Clinton Warns Lebanon against Hizbullah Control
A Hizbullah-controlled government in Lebanon would “clearly have a serious impact” on Lebanon’s relations with the United States, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Tuesday.
In Beirut the American embassy warned its citizens, "Major and minor roads [in Lebanon] may become blocked with no advance notice. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that even peaceful gatherings can turn violent and spread with little or no warning.”
Responding to the Lebanese parliament’s vote for Hizbullah-backed candidate Najib Mikati as prime minister instead of Sa'ad Hariri, favored by the United States, Secretary Clinton said, "Our bottom lines remain as they always have been. First, we believe that justice must be pursued and impunity for murder ended. We believe in Lebanon's sovereignty and an end to outside interference.”
Hizbullah has been warning of serious consequences if a United Nations tribunal indicts its leaders for involvement in the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A Hizbullah-controlled government likely would reject the United Nations findings, which have been sent to a Belgian judge, who will decide if there is enough evidence to proceed with the case.
The United States also would probably cut military aid to Lebanon if Hizbullah is control, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
Despite Clinton’s tough talk against Hizbullah, which is financed by Iran and a close ally with Tehran and Damascus, its political coup reflects diminishing American influence in the Middle East, former U.S. regional envoy Elliott Abrams told the Washington Post Tuesday.
“The last straw may have been the decision to send an ambassador to Syria by recess appointment despite the Senate's unwillingness to confirm the Administration's candidate,” according to Abrams. “That foolish gesture must have indicated to the Syrians and to Hizbullah that the Administration had learned nothing from two years of insults and rebuffs by Damascus.