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
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:
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:
Saghiyeh satirically adds:
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:
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 Mideastwire.com on December 6, 2010.