The four Iranian diplomats.
Barely two months after the political spree in Paris, I escorted my chief to Damascus twice for meetings with the Lebanese Christians' public enemy number one "Mr Abdul Halim Khaddam". It was mid 1982, when Sheikh Bashir Gemayel was well into his presidential "campaign". I was closer than ever to the Israeli military and political forces. Intuitively, I kept drawing a parallel between the opposite poles: Israel and Syria.
All of the Israeli top Intelligence Officers trusted me and respected me, knowing I was their Man, H.K's watchdog. Mr Ariel Sharon in all his might, used to call me by my war name, "Send me Cobra. I do not need my personnel chauffeur, I want Cobra to drive me". I alone was allowed to drive the Israeli officials back and forth from their secret meetings with Bashir and Hobeika from their headquarters in Zouk in the Kessrouan, to Naccache in a villa in the Matn.
With the Syrians, I always sensed we were somehow crawling, swimming in murky water, cornered and standing at bay. Swiftly and surely, I always blurred and buried the events I saw and my personal feelings and discussions about them. I knew by instinct that it was imperative, under such circumstances, to turn amnesiac besides being unloquacious by temper.
We were so far from 1976 and 1978, and all the impetuosity and spontaneity that steered the "Shababs". We were turning "Mukhabarat", that is to say, Arab Intelligence with its mean, shifty and crooked ways, kissing the hand they could not bite.
The Christian power base was adamantly anti-Syrian. The eagerly anticipated and much whispered Israeli salvation invasion was their last hope to get rid of both Palestinians and Syrians. Who would want more? The choice was simple between a strong, powerful, and determined ally, to whom we owed so much already, and a sneaky, underhanded, cruel and greedy potential protector ready to swallow us.
Apparently, the Christian warlords were stabbing everybody in the back, people and friends alike, tearing down the dream of a Christian-run Lebanon. While the "Peace in Galilea" Operation was well underway, and the Israeli war machine was sweeping the north, and the Christian promise regarding military participation or at least rear-facility interference, was stalled.
At dawn on June 6, 1982, the operation was in gear, Defense Minister General Sharon and Chief of Staff General Eytan, had notified Bashir Gemayel and H.K. that they would not progressing through the Beirut-Damascus Highway. The purpose was to evict Arafat and the PLO and help him set up a new Lebanese Republic rid of all Palestinian armed presence. It was now his move. He did not budge.
As it was proved later, the Christians have never honored their word. They stood and watched the sharing of the fruits of their efforts. It was only normal for the Israeli command to be resentful. Unable to back out or hold up, the Israeli army proceeded deep into their lands penetrating the outskirts of Beirut. It had dramatic consequences on Israel, the United States. United States State Secretary Alexander Haig was forced to resign on June 25, 1982. It had just as far reaching an effect on General Ariel Sharon. They paid the price of the Christian weathercock policy. Tension set in between Israel and the Reagan administration, and Bashir Gemayel was President for only 23 days.
The triumphant Christian chieftains were convinced they had played the Americans against the Israelis, and the Israelis against the Syrians. They ignored how dangerous this game was for them, for their loyal combatants and for the Christian population. They lived in the euphoria of their very personal victories, mindless of their credibility.