7.12.06

Bush is the root of effort to topple Lebanese government

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 12/07/2006 | Analysts: U.S. at root of effort to topple Lebanese government:
American political leaders watched with alarm during the past week as the Hezbollah militia laid siege to the U.S.-backed Lebanese government, but few would acknowledge publicly what most analysts and politicians here say is obvious: American policy may bear much of the blame.




Many in Beirut say that U.S. failure to stop Israel's onslaught against Hezbollah last summer crippled the Lebanese government - a U.S. ally - while strengthening Hezbollah - a U.S. enemy. That created an environment in which the Shiite Muslim militia could call for overthrowing Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and his Cabinet.

This summer was a catastrophe on many levels. This summer was bad news,' said a Western diplomat in Beirut, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. 'In general, Lebanon is in a much, much weaker position now than it was in June. There's no question at all levels - politically, economically, in terms of unity - everything is much worse now than it was in June.'

How did the U.S. response contribute to that?

'It was painful to be here this summer, you know. I'll just leave it at that,' the diplomat said.

Hezbollah officials have harped on the Lebanese government's reliance on U.S. help at a time when American policy makers weren't putting pressure on Israel to stop its aerial bombardment.

'It's no coincidence that all those who supported Israel in the war are today supporting what remains of this falling government,' Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said Thursday night via video feed to a cheering crowd of thousands.

'Does any Lebanese accept ... supporting a government that George Bush and (Israeli Prime Minister) Ehud Olmert support?' he asked.

The sea of men, women and children booed and screamed for the government's downfall.

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