By Jean Shaoul:
Washington and its allies work to destabilise Lebanon
23 August 2012
The media is presenting the sectarian kidnappings and violence in Lebanon as an all but inevitable “spill-over” from the civil war in Syria. This is a cynical attempt to conceal what is, in fact, a concerted campaign by the United States and its regional allies to eliminate the Shi’ite Hezbollah movement, which is backed by Syria and Iran, as a political and military force in Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and, above all, the US and Israel are using jihadists, salafists and other religious extremists to fashion a sectarian Sunni movement to defeat Hezbollah, which the US has designated a foreign terrorist group, and its political allies in the March 8 Alliance. In so doing, they are deliberately stoking the flames of a wider regional war along Sunni-Shi’ite lines.
Their aim in Lebanon is to replace the current government, led by Sunni billionaire Najib Mikati and supported by Hezbollah and the March 8 Alliance, with an explicitly pro-Washington regime. But with almost every layer of Lebanese society, even those associated with the Washington camp, having long had close commercial and family links to Syria, it is impossible to consider Lebanon in isolation from its larger neighbour.
US policy in Lebanon is driven by its broader strategy of toppling the Assad regime in Syria, the ultimate target being Iran. But cutting Hezbollah off from its sponsors would also provide a useful boost for the pro-Washington forces in the March 14 Alliance of former premier Saad Hariri, whose popular support has plummeted.
The discovery of significant oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean, which require for their exploitation an extensive network of underwater and surface pipelines to distribute both to Europe and Asia, has reinforced the US and Israel’s determination to ensure that the entire Mediterranean become a NATO lake. Not only does that require Lebanon to be aligned unequivocally with Washington, it also entails the removal of Russia’s naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus.
Part two is here.
Lebanon clashes compound Syria spillover fears: here.
Fighting is intensifying in Syria and throughout the Near East, as US and NATO officials escalate war threats against Syria: here.