Saturday, February 26, 2011

Wikileaks: Senior French Official: "March14 are Stupid, ..I am sorry, there's no other word for them..."

1. (S) Summary: A March 14th delegation led by Lebanese MP Marwan Hamadeh that met October 2 with senior French officials may have done more harm than good, at least so far as relations with the Elysee are concerned. "What world are they living in?" Boris Boillon, Counselor for Middle East Affairs at the Elysee, wondered as he listened to Hamadeh express March 14th's concerns to French NSA-equivalent Jean-David Levitte. Boillon's negative impression was sealed when Hamadeh alluded to the possibility that the French and Syrian armies were collaborating on a plan for the Syrian re-occupation of Lebanon...
2. (S) PolMin/C and NEA Watcher met with Boris Boillon, President Sarkozy's advisor for the Middle East and North Africa, October 7 at the Elysee. Boillon provided a readout on the October 2 meeting between MP Marwan Hamadeh, the head of a March 14 delegation that included Suleiman (David Hale must mean SAMIR!) Franjieh, Dory Chamoun and Fares Sayed, and Jean-David Levitte, President Sarkozy's NSA-equivalent. Recapping developments over the last few months in Franco-Syrian relations, Boillon said he and Levitte reassured Hamadeh that "everything we have done is to ensure the security and independence of Lebanon"...... While Hamadeh reportedly left reassured, the visit seems to have further soured the Elysee on the March 14th movement. Boillon, who met separately with the entire group, expressed incredulity at the "stupid ideas" ,"I'm sorry, but there's no other word for them", which had seized the delegation's imagination. Hamadeh apparently alluded at one point to rumors that the French and Syrian armies are collaborating on a plan for the Syrian military to reassert control over Lebanon. "What world are they living in? Either they're joking or they're truly crazy," Boillon thought to himself at the time. Boillon accused March 14th of living in a fantasy world fueled by a rumor-mongering Lebanese press, much of which is sympathetic to the Lebanese opposition. "Of course the opposition is going to claim that France is backing them, that's part of the game," said Boillon, who insisted that the March 14th leadership should be smart enough not to believe such tripe. But the reality, he lamented, is that March 14th is part and parcel of a political culture mired in navel-gazing and paranoia......
6. (S) Given the dramatic about-face in French policy towards Syria since the end of the Chirac administration, March 14's insecurity about the Elysee's thinking is understandable if not inevitable. Nevertheless, (from a US view) it is unfortunate that Hamadeh struck so many wrong notes during his meeting with Levitte, as his performance will not make it any easier for March 14 to find a receptive ear in Sarkozy's circle of advisors. Fortunately, the delegation left a more favorable impression at the MFA. Ludovic Pouille (MFA DAS-equivalent for the Levant) told us that he found Hamadeh's message "better than expected"

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