Monday, July 24, 2006
Condi Rice makes a surprise trip to Beirut..and lays down tough terms for a ceasefire
US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice made a surprise trip into Beirut today to talk with Lebanon's government about ending the violence.
While obviously symphathetic about the devastation and loss of life (she brought along a US humanitarian aid package) she was also very focused in not endorsing a ceasefire without a comprehensive solution...based on neutralizing Hezbollah.
Rice told Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, an ally of Hizbollah who is also close to Syria, that a cease-fire must include Hizbollah's withdrawal beyond the Litani River, (13 miles) north of Israel, deployment of an international force in the border region and Hezbollah's reliquishing its rockets, rockets, missiles and heavy weapons...in other words, UN Resolution 1559 has to be implemented.
She told Berri: "the situation on the border cannot return to what it was before July 12", referring to the day Hizbollah seized two Israeli soldiers during a raid into Israel, sparking a war in which 378 people in Lebanon and 41 Israelis have died.
Both Rice and President Bush remember that Hezbollah has murdered a lot of Americans and other nationals. A lot of members of Congress have the same opinion.
A number of Lebanese leaders have a lot more spine than their government. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt remarked that Nasrallah was behaving like Yasser Arafat in the 1982 siege of Beirut. "He is willing to let the Lebanese capital burn while he haggles over terms of surrender."
Meanwhile, Rice travels to Israel tommorow.
Neither Syria or Iran ( not to mention Hezbollah!) have any intention of waiting for the diplomatic moves to be driven by the US. Count onthem to continue to escalate thge conflict and ramp up things as much as possible.
Sooner or later, the US will have to confront both Syria and Iran.