WikiLeaks Says Berri Backed Attack on Hizbullah, Speaker Denies and Slams al-Mustaqbalإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Speaker Nabih Berri encouraged a military and a political strike against Hizbullah during the 2006 war so that the Israeli aggression against Lebanon doesn’t last long and so that the operation doesn’t have any repercussions, revealed a leaked U.S. Embassy cable published in al-Mustaqbal newspaper on Monday.
The WikiLeaks cable dated August 18, 2006, reported about a meeting between the speaker and then U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman during which Berri described Syrian President Bashar Assad’s speech on Aug. 15, 2006 as “stupid and unreasonable… because people forgot everything related to Israel.”
Speaking before the Fourth Annual Conference of the Syrian Journalists Union in Damascus, Assad declared in his speech that he viewed the results of the battles between Israel and Hizbullah as an important, and even historic, victory for Hizbullah.
He supported Arab resistance as the new paradigm of Arab nationalist struggle against a weakened Israel and criticized Arab leaders as "half men" who brought humiliation to the Arab world, reaffirming Syria's support of the "legitimacy of the central role of resistance as a viable alternative to conflict resolution when peace negotiations fail.”
Berri criticized during the meeting with Feltman “the obvious Syrian attempt to meddle in Lebanon’s affairs.”
Concerning the monitoring of the Syrian-Lebanese border to stop weapons smuggling, he wondered why doesn’t “the Lebanese cabinet order the army to deploy there. Suggesting that then United Nations chief Kofi Annan heads to Damascus and Tehran where the root of the problem is.”
According to the cable, Berri sought to use the money from the Council of the South, the main channel to distribute reconstruction funds in the south, so that he begins with the process of reconstruction.
He warned that any failure by the government to reconstruct the south will enable Hizbullah to carry out this mission.
In addition, Berri described the idea of an Israeli attack on Hizbullah to weaken its military forces and political role as a “positive development,” said another cable date July 17, 2006.
“Hizbullah underestimated the kidnapping of the Israeli soldiers… We want the implementation of (U.N. Security Council Resolution) 1559, this is what was stated in the national dialogue… we need to implement it…,” Berri said.
Feltman said that Berri expressed irritation from the prolonged Israeli aggression on Lebanon that might develop some sympathy from the Lebanese towards Hizbullah.
The U.S. official quoted him as saying: “The Israelis have additional four or five days (to carry out their attack on Hizbullah) after that people will turn against them.”
However, the speaker’s press office issued a statement on Monday denouncing the report.
Berri noted that the “report that is published over and over again proves the incredibility (of the report) and the bad intentions behind the timing of the publishing.”
The statement added: “AMAL never changed its position especially during the 2006 war from the Israeli enemy, and will remain an ally for the resistance and Hizbullah in particular.”
Berri sarcastically thanked al-Mustaqbal newspaper and the “former leaders” that are standing behind it for “publishing facts” even if they were false like holding onto the false witnesses.
The statement remarked that Berri’s press office submitted a request at the U.S. State Department through its embassy in Beirut to provide them with the original cables published by WikiLeaks, however, when the request wasn’t met “we were sure that it was a conspiracy.”
“This is why (Berri) refused to meet with (Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs) Feltman when he recently visited Lebanon.”