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July War Cables—Hamadeh: We Remember Those Who Give Money not Build Bridges

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BRAINSTORMING WITH MARWAN AND NAYLA: HAVE KOFI BRING NICOLAS MICHEL WITH HIM

id: 75503
date: 8/20/2006 15:19
refid: 06BEIRUT2703
origin: Embassy Beirut
classification: SECRET//NOFORN
destination:
header:
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OO RUEHAG RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHLB #2703/01 2321519
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 201519Z AUG 06 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5153
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO PRIORITY 0130

----------------- header ends ----------------
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIRUT 002703
SIPDIS
NOFORN
SIPDIS
NSC FOR ABRAMS/DORAN/SINGH/HARDING
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/20/2026
TAGS: PREL, KCRM, PTER, EFIN, LE, SY, IS
SUBJECT: BRAINSTORMING WITH MARWAN AND NAYLA: HAVE KOFI
BRING NICOLAS MICHEL WITH HIM

Classified By: Jeffrey Feltman, Ambassador, per 1.4 (b) and (d).

SUMMARY
-------
1. (S/NF) Meeting together with the Ambassador on 8/20,
Marwan Hamadeh and Nayla Mouawad urged that Kofi Annan bring
UN/OLA chief Nicolas Michel with him when the UNSYG travels
to Beirut next week. Having Michel in town to finalize the
draft on the Hariri tribunal will put the right spin on
Annan's visit, they argued, and keep Syria off balance.
Pointing to a petition by the March 14 majority for a special
parliamentary session, they said that such a session could be
used to approve the Hariri tribunal, examine Bank al-Medina
files, and find other ways to seize the initiative from
Hizballah and the pro-Syrians. While admitting that the GOL
must do better on reconstruction, they said that Hizballah's
big advantage is its ability to hand out cash, which the GOL
cannot and should not do. They hoped that the USG would
press the Gulf Arabs, however, to pass some cash to March 14
politicians to use on local patronage to compete with
Hizballah. No one, they said, will remember who built a
bridge, but people will remember who gave them cash. After
Mouawad left, Hamadeh also said that the Lebanese police was
interrogating a Syrian businessman who seemed to have been
tasked with discrediting UNIIIC Commissioner Serge Brammertz.
End summary.

PLEASE, GET THE ARABS
TO GIVE US CASH FOR HAND-OUTS

-----------------------------
2. (S/NF) On 8/20, the Ambassador met with Minister of
Telecommunications Marwan Hamadeh and Minister of Social
Affairs Nayla Mouawad. While the purpose of the meeting was
for the Ambassador to press them to help on UNSCR
1701-related issues (a subject on which the two ministers
agreed), the meeting quickly became a brainstorming session
about how the March 14 movement can retake the political
initiative away from Hizballah and Hassan Nasrallah. Given
Lebanon's traditional patronage politics, Hamadeh and Mouawad
were most concerned about getting money in the hands of March
14 political leaders to spend on relief and reconstruction --
not at the expense of GOL and international donor efforts,
they said, but as something additional that people will
remember. Hamadeh noted that he and Druse leader Walid
Jumblatt would travel to Saudi Arabia this week, and he hoped
the U.S. would put in a good word with the Saudis to "give
Walid three or four million dollars" to keep the Druse on the
side of March 14.

CALLING FOR AN EXTRAORDINARY
PARLIAMENTARY SESSION

----------------------------
3. (C/NF) The Ambassador commented that it seemed strange,
when two-thirds of Lebanon did not share Hizballah's vision
for the country, that the March 14 forces could not retake
the initiative even without cash. Claiming to be trying,
Mouawad and Hamadeh showed the Ambassador a parliamentary
petition being circulated among the 71 March 14
parliamentarians, asking President Emile Lahoud to request
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri to open an extraordinary
session of parliament. It is a "scandal" that Lebanon went
through a war and the parliament maintained its summer recess
(until the third week of September), Mouawad noted. They
predicted that Berri would have no choice but to open the
extraordinary session, and the March 14 MPs will use the
extraordinary session "to make the pro-Syrians
uncomfortable," Hamadeh said.

HARIRI TRIBUNAL: GET KOFI
TO BRING NICOLAS MICHEL WITH HIM

--------------------------------
4. (S/NF) The Ambassador noted the USG interest in moving
ahead quickly on establishing the "special tribunal with
international character" to try suspects in the Rafiq Hariri
murder case or those related to the Hariri murder. Hamadeh
and Mouawad agreed. Our impression, the Ambassador said, was
that action now rests with the Lebanese to respond to the
UN/OLA draft agreement on the tribunal. After conferring
with Minister of Justice Charles Rizk by phone, Hamadeh
responded that the Lebanese are ready to receive Nicolas
Michel (from UN/OLA) to work out the final details, at which
BEIRUT 00002703 002 OF 003
point the cabinet majority and parliamentary majority (in the
anticipated extraordinary session) can approve the tribunal.
The Ambassador asked whether the March 14 majority was ready
to confront a cabinet walk-out by the Hizballah ministers
over the tribunal question. After all, the Ambassador noted,
the Hizballahis seem to be using "sovereignty" as the excuse
for foot-dragging over UNSCR 1701 implementation, and they
can claim that the tribunal, too, is an infringement on
Lebanon's supposedly sacred sovereignty. Mouawad and Hamadeh
both agreed that the cabinet majority would force the issue.
5. (S/NF) Hamadeh said that it was important to get Nicolas
Michel to Beirut "immediately," to put the resurgent Syrians
off-balance "and make them think twice about killing any of
us." Thinking outloud, Hamadeh then said, "Have Kofi (Annan)
bring him with him." His idea coming together as he spoke,
Hamadeh said that the problem with the UNSYG's visit a week
hence revolves around the visuals. Annan will obliged to
meet President Emile Lahoud. Annan will go to Damascus.
Annan will smile and say happy things to the cameras. "He
won't be as tough as he should." But if Annan brings Michel
with him "and leaves him in Beirut to put the final touches
on the tribunal agreement while Kofi goes to see Bashar" will
leave an entirely different impression. "Brilliant!" Nayla
shouted, slapping Marwan's hand; "tu a raison!" Hamadeh and
Mouawad also argued that it is important that Annan try to
project as sober message as possible about Iran and Syria's
role in arms smuggling, with the public message starting even
before the UNSYG departs for the region.

BANK AL-MEDINA AND OIL-FOR-FOOD:
WAYS TO BRING DOWN LAHOUD?

--------------------------------
6. (S/NF) Mouawad and Hamadeh raised the familiar subject
of ridding the country of Emile Lahoud. They had no original
ideas but suggested (as each has independently) that the
notorious Bank al-Medina files be opened up and the
Oil-for-Food scandal be mined for dirt on Lahoud. Mouawad
tried to put the USG in the lead on the Bank al-Medina files,
saying that we should use the excuse of money-laundering and
terrorist financing to ask the GOL for the files. The
Ambassador said that the USG had no good reason to ask now
for Bank al-Medina files, and this seemed to be another
example of the Lebanese trying to shift responsibility to
foreigners. And once the Lebanese succeed in shifting
responsibility for something unpleasant to foreigners, they
then don't want to listen to what the foreigners say.
Hamadeh agreed and said that the March 14 majority should
consider whether the extraordinary parliamentary session they
hoped to hold could have committee hearings on Bank
al-Medina. Some March 14 politicians, however, may be caught
up in the widespread scandal themselves, he cautioned.
7. (S/NF) As for Oil-for-Food, Mouawad and Hamadeh thought
that this was a promising area to examine. But Hamadeh
claimed that trying to go through Oil-for-Food reports
looking for connections to Emile Lahoud is a full-time job.
The Ambassador commented that surely Saad Hariri could pay a
full-time researcher. Hamadeh responded that "it would be
better if you did it, quietly. You have all sorts of reasons
to be able to look at the UN files. We don't. You have
people who know how to use those files, because they've been
working with them already."

TELECOM SERVICES RESTORED,
THANKS TO CENTRAL AUTHORITIES

-----------------------------
8. (S/NF) As for other ideas to put the pro-Syrians in
Lebanon off-balance, they both pressed on providing, quickly,
equipment and ammunition for both the Lebanese Armed Forces
and the Internal Security Forces (national police). The
Ambassador added that it was important for the GOL to get its
own act together on reconstruction priorities and
coordination, which they agreed has been handled poorly.
Hamadeh noted that, as of that morning, phone service had
been restored to all parts of the south except Jezzine, all
because of his ministry's work. This, he said, will be
publicized widely.

AND THE NEED FOR CASH ARISES AGAIN
----------------------------------
9. (S/NF) But speaking of reconstuction opened the subject
BEIRUT 00002703 003 OF 003
of money again, with both of them arguing that the Lebanese
will remember who handed out cash, not who built bridges.
"We are whores in that way," Marwan sad, shaking his head.
Since the U.S. and European governments cannot dispense with
accountability, perhaps the Gulf Arabs could be asked to
help, they said, turning the conversation back to where it
began. After all, Hamadeh said, the Gulf Arabs are both
furious and frightened by the speeched of Bashar al-Asad and
Hassan Nasrallah. "We can worry about reform and accounting
later," Marwan said; "we are fighting a war for our
existence, and the enemy's best weapon is cash. We have to
move both cash and projects, but cash now can more more
quickly."

SARG (ALLEGEDLY) SENDS AGENT
TO DISCREDIT BRAMMERTZ EFFORTS

------------------------------
10. (S/NF) Raising a different subject after Mouawad left
to meet with UN envoys Terje Roed-Larsen and Vijay Nambiar,
Hamadeh said that the ISF had two days earlier arrested a
Syrian who admitted being sent to Beirut by the SARG. While
the details were still emerging from the ongoing ISF
investigation, XXXXXXXXXXXXX cited former Syrian VP Abdulhalim
Khaddam's name in asking to see Hamadeh to hand over some
important documents. Suspicious, Hamadeh got a message to
Khaddam, who said that XXXXXXXXXXXX is the XXXXXXXXXXXX representative in
Damascus but also connected to Syrian military intelligence.
When XXXXXXXXXXXX arrived for the appointment with Hamadeh, he was
arrested and subsequently admitted ("under vigorous
interrogation," Hamadeh said) to carrying false documents
related to the Hariri assassination.
11. (S/NF) Hamadeh said that he assumed XXXXXXXXXXXX was trying
to lure UNIIIC Commissioner Brammertz on a wild goose chase
in the hopes of embarrassing Brammertz in the same way that
the witness Zuhair Saddiq had discredited part of Detlev
Mehlis' work. One of the more interesting tidbits out of the
XXXXXXXXXXXX investigation, Hamadeh said, was the revelation that
an XXXXXXXXXXXX store adjacent to the XXX is owned by the same family. Hamadeh guessed that
the XXXXXXXXXXXX store is probably a front for a Syrian
intelligence unit of some kind.

COMMENT
-------
12. (S/NF) Mouawad and Hamadeh are two of the more zealous
and vocal members of the March 14 majority, and neither are
prone to flinching. They are also used to playing in
traditional Lebanese politics, which explains why concerns
with cash loom so large in their minds. Frankly, it seems to
us to be a reasonable investment (assuming someone comes
forward), if a couple of million dollars helps Walid Jumblatt
maintain the Druse on the March 14 side rather than see them
start to shift toward the pro-Syrian Druse leader Talal
Arslan. But what we liked best from this meeting was the
suggestion that Kofi Annan bring Nicolas Michel with him to
Beirut: Annan may be presenting his visit as part of UNSCR
1701 implementation, but Michel's presence would remind
everyone -- including in Damascus -- that the recent fighting
has not distracted us from the need to bring Rafiq Hariri's
killers to justice.

FELTMAN

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