Chapter 15:

Clashes between the forces of Machaalani and Zouein.

Til now, Elie Hobeika accepted sharing his stakes with Geagea and Pakraduni. With his fiendish mind, he used them, but kept the two of them out of his innermost circle. His “Man” was Michel Murr, the “Bank”, the Golden Goose egg, the new Elias Shartuni .

Flanked by Michel Murr, “The Bank” and Michel Samaha, “The Middle-Man” between him and the Syrians, Hobeika carried out an internal “Intifada”, to get even with Geagea and Pakraduni, create a political disruption and hold the reins of the Executive Committee.

Hobeika had a sixth sense and did not trust any one. He had sensed that Pakraduni was not forthright enough for his liking. On one occasion, Hobeika hired an expert locksmith, Abdo Jawharji, and in my presence broke into Pakraduni’s office. He was looking for incriminating documents and found it. Hobeika found a letter signed by Samir and Karim commissioning Gemayel to intervene with Syria in the name of the Lebanese Forces to stop flaring up the situation. He was enraged and had to act now.

Hobeika had previously manipulated President Chamoun’s National Liberal Party. Hobeika’s intervention caused a secession within its Politbureau. The secession was led by Elie Assouad and Charles Ghostine.

The structure being set and fortified, Hobeika pressed the E. Christian members to elect him Chairman. It was May 9, 1985. Disregarding all members, he bluntly announced that the Arab option for Lebanon was the only one and Syria was the fundamental part of it. It came like a thunderbolt.

Hobeika, the “Intelligence Chief” was short-circuiting Gemayel, the President, Geagea, the military man and Pakraduni, the Media Chief. Hobeika was now in absolute control of all decisions for the Christians. Since then, Pakraduni’s office was moved cheek-by-jawl with his, to keep a close eye on him.

It was time for Syria to make one step further to destabilize the Christian ranks. They would bring their old and new allies together in a dramatic reconciling involving Soleiman Franjieh and Elie Hobeika. It was prepared by Karim Pakraduni. Hobeika, the commando leader, who pulled the trigger and killed Tony Franjieh, was going to be officially received by the “Kataeb-hater”, the Patriarch, Soleiman Franjieh into his Syrian protected fiefdom, Zghorta/Ehden.

The Syrians made sure the visit would be important and successful so that Hobeika would come out as the only decision-maker in the Eastern regions. Though outwardly Samir approved of the visit, he increased his plotting against his ally. While Hobeika was busy up in the North, Geagea bought off Maroun Mashaalani. Maroun Mashaalani was one of Hobeika’s most loyal supporters. Geagea instigated Mashaalani to cause trouble in order to weaken Hobeika’s position and prove that he was not the strong man he pretended to be and did not truly control the ground.

Clashes broke out between Mashaalani and Zouein in Ashrafieh/Shahrour in the barracks attached to the Al Amn. The result was three militiamen dead. It was the first sparkle. The film was rolling and so were treacheries. Samir Geagea organized a popular rally to welcome Hobeika triumphantly after his “historical” visit to Zghorta. The Shahrouri incident was put aside, but suspicion was growing. It was kill or die.

Pakraduni and Geagea had patched up their differences with Gemayel, as Hobeika, with Michel Samaha and Assad Shaftari pushed forward the elaboration of the “Tripartite Accord” with Damascus. Samaha was delivering information to Hobeika that Amin Gemayel was getting closer to his objective with the Syrians. The race was at crisis point.

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