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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lebanon return to Peace, Army takes control

US Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice says Washington would provide support to Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora battling Hezbollah fighters. UE (though in a more sober tone) and Britain were also quick to jump onto the Pro-Siniora bandwagon.The US says it is working with the UN Security Council to take action against Hezbollah, citing the recent spate of armed clashes. The US speeches also include a tirade against Iran and Syria, whom the US had accused of co-sponsoring Hezbollah. A source close to Berri quoted him, "Arab Moderate front likely takes measure to internationalize the Lebanon crisis, assuming that Lebanese people and the International community would support such a move." So far the Pro-US group may be able to make an issue out of it only, with the intention of unleashing the International Forces or Regimes or Governments against Hezbollah.

The Islamic Action Front (IAF) said the escalating tension was part of a "US agenda that seeks to stir internal
sedition and obstruct all prospects of national reconciliation in Lebanon". It accused some Lebanese powers of "playing into the hands of the US administration which aims at implementing a hostile scheme in the region". The stance of Lebanese March 14 leaders including Samir Geagea, Faud Siniora,Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt has led the volatile country into a stalemate. The former head of Israel's intelligence Aaron Zeevi Farkash said "Israel has given Lebanese Forces (of Samir Geagea) men the best training and they will appear in any future confrontation. Lebanese Forces fighters will hold on much longer in Hezbollah's faces, but eventually they will be defeated." The Israeli officer was very upset with this short "war" for "three years of intelligence efforts by international and Arab sides have gone overnight. Most intelligence agents have left Beirut and the Lebanese are no longer able to move under the cover of their daily mission, each according to his rank in some security services. The west has lost a lot after Nasrallah surprised their allies. All the Americans can do is send some guards to the dwellings of Saniora, Jumblatt and Hariri."

Hariri said the bloc could lift the ban on Hezbollah's communications network a
nd reinstall the sacked security chief of Beirut Airport, suggesting that Army Commander Michel Suleiman could be given the authority to suspend the implementation of the decisions. Geagea said Suleiman remains a presidential candidate even after he quits his post in the army. Michel suleiman has been a popular candidate among the locals but interplay of foreign powers have been so great that he has been denied the post, probably due to his less Pro-western posture.

Berri ruled out the proposal saying, “Whoever made the decision is responsible for retracting them, and it is only on the government to take back its decisions.” Despite launching a verbal assault on Hezbollah and the army, there was a plea from the Lebanese "Premier" Fuad Siniora for the army to restore law and order across the country and remove gunmen from the streets. The decisions were made after the pro-US government asked army commander Michel Suleiman to decide over the controversial issues. The Lebanese army position over the two controversial decisions by Fouad Saniora's unconstitutional government was clear when, thearmy command said in a statement that it was revoking the ruling pertaining to the Airport's security and the communications network of Hezbollah, and called for the withdrawal of armed militants from the streets. It said the head of the airport security, Wafik Shqier, would remain in his post The process was allowed to go through with the support of Hezbollah. Lebanon opposition supporters have handed over Western Beirut to the Lebanese army, after it reversed government's controversial decisions.

The intensity of armed clashes eased down in Beirut as Lebanese army units were deployed in the capital. In other areas, the situation is still tense with more than 15 people killed. Meanwhile, Freedom Movement and Progressive Socialist Party militiamen are handing over their offices to the Lebanese army in Mount Lebanon, Bekaa, Western Bekaa, Chouf and south Lebanon. On the political and security levels, the Future Movement, abandoned by its allies, is collapsing at fast pace. On the ground, the opposition cleared the way for the Lebanese army to control the capital, which came back to life after two days of fighting. The road leading to the airport is still closed and the Beirut port has stopped operating until further notice.

Arab Foreign Ministers are scheduled to hold an extraordinary meeting on Sunday over Lebanon. Berri asked Mussa about the feasibility of the meeting.
Mussa replied: "Internationalization of the Lebanon file". Berri's response was that Lebanon has been internationalized since 30 years. Qatari PM Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani underlined that the Arab ministerial meeting will not achieve much if an agreement among the Lebanese was not reached. Still, most of the ruling bloc are still reluctant to respond to Berri's call for dialogue. However Walid Jumblatt agreed to a dialogue, during a phone conversation, Berri asked Druze leader Walid Jumblatt to explain the killing of two loyalists of Lebanon's Democratic Party. Responding to the question, Jumblatt emphasized that the two were killed by Future Movement headed by Saad Harriri, Press TV's Beirut bureau reported, citing al-Safir daily.

Pending Sunday's Arab meeting in Cairo, the United States said it wants to consult "Lebanon's neighbors" and the UN Security Council on "measures" in the framework of holding "those responsible for the latest violence accountable." Washington, which recently deployed destroyers in the Mediterranean, settled for backing Saniora and his ruling bloc politically and diplomatically ruling out any military backing for the time being. The US vaguely acknowledges steps to calm the conflict in Lebanon but claims that any resolution requires redefining Hezbollah. Asked whether that amounted to caving in to pressure from Hezbollah, Johndroe said it was premature to judge any deals to end the violence but stressed that "there's short-term solutions and there's longer-term solutions. And ultimately the longer-term solution is that Hezbollah has a choice to make: be a political party or be a terrorist organization, but quit trying to be both," he told reporters.

"The situation in Lebanon will deteriorate and this condition will continue until
Hezbollah is defeated and the war that the group is spearheading ends," Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said in an interview with al-Arabia TV network on Saturday.Geagea went on to say that March 14 would try to adopt anti-Hezbollah policies "as their only weapon against Hezbollah's well-trained forces".The Lebanese pro-government politician then praised Prime Minister Faud Siniora for his remarks against Hezbollah and said "Despite pressure, the Premier will not be deposed." "We wished that the Army would have acted differently during the past couple of days," he concluded.

In the meantime, some Arab governments called on Saniora to resign as a prelude to solving the crisis. A Yeme
ni proposal also suggested holding dialogue under the care of Lebanese Army Commander General Michel Suleiman. However Saudi Arabia made extensive pressure to withdraw this proposal from circulation. The IAF (The Islamic Action Front) expressed support for the Hezbollah-led opposition, cautioned against any international intervention in the Lebanese crisis and urged the Jordanian government to pursue an "even handed" policy in dealing with the developments in Lebanon.

The relative calm on the ground cleared the way for political action in Lebanon, the region and abroad. What's next?

Tracy Chapman - Talkin about a revolution

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