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Hezbollah's instigation; US government's complicity...

Hezbollah's Rise to Cabinet Minister Status Following the Syrian Departure from Lebanon, as Whitewashed by the US State Department

News Reports with Comments by Jared Israel

Translations by Samantha Criscione

[26 July 2006; new material added 4 August 2006]

Note: I have highlighted especially significant texts in yellow, if they are in English, or green, if they are in French. English translations are highlighted in yellow.
--JI

================================================

Table of Contents

================================================

I. What does Hezbollah stand for?

    Agence France Presse, UPI, BBC Monitoring

Ia. Agence France Presse and UPI, 4 October 2000
Hezbollah's Sheikh Nasrallah calls on Palestinian Arabs to institute a reign of terror against Jews and thereby destroy Israel: "No Jew considers it worth dying for the land of Palestine." He promises Hezbollah will give the Palestinian Arabs unspecified help.

* Comment, "Agence France Presse's Omission"

* Comment, "The Myth of Hezbollah's military prowess"

* Comment, "A Divergence of Perspectives"

* Comment, "Agence France Presse Adopts Hezbollah's View"

Ib. Sheikh Nasrallah on Hezbollah's TV Station, Al Manar, 24 March 2002
Hezbollah has always rejected the very existence of Israel.

* Comment, "Hezbollah's Antisemitic Proselytism"

II.  Excerpts from two US State Department briefings, July 2005

(The excerpts are internally unabridged) Spokesperson Adam Ereli congratulates Lebanese leaders for agreeing on a proposed list of cabinet ministers and then dances around the issue of Hezbollah's involvement. Ereli's performance is worth reading in full.

IIa. 19 July 2005

* Comment, "Reporter Understates"

* Comment, "Ereli Evades"

IIb. 20 July 2005

* Comment, "Maintaining Appearances"

* Comment, "Actualizing the Inner Terrorist"

III. Agence France Presse (AFP), 19 July 2005

AFP reports that
not only is the Minister of Water and Energy a member of Hezbollah, but the proposed Minister of Labor is "close to" Hezbollah. AFP notes that, while saying it is prevented by law from working with active members of Hezbollah, the US State Department has congratulated Lebanon for producing a list of Ministers that (AFP implies, but does not state in this part of the dispatch) effectively gives that organization control of two ministries. (Actually control of three, counting the Foreign Minister, as noted elsewhere in the AFP dispatch, and in an Associated Press dispatch, also posted on this page.)

IV. Associated Press (AP), 19 July 2005

Prime Minister Saniora expresses pride that Hezbollah is in cabinet. Hezbollah chooses Foreign Minister

* Comment, "Hiding Adam's Sin"

V. Turkish Daily News, 21 July 2005

Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora expresses satisfaction that Hezbollah is in his cabinet.

* Comment, "On the Bush Administration's False Intimation that Syria Controls Hezbollah"

* Comment, "On the Myth that Hezbollah Forced Israel Out"

==========================================

Ia. Agency France Presse and UPI, 4 October 2000

Hezbollah Calls on Palestinian Arabs to  Follow its Example and Use Terror Against Civilians to Drive Jews Out of the Mideast and Destroy Israel

Source: "Hezbollah calls for Palestinian armed resistance against Israel," Agence France Presse -- English, October 4, 2000, Wednesday, International news, 858 words, BEIRUT, Oct 4

(As archived on Lexis-Nexis)

Comments: AFP's headline, "Hezbollah calls for Palestinian armed resistance against Israel," is perhaps the most shocking thing about this shocking dispatch.  To see why, read the excerpt from their dispatch and my comments - JI

==========================================

[Note: the following is an unabridged excerpt from a dispatch posted in full at http://tenc.net/4oct00.htm  -JI]

Lebanon's Shiite fundamentalist group Hezbollah called on the Palestinians Wednesday to turn their stone-throwing uprising into an armed resistance by killing Israelis with suicide bombings, bullets and knives.

"You have to develop the Intifada into an armed resistance," Hezbollah secretary general Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said at a late rally aired live across the Arab world via satellite from the group's al-Manar television station.

"You have to move from the stone-throwing Intifada to the phase of real Jihad (holy war) operations," the bearded sheikh told thousands at a Hezbollah "rally in solidarity with the Palestinian people" in Beirut's southern suburbs.

Nasrallah, offering the Palestinians "detailed proposals ... for a developed strategy," told them to "save the bullets you are firing into the air or at the walls ... save them for the chests of the Zionists, soldiers and settlers."

[Comment, "Agence France Presse's Omission," starts here - JI]

The ellipses (...) are AFP's. What have they omitted regarding Nasrallah's "detailed proposals"? I have not been able to find an English transcript of this speech, but according to UPI:

"Nasrallah promised the 'great and struggling' Palestinian people assistance from Hezbollah, refusing to disclose how. 'We will be with you and we will not abandon you. We will at your side and you can bet on this and that is enough,' he said. 'We should have big faith and trust in God.'"
-- UPI, 4 October 2000
Posted in full on Lexis-Nexis and at
http://tenc.net/4oct00.htm  

[Comment, "Agence France Presse's Omission," ends here - JI]

"Let a (Palestinian) reach a settler, let him stab him fiercely and let him die afterwards. They (Israelis) love worldly matters, we love martyrdom. Hit them in their weak points," he shouted as thousands chanted: "Allahu Akbar," or God is greatest.

"The rule is: you kill and then you die. You will see that the results will be different," he said in a fiery speech that immediately drew many live phone calls from Gaza and Jordan to express "gratitude" to Nasrallah's stand and vows to "follow his heroic path."

Nasrallah said the "weak point of the Zionist is (that he) is not willing to sacrifice himself. No Jew considers it worth dying for the land of Palestine."

"This is the equation that led to victory in Lebanon and the only one that protects Lebanon," said Nasrallah, whose group spearheaded a guerrilla war that led to Israel ending its 22-year occupation of south Lebanon in May.

[Comment, "The Myth of Hezbollah's military prowess," starts here - JI]

As noted below, in my comment on the Turkish Daily News dispatch, "On the Myth that Hezbollah Forced Israel Out," it was not Hezbollah's military prowess but the Israeli political strategy (which I summarize as "concede, punish, retreat") that led to Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon.  We are now witnessing unrelenting Western pressure to get Israel to retreat. If Israel does, this will be presented by the media in years to come as resulting from Hezbollah's fierce rocket barrage.

[Comment ends here - JI]

"There are empty settlements (in northern Israel) because at the borders there is a yellow (Hezbollah) flag. There are no arms at the borders, just a yellow flag," he said.

[Comment, "A Divergence of Perspectives," starts here - JI]

Nasrallah's dual claim, that a) Israel is monstrous and b) Jews are cowards, is central to Islamist incitement.  Because it is, the Israeli government strategy, adopted after years of pressure from Western governments, the Soviets, the Vatican, etc., which puts a central emphasis on the wooing of Middle Eastern Muslims through concessions (land, unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon, disengagement), is counter productive. 

That strategy has been endorsed by many Israelis for ideological reasons: they view Arabs as part of a romanticized Third World Oppressed. Ironically, they are unaware that many Arabs have, nevertheless, their own view, according to which Arabs are history's insulted elite whereas Jews are subhuman dhimmi people, whose free existence in the Mideast is in itself an affront to Islam and Arab status. 

The Israeli strategy of concession, intended to charm Arabs into a partnership for peace, followed by punishment when concessions are answered by more rather than less violence against Jews, followed by a retreat from punishment and further concessions - this strategy is interpreted to the 'Arab street' as an attempt by an evil force to buy safety, followed by its persecution and humiliation of Arabs and Islam, followed by evidence of its cowardice. The more this concede-punish-retreat strategy is employed, the stronger grow the forces of Arab/Muslim extremism.

[Comment, "A Divergence of Perspectives," ends here - JI]  

Nasrallah said the armed resistance of the Palestinians will "stop the immigration (of Jews) to Israel and will start emigration."

"The Falasha Jew will say: I prefer hunger in Ethiopia to knives in Palestine, and the Russian Jew will say: I prefer to earn 50 dollars a month and then he will pack his belongings and leave."

[Comment, "Agence France Presse Adopts Hezbollah's View," starts here - JI]

Perhaps the most shocking thing about this dispatch is that Agence France Presse headlined it "Hezbollah calls for Palestinian armed resistance against Israel."

The term 'resistance' denotes defense against attack. The Palestinian Arab 'intifada' was an unprovoked outburst of massive violence following six years of negotiations during which a) Israel turned over to its once-defeated enemy, the PLO, most of the trappings of state power in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and b) Israel accepted as its working goal the creation of a Palestinian State under the leadership of the PLO, to be Israel's peaceful neighbor. 

Nasrallah rejected any possibility of Muslim coexistence with a Jewish state, as this Agence France Presse dispatch makes clear, and as Nasrallah stated in a March 2002 speech, part of which is posted below.  What Nasrallah means by 'resistance' is that Arabs should 'resist' the very presence of Jews in Israel: "The Falasha Jew [i.e., the black Jews of Ethiopia] will say: I prefer hunger in Ethiopia to knives in Palestine..." 

By adopting Hezbollah's term 'resistance' to describe the systematic use of suicide terror in a holy war to undermine the Jewish state, Agence France Presse frames the news from Hezbollah's point of view.

[Comment, "Agence France Presse Adopts Hezbollah's View," ends here - JI]

Nasrallah renewed a call on "Islamic leaders to issue a loud Fatwa (religious decree) making the Jihad a duty of every Muslim, and you will see that Israel would not last for days after that."

[End of 4 October 2000 Agence France Presse Dispatch]

==========================================

Ib. Sheikh Nasrallah on Hezbollah's TV Station, Al Manar, 24 March 2002

Hezbollah has always rejected the very existence of Israel

Source: "Hezbollah's Nasrallah urges Arab summit to arm Palestinians, support intifada," Copyright 2002 British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC Monitoring Middle East - Political [word missing? - JI] Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring, March 24, 2002, Sunday, 3920 words, Manar Television, Beirut, in Arabic 0940 gmt 24 Mar 02

-- Archived in full on Lexis-Nexis and at http://emperors-clothes.com/nasr.htm 

==========================================

[Comment, "Hezbollah's Antisemitic Proselytism," starts here - JI]

Below is an excerpt from a speech by Sheikh Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, as broadcast on Hezbollah's TV station, Al Manar, 24 March 2002. (Posted in full at
http://emperors-clothes.com/nasr.htm )

As the excerpt posted below makes clear, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah rejected Israel's very existence in 2002, two years after Israel unilaterally withdrew from southern Lebanon and four years before the current fighting.

Hezbollah openly proselytizes the most extreme antisemitism , as witness the programs broadcast worldwide by its TV station, Al Manar, for example its dramatization of the 'blood libel,' the lie, used to justify lynch-mob attacks, that Jews use Christian blood to make matzo. See
http://emperors-clothes.com/06war/hezanti.htm

[Comment, "Hezbollah's Antisemitic Proselytism," ends here - JI]

[Excerpt from 24 March 2002 speech by Sheikh Nasrallah
starts here]

Our slogan, which Imam Khomeyni taught us in this age, will remain elevated and strong; namely, death to America. (Audience repeats the slogan several times)

This entity Israel - which represents sheer falsehood, corruption, oppression, terrorism and which is a cancer - will continue to be an unwelcome entity, regardless of who reconciles with, recognizes or surrenders to it.

[...]

This faith will be inherited by our children and grandchildren, although I believe that we will be the generation that will witness victory in Palestine and pray in Jerusalem. This is an indisputable faith and unflagging commitment. Our commitment to the resistance - its rifles, bullets and the blood of its martyrs - is represented in seeking death to Israel. (Audience repeats "death to Israel" several times)

[End of excerpt from 24 March 2002 speech by Sheikh
Nasrallah]

[Full speech at http://emperors-clothes.com/nasr.htm  ]

==========================================

II. Excerpts from US State Department Daily Press Briefings
Adam Ereli, spokesperson

* IIa. 19 July 2005

* IIb. 20 July 2005

==========================================

IIa. Adam Ereli, US State Department  Press Briefing, 19 July  2005
As archived at http://state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2005/49810.htm

* Comment, "Reporter Understates"

* Comment, "Ereli Evades"

==========================================

MR. ERELI: Well, let me give you a statement. We're releasing a statement after the briefing today, welcoming the agreement between the President of Lebanon Emile Lahoud and the Prime Minister Designate of Lebanon Fuad Siniora on a proposed list of cabinet members for the next Government of Lebanon. We believe that this is a positive and an important step forward that reflects and is responsive to the will and desires of the Lebanese people as expressed through historic elections.

This list of parliament needs to still be approved by parliament, but if and when it is approved, we certainly look forward to working with the new Government of Lebanon as it moves forward in responding to the Lebanese people's desire of full reform as it was expressed in the recent elections and as it moves to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559.

Questions? Yes.

QUESTION: One of the innovations of this cabinet is a member of Hezbollah. Does your welcome for this cabinet extend to that individual? And will you be working with him?

[Comment, "Reporter understates," starts here - JI]

The reporter understates the extent of Hezbollah influence.  While it is true that, according to reports, one of the proposed ministers was an open member of Hezbollah (Mohammad Fneich, the Minister of Water and Energy) it is also true that at least one was politically close to Hezbollah (Trad Hamadé, Minister of Labor) and at least one was chosen by Hezbollah (Fawzi Salloukh, the Foreign Minister.)

[Comment ends here - JI]

MR. ERELI: Yeah, I'm not aware that that's actually true, what you're saying. The way that I would answer the question is to simply remind you that, as you know, we have a policy towards Hezbollah, it's clear, it hasn't changed and to the extent that there are active members of a foreign terrorist organization in a government, then our ability to interact and work with those individuals is circumscribed.

[Comment, "Ereli Evades," starts here - JI]

Several points about this.

First, notice that as soon as he is asked about Hezbollah, Adam Ereli rattles off a precise statement of the US position on relations with governments that include terrorists, a statement suspiciously applicable to the Lebanese cabinet. A bit later, he rattles off the same statement, in almost the same words, suggesting that the State Department legal staff prepared this wording and he memorized it for use if and when he was asked about Hezbollah's involvement in the Cabinet.

Second, I don't believe Ereli's claim that he wasn't aware that one of the Ministers was an open member of Hezbollah.  Neither, apparently, did the reporters, who challenged Ereli with surprising persistence. (Too bad none of the media reported this!) I especially like this exchange (below):

"QUESTION: Just so I understand, so have you seen a list of names?

MR. ERELI: I've seen a list of names – actually, I have not seen a list of names. We are aware of a list of names.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. ERELI: But I do not know the exact affiliation and history of each of those individuals on that list."

So he a) has seen a list of names but b) has not seen said list but c) is "aware of" the list (it's existence? it's contents - i.e., the names on it? in which case, he has seen the darned thing) but d) he doesn't know the proposed Ministers' "exact" affiliations.

Agence France Presse, publishing the same day as this press briefing, knew that Hezbollah controlled the ministries of Labor and Water/Energy, and had picked the Foreign Minister. Associated Press, also publishing the same day, reported  that Hezbollah and another Shi'ite Islamist group, Amal, had chosen Fawzi Salloukh to be the Foreign Minister. Is it believable that the State Department knew less? And if the State Department did not know the affiliations of the people on the list, why on earth did they have Ereli make this statement commending the Lebanese government specifically and only for coming up with, in Ereli's words, as quoted above, "a proposed list of cabinet members for the next Government of Lebanon" and stating that "we certainly look forward to working with the new Government of Lebanon...," when, according to Ereli, above, they did not know who they would be "working with," i.e., they could be active members of Hezbollah.

Clearly, Ereli made this statement because a) the State Department was fully informed about - if not intimately involved in the selection of - these ministers, and b) they were putting out a message: that, because Emile Lahoud and Fouad Siniora had produced a list of ministers in which Hezbollah's influence was discretely hidden from sight, the US could enthusiastically endorse the list, while maintaining the appearance of refusing to work with terrorists. (And not just any terrorists - the ones whom a US judge ruled were responsible for the murder in their barracks of 241 US marines in Lebanon in 1983.)

[Comment, "Ereli Evades," end here - JI]

In the back. Yeah.

QUESTION: The Prime Minister confirmed that he's including Hezbollah in the cabinet today.

MR. ERELI: Well, then my last answer -- we'll deal with that eventuality.

Okay. Anything else on your mind today?

QUESTION: Can you talk about -- I mean, what do you mean by your abilities would be -- what was the word?

MR. ERELI: Look, again, let's be clear. Nothing has changed. Our policy towards Hezbollah hasn't changed and so to the extent that were members of Hezbollah, active members of a foreign terrorist organization that are present in the government, our ability to deal with those individuals is circumscribed by law.

QUESTION: But if it's a cabinet minister, how can you deal with the government as a whole and somehow isolate that person? How would you --

MR. ERELI: I guess at this point, I think those are hypothetical questions. I'm not aware that the circumstances that you describe actually obtain in the present case. I know what people are reporting, but I can't speak to the facts and what is the status of each individual in this government. They just announced it. Give us time to check it out, give us time to figure out what the facts are and then we can talk about what we will do in those circumstances.

Yes.

QUESTION: Just so I understand, so have you seen a list of names?

MR. ERELI: I've seen a list of names – actually, I have not seen a list of names. We are aware of a list of names.

QUESTION: Right.

MR. ERELI: But I do not know the exact affiliation and history of each of those individuals on that list.

QUESTION: Okay. So you're not saying that this person isn't on the list, you're just not aware that any --

MR. ERELI: Well, I don't know what person you're talking about, but there are reports of somebody with Hezbollah connections on the list. What are those connections? What's the relationship? All that sort of -- those are important details. So before speaking to the specifics of your questions, I need to know the details.

QUESTION: And you're saying that the presence of any active member of a terrorist organization will clearly be an impediment to your dealing with that person; you're not saying that --

MR. ERELI: Right.

QUESTION: It would be an impediment dealing with the entire government, is that correct?

MR. ERELI: Right, right.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.

[...]

[End of excerpt from 19 July 2005 State Dep't Press Briefing]

[Full text of press briefing can be read at http://state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2005/49810.htm ]

==========================================

IIb. Adam Ereli, US State Department  Press Briefing, 20 July  2005
As archived at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2005/49848.htm

* Comment, "Maintaining Appearances"

* Comment, "Actualizing the Inner Terrorist"

==========================================

[...]

QUESTION: Can we look at Lebanon, for a bit?

MR. ERELI: I'm sorry, if we're done with this.

QUESTION: Yesterday you dwelled on Lebanon a little but things are becoming clearer. Are you still extolling what you think is the removal of Syrian influence in Lebanon?

MR. ERELI: I didn't extol the removal of --

QUESTION: No, I said the administration has declared victory that Syrian troops have left Lebanon. You've got a Prime Minister designate who wants to repair relations with Syria. You have a Hezbollah person in the cabinet. You have a Prime Minister saying that's quite natural, they're a part of the government. You have prominent Maronites denied a place in the cabinet. They are noted, of course, for not being very friendly with Syria.

So do you want to add anything to what you said yesterday, now that we know a little bit more about the political shape taking place in Lebanon?

MR. ERELI: I don't know how much more we know. It's -- well, the situation in Lebanon, let me put it this way --

QUESTION: It's really border -- it's a Hezbollah person. Is that good?

MR. ERELI: Let me put it this way. What we said yesterday about the Lebanese Government remains the case today, that they've got a new -- that the President and Prime Minister Designate have agreed on a list of cabinet members to present for a vote of confidence to parliament. That is a good thing. That is a positive move. It is the result of historic elections that, for the first time, allowed the Lebanese people to express their will, free of foreign interference. I think that's something we should recognize and that's something that we should see as a positive development.

Now, the task before the people of Lebanon and the task before the Government of Lebanon is to move forward in responding to what the voters expressed as their clear desire, which was reform and change and that's something that the new government's going to have to do. That's something that we are prepared to work with the new government on. There are also very important questions of implementing Resolution 1559, particularly with respect to ensuring that Lebanon really is free of foreign interference and that the government has extended its authority throughout the entire territory of Lebanon.

So these are things that are still out there. These are very tough issues that are going to require determined commitment and hard work, but we're off to, I think, a positive and good start.

On the issue of Hezbollah in the cabinet, what I said yesterday remains the case today. Our policy hasn't changed. We, you know, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and we're not going to have contact with the organization or members of that organization.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that a Hezbollah person will be in charge of water, one of the most sensitive issues in the Middle East, as you're trying to promote Israeli accommodations with its neighbors? This is very sensitive, not only to Israel. I would think it'd be sensitive to your efforts in the region. So you say they're a terrorist organization, well, that's true; that's listed every year by the State Department. They're getting a big role in the Lebanese Government. Aren't there any qualms in NEA about this?

MR. ERELI: We're going to -- we are committed to helping the Government of Lebanon respond to what the people of Lebanon have asked for through the elections. It's going -- it's the case in disarming militias, it's the case in economic reform, it's the case in political reform, it's the case in developing good relations with its neighbors and it's the case in developing the country. As far as how the appointment of this specific minister is going to affect that -- our ability to support that -- I think it's a little bit too soon to tell. But obviously, we're going to be, you know, we're going to be having to operate within the constraints of our law.

[Comment, "Maintaining Appearances," starts here - JI]

Note the "we're going to be having to". He as much as says: 'Don't flaunt Hezbollah too much; we're not supposed to coddle people identifiable as active terrorists.'

[Comment ends here - JI]

[...]

QUESTION: Still on this. The Secretary and the President have talked about terrorists-turned-politicians when it comes to, perhaps, the Palestinian territories and hoping that, one, they have to deal with issues like schools and health care that perhaps they will change some of their thinking. Do you hope that Hezbollah or at least some of its members will become mainstream politicians, once they join a government?

MR. ERELI: We hope that any individual who has a history of supporting violence against innocents to advance a political agenda, will come to foreswear such tactics and participate in a -- and commit him or herself to participating through a peaceful political process and not engage in terrorism, whether it be in Lebanon or whether it be in the Palestinian Authority or whether it be elsewhere.

[Comment, "Actualizing the Inner Terrorist," starts here - JI]

Ereli puts forwards here that Islamist terror is a problem of flawed personal choices.  The implication is that the presence of Hezbollah members and/or those close to Hezbollah in the Lebanese government shows that these people are growing and changing - from being dysfunctionally violence-prone to being healthfully committed to peaceful change.  In fact, as Ereli and the State Department were fully aware, Hezbollah's effective control of three ministries, including the crucial (for them) Foreign Ministry, was an expression of its power, and of the power of Iran, which as the New York Times noted, greatly increased when Syria was forced out. (I.e., the departure of Syria was a victory for Hezbollah, though the two had publicly flaunted their very uneasy alliance.)

[Comment ends here - JI]

Yeah.

[...]

[End of excerpt from 20 July 2005 State Dep't Press Briefing]

[Full text of press briefing can be read at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2005/49848.htm ]

==========================================

III. "First government of the post-Syrian era in Lebanon", Agence France Presse, 19 July 2005

Source: "Premier gouvernement de l'ère post-syrienne au Liban" (Papier General, Actualisation),  Agence France Presse, 19 juillet 2005 mardi,  8:19 PM GMT, 657 words, Beyrouth 19 juil 2005

(As archived on Lexis-Nexis)

==========================================

Le nouveau Premier ministre libanais Fouad Siniora a annoncé mardi la formation d'un gouvernement de 24 membres, le premier de l'ère post-syrienne incluant pour la première fois le Hezbollah chiite.

Ce cabinet, issu de la nouvelle majorité parlementaire, a été formé après près de trois semaines de difficiles tractations. Panaché de députés et non parlementaires, à égalité entre chrétiens et musulmans, il compte 16 nouveaux ministres dont plusieurs n'ont jamais occupé de fonctions ministérielles.

C'est le cas des ministres des Finances (Jihad Qazaour) et de l'Economie (Sami Haddad) qui ont travaillé pour des organisations internationales. Ces attributions s'expliquent par la volonté de M. Siniora de s'attaquer à la crise économique marquée par une dette publique de 35,5 milliards de dollars.

Le gouvernement reflète le poids des forces politiques issues des récentes législatives qui ont donné la victoire à l'ancienne opposition antisyrienne.

Le Courant du Futur de Saad Hariri, fils de l'ex-Premier ministre assassiné Rafic Hariri, et dont fait partie M. Siniora, obtient huit ministres, et son principal allié, le député et chef druze Walid Joumblatt, trois.

L'opposition chrétienne alliée à ce bloc s'est vue attribuer trois portefeuilles, dont l'unique femme de l'équipe, Nayla Moawad, aux Affaires sociales.

La composition du cabinet tient également compte du poids du chef de l'Etat Emile Lahoud, dont des proches, à l'issue d'un véritable bras de fer, se voient attribuer trois portefeuilles: la Défense, maintenu aux mains de son gendre Elias Murr qui a échappé récemment à un attentat, la Justice, attribué à Charles Rizk, et l'Environnement à Yacoub Sarraf.

La majorité parlementaire aurait pourtant souhaité, sinon le départ de M. Lahoud, difficile à obtenir en l'absence d'une procédure constitutionnelle permettant son éviction, réduire sa représentation au cabinet.

Les chiites, propulsés sur le devant de la scène sous la tutelle syrienne, maintiennent leur influence en dépit du retrait des troupes de Damas fin avril.

Amal, dont le chef Nabih Berri a été reconduit chef du Parlement pour la quatrième fois consécutive, a obtenu avec son allié intégriste Hezbollah que les Affaires étrangères restent aux mains d'un chiite, Fawzi Salloukh, un ex-ambassadeur proche du Conseil supérieur chiite, la plus haute instance de cette communauté au Liban.

Les deux formations estiment que la résolution 1559 de l'Onu, qui exige le désarmement des milices, en allusion au Hezbollah notamment, porte atteinte à la "résistance" anti-israélienne et vise à les affaiblir.

Le Hezbollah obtient, pour la première fois, un poste ministériel: Mohammad Fneich devient ministre de l'Energie et des Ressources hydrauliques alors que le ministère du Travail est dévolu à un proche du parti, Trad Hamadé. Translation: Hezbollah gets for the first time a ministerial post: Mohammad Fneich becomes Minister of Energy and Hydraulic Resources, while the Ministry of Labor is given to someone who is close to the party, Trad Hamadé.

En revanche, le bloc parlementaire du député chrétien Michel Aoun (21 députés sur 128) ne participe pas au cabinet après plusieurs vaines tentatives de l'y inclure, mais M. Siniora a souligné qu'il restait "prêt à coopérer" avec lui.

"Il s'agit d'une équipe homogène et solidaire (...) choisie pour être à la hauteur des défis auxquels le Liban est confronté", a déclaré M. Siniora, 62 ans, ministre des Finances dans les cinq équipes formées par Rafic Hariri entre 1992 et 2004, et chargé le 30 juin de former le gouvernement.

Il s'est dit "fier" d'avoir dans son équipe un membre du Hezbollah. Translation: He [Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora] said he is "proud" to have a member of Hezbollah in his team.

L'administration américaine a indiqué qu'elle n'aurait pas de contact avec le ministre membre du Hezbollah, un mouvement qu'elle considère comme "terroriste".

"S'il y a des membres du Hezbollah, des membres actifs d'une organisation terroriste, au sein du gouvernement, notre capacité à avoir des contacts avec ces personnes est circonscrite par la loi", a déclaré le porte-parole du département d'Etat Adam Ereli. Translation: "If they are members of Hezbollah, active members of a terrorist organization in the government, our capacity to have contacts with these persons is circumscribed by law," declared State Department spokesperson Adam Areli.

Le département d'Etat a cependant "salué" dans un communiqué la formation du gouvernement et appelé à une application de la 1559. Translation: The State Department has nevertheless "saluted" in a communique the formation of the government and called for the implemntation of [UN Resolution] 1559.

[End of 19 July 2005 Agence France Presse Dispatch]

==========================================

IV. "Militant Hezbollah enters a new Lebanese Cabinet dominated by anti-Syrians," Associated Press, 19 July 2005

Prime Minister Saniora expresses pride that Hezbollah is in cabinet.  Hezbollah chooses Foreign Minister

Source: "Militant Hezbollah enters a new Lebanese Cabinet dominated by anti-Syrians," Associated Press Worldstream, July 19, 2005 Tuesday, International News, 882 words, Zeina Karam; Associated Press Writer, Beirut, Lebanon

(As archived on Lexis-Nexis)

==========================================

    Prime minister-designate Fuad Saniora formed a Cabinet Tuesday dominated by anti-Syrians but also included for the first time the militant Hezbollah, allied with Syria and Iran and branded a terrorist organization by Washington.

While retaining some Syrian influence the 24-member Cabinet lacked real representation by prominent leader Michel Aoun, whose 21-member bloc represents the Christian heartland and forms one-sixth of the 128-member legislature. The former general has taken a different political line that puts him at odds with the main anti-Syrian coalition dominating parliament after the elections in May and June.

Saniora brought in Syrian allies Hezbollah and Shiite group Amal to support him with solid Shiite representation as required under Lebanon's sectarian-based power-sharing formula, although the new administration is free of Syrian dictate since Damascus pulled its troops from Lebanon in April.

"I have great hope that this Cabinet will function as a united working team ... to confront the great challenges facing us," Saniora told reporters following the announcement.

Saniora said he was "proud" that the Cabinet included lawmaker Mohammed Fneish from Hezbollah, an armed Shiite Muslim force that continues to wage guerrilla war against Israel in a disputed border area in southern Lebanon.

"I think this is an excellent thing for Hezbollah to have a presence in this government. This is very natural, they are part of this country and consequently they have a right to have representatives in this government," Saniora said.

Reaction from Washington was swift. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the United States will have no dealings with any Lebanese Cabinet minister who is a member of Hezbollah. He said U.S. policy toward Hezbollah has not changed but he said there would be no impediment to dealing with the entire Lebanese government.

[Comment, "Hiding Adam's Sin," starts here - JI]

This misrepresents Adam Ereli's comments, quoted above.  In fact, what Ereli did 'swiftly' was to praise the cabinet list without reservation, only reciting his formula about not dealing with active members of Hezbollah when challenged by a reporter as to whether this blanket commendation suggested that official US policy had changed.  And note that Ereli's statement about not dealing with active members of Hezbollah was itself a deception, since the crucial minister from the US viewpoint would be the Foreign Minister (certainly not the Minister of Water and Energy) and Siniora  and Hezbollah had finessed that problem by having Hezbollah choose someone who would a) owe his position to Hezbollah's approval but b) not be an active member of Hezbollah. I.e., the Foreign Minister, with whom the US would be dealing, would be for all intents and purposes a Hezbollah proxy. 

[Comment ends here - JI]

Saniora, who enjoys strong support from the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority, has deteriorating relations to deal with in Damascus that began after the troop withdrawal.

In recent weeks, Syria tightened border controls on cargo truck traffic from Lebanon, choking the country's only land route to the Arab world.

Saniora said the relationship with Syria should be based on "mutual respect."

"Nothing can come between the Lebanese and Syrian people," Saniora said.

He also faces the difficult task of improving Lebanon's economy, suffering from zero growth and a debt of US$35 billion (euro 29.25 billion) or more than 170 percent of the gross domestic product - making it one of the highest in the world.

Saniora also must deal with U.N. demands that Hezbollah to disarm.

The Cabinet includes seven holdovers from the previous pro-Syrian administration of Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Its formation brings to an end almost three weeks of political squabbling over key posts and what shape the Cabinet should take. Lahoud repeatedly demanded changes to Saniora's suggested lineups.

Aoun, the former army commander who returned to Lebanon in May from 14 years of exile in France, wanted the Justice portfolio but was refused. It went instead to Lahoud ally Charles Rizk.

Hezbollah's man Fneish received the power and hydraulic resources ministry, while Hezbollah ally Tarrad Hamadeh retained the post of labor minister.

Shiite Fawzi Salloukh took the foreign ministry after negotiations with Hezbollah and Amal. Salloukh is a former career diplomat with over three decades in the foreign service. The 74-year-old Salloukh does not belong to either group but is considered an acceptable choice by both factions who wanted to a friendly foreign minister to deal with U.N. demands for Hezbollah to disarm.

Hezbollah, which has 11 lawmakers and three allies in its parliamentary bloc, retains thousands of rockets along the border with Israel. It, rather than the Lebanese army, controls the border.

The group is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations, since Washington blames it for numerous attacks in the 1980s, including the bombings of a U.S. Marine barracks and two U.S. Embassy buildings in Beirut in which more than 270 Americans were killed.

Hezbollah denies links to pro-Iranian Shiite extremists who claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Separately Tuesday, Lahoud signed an amnesty pardoning anti-Syrian Christian warlord Samir Geagea and nearly three dozen Muslim militants, some with alleged al-Qaida links, which Lebanon's newly elected parliament approved Monday.

Geagea, behind bars since 1994, has been linked with some of Lebanon's most notorious civil war-era killings, including the 1987 bombing of a military helicopter that killed pro-Syrian Prime Minister Rashid Karami.

Lahoud's signature means both amnesties are in effect, but it is unclear when the prisoners will be freed.

Lahoud apparently accepted the will of the majority of lawmakers. He could have refused to sign and sent the law back to Parliament, but legislators would have approved it again, bypassing the president.

Karami's family, which includes former Premier Omar Karami, slammed the amnesty, saying it encourages future attacks on leaders. "Samir Geagea is Rashid Karami's killer ... and the amnesty will not change this historical fact," a family statement said.

[End of 19 July 2005 Associated Press Dispatch]

==========================================

V. "Hezbollah Joins Lebanon's First Post-Syria Government", Turkish Daily News, 21 July 2005

Source: "Hezbollah Joins Lebanon's First Post-Syria Gov't,"  Turkish Daily News, July 21, 2005, A20050727117-C1F5-GNW, 464 words

(As archived on Lexis-Nexis)

==========================================

Hezbollah, branded a terrorist group by Washington, won a ministerial post for the first time in Lebanon on Tuesday when Prime Minister Fouad Siniora formed the country's first government since Syrian forces withdrew .

 But pro-Syria Hezbollah's cabinet entry was balanced by the fact the government's overall make-up reflected elections last month that swept an anti-Syrian majority to parliament for the first time since the 1975-1990 civil war ended.

[Comment, "On the Bush Administration's False Intimation that Syria Controls Hezbollah," starts here - JI]

The claim by the Turkish Daily News, as stated above, that Hezbollah's presence balanced the generally anti-Syrian makeup of the cabinet, is misleading concerning the politics of the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. Although it is true that Syria's occupation provided a degree of protection for Hezbollah to consolidate its power, stockpile Iranian arms, establish a pattern of provocation against Israel, and gain international influence, Hezbollah was also held back - as was Iran's direct influence - by the Syrian presence, witness the fact that after Syria pulled out, Hezbollah for the first time gained control of not one, but at least three cabinet posts. Even "Mideast Monitor" editor Gary C. Gambill, who had co-authored a 2002 article that noted Syria's then-influence on Hezbollah (while also noting that Syria held Hezbollah back politically and even sometimes killed Hezbollah members) - even Gambill admitted in a 2005 National Post article that the Hezbollah-Syria relationship was (in his words) a "loveless alliance." See http://www.mideastmonitor.org/gambill/050304.htm

Regarding Gary Gambill, he accepts the official US position, that it truly opposes Hezbollah. Because of this, his articles, while containing useful information, cannot entirely make sense of the information he presents.  For example, in a piece entitled "Hezbollah: Between Tehran and Damascus" that he co-authored with Ziad Abdelnour  in 2002, he pointed out that the Bush administration avoided discussing Hezbollah's connection with Syria.

But why? If the US foreign policy establishment wanted to crush Hezbollah, why wouldn't it publicly oppose Syria's role  in 2002, when, according to Gambill, Syria was indeed in a position to reign Hezbollah in and when, as I have argued, Syria provided a kind of protection for Hezbollah?

Gambill and Abdelnour write, in 2002:

"However, successive American administrations have been reluctant to openly push for an end to Syrian protection of Hezbollah. In fact, the United States has been unwilling even to publicly request that the Syrians end this protection. While this stems in part from the long-standing American policy of avoiding public statements, which mention or suggest that Syria controls Lebanese policy decisions, it may also reflect a tendency to underestimate the degree of control that Damascus has established over Hezbollah, which is usually regarded as an Iranian proxy."

Why would the US be soft on Syria in 2002 (when Syria's role was relatively big) and yet today, with Syria's role in Lebanon diminished and its relationship to Hezbollah eclipsed by that of Iran, which has a loving alliance with Hezbollah and close ties with the Lebanese government - why would the US now focus on Syria?  In her important 21 July 2006 press briefing, Secretary of State Rice referred to Syria seven times, but not once to Iran. See http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2006/69331.htm

 It really makes no sense if you posit that the US government is sincere in wanting to suppress Muslim extremism.  But if you posit that despite appearances the US and European establishments want to strengthen Muslim extremism, and that the Iranian variety is their particular favorite, then it makes perfect sense for the US to downplay Syria's role in Lebanon in 2002, when its presence was to an extent needed by Hezbollah, and to focus attention on Syria now, thus using it as a kind of scapegoat-decoy, allowing the Bush administration to downplay both the danger posed by Hezbollah itself (and therefore Israel's need to completely destroy it) and to avoid, as much as possible, the role of Iran and perhaps others in the Muslim world (not to mention US and German policy) in Hezbollah's rise.

[Comment, "On the Bush Administration's Intimation that Syria Controls Hezbollah," ends here - JI]

 President Emile Lahoud, a close ally of Damascus, approved the 24-member cabinet after three weeks of tough negotiations with Siniora, who has the backing of parliament's majority coalition leader Saad al-Hariri.

 The new government has 15 ministers loyal to Hariri and five loyal to a pro-Syria Shiite Muslim coalition that includes Hezbollah. The cabinet also has three members loyal to Lahoud and an independent.

 The cabinet did not include followers of Michel Aoun, who heads the largest Christian bloc in the 128-member parliament. Aoun turned down invitations to join a Siniora government after his demand for four ministries was rejected.

 Challenges: "I have a big hope that (the government) will operate as a homogenous working team and rise to the level of the issues and major challenges facing it," Siniora, who was finance minister for most of the period after the civil war, told reporters.

"It is good thing to have Hizbullah in this cabinet," said Siniora, who named Hizbollah official Mohammad Fneish as energy and water resources minister. "After all it is a group that is part of this country and has the right to be represented."

Hizbollah is a Shiite guerrilla group, which played a key role in forcing Israel to end its 22-year occupation of south Lebanon.

[Comment, "On the Myth that Hezbollah Forced Israel Out," starts here - JI]

Hezbollah did not, and could not, militarily force Israel out of southern Lebanon in 2000. That was done by the Barak government in Israel, under pressure from the West, and it was a great gift to the forces of Islamic extremism, making Hezbollah into Islamic heroes, and laying the political basis for the surge of Palestinian Arab violence that began four months later.

[Comment ends here - JI]

 Siniora was a senior aide to Hariri's father Rafik, a former prime minister whose assassination in February sparked international and domestic pressure that forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in April.

 His government faces the task of controlling a $ 36 billion public debt that is now almost twice the size of Lebanon's gross domestic product.

 It also needs to prove to international markets that Lebanon can take care of its internal security without Syrian troops after a spate of bombings and assassinations and rising tension between pro- and anti-Syrian factions..

 The new government will also have to deal with a United Nations Security Council resolution, which calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah.

 Siniora said he would make a visit to Syria shortly.

 Siniora named Jihad Azour as finance minister, Sami Haddad as economy minister and former Shiite ambassador Fawzi Salloukh as foreign minister.

[Note: Salloukh was chosen by Hezbollah and the Islamist group Amal - JI]

 Aoun, a former army commander and long-time critic of Damascus, has said he will form the backbone of opposition to the new government.

==============================================

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