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Viewing cable 09BEIRUT818, LEBANON: PM SINIORA TO PETRAEUS: PUSH SYRIA TO GET

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BEIRUT818 2009-07-20 14:02 2010-11-28 18:06 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Beirut
VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLB #0818/01 2011455
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 201455Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5368
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 3468
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 3995
RHMCSUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L BEIRUT 000818 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR NEA/FO, NEA/ELA 
ALSO FOR IO A/S BRIMMER 
P FOR DRUSSELL, RRANGASWAMY 
DRL/NESA FOR WHITMAN, BARGHOUT 
PARIS FOR JMILLER 
USUN FOR WOLFF/GERMAIN/SCHEDLBAUER 
NSC FOR SHAPIRO, MCDERMOTT 
DOD/OSD FOR FLOURNOY/KAHL/DALTON 
OVP FOR HMUSTAFA 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/19/2019 
TAGS: PREL PGOV PINR PTER MASS MARR MOPPS LE SY IR
PK, AF 
SUBJECT: LEBANON: PM SINIORA TO PETRAEUS: PUSH SYRIA TO GET 
BACK IN ARAB FOLD 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Michele J. Sison for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
SUMMARY 
-------- 
 
1. (C) Caretaker Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told visiting 
Commander General of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) General 
David Petraeus and the Ambassador June 30 that he was "quite 
satisfied" with the outcome of Lebanon's June 7 parliamentary 
elections.  Siniora said that the Lebanese had voted for the 
state and its institutions and confirmed that Lebanon could 
practice its democracy without outside interference -- if 
given the opportunity.  He also thanked the United States for 
sustained military assistance.  General Petraeus 
congratulated Lebanon on the peaceful conduct of the 
elections and expressed hope that a cabinet would be formed 
soon.  Siniora continued that Lebanon was encouraged by and 
supportive of President Obama's efforts to reach a 
comprehensive Middle East Peace, but cautioned that 
Palestinian resettlement should not come at the expense of 
Lebanon.    Siniora encouraged the U.S. to push Syria to 
respect the sovereignty of other states (namely Lebanon) as a 
way to bring Syria back into the Arab fold, rather than 
continuing to align itself with Iran.  General Petraeus hoped 
that the obvious cracks in the Iranian system (illustrated by 
the demonstrations that followed the Iranian elections) would 
distract Iran from malign ambitions in the region.  He also 
briefed Siniora on U.S. military assistance in Pakistan and 
Afghanistan.  End summary. 
 
2. (SBU) Meeting General Petraeus at his downtown Beirut 
residence, Siniora was accompanied by his senior advisor Rola 
Noureddine.  General Petraeus and the Ambassador were 
accompanied by Colonel Bjarne (Michael) Iverson, Executive 
Officer; Colonel Mike Bell, Director - Commander's 
Initiatives Group; Sadi Othman, Cultural Advisor and 
Translator; Ali Khedery, Advisor; Lieutenant Colonel Dave 
Wilson, Lebanon Desk Officer, Embassy Defense Attache 
Lieutenant Colonel James Lantz, Office of Defense Cooperation 
Chief Colonel Joshua Berisford and an Embassy notetaker. 
 
LEBANON: A "MODEL" 
FOR THE REGION 
----------------- 
 
3. (C) Caretaker Prime Minister Fouad Siniora welcomed the 
one-day visit of the Commanding General of U.S. Central 
Command (CENTCOM) General David Petraeus to Beirut on June 
30.  Siniora expressed his thanks for sustained U.S. military 
assistance to Lebanon and asserted that U.S. security 
assistance had contributed to the positive outcome of the 
June 7 Lebanese parliamentary elections.  Siniora said he was 
"quite satisfied" that the majority March 14 coalition had 
shown that its majority was decisive and not "fictitious," as 
it had been described by others after the previous elections 
in 2005.  He described the electoral outcome as  vote for the 
state and its institutions.  Siniora said that although 
Lebanon was not the most important country in the world and 
despite minor irregularities in the conduct of the elections, 
Lebanon had shown that it could be a model of diversity and 
democracy -- without outside interference -- in the region. 
 
4. (C) General Petraeus congratulated Siniora on winning his 
own electoral campaign and the Lebanese people for conducting 
peaceful elections.  In addition, he expressed hope that the 
new cabinet would be formed soon.  Siniora predicted the 
government formation would likely "take some time" because of 
debate about "blocking third" veto power for the opposition. 
 
MIDDLE EAST PEACE: 
NOT AT THE EXPENSE 
OF LEBANON 
------------------ 
 
5. (C) Siniora said that Lebanon was encouraged by and 
 
supportive of President Obama's commitment to achieving a 
comprehensive Middle East Peace.  He said the U.S. 
administration's recognition of the centrality of the 
Israeli-Palestinian conflict was an opportunity to push the 
Arab Peace Initiative forward and to finally achieve a 
resolution.  The Israelis, however, were being uncooperative, 
he accused.  In his June 14 speech, Israeli PM Benjamin 
Netanyahu had said "yes" to a two-state solution with but 
added "a thousand no's," Siniora analyzed.  The ultimate fate 
of Palestinian refugees, could not come at the expense of 
Lebanon, Siniora cautioned. (Note: Lebanon has 12 Palestinian 
rfugee camps.  The GOL maintains that the Palestinins 
should have the "right of return" and is agaist permanent 
resettlement ("tawteen") in Lebanon.  End note.) 
 
SYRIA 
----- 
 
6. (C) Syria, Siniora said, has geopolitical significance. 
He said Lebanon desired a mutually respectful relationship 
with Syria and lauded the establishment of diplomatic 
relations between Lebanon and Syria as a good first step. 
However, other issues, such as border delineation and the 
presence of PFLP-GC military camps, supported by Syria, on 
the border, remain.  Siniora commented on the signs of 
increased U.S. engagement with Syria, but he advised the 
United States to be careful not to give any rewards to Syria 
without Syria taking action first.  Most importantly, the 
U.S. should not allow Syria -- or other states in the region 
-- to use Lebanon as a platform or battleground; engagement 
with Syria should not come at the expense of Lebanon, Siniora 
said. 
 
7. (C) General Petraeus assured Siniora that the U.S. 
administration understood Lebanon's concerns.  He told 
Siniora that Syrian President Bashar Asad had invited him to 
visit several times, but the time was not yet appropriate. 
Syria, he added, continues to allow Al Qaeda-affiliated 
facilitation networks to operate from its territory and allow 
the transit of suicide bombers into Iraq.  General Petraeus 
added that the U.S. would like to see Syria return to the 
Arab world and develop closer ties to the western world, 
rather than continue to align itself with Iran. 
 
IRAN 
---- 
 
8. (C) On Iran, General Petraeus said that the crisis 
following Iran's June 12 presidential election had revealed 
significant cracks in the Iranian system.  He said the 
announced outcome of the election and subsequent 
demonstrations showed that the "urban street" and the "young 
street" were not supportive of Iranian Supreme Leader 
Ayatollah Khamenei.  Candidly, the U.S. would like these 
events to distract Iran for awhile from its other ambitions, 
such as pursuing its nuclear program, General Petraeus said. 
Although, it was too early to determine whether the current 
crisis had any significant impact on Iran's ability to 
support Hamas, Hizballah, or limit its ability to train and 
support foreign fighters in Iraq, he added.  Siniora agreed 
that there were definite cracks in the Iranian system and the 
internal divisions should be exploited.  However, Siniora 
warned against Israel taking any military action against Iran 
saying such action would only make the regional situation 
worse. 
 
9. (C) General Petraeus responded that it was not the U.S. 
desire to see outside force used against Iran.  Nonetheless, 
he observed, there was a phenomenon in the Gulf states where 
leaders were worried someone would strike Iran's nuclear 
weapons program, while also worrying that someone would not. 
Iran, he continued, had become CENTCOM's best recruiting 
tool, and the number of partnerships and U.S. military 
assistance agreements with Arab partners in the Gulf had 
increased significantly. 
 
 
 
PAKISTAN AND 
AFGHANISTAN 
------------ 
 
10. (C) Turning to other international developments, Siniora 
said he had heard a rumor that Pakistan was ready to sell 
some of its nuclear stock to other countries.  General 
Petraeus responded that this was almost certainly a rumor, 
but he refused to discount the possibility that Gulf states 
may "start shopping" if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon 
capability.  He added that during his recent visit to 
Pakistan, it was clear that for the first time the Pakistani 
military viewed the Taliban and other extremist groups as an 
existential threat to Pakistan.  The Pakistani people, 
General Petraeus continued, were hugely supportive of its 
military's efforts to fight against this extremist threat. 
There were some early signs of some success from Pakistani 
operations. 
 
11. (C) In Afghanistan, the U.S. was increasing its troop 
levels by 38,000 from the beginning of 2009 and doubling the 
number of its helicopters, General Petraeus said.  The war in 
Afghanistan would be tough, and not easily won.  One key will 
be the ability of the Afghan government to "step up" to 
provide governance and be seen to serve the people in areas 
that have been cleared by Coalition and Afghan forces.. 
Afghanistan's presidential election was scheduled for August 
20, General Petraeus added.  It was likely, but not 
guaranteed that current Afghan President Hamid Karzai would 
win, he predicted. 
 
12. (U) CENTCOM Commander General Petraeus has cleared this 
message. 
SISON