Saturday, 22 May 2010

Winep: " Hizballah's partner meets President Obama"

Via Friday-Lunch-Club

WINEP's Schenker at his best ... here
".... Given the current power dynamics in Beirut, a less overtly pro-Western line from Lebanon's ruling party is to be expected. But some of the government's recent rhetoric seems gratuitous. For example, in April 21 remarks to the Italian daily La Stampa, Prime Minister Hariri derided Israel's claims that Syria transferred Scud missiles to Hizballah, comparing the accusations to faulty U.S. prewar intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

More problematic for Washington, however, are the increasing signs of Syrian influence in Lebanon that may eventually affect the direction of Beirut's policies. Just as Syrian officials routinely visit Tehran prior to meetings with U.S. officials, for example, Hariri stopped off in Damascus for consultations with Asad en route to Washington. Similarly, Syria recently assigned Deputy Vice President for Security Affairs Muhammad Nasif as a liaison to Walid Jumblatt -- a particularly audacious appointment given that the U.S. Treasury Department designated Nasif in November 2007 for "furthering the Syrian regime's efforts to undermine Lebanese democracy."
In another notable development, Hizballah has begun targeting Washington's agreement with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, particularly the standard end-use clause that prohibits the transfer of U.S. equipment to terrorist organizations. During an April interview on al-Manar, Nasrallah called the agreement "insulting" and criticized it for applying a U.S.-defined terrorist label to Hizballah. This controversy may constitute Hizballah's initial salvo against Washington's burgeoning defense cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
The change in fortune for America's pro-Western allies in Beirut raises questions about the future of U.S.-Lebanese ties.....
Yet maintaining financial support at current levels will prove increasingly difficult if the Lebanese government no longer appears committed to UN Security Council resolutions (e.g., 1701 and 1559) that call for disarming militias such as Hizballah and ending foreign (i.e., Syrian) meddling in Lebanon. Although no one is under the illusion that the government is capable of taking positive steps on these fronts, Beirut should at least be expected to avoid making statements that undermine these important resolutions. In this regard, statements by Murr and President Michel Suleiman in support of Hizballah's armed status are particularly problematic.
Lebanon remains important to U.S. interests. In addition to being a key battleground between pro-Western moderates and advocates of the Syrian/Iranian resistance model, Lebanon is current chairman of the UN Security Council and may therefore play a central role in the process of sanctioning Iran for its nuclear endeavors.
Given the constraints on Hariri, the Obama administration is likely to ask little of him on Monday. But a discussion of Lebanon's stance on Iran sanctions -- with an eye toward convincing Beirut to, at minimum, abstain during the UN vote -- would be beneficial. Notwithstanding comments this week by President Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan suggesting Washington's affinity for "moderate elements" within Hizballah, the administration should also encourage Hariri to downplay his coalition's recent enthusiasm for the resistance. Although such rhetoric may be intended to insulate the prime minister from Hizballah attacks at home, it shakes confidence in Washington and undermines UN resolutions that are critical to Lebanon's future as an independent, democratic state."

Posted by G, Z, or B at 3:05 PM
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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