Originally posted March 2008
Ever since the assassination of Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in February 2005, senior officials in the US have closely followed events in Lebanon. Given the number of official public statements made on Lebanon and the number of officials coming from all ranks (including high level security officials) who swarm in and out of Beirut on a regular basis, it would come as no surprise to learn that Lebanon is a priority on the agenda of this administration.
In July 2006, Israel invaded Lebanon with the approval of the Bush administration and the blessing of the Lebanese government headed by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. During this tragic war, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made numerous public statements calling on the state of Israel to persist in its war against the Lebanese resistance movement represented by Hizbullah. At the end of July 2006, Rice refused the national efforts for an immediate ceasefire, giving the excuse that “it is necessary to handle the cause of violence” and thus destroy Hizbullah in the south of Lebanon. For many Shiites, this message clearly communicated the US administration’s intent to wage a war on Shi‘ites in general. As for Lebanese government officials, it is no secret that in the wake of the second massacre at Qana, they were dining with ex-Ambassador of the US to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, and Condoleezza Rice to coordinate internally about the war tactics to be employed to exert pressure on Hizbullah.
The ongoing support of the American administration for the Lebanese government perhaps finds its best expression in the international tribunal set up to investigate the assassination of Prime Minister Hariri and punish the culprits through international decisions issued by the Security Council. The American administration did not take into consideration the political realities on the ground concerning the international tribunal, and the importance of reaching national consensus on important details that will ultimately protect Lebanese sovereignty and independence of the Lebanese judiciary. It is the policy of the American administration to turn all important national decisions over to the international arena, as is the case with the international tribunal. The US is not an impartial broker in the Lebanese case, and the Bush Administration is clearly supporting one party against the other by capitalizing on every point of contention in Lebanese politics to implement its plan for a “New Middle East”— a vision proposed by Condoleezza Rice during the July war in 2006.
In Lebanon, ex-Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman continues to receive his instructions from the American administration and seizes every opportunity to interfere in insignificant as well as important issues that concern Lebanon. At one point, he asked Parliamentarian Michel Aoun (who represents the wider majority of Lebanese Christians) to end his alliance with Hizbullah, despite the fact that this alliance was the product of a Memorandum of Understanding approved by both parties. The implementation of this MoU would lead to stability in Lebanon, and includes a solution to the weapons of Hizbullah, within the framework of a defense strategy that would protect Lebanese soil. Even at the heart of the conflict between the government and the opposition, and despite the efforts of European and Arab neighbors to break the political stalemate, ex-Ambassador David Satterfield arrived on the scene to mock the Arab initiatives offering a solution to the crisis, and made it a goal to hinder all French attempts to reach a solution.
The more alarming side of the US agenda for Lebanon involves the military and security of Lebanon. The US administration has a history of using all means to implement its strategy in the region, even when its actions stand in clear violation of international human rights law and UN security resolutions. By safeguarding the right to veto, the US ensures that the UN remains a toy that it can play with as it pleases. Within this context, the last violation committed by the US was disclosed by ex-minister Michele Samaha: following an executive decision by President Bush, the American embassy in Beirut (Awkar area) has turned, over the last few weeks, from an embassy to a unit for organizing military operations in Lebanon. Towards this effect, two prominent leaders from the executive unit for special operations in Kabul were transferred to the American embassy in Beirut. This information coincided with the arrival of the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole near the Lebanese coast in what appears to be a clear and provocative message to antagonize the Lebanese people at large, despite the public’s knowledge that this took place with the support of the Lebanese government. The “USS Filbayn C” and a guided missile destroyer “USS Ross” and a fuel warship have replaced Cole, and they will be followed by other warships in the coming days.
Another American attempt to support the Lebanese government was revealed through the sudden attention to the Lebanese security apparatus, especially the intelligence unit for national security that constitutes the government’s main intelligence unit. It is important to point out that the US is supporting the national security forces by providing them with hi-tech equipment, training, and relatively developed machinery, including a supply of arms and ammunition that is entering the country both legally and illegally. In February 2007, the US provided equipment and military clothes (security vests and electric guns amongst other supplies) through 750 containers that went through Beirut international airport, and were declared by customs as containers containing “electrical appliances.” Is this an example of how far President Bush is willing to go to support the Lebanese government through “any means” available?
In light of this scandal, it becomes legitimate to question the source of weapons that suddenly appear with political factions supporting the government, particularly in scenes of domestic strife where a simple discord escalates into a catastrophe as a result of the weapons that suddenly appear in the grips of government supporters. This is what happened during the violent student riot outside Beirut Arab University at the beginning of this year — a fiasco which began as a political argument between two people that turned violent, leading to the death of 3 people from the opposition and the injury of 133, thus launching a strike by the opposition on January, 23, 2007. Also, the illegitimate security check points that appear now and then (deemed necessary by the Lebanese government to protect national security), indeed resemble scare tactics with the intent of silencing the opposition despite a genuine intent on their part to break the deadlock and join hands with the Lebanese government within the framework of a strategy that rejects regional and international intervention in Lebanese domestic affairs.
The Bush Administration seeks to support illegitimate militias that are aligned with the government in an indirect manner that includes the transfer of colossal funds and assistance through “moderate countries” that would in turn train these militias in, for instance, Arab military compounds. Despite the fact that the American government made a donation worth $60 million to the Lebanese government, history shows that this increase in US funding and assistance aims to accentuate internal divisions or perhaps set the stage for a regional war. In all cases, the US support for the Lebanese government entails a “hidden agenda” that is beyond Lebanon and in no way represents a strategic, timely partnership imposed by circumstances. According to President Bush, the protection of Lebanon begins and ends with constraining its capabilities to fight Israel. It is important to point out that some of this money is partially assigned for training purposes, such as trainings that are taking place in military complexes in the Arab world under the supervision of American military commanders who specialize in mafia techniques, with the intent of bringing these trained military units back to Lebanon under the protection of tens of national security companies that are increasing in number, even though they may all fall under the auspices of American Black Water Company.
American foreign policy in Lebanon revolves around two main issues: the first seeks to put an end to the arms by Hizbullah — a resistance movement that has gained wide scale recognition and respect for defending Lebanon, and putting an end to Israeli occupation of Lebanese soil, namely in Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfarshouba. And the second objective is to break part of the Shi‘ite crescent in Lebanon, and ensure that its demise brings forth the American project for a “New Middle East.”
The Lebanese share one message, one dream: We only wish to live in peace; we have no passion for war, or desire to die…We simply want to live with dignity, freedom, and real sovereignty and independence.