The Lebanese Crisis and Iran’s Nuclear Programs
By Pierre A. Maroun

Witnessing the latest round of barbaric violence against Lebanon, many have been wondering as to why Israel has decided to end its normally limited reactions to Hizbullah’s aggression and to ferociously and widely escalate its response. Many analysts and spectators have been wondering what could happen next. Is the US initiative in the Middle East over? Will the US and the UN be forced to cut a deal with Syria and/or Iran to curb Hizbullah, and would such a deal bring Syria back to Lebanon? Will Israel invade Lebanon, again? When will this barrage of death and destruction end?

Screening the latest political maneuverings in the broader Middle East region (including Iran) as well as the latest fierce bombardment against Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, it seems that Israel has decided to launch its own war on terrorism. Meanwhile the Bush Administration’s policy, supported by most Arab states, is to place the whole world (the United Nations, the European Union, the Arabs states, Iran and Syria as well as the Lebanese people and government) before their responsibilities by forcing them to take a clear and cautiously calculated stance from the latest developments. Hence, it is without a doubt that some of these players are being squeezed between a rock and a hard place.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) can no longer issue fancy presidential statements and crafty resolutions with empty slogans for fear to upset the feelings of this rogue state or that dictator, or to avoid the veto of China and Russia whose actions have been frustrating due to their sympathetic sentiment towards their strategic allies in the region i.e. Iran, Syria, and their terrorist proxies-Hamas and Hizbullah. Thus, this escalation will impose a higher standard of ethics and responsibility on the shoulders of the concerned states. If they fail, they will deem the UNSC irrelevant in today’s world order. The same applies to the European Union.

The Arab leaders must clearly declare their stance. Since Israel has succeeded, so far, to portray its war on Hizbullah and Hamas as a war on terrorism, it will be nearly impossible for most leaders to side with the terrorists. The not so implicit criticism of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and Jordan falls within this framework of understanding, but it must be clearer.

Furthermore, since Hizbullah and Hamas are the long arms of Iran, through which Ahmadinejad is influencing, if not dictating, the politics of the region through terrorist attacks and through spreading the Shiite Islamic Revolution, which has began in 1979 by Ayotallah Khomeini, the Arabs can no longer sit idle for this aggression is double edged; Persians vs. Arabs and Shiites Vs. Sunnis. Historic facts indicate that such threat poses an Iranian clear and present danger to the Arab Sunnis in the ME region, which have been witnessing an overwhelming increase in Shiite population. Such demographic change is of great danger to a region which is adopting democratic political systems. On the other hand, Israel poses no direct threat to any Arab state ideologically, economically, or militarily. Therefore, it should not be a surprise if the Saudis and their allies end up in one way or another financing the bombs and ammunitions being dropped in today’s battles.

As for the US initiative in the ME, it is far from being dead. In fact, the Israeli war has provided the US Administration another path through which it can deal with Iran’s nuclear program. This added dimension gives the US the option to go on its own or through NATO away from the UN frustrating and rather ineffective declarations and maneuverings. This may occur through military action against the Hizbullah-Syrian-Iranian axis, especially if these two rogue states decided to intervene along side Hizbullah. Otherwise, Hizbullah will eventually be crushed and defeated.

Furthermore, the Israeli aggression has helped the US Administration for it showed the world, Middle Easterners in particular, the alternative to the US peaceful initiative and partnership program. Notwithstanding, when the Director of Public Diplomacy and MEPI affairs at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Mr. Walid Maalouf traveled to Egypt and Lebanon, June 11-18, where he met with religious leaders, influential civil society members, and students to discuss U.S. foreign assistance, Syria and Hizbullah accused him of being an Israeli agent and a Zionist. Today’s aggression highlights that nothing can be further from the truth than these allegations. Mr. Maalouf’s visit was supported by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who affirmed that “our Arab speaking diplomats must tell America’s story, not just in translated op-eds, but live.”[i]

It is hard to predict the end of this crisis, but it seems that Israel will keep escalating its aggression even after defeating Hizbullah in order to provoke Syria and Iran to join the fight. This will serve as a perfect justification to bombard Iran’s nuclear facilities. Unfortunately, a successful assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities is the only way to end this aggression against Lebanon and its innocent people for the road to Tehran goes through the Southern Suburb of Beirut. This is due, regrettably, to the fact that Hizbullah and his allies placed Lebanon’s fate in the hand of the Iranian radical regime.

In conclusion, it is time for the Lebanese people and government to take a solid stance against any official or organization that acts independently through channels outside the government institutions, especially the cabinet, which is the executive branch of the government. It is also time to implement UNSCR 1559 aimed at disarming militias, deploying the Lebanese Army in southern Lebanon, electing a new president, and reforming Lebanon’s political and economic systems. Furthermore, the Lebanese government must hold Hizbullah, Iran, Syria, and Israel accountable for the deaths of innocent people, as well as for the destruction of Lebanon’s infrastructures by suing these culprits in the International Court of Justice.[ii] By order form the proper authorities, the Lebanese Central Bank must seize the accounts of Hizbullah in order to pay retribution for all the deaths and damage they caused to Lebanon’s infrastructure and its people. Moreover, the Lebanese government must confiscate all properties owned by Hizbullah and its affiliate organizations. Last but not least, the Lebanese people must hold accountable the officials who are responsible for this crisis. This includes anyone who participated in supporting, planning, and or participating in Hizbullah’s latest miscalculated aggression, which brought Lebanon to its knees.

The civilized world should be outraged regarding the inhumane treatment and the suffering of the innocent Lebanese people who are being massacred and or living in constant fear and now disease and poverty. It is for this reason that we support Secretary Rice’s adamant quest to reach a comprehensive solution to the Lebanese crisis, which will result in disarming Hizbullah and in curbing Iran and Syria’s constant destructive intervention in Lebanon’s internal affairs, instead of a brief ceasefire that will maintain the troublesome status quo.

For those who harbor ill-sentiment toward a free and democratic Lebanon, we assure them that Syria will not return to Lebanon; Iran’s Nuclear Facilities will be destroyed; Hizbullah’s Jihadist movement will cease to exist; the US initiative for a free, democratic, and sovereign Lebanon will prevail for it is the wish and the will of the Lebanese people.

Pierre A. Maroun
Senior Policy Advisor
American Lebanese Coalition

July 26, 2006

i] Mr. Maalouf’s speeches and negotiations were conducted in Arabic.


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