Lebanon War Strikes Back – Washington Accuses Syria of Crimes

President Bush is accusing Syria of planning to bring down the Lebanese government.
– 
This is a continuation of the grand struggle by the US to take Lebanon out of Syria's sphere of influence and bring it into its own. This campaign was begun following the invasion of Iraq. Here is the press statement.
November 1, 2006

STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY (of President Bush)

Support for a sovereign, democratic, and prosperous Lebanon is a key element of U.S. policy in the Middle East. We are therefore increasingly concerned by mounting evidence that the Syrian and Iranian governments, Hizballah, and their Lebanese allies are preparing plans to topple Lebanon's democratically-elected government led by Prime Minister Siniora.

Any attempt to destabilize Lebanon 's democratically-elected government through such tactics as manufactured demonstrations and violence, or by physically threatening its leaders would, at the very least, be a clear violation of Lebanon ?s sovereignty and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701.  

There are indications that one goal of the Syrian plan is to prevent the current Lebanese government from approving the statute for an international tribunal that would try those accused of involvement in former Prime Minister Hariri's assassination. Any such effort to sid eli ne the tribunal will fail, however, for the international community can proceed with establishing it no matter what happens internally in Lebanon. The United Statesis committed to working with its international partners and the legitimate Government of Lebanon to ensure that the tribunal is quickly established and that all those responsible for the assassinations of Rafiq Hariri and other Lebanese patriots since 2005 are brought to justice.

Are anti-Hariri Lebanese using illegal means to change government?
America is accusing Syria and its Lebanese allies of perverting Lebanon's popular will and by seeking to change the government by illegal means, i.e. "manufactured demonstrations and violence, or by physically threatening its leaders."
Sami Moubayed suggests that the coalition of Lebanon's Shiites, Aounist Christians and other anti-March 14 politicians actually constitute the majority of Lebanese and thus can bring down the government through democratic, rather than, illegal means. Here is a bit of what he writes in his lengthy article:Listen to Berri 
If Hezbollah, along with Berri and Aoun, take to the streets, they can create havoc in Lebanon. They are numerically more powerful than the March 14 Coalition.
This would lead to violent confrontations between the security personnel, run by acting Interior Minister Ahmad Fatfat (from the Hariri bloc). If security ends the demonstrations with force, it would create an even deeper grudge at the Lebanese government and it would be accused of using the security to clamp down on protesters something frowned upon in a democratic state such as Lebanon. If the security fails to end the demonstrations, it would be accused of facilitating chaos and vandalism.

Another option that the Berri-Nasrallah-Aoun coalition can use is to have Hezbollah's two ministers resign from the Siniora cabinet. They would be followed by the three ministers of Berri's Amal movement and Yaacoub Al Sarraf, the Minister of Environment who is an ally of Lahoud.

In all, six ministers, five being Shiite, likely would resign, forcing Siniora to dissolve his government and form another.

Defy orders

No Shiite heavyweight would join a new government, defying the orders of Nasrallah or Berri. Because of the number of parliamentary seats Amal and Hezbollah hold in parliament, no cabinet can or will be solved without them. Meaning, it would be all over for the Siniora cabinet because it cannot survive without Amal or Hezbollah.

A Hezbollah deputy, Mohammad Raad, hinted at this plan by telling the Kuwaiti daily Al Raid Al Aam that the party's presence in the cabinet was "temporary". All of this is a warning to Siniora that the days to come will not be smooth in Beirut.

Being the balancing power in Lebanon since the assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri and the withdrawal of Syrian troops in April 2005, Berri has now taken sides.

And when Berri takes sides, things change in Lebanon.  

Lebanon a cornerstone of Bush Policy
Should the Hariri coalition come undone, it would be a great blow to US policy. Lebanon has been a cornerstone of President Bush's forward policy of reforming the Greater Middle East and democracy promotion. In the several countries where Washington has been successful in promoting its policy – Iraq and Palestine – and honest elections have been carried out, the results have been very disappointing to Washington because they have brought Islamist parties to power, which are anti-American. In other countries, such as in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, where trial or local elections were carried out under US pressure, results demonstrated that Islamist and anti-American political parties would have come to power if the countries were democratic rather than authoritarian. The pro-US government in Lebanon has been weakened by this summer's war with Israel. The Lebanese opposition is trying to capitalize on its weakness and gain a greater share of power, hence their call for a broadened national unity government. 
Washington's anti-Syria policy in jeopardy 
Washington does not want to allow such a government to be formed, because it will undermine the Hariri investigation being carried on by the UN and will scuttle Washington's anti-Syria policy. It would signify the collapse of another tent post holding up Washington's regional ambitions. The air is rapidly going out of the campaign to reform the broader Middle East and bring down anti-American governments in the region. Should Washington’s Lebanon gambit go sour just at election time in America, it would be another blow to the White House. 
Is Washington crying wolf?

Washington is dramatizing the crisis, with accusations that Berri and Aoun's efforts to push for a unity government are somehow illegal. It is true that both Syria and Iran will be thrilled to see the dilution of the Hariri bloc's power, just as they are undoubtedly working behind the scene's to ensure the continued success of Hizbullah and pro-Syrian allies in Lebanon. So far, however, Washington has not been able to prove illegal activity – not with the smuggling of arms, not with assassinations, not with promotion of violent demonstrations. That does not mean these activities are not going on or being planned.This is undoubtedly a high stakes game with the Lebanese government sitting in the balance.

 

Has Washington used illegal means to change the balance of power in Lebanon?

 

Washington and other Western Hariri allies have not been sitting on their hands any more than Syria and Iran have been. Both are struggling to influence events in Lebanon.

 

In fact the US and Israel have made much more intrusive inroads into Lebanese politics recently than Syria has. The 34 day air and land invasion by Israel, which the US supported, was an effort to kill leading Lebanese officials and party members and sway the balance of power in Lebanon back into Washington's and Hariri's favor. Shaykh Nasrallah, Lebanon's most popular political leader according to opinion polls, is still in hiding because Israel continues to hunt him for assassination.

 

Do Lebanese think Washington will win?

 

Many Lebanese believe that their country should not be used as the battle ground for Washington's struggle with Syria. The Lebanese government is too weak to act as the battering ram to bring down the Syrian regime. Many argue that over-freighting the fragile government with such a policy will lead to strife between Lebanon's clashing religious communities. They believe that Washington must come to terms with Syria, rather than try to topple its government. Only with the type of agreement between Beirut, Damascus – and yes, also Washington – that existed during the 1990s can Lebanon flourish. The Lebanese of the middle way argue that the Egyptians must be given room to work out common ground between all sides. Only such a deal, they insist, will ensure that Lebanon wins, rather than falls victim to great power struggles as it did during the dark days of the civil war.

 

Europe Abandons Washington Policy of Regime-Change for Damascus

 

Another reason that Washington is blowing the alarm and calling the Lebanese to battle stations, is that its European allies are beginning to abandon Bush's policy of confrontation with Syria.

 

 

Seeing a high-level emissary of Tony Blair's in Damascus two days ago, underscored the growing divisions in Western policy. As more and more senior statesmen come out in favor of beginning negotiations with Syria and Iran as the only way to staunch the flow of blood in Iraq. This path is being blocked by the remaining neo-cons around President Bush, or his ruthless political “commissars,” as they are known among their colleagues.
— End of Analysis —
Yesterday, Hariri's paper, al-Mustaqbal reported that President Lahoud was trying to scuttle the international court being established to accuse and try Hariri’s killers.
Lahoud trying to assassinate international tribunal
In its October 31 edition, Al Mustaqbal reported that:
“Emile Lahoud stepped forward to sabotage the formation of a tribunal of an international character and assassinate it whether by claiming that his constitutional prerogatives, in accordance with article 52 of the constitution, entitled him to negotiate and ratify ‘international treaties’ – to which Justice Minister Charles Rizk responded by saying that ratifying them was part of the prerogatives of two thirds of the Cabinet – or by trying to start a crisis with the UN by publishing two highly confidential drafts of appendixes, which is what Minister Rizk also feared.

“However, what was clear was that by waging war against the formation of the international tribunal, Lahoud established a tight link between the demands of ‘the Syrian alliance’ to overthrow the government on one hand, and the hindering of the international tribunal on the other.

The head of the Democratic Gathering, MP Walid Jumblatt… said that ‘the interference attempts conducted by Emile Lahoud were sufficient evidence of his involvement’. He said that: ‘If someone tried to oppose [the formation] of this international tribunal, it means that this person is trying to cover up the crime’.

“He added that: ‘If Lahoud and Syria’s allies do not want this international tribunal, the issue will become very serious’… As for Samir Geagea, the head of the Lebanese Forces executive committee, he stated to Al Mustaqbal that: ‘The international tribunal law is not an international treaty. A treaty is between two states and the UN does not sign treaties with anyone. The international tribunal is the result of a UN resolution which was issued at the request of the Lebanese government… The UN resolution to establish it was issued and that is it’.

Comments (13)


1. t_desco said:

“Hezbollah is threatening street protests to force early elections in Lebanon if its demands are not met for a “national unity” Cabinet that would give the Islamic militants and their allies veto power over key decisions.”
AP

“In an interview with Hizbullah’s Al-Manar television, Nasrallah said it is a democratic right to demand the change of a government through “peaceful demonstrations.”

“Those who are currently in the government demonstrated in the streets last year until they toppled the Cabinet of Premier Omar Karami,” he noted. “Why aren’t we allowed to do the same? If we demand this right, they call us rioters?””
The Daily Star

“”All Lebanese parties should be included in this government … we do not mind if the current Prime Minister Fouad Seniora stays and we can enlarge the current cabinet,” Nasrallah said.”
DPA

“Sami Moubayed suggests that the coalition of Lebanon’s Shiites, Aounist Christians and other anti-March 14 politicians actually constitute the majority of Lebanese and thus can bring down the government through democratic, rather than, illegal means.”

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb said the same in an interview on BBC World. She also pointed out that Hizbullah was not trying to take over the reigns of government, but just to get a “one third” blocking minority so that it would be able to veto cabinet decisions.

Regarding Lahoud, I don’t know if his real aim is to prevent the formation of an international tribunal, but at least in his statement he was stressing the international character of that tribunal, not opposing it:

“In a statement Monday, Lahoud took issue with a draft document that left out the word “international” from the title of the yet-to-be-formed court. …

Lahoud “particularly warns about adopting the name ‘Lebanon Special Tribunal’, which could have an impact on the image of Lebanese around the world and damage the tribunal’s ‘international character’,” it said.”
Naharnet

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November 1st, 2006, 11:46 pm

 

2. t_desco said:

test

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November 2nd, 2006, 12:07 am

 

3. t_desco said:

“Hezbollah is threatening street protests to force early elections in Lebanon if its demands are not met for a “national unity” Cabinet that would give the Islamic militants and their allies veto power over key decisions.”
AP

“In an interview with Hizbullah’s Al-Manar television, Nasrallah said it is a democratic right to demand the change of a government through “peaceful demonstrations.”

“Those who are currently in the government demonstrated in the streets last year until they toppled the Cabinet of Premier Omar Karami,” he noted. “Why aren’t we allowed to do the same? If we demand this right, they call us rioters?””
The Daily Star

“”All Lebanese parties should be included in this government … we do not mind if the current Prime Minister Fouad Seniora stays and we can enlarge the current cabinet,” Nasrallah said.”
DPA

“Sami Moubayed suggests that the coalition of Lebanon’s Shiites, Aounist Christians and other anti-March 14 politicians actually constitute the majority of Lebanese and thus can bring down the government through democratic, rather than, illegal means.”

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb said the same in an interview on BBC World. She also pointed out that Hizbullah was not trying to take over the reigns of government, but just to get a “one third” blocking minority so that it would be able to veto cabinet decisions.

Regarding Lahoud, I don’t know if his real aim is to prevent the formation of an international tribunal, but at least in his statement he was stressing the international character of that tribunal, not opposing it:

“In a statement Monday, Lahoud took issue with a draft document that left out the word “international” from the title of the yet-to-be-formed court.

Lahoud “particularly warns about adopting the name ‘Lebanon Special Tribunal’, which could have an impact on the image of Lebanese around the world and damage the tribunal’s ‘international character’,” it said.”
Naharnet

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November 2nd, 2006, 12:09 am

 

4. t_desco said:

Hezbollah is threatening street protests to force early elections in Lebanon if its demands are not met for a “national unity” Cabinet that would give the Islamic militants and their allies veto power over key decisions.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061101/ap_on_re_mi_ea/lebanon_hezbollah_politics_3

In an interview with Hizbullah’s Al-Manar television, Nasrallah said it is a democratic right to demand the change of a government through “peaceful demonstrations.”

“Those who are currently in the government demonstrated in the streets last year until they toppled the Cabinet of Premier Omar Karami,” he noted. “Why aren’t we allowed to do the same? If we demand this right, they call us rioters?”
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=76581

All Lebanese parties should be included in this government … we do not mind if the current Prime Minister Fouad Seniora stays and we can enlarge the current cabinet,” Nasrallah said.
http://rawstory.com/news/2006/Nasrallah_delivers_ultimatum_to_gov_10312006.html

“Sami Moubayed suggests that the coalition of Lebanon’s Shiites, Aounist Christians and other anti-March 14 politicians actually constitute the majority of Lebanese and thus can bring down the government through democratic, rather than, illegal means.”

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb said the same in an interview on BBC World. She also pointed out that Hizbullah was not trying to take over the reigns of government, but just to get a “one third” blocking minority so that it would be able to veto cabinet decisions.

Regarding Lahoud, I don’t know if his real aim is to prevent the formation of an international tribunal, but at least in his statement he was stressing the international character of that tribunal, not opposing it:

In a statement Monday, Lahoud took issue with a draft document that left out the word “international” from the title of the yet-to-be-formed court. …

Lahoud “particularly warns about adopting the name ‘Lebanon Special Tribunal’, which could have an impact on the image of Lebanese around the world and damage the tribunal’s ‘international character’,” it said.
http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/Lebanon/8F01F0191571E87BC22572180036DAA3?OpenDocument

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November 2nd, 2006, 12:18 am

 

5. t_desco said:

Joshua Landis interview on BBC Newshour:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/newshour/
(“20:00 GMT”, starts at 15:52)

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November 2nd, 2006, 12:38 am

 

6. t_desco said:

“Hezbollah is threatening street protests to force early elections in Lebanon if its demands are not met for a “national unity” Cabinet that would give the Islamic militants and their allies veto power over key decisions.”
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061101/ap_on_re_mi_ea/lebanon_hezbollah_politics_3

“In an interview with Hizbullah’s Al-Manar television, Nasrallah said it is a democratic right to demand the change of a government through “peaceful demonstrations.”

“Those who are currently in the government demonstrated in the streets last year until they toppled the Cabinet of Premier Omar Karami,” he noted. “Why aren’t we allowed to do the same? If we demand this right, they call us rioters?””
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=2&article_id=76581

“”All Lebanese parties should be included in this government … we do not mind if the current Prime Minister Fouad Seniora stays and we can enlarge the current cabinet,” Nasrallah said.”
http://rawstory.com/news/2006/Nasrallah_delivers_ultimatum_to_gov_10312006.html

“Sami Moubayed suggests that the coalition of Lebanon’s Shiites, Aounist Christians and other anti-March 14 politicians actually constitute the majority of Lebanese and thus can bring down the government through democratic, rather than, illegal means.”

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb said the same in an interview on BBC World. She also pointed out that Hizbullah was not trying to take over the reigns of government, but just to get a “one third” blocking minority so that it would be able to veto cabinet decisions.

Regarding Lahoud, I don’t know if his real aim is to prevent the formation of an international tribunal, but at least in his statement he was stressing the international character of that tribunal, not opposing it:

“In a statement Monday, Lahoud took issue with a draft document that left out the word “international” from the title of the yet-to-be-formed court. …

Lahoud “particularly warns about adopting the name ‘Lebanon Special Tribunal’, which could have an impact on the image of Lebanese around the world and damage the tribunal’s ‘international character’,” it said.”
http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/Lebanon/8F01F0191571E87BC22572180036DAA3?OpenDocument

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November 2nd, 2006, 12:43 am

 

7. Nur al-Cubicle said:

Tony Blair has sent his foreign affairs adviser Sir Nigel Sheinwold to have talks in Syria.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/nickrobinson/

t_desco, thanx for the link above.

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November 2nd, 2006, 1:37 am

 

8. Right Truth said:

War ships in Persian Gulf to protect Saudi oil or to attack Iran?…

American and coalition military ships headed to the Persian Gulf supposedly to protect the oil fields in Saudi Arabia. A few folks believe they are in the area for much more than Saudi oil. Perhaps they are there as a…

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November 2nd, 2006, 2:47 am

 

9. ausamaa said:

As far as Bush is concerned, he can kiss his Lebanon Strategy goodbye. The overworked Feltman and US policy through their over simplistic tactics, total underestimating of the consequences of Rambo-style actions, and through their gross misunderstanding of both Syrian and Lebanese politics has effectively lost the game. The “Chalabies” of the Arab World (and now Israel too, as if to add insult to injury) have again mislead and over-promised them with a bagful of undeliverable hopes and wishes.

Three “unproductive and unsuitable” exit strategies seem now available to the US:

1) Pushing for a total destabilization of Lebanon which would only serve as a further proof of the US policy defeat in the area, or
2) Convincing Israel to attack Lebanon again which no sane Israeli politician or general would contemplate now, nor would any over paid UNIFIL officer “vacationing” in southern Lebanon enthusiastically welcome.
3) Call the al-Muhajereen Palace operator and see how far you can get kissing-up and trying to make over again in everyone’s interests.If Bush is shy, Mubarak and many serious Europeans would jump at such a role. And forget false pride, someone has just stupidly made a statement about “how happy the US” is now after North Korea agreed to return to the table. (After N Korea got the Bomb!!!)

Simply, for the US in Lebanon -if not in the whole area given the joke of the desperate Gulf military maneuvers -which were immediately countered in kind by Iran-, it appears as if it is now late into the 4th Quarter, with fourth down and 70 yards to go and the hometown team is leading by 8 points. As a hail-marry pass is not good enough to do it, best dream options seem: Go for a touch down and successfully fake the extra point attempt; but the kicker has strained his ankle, the QB is recovering heavy blow, and Bush Jr. is no Bear Bryant… Of course, you can always nuke the stadium (any of the five others where the visiting teams seem to be having problems), that is if the generals do not object to it…!

Which leaves one “possibly productive” option; use Blair –he is already at it, and not out of his own ingenuity- and Solana to buy yourself some time. Appear as if you are ready to push for a comprehensive review of policy including an area-wide peace-talks, and hope that this will keep the lid on things until a godsend miracle happens, or until wiser minds prevail. Unfortunately, neither seems a likely possibility.

Good Luck anyway…..

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November 2nd, 2006, 10:07 am

 

10. t_desco said:

Sorry for the duplicate postings. Please delete them (including this one). Thanks!

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November 2nd, 2006, 10:23 am

 

11. ausamaa said:

RIGHT TRUTH,

I think they are there to Show The Flag as the Britih Empire Ships used to do, and to “see” the Other Flags too. Np more, no less.

If anyone is serious about hitting Iran, it could be done from thousdands of miles away. You do not need to park up your carrier battle groups in the narrow Gulf and risk getting them stuck there.

Or do you think the Bahrainis and the Kuwaities are stupid enough to participate -i.e., get needlessly dragged- into such an excercise which can be done from far away?

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November 2nd, 2006, 10:24 am

 

12. Akbar Palace said:

ausamaa –

Bush’s “Lebanon Strategy” is the same as his Iran Strategy, Iraq Strategy, Afghanistan Strategy, Syria Strategy, al-Queda Strategy, Hamas Strategy, and Hezbollah Strategy:

Let the terrorists do what they know best: instigate conflict

Then move in to punish the instigator with stronger UN involvement and greater international pressure.

BTW – Which terror organization do you have more sympathy for Hamas or Hezbollah? Josh?

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November 2nd, 2006, 5:27 pm

 

13. ausamaa said:

AKBAR PALACE,

Yeh, that is the spirit man. Keep it up…your team is on the roll with those wounderfull strategies…

As to my personal preference, it is becoming a bit more confusing by the day with just about everyone getting placed on the US terrorist list… hell, even Saudi came under fire a year ago for something or the other..

Take North Korea for example. Should I still consider them an axis-of-evil-state, or are they OK today after the US happily yesterday welcomed their forthcoming return to the “table”, with the bomb of course???

Incidently, “terrorists” do not instigate “terror”. They do not instigate anything actually, because by nature they are Re-active, not Pro-active… just FYI….

After all, do not let such details bother you, your side has the winining strategy anyway…just stay the course.

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November 2nd, 2006, 9:11 pm

 

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