Reprinted from NewsMax.com
Lebanon May Break Without U.S.
Friday, October 5, 2007 9:23 AM
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
Lebanon’s upcoming presidential elections were the subject of a
sobering meeting at the White House on Thursday, where the son of slain
Lebanon Prime minister Rafic Hariri told President Bush and his top
advisors that his country was facing a potential crack-up unless the
United States threw its weight behind the pro-democracy movement.
Saad Hariri, who stepped into his father’s shoes after a deadly
car-bomb blew up his armor plated Mercedes in Beirut in February 2005,
has become a key leader of the grass roots Cedars Revolution that
forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon after a 29-year
But two years later the Syrians are back, working through local
Lebanese proxies in tandem with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Their goal is to derail the October 23rd election as a first step
to imposing their own candidate for the presidency, U.S. and Lebanese
“The result could be two governments,” warned Eblan Farris, a
spokesman for the Cedars Revolution in Washington, DC.
The Bush administration is taking the threat of Syrian and
Iranian intervention in the Lebanese election “very, very seriously,” a
senior administration official told Newsmax after the meeting with
“If this whole thing comes crashing down, it would be a real blow
to this administration, especially since we’ve had a couple of years to
do things right.”
There was a real possibility, the official added, that failure to
elect a president – which he called “a train wreck” – could plunge
Lebanon again into civil war.
Hariri and other leaders of the Cedars Revolution are sounding
out the Bush administration to see how far they will go to prevent that
train wreck from happening, sources close to the Lebanese leader told
If the U.S. is willing to provide political, diplomatic, and
possibly military help, then Lebanon’s leaders are willing to stand up
to the Syrians and the Iranians, the sources said.
But if the U.S. pays just lip service to the Lebanese, then
Hariri and his colleagues would be likely to see some sort of
compromise to keep their country from coming apart at the seams.
Hariri also met on Thursday with Secretary of State Condoleeza
Rice, who assured him that the United States would continue to work
with him and other elected leaders to guarantee Lebanon’s sovereignty.
“We are committed to continuing those efforts with Lebanon’s
friends – and they are many,” a State Department official told Newsmax.
Thursday’s high-level meetings with Hariri were “an obvious
demonstration of strong U.S. support for the government of Lebanon
against those who would work against Lebanese sovereignty –
specifically, Iran and Syria,” the U.S. diplomat added.
Walid Jumblatt, a prominent Druse leader whose father was
assassinated by the Syrians nearly thirty years ago, will meet with
President Bush and Secretary of State Rice next week, officials said.
Jumblatt, Hariri, and Christian leader Samir Gagea, held
consultations by phone with Saudi foreign minister Saud bin Faisal on
Wednesday, to explore a possible compromise that would be acceptable to
the pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian parties, Lebanese sources told Newsmax.
“They are afraid that the country will break up,” a source close
to the two leaders said.
Under Lebanon’s sectarian constitution, the president must be a
Maronite Christian, the parliament speaker a Shiite Muslim, and the
prime minister a Sunni.
Parliament is scheduled to convene on October 23rd to elect a
president, but many Members fear assassination and have said they will
Prime Minister Fuad Seniora, a moderate Sunni Muslim who has
received political support from the United States, hasn’t left his
office for the past year for fear of assassination.
Several members of parliament have holed up with him in makeshift
quarters in the prime minister’s palace in downtown Beirut out of
Last month, another anti-Syrian member of parliament, Antoine
Ghanem, was murdered in a car bomb when he returned to Beirut after an
Lebanon’s traditional sectarian and political alliances shifted
dramatically following the Hariri assassination in February 2005, where
more than one million Lebanese – nearly one-third of the population –
took to the streets to demand the withdrawal of Syrian troops from
This grass-roots movement became known as the Cedars Revolution,
after Lebanon’s national symbol.
In response to the Lebanese popular movement, the United Nations
Security Council passed resolution 1559, which called for Syria to
withdraw its occupation troops and established an international
commission of inquiry to investigate the murder.
The Commission has zeroed in on senior Syrian intelligence
officials, but is also believed to be investigating pro-Syrian Lebanese
security officials for complicity in the assassination plot.
Toward the end of last summer’s war between Hezbollah and Israel,
which Newsmax covered on the ground from northern Israel, the Security
Council also passed resolution1701, which called for the disarmament of
Hezbollah, established a UN-patrolled buffer zone in south Lebanon, and
demanded that Syria seal its borders to prevent arms deliveries from
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad told the BBC earlier this week
that it would be “impossible” for him to seal the border with Lebanon.
Hezbollah and their allies are seeking to impose a president who
will ignore both resolutions and the International commission of
inquiry, essentially undoing the gains of the Cedars Revolution.
Iran continues to maintain an estimated 2,500 Revolutionary
Guards in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley and to train and equip Hezbollah.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasarallah has boasted that his group now
had 30,000 rockets similar to those fired against Israel last summer.
Further complicating Lebanon’s domestic political situation is
the position of Christian leader Michel Aoun.
Gen. Aoun, who fought the Syrians while serving as Interim Prime
Minister in 1989, was sent into exile in France for ten years in an
agreement brokered by the administration of George H.W. Bush.
But since returning to Lebanon, he has dropped his earlier
hostility to Syria and has formed a political alliance with Hezbollah.
Gen. Aoun is widely seen as Hezbollah’s choice for the
presidency. His position has split the normally united Christian
community, which accounts for approximately 35% of Lebanon’s population.
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