Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Seizures Of Lebanon

Although it has been almost completely ignored by the media, Dick Cheney has been touring the Mid-East lately, and I don't think it's for the excellent chummus.

Just as Israel's prime minister Olmert sends diplomatic signals to Turkey that it wants their top diplomat to seek a settlement with Syria, Mr. Shadow President shows up in Tel Aviv. Then rumors start flying about Israeli super-spies in Tehran who have "the real goods" on Iranian weapons programs, Cheney pronounces our last NIE on it (saying there is no immediate threat) completely off-base, and Olmert is suddenly on the political brink again, this time over corruption charges. All coincidences.

Then, Lebanon's minority government put pressure on Hezbollah, the unseated majority party in that country, in effect attempting to disarm them. This is like Pee Wee Herman challenging George Forman to a boxing match. Hezbollah's leader in Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah, held a press conference to say, "The decisions (of the government) are tantamount to a declaration of war and the start of a war...on behalf of the United States and Israel. We have the right to confront he who starts a war with us by defending our rights and our weapons."

Hours later, Hezbollah militiamen took over the streets of Beirut, sacking and burning whatever they wanted--TV stations, government offices. Lebanon's titular leaders huddled in their apartment compounds behind army and police contingents, probably emptying their safes before issuing calls to their troops to retreat, and calls to Al Qaeda to send in Sunni fighters. The last part is funny, because the US is lavishly financing Saad Hariri's Beirut-based Future Movement, it is Sunni, is known to have passed money and fighters into Iraq and Afghanistan, and is for all intents and purposes part of Al-Qaeda.

The net outcome of yesterday's donnybrook is that Hezbollah, the lever of Tehran, will probably win a much larger place in Lebanon's government. Somehow, one doubts that was the intended effect, but these are the circumstances we've been reduced to. And this is apparently the best Dick Cheney can do.

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