Long had trust and brotherhood existed between MP Berri and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah... And now it was harder to get to His Eminence as there were no more clear paths or routes. Meanwhile, the companion of his battle was still making Lebanon's political way out of this situation throughout debating the essence of draft resolutions. He could foresee picking the fruits of the South as the victory rhythm would echo in the distance soon.
As if gathering all fruits, Berri was supervising the preparation of a basket that would make the Sayyed forget the baskets of international and Lebanese conditions for cease-fire, taking His Eminence to the orchards of the South, which promised of the blooming spring of August.
As for the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Spain, they didn't know the way to these orchards. Neither did Egypt do as its ‘joyful' minister of foreign affairs visited us as if he had been visiting a lively city which only needed disarmament.
By the beginning of August, our patience had indeed made us approach victory. The enemy had suffered great casualties, and now it could make no further progress on land. As MP Berri estimated the progress of the battle, he put it, "We have fulfilled victories equaling the victories of the entire wars of the Arabs."
Long had "Israel" looked for a present or a compensation to offer to the "Israeli" public and to its custodian: the U.S.; whereby "Israel" had sought to achieve at least one aim - even if that meant detaining "Hassan Nasrallah of Bekaa" or setting a fixed site below the Litany River.
Nevertheless, "Israel" only figured out its War was aimless; even if "Israel" had achieved any aims, that would have been over the dead bodies of civilians, bringing about more and more shame for "Israel" in the eyes of the international public opinion.
In spite of blood and pain, the sun of August would shine, bringing about hope to Ain el Tineh. Throughout twenty days of the War, dozens and dozens of proposal-makers, envoys, and messengers would arrive in Beirut. They ‘would worry to their knees' about "Israel's" security upon ‘the threat of Hizbullah's arms'. Supporting their pursuits was a bunch of ‘Lebanese donators' that sought a quick investment of chances and disarming Hizbullah. Premier Siniora put it, "They're scared, for we've made no progress."
The scene, however, did not need ‘scared politicians', but rather it required determined and resolute ones... ones that could alter negotiations effective.
The beginning of August marked a new stage of the War as the enemy forces had failed in performing any infiltration in spite of expanding the range of the frontline and sending more relief soldiers.
The number of killed soldiers of the "Israeli" elite was increasing, and the disability to progress in Aita el Shaab was scaring the "Israeli" soldiers. As well, "Israel's" disability to conquer any of the towns pushed "Israel" to burn more and more towns and to perform an airdrop in Baalbeck City so as to compensate for its failure to kill any of the (Resistance) leaders; upon its fear of the name, "Israel" sent the elite of its military to captivate "Hassan Nasrallah" - a simple farmer. Although intensive air raids accompanied the airdrop, "Israel" couldn't achieve any result.
The "Israeli" fragility, in fact, was manifested by the soldiers' declaration to their leaders that they were incapable of leading confrontations as powerfully and tactically as the Resistance men had been doing in the towns which the enemy had been trying to invade. Hereupon, the "Israeli" command began reflecting on expanding the ground campaign, as presumed by Ehud Olmert (former "Israeli" prime minister).
By then, the spiritual summit had been held in Bkirki, and a statement that included the proposals made by MP Berri the day earlier had been issued; whereby the statement pointed out that national unity had been and would always be the foundation for resisting and confronting the "Israeli" enemy. The statement added that Hizbullah represented a constituent of this foundation as Hizbullah was a main portion of the Lebanese community.
Also on the 1st of August, at 11:00 AM, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Manoushahr Mottaki, accompanied by a delegation, arrived in Ain el Tineh to meet with MP Berri. I was an attendant of the meeting, too.
Mottaki first reported the regards of the Iranian command after its staff had met and praised MP Berri's role in running the political battle.
Mottaki then said he had asked the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Philippe Douste-Blaze whether his plan would be applicable as a thorough program in a short time.
Having posed this question during the meeting with Douste-Blaze in the Iranian Embassy in Bir Hassan the day earlier, Mottaki proposed to divide the plan according to the same two-stage rules which MP Berri had set earlier: cease-fire, exchange of captives, and return of the dislodged people; discussion of the other political issues afterwards.
Berri: "So far, everything is good even though our civilians have suffered great casualties. We have fulfilled victories equaling the victories of the entire wars of the Arabs. Actually, this confrontation has three requirements
1- The battle-field situation: This is good, and the Resistance has started to make the initiative.
2- National unity: In spite of some contrasting views, we're trying to maintain this unity in all possible ways. Our communication with Premier Siniora and the government demonstrates this unity. As well, the spiritual summit today has revealed this unity, which is quite important.
3- As respects the negotiations with international sides, we haven't submitted to any pressure; our stance has become more understandable. For instance, I believe that Douste-Blaze met with you yester night in order to negotiate on behalf of the U.S. as the U.S. now realizes the essential need it has for you."
"Concerning the solution plan," continued MP Berri, "Neither do we mind any way of the deployment of the Lebanese Army, nor do we have anything against increasing the number of the United Nations Emergency Forces (UNEF) in accordance with their current missions. Likewise, we've agreed on the government's functioning as a sovereign state. Nevertheless, this doesn't - at all - mean that the Resistance will give up its arms, for this is resolute. Hereupon, awareness of the mal intentions is crucial, for some local political parties have worse views than the U.S. regarding the Resistance's arms; they consider this War is their chance to disarm Hizbullah."
Mottaki: "Ok, we agree on this plan, so my declaration will be the support for the statement you've made with Premier Siniora in the Governmental Palace. The British minister of foreign affairs called me to begin discussing the issue of political settlement after the battle conditions had changed. President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nijad and I have agreed on repeating that we support the Lebanese stance, and we don't wish to upset anyone. Douste-Blaze has complained that you were very repulsive while holding your meeting with him after "the Qana Massacre"."
Berri: "Well, Douste-Blaze tried to outsmart me and drag me to a talk on political settlement after we had agreed on limiting the issue to cease-fire. Anyway, I emphasize the importance of the expansion of your diplomatic move with respect to the member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)."
Mottaki: "What about your advice regarding aids for Lebanon?"
MP Berri: "Nothing. Just let the Arabs handle their responsibilities and make donations. Then you'll make a step."
At 9:00 AM, Premier Siniora, accompanied by his senior aide Dr. Muhammad Shatah, arrived in Ain el Tineh. Siniora wanted to hear the response for the issue of disarming Hizbullah in the South Litany Region, and MP Berri answered that Hizbullah was using its arms to perform heroic confrontations with the "Israeli" enemy. Berri added that any discussion on the future of these arms would take place locally after the end of the War. "Anyway," continued Berri, "I can't believe - particularly now - that the liberation of the Shebaa Farms cannot be resolved in any plan for agreement. Besides, what guarantees that the rest of the standards will be fulfilled if we give up these arms?"
Siniora interrupted Berri, "On the other hand, President Emile Lahoud says he does not accept the deployment of the Lebanese Army in the South."
Berri: "Leave this to us. There's no problem with President Lahoud. So I'll arrange this, and you focus on the issue of cease-fire. I'll ride the first military jeep of the Army (on its way to the South). Besides, I tell you again that we have nothing against increasing the number of the United Nations Emergency Forces (UNEF)."
Siniora: "The European countries: Germany, England, Holland, and the Chezc Republic have the same stance as the U.S., which is opposing cease-fire. They're holding talks on putting an end to the military operations, and they've convicted Hizbullah's attacks against "Israel"."
Berri: "They actually wish to cover up "Israel's" attack on land and give it a chance. The more "Israel" tries to move, the more we fight. Our country will suffer, though."
Siniora: "I'm scared. We've made no progress."
In fact, the statement of the Bkirki Spiritual Summit aggravated Siniora, for the name "Hizbullah" was mentioned; as well, the expression "adjusting the missions of the UNEF" was not mentioned... Therefore, Siniora did not see the statement was important.
Nasrallah to Berri: Tomorrow We Shall Intensify Our Artillery Strikes
At 10:30 AM, Haj Hussein Khalil arrived. Upon the statement of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, he reported that Hizbullah had lessened the artillery strikes in the previous couple of days so as to allow people to calm down; "Yet, upon the "Israeli" escalation in the recent hours, tomorrow we shall intensify our artillery strikes. And again, I want you to be confident that our command, telecommunications, and control of the battle are very good."
Haj Hussein Khalil added that Premier Siniora had asked Minister Mottaki to declare approval of the seven standards before retracting this request in the end of their meeting.
Then Haj Hussein informed us that France had informed Iran of its readiness to participate in forming the international forces whatever form would be decided for these forces. Yet, France wouldn't do that unless Hizbullah and the Amal Movement offered a guarantee.
On Wednesday, August 2, 2006, the Resistance scored the highest rate of missiles launched against the "Israeli" settlements and cities. Observers and the enemy commanders were stunned as this confirmed the high level of running the battle. That day was meant to escalate in compensation for the earlier couple of days and to make the enemy understand that the plan was to target further cities gradually (in occupied Palestine). Meanwhile, the "Israeli" talk on reaching the Litany marches as compensation had increased. Therefore, the Resistance concentrated on targeting Taybeh Region since it was the closest point to the Litany River, where "Israel" might wish to fulfill an illusionary victory to bring its soldiers back to their spirits.
We kept up with the developments at a time we knew that this axis would stun the enemy, for the Resistance men would now use new anti-shield techniques, confusing the enemy and altering its plans.
In the morning, MP Berri hesitated whether he should cancel his appointment with the British Ambassador to Lebanon James Watt in protest for the stance of Italy the day before, whereby Italy had refused immediate cease-fire. However, MP Berri received Watt when he arrived, telling him frankly that he had thought about cancelling the appointment. So Watt said that his country's stance was actually different - probably because the media means ‘were distorting facts', and he confirmed that his country was committed to cease-fire.
Watt also confirmed MP Berri's belief that the French minister of foreign affairs represented the U.S. during his meeting with the Iranian minister of foreign affairs in Beirut. Watt pointed out that the discussion essentially involved the nature of the international forces, the deployment of which in Lebanon was the subject of discussion. Watt said they tended to become convinced with the idea of dividing the solution into two stages, agreeing on the standards of both, and considering the seven standards of the government.
Berri: "But actually Tony Blair (the British minister of foreign affairs) had gone to ask George W. Bush to cease fire before returning on top of those requesting no cease-fire!"
Watt: "Well, what I'm telling Your Excellency regarding the seven points and the solution division is the official stance of the British government, so I'm reporting this stance to you and to Hizbullah, too, through your intermediation. We wish to act as mediators, and we shall do our best to make the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) hold a session and issue a resolution this week."
Now MP Berri's tone changed, and he pointed out the importance of the U.K.'s stance and the necessity of declaring what Blair had said.
Afterwards, MP Berri met with the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmad Abu el Ghait in the lobby of his office. Abu el Ghait was talking joyfully, and he was behaving as if things had been simple; yet, he listened well to the details of the actualities of the ground battle, of the casualties "Israel" had suffered, and of the Resistance's preparations.
(Here below is the dialogue Berri had with Abu el Ghait.)
When Abu el Ghait entered, Berri asked, "Is President Hosni Mubarak upset because of what I've said about him?"
Abu el Ghait: "Yes."
Berri, "Well, I've reported the upset situation of most Lebanese people because they want Egypt on their side. They've actually found it odd to hear what's been said."
Abu el Ghait: "So for us; we want to be on Lebanon's side." Then he explained that Egypt wanted to play a certain role and that he had met with the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad two days earlier.
Berri: "We encourage every Arab role, but it is beneficial that you make your role trustworthy again."
Now a political discussion began, and it was clear that Egypt was discussing the same issue as the European countries had discussed: the form of the international forces. As well, the following issues were proposed:
- Immediate cease-fire
- The deployment of international forces 48 hours after cease-fire
- The return of the dislodged people to their towns 48 hours after the deployment of the international forces.
Hereupon, MP Berri corrected Abu el Ghait: "The deployment of the United Nations Emergency Forces (UNEF), in accordance with their current missions, is accepted. And since they're already present, there's no need to wait for the return of the dislodged people, so let this happen at once. Now I tell you that the rate of increasing the number of the UNEF afterwards will not be a problem."
Abu el Ghait: "So what will the role of these forces be? And what's the number of the troops that are to participate?"
Berri: "They're to maintain their current role as their number increases, but certainly it's not of their business to disarm the Resistance."
Abu el Ghait: "In that case, what will we have done? This is not right and not accepted! There must be new arrangements and missions."
Berri: "Do you think that this can happen without reaching an understanding with us?! The issue of the Resistance's arms and the number of the troops (to be deployed) are Lebanese issues that we can discuss internally. However, we don't mind any number of the Lebanese-Army troops."
The discussion lasted for an hour and a half approximately, at the end of which we agreed on the following points:
- Fire is to be ceased.
- The dislodged people are to return immediately in regard to the presence of the forces introductory to the UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon).
- The missions of the UNIFIL are to be determined upon the agreement of both sides. And in all cases, these forces will have nothing to do with the Resistance's arms; they won't be a deterrence force."
Abu el Ghait went on, "Syria has held talks with me on "the April Understanding" (also known as "The Grapes of Wrath Understandings") and on putting it into effect again, but I've heard that Siniora refused the deployment of the UNIFIL in the Shebaa Farms."
Berri: "I haven't heard such talk before; probably there's a misconception. Anyway, you're going to meet with Siniora."
Moratinos Inquires.... Iranian-British Calls Take Place
Afterwards, MP Berri met with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Ángel Moratinos, who came empty-handed, but he understood that no settlement could take place without an agreement. Moratinos spoke openly about Hizbullah and supported immediate cease-fire; yet, the most important thing that MP Berri learned from him was that Moratinos was going to visit Syria and become the first European Minister of Foreign Affairs to visit it after a long absence.
MP Berri met with the Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Elah Al-Khatib, too.
At 6:00 PM, Haj Hussein Khalil arrived in Ain el Tineh. He replied to ‘the morning message' and clarified some points. As well, MP Berri informed him of the political communications that day. Now MP Berri was more hopeful than he had been in the morning; having held a series of meetings, he became certain that the actualities had rearranged the interests of all sides that were now readier for settlement in accordance with our conditions.
Haj Hussein also reported that Iranian-British calls had taken place; whereby the U.K. believed that "Israel's" strategy was based on a three-kilometer occupation depth. Besides, the U.K. approved of declaring cease-fire while waiting for the deployment of the international forces in accordance with what they wanted.
MP Berri's focus was that we had to keep up with all of our friends to guarantee a UNSC veto against any multinational forces; we were going to wait for the steps Egypt might make and to see the credibility of the British stance. Still, it was important to maintain our chivalry in the battle, as well as our positive initiatives and preparations. Then a discussion took place concerning the idea of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) regarding the call for a national conference. I was assigned to visit the Party so as to discuss this issue and limit it in a general meeting of the different parties upon fear that division might happen.
MP Berri knew that the Security Council might issue a resolution on cease-fire the coming Monday, but he was afraid of the Lebanese stance regarding the international forces as this point hadn't been resolved yet. He was also afraid that the government might insist on adjusting the missions of these forces, including the disarmament of Hizbullah in the South Litany Region, especially when Premier Siniora still had such belief. Hereupon, it was required that we keep handling this issue very cautiously.
Afterwards, MP Berri reminded me it was necessary that I meet with the Higher Relief Committee Secretary General and inform him of the refusal to distribute the Libyan aids in the regions where the dislodged people were; also to ask him to keep the aids on the (Lebanese) northern borders as they could stir big unrest. I did so, and the aids remained in "the Araman Barracks" in the North; whereby their distribution was limited to certain groupings.