Clinton Warns Lebanon: No Brakes on Israel against Hizbullah
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly warned Lebanon’s speaker of the parliament, pro-Syrian Nabih Berri, that the United States will not stand in Israel’s way in the wake of Hizbullah’s stockpiling of advanced weapons.
The Lebanese website Naharnet said that Clinton’s letter stated, "Washington cannot make an effort to prevent Israel from making any aggression if Hizbullah does not stop replenishing its arsenal.” It said the letter was delivered by U.S. Ambassador Michele Sison.
Government sources told the Arabic-language daily Al Hayat that Berri asked the American envoy to tell Clinton while Lebanon "has no problem in finding a solution to the issue of arms,” the United States “should stop supplying weapons to Israel."
Clinton began a tour of Latin American Sunday and did not comment on the reports. Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned American officials in Washington last week that Hizbullah is capable of attacking targets in Israel, and that Israel will hold Lebanon responsible for any aggression.
IDF intelligence officers warned the previous Olmert government, which agreed to a ceasefire with Hizbullah to end the 34-day Second Lebanon War, that Hizbullah immediately began re-arming. The United Nations Security Council ceasefire resolution provided for disarming Hizbullah, but commanders of U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said at the outset that they would not and could not enforce the mandate.
The inclusion of Hizbullah in the Lebanese government has returned Beirut to the Syrian axis, which now includes Iran along with closer relations with Turkey. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently met with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Despite Syria’s closer ties with Iran and increasing dominance in Lebanon, Clinton has resumed formal diplomatic relations with Damascus. A Qatari newspaper reported Monday that Clinton will visit Syria soon, but American officials have not commented on the report.
The United States has designated Syria as a country that supports terror and has placed it on the advisory list of countries that Americans should not visit.