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LEBANON: Government policy statement on Hezbollah's arms irks Washington

Williams hezbollah After half a year of electoral controversy, political deadlock and threats of war, it appears the Lebanese government is right back where it started: trapped between a rock and a hard place.

Lebanon has always tried to strike a balance by maintaining strong ties to the West while continuing to support the militant group Hezbollah's ongoing conflict against Israel.

Last Wednesday, the newly-formed consensus government rankled its allies in Washington when it adopted a policy statement that repeated the language of a previous mission statement legitimizing the weapons of Hezbollah.

The final draft of the Cabinet ministers' statement affirms the right of "Lebanon, its government, its people, its army and its resistance" to liberate all Lebanese territory. Hezbollah is referred to in Lebanon as the "resistance."

Some Christian leaders had expressed concerns about whether the ministerial statement would undermine attempts to disarm Hezbollah, exposing all of Lebanon to the threat of an Israeli attack. The 2006 "July war" between Hezbollah and Israel killed more than 1,000 Lebanese and severely damaged the country's infrastructure and economy. Israel has repeatedly said it will consider all of Lebanon fair game in any new conflict.

The statement was adopted just as Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah delivered the group's new manifesto, in which he sought to balance internal political demands with the group's Islamic identity and its ongoing ideological war against the U.S. and Israel.

Most analysts and news organizations remarked on the party's softer tone, especially regarding its relationship to the idea of an Islamic state.

But in an interview published Friday in the Lebanese newspaper As Safir, a U.S. State Department official said Washington will not cooperate with Hezbollah lawmakers.

Nicole Shampaine, head of the department's Office for Egypt and the Levant, said that although Hezbollah has backed off from its original goal of establishing an Islamic state, its recent manifesto was meant as a show of force to the U.S. and Israel.

"It's not clear to me that this helps progress toward peace and security in the region, including the people of Lebanon," she was quoted as saying.

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photo: U.N. coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams meets with Hezbollah lawmaker Mohammad Fneish. Credit: Hussein Mallah / Associated Press 

Comments () | Archives (4)

Reaction to 'Lebanonjon'. Indeed, the US spends 3 billion each year to support the occupation of Palestine. It spended already 200 billion dollar in supporting a corrupt regime surrounded by war lords in Afghanistan. It is just a small detail - isn't it? - that the biggest CIA-program ever (in collaboration with the Pakistan Intelligence service, ISI) consisted in arming and training the Taliban. But of course that was for bringing democracy after Sovjet Occupation. Later, the US army and its allied forces, killed thousands of innocent Iraqi's (remember Fallujah) to 'deliver democracy' in Iraq. Fine democracy, since the invasion of March 2003 Iraq is drown into a lake of blood. And please don't remember the war for democracy in Vietnam with a 'small' collateral damage of between 2 and 4 million victims.

While the USA spends billions and trillions to undertake nation building and the spread of Democracy, Iran and Syria only have to spend a few million to undo.

The USA is losing the battle financially against Iran and Syria . Look at what some insurgents funneled into Iraq have done. Same for the Taliban in Afghanistan, Same for Hizballah in Lebanon, Same for Hamas in Gaza.

By using militants with a cause and funding and arming them , the Axis of Weasels (Iran and Syria) have managed to fight the USA to a standstill.

Time to learn that you have to fight these scum with their own weapons. Arm a faction in Lebanon to counteract Hizballah and watch how they will be flummoxed. It wouldnt cost more than a few hundred million and you would have Hizballah caught so off guard that it would have to back off of Israel and accept democracy in Lebanon by virtue of force.

If the U.S. had an even handed approach between moderate U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan, and Israel, Iran would not have so much influence in occupied Palestinian Territories or Lebanon. We the U.S. have marginalized our other U.S. allies and American power internationally from Europe to Latin America by unconditionally supporting the Israeli government in power whether it was in the interest of the U.S. or even Israel and in spite of peace. WE HAVE HELP CREATE THE MESS WE HAVE NOW AND KEEP COMMITTING THE SAME STUPID BLIND MISTAKES!!

The U.S. and Israel. All the articles seem to be linking the U.S. and Israel. THE STRATEGIC AND SECURITY INTEREST OF THE U.S. AND ISRAEL ARE FAR FROM IDENTICAL!! and if the U.S. took a more even handed approach between the Arab U.S. allies and Israel then Iran would not have nearly the influence in the Middle East from Hamas to Hezbollah. How about serving the interest of the United States by showing a BALANCED report of the situation, and how U.S. interest strategically are best served!!!


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