Lebanon holds its breath over leaked revelations

Julian Assange may claim that WikiLeaks' disclosure of US documents is for the good of the world, but in Lebanon they have had an incendiary effect. The Hezbollah party is using the cables as proof of UN involvement with Washington – and thus, by extension, with Israel – and politicians are desperately denying that they gave intelligence information to the Americans about Hezbollah's secret communications system.

For weeks, the Hezbollah's secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, has been denouncing the UN's tribunal into the murder of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri as an American-Israeli plot. He says that anyone giving security information to the Americans is an Israeli spy.

Beirut newspapers have devoted pages to the unexpurgated US cables, in which Lebanese officials revealed the names of suspected assassins to American diplomats, an act which – in this country – can end in a flowered coffin and crocodile tears from the murderers. Mercifully, opposing sides in Lebanon have chosen to accept the weird and unbelievable denials of those involved. An outbreak of violence would be blamed on the Americans, not on WikiLeaks.

The UN tribunal's forthcoming accusations – which may be mercifully delayed – have already caused the Beirut government to divide into opposing camps. Now the US cables reveal that the UN has indeed been cooperating with the United States, asking for aerial reconnaissance pictures of the Bekaa Valley and sending DNA samples from Mr Hariri's suspected killer, Ahmad Abu Adass, to FBI headquarters for examination.

One of the most damaging reports is a conversation between the Lebanese defence minister Elias Murr and then US ambassador Jeffrey Feltman that his government had "intercepted conversations that link Fatah al-Islam [Islamic extremists who fought a war against the Lebanese army in 2007] and the Syrian regime". Mr Feltman "urged Murr to share that information via intelligence channels".

At a separate meeting, the Lebanese interior minister Hassan Sabah told Mr Feltman that "Fatah al-Islam is under the direct tactical control of Syria". Mr Murr has been the target of a failed assassination attempt.

Yet more dangerous still is a 2008 cable stating that former Lebanese telecommunications minister Marwan Hamadeh provided the US with maps detailing locations of Hezbollah's communications network. The network, according to former US ambassador Michele Sison, "covers the Palestinian camps, and the Hezbollah training camps in the Bekaa, and is penetrating deep into the Christian Metn and Kesrwan areas". Mr Hamadeh, who denies these details, had also earlier been the target of an attempted assassination in which his bodyguard was killed. Only weeks after this conversation, Hezbollah took over West Beirut, after gun battles with pro-government forces in which more than 100 civilians died, because of the government's demand to break the Hezbollah's networks.

There are some details in the cables on Lebanon which are provably wrong. A claim by Samir Geagea, a right-wing Christian politician, that Iran had provided Syria with 15 submarines, was palpably untrue. Mr Geagea has refused to comment on this cable. Another allegation – that missiles were smuggled into Lebanon on board planes carrying first aid during the 2006 Hezbollah-Israeli war – is provably untrue: Beirut airport was bombed on the first day of the battles and never reopened until the conflict had ended.

Added to this is a cable showing that although the UN no longer believed that four Lebanese security officers imprisoned after the murder of ex-prime minister Rafiq Hariri were in any way responsible, Mr Feltman wrote that he feared their release might prompt one of them to take "revenge" against the US embassy in Beirut. The generals, released much later, remained in prison.

All of this is causing the Lebanese to hold their breath for more revelations. And for those named in the cables to hold their breath even more fearfully. "Sister" Syria is known to have taken its own revenge for much less. As for the Hezbollah, their MP for Tyre, Hassan Fadlallah, says the cables prove "that the US is using the court and the investigation committee as a tool to target the [Hezbollah] resistance".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future