Latest Lebanon WikiLeaks: meh
Posted on August 25, 2011
After having spent the most part of 10 hours going through the more than 1,000 leaked diplomatic cables on Lebanon released last night by WikiLeaks, I feel qualified to advise against you doing the same. It’s really not a fulfilling pursuit.
Whereas the last tranche of cables, released late last year, from the US Embassy in Beirut and other consuls throughout the region, were in the “kind of interesting, but we probably already know that” vein, this latest batch is decidedly less eyecatching.
Here are some mildly interesting cables I’ve come across:
Former PM Fouad Siniora accused Iran of discouraging Lebanon to make a big deal out of Shebaa Farms in order to perpetuate a pretext for Hezbollah.
“[Siniora] recounted that, in an August meeting at the Serail, the Iranian Ambassador had asked Siniora not to seek the return of the Shebaa Farms from Israel. The Ambassador intended to indefinitely preserve the pretext under which Hizballah had been maintaining its arsenal of heavy weapons.”
In the same cable, the US diplomat claims Siniora said the LAF had had to hand over seized weapons to Hezbollah.
“Siniora cited LAF Commander Michel Sleiman’s communique earlier that day that clarified that on the single occasion on which the LAF confiscated a weapons shipment, the central government ordered the weapons returned to Hizballah. (Siniora’s rebuttal, of course, causes problems in our direction.)”
Senior UN peacekeeping officials were said to be deeply concerned over an incident in which UNIFIL soldiers saluted the shrines of a deceased Lebanese man who turned out to be…Hezbollah military commander and alleged terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh. Whoops!
This next one, as with most of WikiLeaks, actually, is only really remarkable with the benefit of hindsight. In March 2006, two senior Lebanese judicial officials met with US diplomats and discussed their pipedream of an international tribunal to try the assassins of Rafik Hariri. Looking at what has happened to the court in the ensuing half decade, there are some suggestions made by the officials which now seem almost laughable.
“They made five main arguments for an international tribunal: (1) to respond to an act of terrorism against the international community; (2) to enable Lebanese and non-Lebanese suspects to be tried under the same standards and procedures; (3) to permit a speedy, efficient trial; (4) to provide legitimacy in Lebanon and Syria for the trial; and (5) to avoid security problems.” (My emphasis).
Well, it was a nice thought.
In June of the same year, UNIIIC chief Serge Brammertze appealed for the UN Security Council to allow his team to investigate crimes that bore the hallmarks of the Hariri bombing. In private after a hearing in front of UNSG representatives, Brammertz said that he hoped his investigation would be virtually complete soon.
“[S]uggesting it is more realistic to expect the investigation to conclude after one year than six months, [Brammertz] hoped the Commission would register “significant progress” by September — including completion of forensic analysis and substantial progress in analyzing the communications records it recently received.”
His report at the time said as much, but it’s interesting to think that the initial probe into the death of Hariri was predicated more or less on the same evidence proffered by STL Prosecutor Daniel Bellemare more than five years later. What has The Hague been doing all the time?
At least we know how much the STL takes from each member state donors now. The cost of justice? Well, for the Dutch government, it’s a cool $5.4m.