 2010
  • Fouad GM
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  • On December 2nd, Al-Akhbar published a WikiLeaked diplomatic cable emanating from the US embassy in Beirut. The cable, dated 11 March 2010, briefed the US State Department on a meeting between embassy officials and Lebanese Minister of Defense (MoD), Elias el-Murr. The full text of the cable was published by the opposition, leftist Al-Akhbar.

    In their meeting, according to the cable, Minister of Denfence Elias El-Murr "expressed his growing concern that a Hizballah war with Israel is imminent". El-Murr also echoed accusations by Amine Gemmayel, Walid Jumblatt and other Lebanese politicians regarding alleging that "the Shia, and in particular senior Hizballah members, have been acquiring land or renting homes in the Christian areas of Jezzine, Jebel Rihan, Junieh, Zahle as well as in Druze areas."

    The most alarming, and perhaps shameful part of the communication between the MoD and US Embassy staff is his disclosure of the internal affairs and political stance of the Lebanese army regarding issues of a domestic, international and defense nature. Firstly, El-Murr disclosed his firm belief and commitment that the Lebanese army "should not get involved when Israel comes." Then, he offered the US a few pieces of advice, perhaps hoping they'd be passed on to Israel:

    Making clear that he was not responsible for passing messages to Israel, Murr told us that Israel would do well to avoid two things when it comes for Hizballah One, it must not touch the Blue Line or the UNSCR 1701 areas as this will keep Hizballah out of these areas. Two, Israel cannot bomb bridges and infrastructure in the Christian areas. The Christians were supporting Israel in 2006 until they started bombing their bridges.

    Not only that, El-Murr went on to brief the Americans on the state of affairs within the army expressing his concern for the 1st and 2nd Brigades of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) stationed in the Beka'a "hoping" they wouldn't be totally cut off from LAF Headquarters near Beirut "while Israel is conducting operations against Hizballah in the Beka'a."

    Yesterday, Khalid Saghiyeh commented on the 'leaked' cable on El-Murr's communication with the US Defense Attaché in Al-Akhbar. Under the title "Murr-Leaks" he wrote:

    Indeed, the gems of the minister of defense that only reveal themselves within the corridors of the American embassy, tell us that there is no minister, and there is no defense, and there is no nation, and there is no army, and there is no enemy, and there is even no people.*

    Saghiyeh satirically adds:

    Welcome to the Minister of National Defense, Elias al-Murr, in the world of WikiLeaks, where the army, according to the Murr theory, is a mere channel allowing the Christians to blow their sectarian bottled up feelings against the Muslims. Indeed, according to the sectarian dissection of the army, and this is a free of charge service normally offered by ministers of defense to the ambassadors of the major countries, there is a need to start special, exclusively Christian, forces because the Christians are “perfect” for carrying out the task of fighting the terrorist Shi’is or Sunnis.

    Welcome to the Minister of National Defense, Elias al-Murr, in the world of WikiLeaks, where sectarian division knocks on the doors of racism. Indeed, the Shi’is in the army, according to the testimony of the defense minister in front of the empire’s delegate [i.e. Michele Sisson], are a potential source of threat. And, unlike their Christian colleagues, they are joining the army “for salary and food.” *

    It was only last week when these revelations were made by WikiLeaks. At the beginning of this new week, WikiLeaks had more to reveal.

    This time, it was then-Telecommunications Minister, Marwan Hamadeh who, according to another US Embassy cable, had tipped the US and Saudi Arabia and informed them of Hezbollah's secret fiber-optic network in 2008. This, according to the date on the cable, was only weeks before the street battles known to most as "The Events of May 7."

    According to the cable, Hamadeh had requested a special meeting with "Charge" to pass on the information:

    Requesting a special meeting with Charge, Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh decried the establishment of a complete fiber optics network by Hizballah throughout Lebanon. The GOL has been sharing this information widely among friends of Lebanon, to include the governments of France, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the UAE. Hamadeh sees only two choices for the GOL: approach the UN Security Council, or use the "cover" of March 14-friendly municipalities to cut the lines.

    The Guardian notes that, Hamadeh, who escaped an attempt on his life in 2004, warned "friends of Lebanon" that Iran Telecom was "taking over the country" in 2008.

    No doubt, many will discount the information as invalid, not true, inaccurate or even fabricated. An aide of El-Murr has already told the press that in response to their questions about El-Murr's alleged communications with US diplomats in 2008. George Soulage told the AFP "The information posted by WikiLeaks is not complete and is not accurate. The aim behind this is to sow discord in Lebanon." -- A typical Lebanese "get-away" clause.

    What this clause really reveals though is something much deeper about the Lebanese political system: while everything may be done to weaken a domestic opponent and rally foreign powers against them, this is always done under cover. In public, "consensus" and "consociationalism" reign. When that appearance is disturbed by a 'leakage' of information from this source or the other, the response is always the same: it's a fabricated lie aimed at sowing disorder in an otherwise-harmonious Lebanon where political factions compete only in parliament and through debate; and where sects and confessions do not sow social hatred and violence.

    As Hanibaael put it on Lebanon Iznogood, WikiLeaks seems to be revealing more about the lies and hypocrisies of the 'consensus' government than most studies have in years.

    A breakdown of WikiLeaks cables, available here from The Guardian

    * Article appeared in Arabic, translated by the media digest service, Daily Briefing, provided by on December 6, 2010.

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