Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat- A high-level US diplomat has warned that the emergence of a government formed by the 8 March Forces, and led by Hezbollah will create many obstacles for the cooperation with the United States. The diplomat points out that the US Congress will refuse “to give military and other aid to individuals who receive instructions from Hezbollah.”
As the diplomat denies that his country is behind the hindrance of the Saudi-Syrian pursuits, he stresses that his country has supported the Saudi efforts aimed at preserving the Lebanese stability. However, on the other hand, the diplomat “rejects any solution that is imposed on the Lebanese, as the solution ought to come first from Lebanon.”
The US diplomat says that his country is watching with interest what currently is taking place; he says: “We are waiting to see what will happen.” However, he considers what now is taking place to be “a power game.” It seems as if what is taking place is an operation of frightening the others, or perhaps more than that, i.e. blackmail to obtain results that the opposition cannot achieve by other means.
The US diplomat expresses his hopes that “the democratic process will prevail, and a peaceful solution will be achieved.” He stresses: “The option of violence is not acceptable; it is an option that worries us. It is an option that one side always threatens to use.” The diplomat says: “The question that has been asked since September 2010 is whether or not Hezbollah will resort to violence.” It is clear blackmail to say: we will pursue the constitutional and legal means, but if we do not get what we want we will resort to the street. “The use of force is the option of one group, and we hope that this group will realize that this option is not beneficial, and hence will not resort to it.”
The source strongly denies that the United States interferes in the process of selecting the prime minister, and uses pressure, fear, and enticement to compel the Deputies to choose Al-Hariri as prime minister. The diplomat says: “We have extensive relations with nearly all sides in Lebanon, and we are conducting regular contacts with them. This is not at all interference. We talk to people because we want to keep well informed.” The source also denies that warships and aircraft carriers have been sent to Lebanon, but he points out that there is an extensive US naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea, and that US ships cross the Suez Canal, but they do not go toward Lebanon.
The source admits that the United States is interested in the issue of the formation of the new Lebanese Government on the basis that the 8 March Forces group includes Hezbollah, and as the performance of this group shows that Hezbollah is the driving force of the group. Hence, this undoubtedly worries us, and if this group assumes power, this will put major difficulties in the way of our joint programs with the Lebanese Government. This will lead to a hard-line stance by the US Congress toward any proposed aid or programs; the US Congress will oppose strongly giving military or any other aid to individuals who receive their instructions from Hezbollah.
The source denies that the United States hinders the Saudi-Syrian pursuits. He points out that his country has watched with interest the pursuits in which many of the countries in the region have been engaged in order to help the Lebanese to preserve stability. We have supported the Saudi pursuits which stem from the same goals for which we aspire with regard to preserving the stability of Lebanon.
However, the source stresses that any solution ought to come from the Lebanese themselves first, and that it is inadmissible to impose any kind of agreement on the Lebanese from outside.
The source refuses to reveal the way that will be adopted in dealing with a government formed by the 8 March Forces under Omar Karami, and he prefers “to wait and see what this selection might mean.” The diplomat says: “Even if the government is formed with Karami as prime minister, we will wait to see who the ministers will be, who will occupy the fundamental seats, and who will take the decision in the government.” If Hezbollah is going to be the one to take the decisions, we will face a huge problem.
The source says that the United States has a positive opinion of the way Prime Minister Al-Hariri leads, and a similar positive opinion of the work of President Suleiman. Prime Minister Al-Hariri is a person with whom it is possible to deal in expanding the horizon of joint cooperation. We have worked with him in preparing a distinguished aid system for the Lebanese Army and the security forces, in addition to a large and costly development program. If Al-Hariri leaves power, this will not be very good for us, because we will lose a fundamental partner. We will not deal with this issue as a fait accompli before we see what will happen next Tuesday (the date of ending the parliamentary consultations).
The source calls for “a long-term vision” to identify how the United States can help Lebanon. He stresses that the US constants toward Lebanon are “preserving its stability, sovereignty, and prosperity.” The source says: “What we are trying to do is to help the national institutions to achieve these goals. This cannot be done if we are dealing with Hezbollah.”
The source wonders about the credibility of any new government that will ask for the abolishing of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon [STL]. He stresses that the problem of this government will not be with the United States, but it will be with the United Nations and through it with the international community. The diplomat says: “Any government, whose first act will be to rescind the agreement with the United Nations over the STL, and to stop the financing of the STL, will not give a good impression.”
With regard to Hezbollah’s belief that the STL is a US tool through which the United States is trying to target the resistance, the source says that Hezbollah has opted to consider the STL as a US tool, and convinced itself that some of its members will be accused of the crime, and hence created for itself pretexts to consider the STL as politicized. I believe that this proves that Hezbollah does not understand very well the US system, and how it works. This claim does not have any credibility outside Lebanon, because anyone who knows the United States knows the disagreements and reservations the US Administration has over some of the actions of the United Nations.
The source calls on Gen Michel Awn to understand that every political group ought to be careful in dealing with a terrorist group or organization, and Hezbollah according to US law is a terrorist organization.