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Moukhtara and the Cold War

Friday 6 February 2015

Somebody one day will write my biography.

I might be present to give him information or I might be reincarnated in China according to Druze faith, in such a case I do not know if the potential biographer would be fluent in Mandarin.

But to go to the subject concerning this spy called Stig Bergling, it happened unfortunatly that I was involved in hiding him for four years at Moukhtara, Lebanon between 1990 and 1994.

How did that happen ?

In 1990, the deputy director of the Soviet military intelligence, General Vladimir Ismailov came to Moukhtara in a friendly visit .Impressively tall with red hair, big moustaches, accompanied by another official, most probably one of his assistants, and a common friend.

With the Soviets and the Russians, serious talk starts after five or six shots of vodka, and numerous toasts to the Lebanese Soviet friendship, and to the Progressive Socialist Party and the Soviet Communist Party common fight. Then General Ismailov told me: Comrade Walid you are a great friend of the Soviet Union, and we will never forget your position supporting the cause of the Soviet people and “our common struggle against Imperialism”.

I presume some of you know this kind of terminology.

To make the story short, General Ismailov asked me if I could shelter somebody at moukhtara. How could I refuse? The Soviets provided me with hundreds of scholarships, trained the militia of the Socialist Party by thousands in their bases and provided us with the equivalent of 500 million dollars of weapons and ammunition between 1979 until the late eighties, for free .

I said yes without hesitating, and we continued our endless lunch and I wonder how many bottles of vodka were consumed for this event, of course for the common cause of fighting “Imperialism” and for the sake of consolidating “Socialism”.

Two weeks later came a man in his late fifties with his wife, and we accommodated them to live in the upper floor of the house of Nehme Tohme, the actual member of parliament and a great friend of the Joumblatt family.

The Tohme’s were and still are very hospitable.

But who was this fellow and his wife. Nothing less but Stig Bergling and his wife Elisabeth Sandberg.

And for the coming four years he was our guest, and our partner at dinner or lunch, and on different circumstances.

I can go on and on in relating this fantastic story but it could be quite long, but I will end it with two comments.

First is that for the Soviets to ask me to hide one of their numerous spies was quite odd, and later my suspicions were confirmed that something was wrong in the Soviet empire, because just after a year it just collapsed.

Second, Mr Abbé as we use to call him, alias Stig Bergling, fled Lebanon in 1994 back to Sweden, during my presence in Moscow at the time of Yeltsin, and he was jailed again, where of course he disclosed his whereabouts to the Swedish press.

As for me, I ended up terribly embarrassed with my Swedish friends, the Social Democrats, with whom I was so closely connected, and thanks to this relationship I had the opportunity to meet several times a great figure and leader of the twentieth century, the late Olof Palme.

Stig Bergling did a lot of damage to Sweden and to me. I just apologize to the Swedish people and to my friends the Social Democrats.

An offer I could not refuse, the gift of general Vladimir Ismailov.

To read more about Stig Bergling, click here

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