The Problem of US Diplomacy in Lebanon, Con’t

UPDATE: I guess Speaker Nabih Berri – leader of the Shi’a Amal movement – agrees that the resistance (see: Hezbollah) is important: “We must seek to obtain weapons for both the army and the Resistance to stress that the nation’s borders, safeguards the homeland.”

[tweetmeme]  I just wrote a post arguing that Joyce Karam – in her piece for the Middle East Channelput too much emphasis on the ability of American diplomacy in Lebanon to quell the Hezbollah storm.  It is true that the Shi’a political party/militia is in the middle of thickening tensions that could result in a regional war with Israel.  A stronger American diplomatic presence in Lebanon is only part of the solution.

Now, I am reading that the Lebanese President Michel Suleiman has said that the Lebanese cannot ask Hezbollah to disarm in light of the Israeli threat to the south.  He added that the government cannot ask the group to disarm without a comprehensive national defense strategy (which would not disarm Hezbollah, but rather integrate it into the LAF):

Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war in the summer of 2006 during which the powerful guerrilla group fired thousands of mostly short-range rockets against the Jewish state. “To demand now, in this regional atmosphere full of dangers and the drumbeats of war that Israel is banging everyday, and before we reach an agreement on a national defence strategy to protect Lebanon, we cannot and must not tell the resistance … ‘Give us your weapons and put it under the state’s command’,” Suleiman was quoted as saying in ad-Diyar newspaper on Saturday.

Of course, it can be argued that a stronger US hand in Lebanon would have prevented the President from making such remarks, but it would not have eased the general sentiment that was behind the President’s words.  The Lebanese are worried that the summer of 2010 could be a rerun of 2006 (when Israel and Hezbollah fought a 34 day war) and there seems to be a general consensus that Hezbollah is the only body that can truly protect Lebanon.

A stronger diplomatic push by the US would certainly help pull the Lebanese government away from its recent slide towards Syria and Iran, but it would do little to quell the fears in Beirut.

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