July 20, 2006

The Corner Follies (Con't)

Rich Lowry: "Just talked to someone very close to U.S. policy-making on the Mideast. I didn't cull much new or different from what we've been hearing and reading. The sense is that the Lebanese government is happy to see Israel pound Hezbollah, but can't say it out loud."

And, now, reality:

Lebanon’s embattled prime minister said on Wednesday Israel’s fierce military offensive would backfire, suggesting it could bolster support for the Hizbollah group rather than undermine it.

Fouad Siniora said, in an interview with the Financial Times, the bombings, which have killed 300 people in a week and caused massive destruction, were more violent than during Israel’s 1982 invasion.

“The result of this has been unprecedented in Lebanese history,” he said. “What’s happening has brought the country to its knees . . . and rebuilding Lebanon will take years.”

Pointing out that the 1982 invasion led to the formation of Hizbollah, the Shia movement that triggered the current crisis with the capture of two Israeli soldiers last week, he said: “The mentality of using force has proved it doesn’t yield results in Lebanon . . . If you carry on doing the same thing excessively you get the opposite effect.”

Mr Siniora called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the provision of humanitarian aid.

At least 58 people, all but one a civilian, died in attacks across Lebanon on Wednesday while the death toll also rose in Israel with rocket attacks on Nazareth and Haifa.

Lebanese officials say attacking the country risks rallying more people to Hizbollah and weakening the animosity towards the party that had been growing during the past week, particularly among Sunni Muslims and Christians.

Mr Siniora, who has made clear that he believes Hizbollah’s action was “not right”, said if Israel sent in ground troops, the army would no longer stand on the sidelines....

...Mr Siniora, however, made clear that Lebanon could no longer return to the status quo that preceded the Hizbollah operation. “It would be a major crime to Lebanon if we returned to the status quo,” he declared.

He was referring to the return of the occupied Shebaa farms, a strip of border land that Beirut claims sovereignty over but that the UN says belongs to Syria, not Lebanon, and the release of Lebanese detainees in Israeli jails. “It’s high time to really make clear the agendas of all concerned,” he said.

Amid rising discontent in Lebanon over the muted response of leading Arab states to the conflict, Mr Siniora said Arab support was “less than we really need and deserve.” He also expressed disappointment with the international community’s reluctance to pressure Israel to stop the offensive.

”I’m disappointed with the reaction of world public opinion – it expresses sympathy with Lebanon but people are not asking the right questions,” he said. “The abduction of soldiers is not a right cause but no one talks about the Lebanese detainees in prison (in Israel) as if they were a bunch of sheep.”

But Rich Lowry relays (rather like a gullible ignorant, I'm afraid), "that the Lebanese government is happy to see Israel pound Hezbollah, but can't say it out loud".

I report, you decide.

Posted by Gregory at July 20, 2006 04:00 AM

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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