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Bush Backs Sunni Militants Against Lebanese Army

The Bush administration has been strangely mute on the recent fighting in Lebanon between the Sunni militant group and the Lebanese army. You would expect Bush to be on the bully pulpit, giving the government of Lebanon his full backing. After all, this is a fragile democratically-elected government that Bush and Rice have gone out of their way to praise since 'the cedar revolution' in Lebanon, in early 2005.

In February, 2007 Secretary of State Rice reaffirmed her praise and support for the Siniora government. Rice said, "they have been peaceful, they have been constitutional and they have been within the legal framework, as is befitting a democracy."

Now the government is facing the worst internal fighting since the civil war ended 17 years ago. The militant Sunni group which is entrenched in a Palestinian refugee camp, Nahr al-Bared, in Northern Lebanon, set off the army siege when they they staged a bank robbery in Tripoli, then later attacked army posts at the entrance to the camp.

According to Wikipedia, "the group (Fatah al-Islam) has been described as a terrorist movement that draws inspiration from al-Qaeda. Its stated goal is to reform the Palestinian refugee camps under Islamic 'sharia law,' and its primary targets are Israel and the United States." Just the sort of militant group you would think Bush would like to rid the Middle East of?

Which side would you expect the administration to be taking; the Lebanese army of one of the few democratic governments in the Middle East or a militant Sunni Islamic group seeking to destablize or overturn that same moderate government of Prime Minister Siniora by violent means? A 'no brainer' you might say ...In that sense you would be correct. But for the surprising answer, see Bush administration arranged support for militants attacking Lebanon, by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh.

A key element of this policy shift, (from this 'redirection' to focusing on countering Iran instead of Sunni extremists) was an agreement among Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams, and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security adviser, whereby the Saudis would covertly fund the Sunni Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon as a counterweight to the Shia Hezbollah.

In the war on evil, we must sometimes use evil to fight evil. In this case, use a group linked to Al-queda as a fulcrum against Iranian influence on the Hezbollah and a democratically elected government we publicly support. Bush's foreign policy in the Middle-East, the parts he doesn't like to share with us, have all the fingerprints of Eliott Abrams of Iran-Contra fame yet again?

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Comments (2)

Paul Hamilton:

Fighting evil with evil will be counterproductive sooner or later. The mujahadeen fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan later became al Qaeda.

What confuses me is how Bush seems to be supporting the Shia militias in Iraq and the Sunni militias in Lebanon. Is this another case of where he simple cannot recognize that there are two violently opposed factions in Islam? Or does he really believe that arming the Sunnis will defeat the Iranian-backed forces there. All he's really doing is pouring fuel on the fire which will end up burning the whole country...

Steve Crickmore:

Paul..I would think he must now..Apparently he didn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites before the invasion and reportedly when informed of the difference said "I thought they were Muslims."
Yesterday..Dubya said "Al Qaeda is public enemy number one in Iraq's young democracy. Al Qaeda is public enemy number one for America as well".
Juan Cole in reply says "In fact, No Mahdi Army Shiites are al-Qaeda. Almost all Sunni Arab guerrilla cells are Baathist or Salafi rather than al-Qaeda. Probably of 100,000 guerrillas fighting in Iraq, perhaps 2% could be categorized in some vague way as "al-Qaeda" if you take that term as referring to a franchise. They are mainly foreign fighters and if the US left Iraq, the local Sunni Arabs would slit their throats"...And then Bush would be left without public enemy number #1 for his public address purposes. In truth, he probably doesn't have much of a clue what's going on and the Administration's incoherent foreign policies in the Middle East reflect that.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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