Lebanon’s conflict-driven internal politics and Hezbollah’s relationship with its neighbor, Israel, are having an effect on the entire region.
Hezbollah leader General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah called for a government of “cooperation and unity” even as he critiqued the U.S.-backed government of Fouad Siniora, Agence France-Presse reports.
Siniora has refused to give the opposition party veto power in the cabinet and has lost six ministers this year, prompting much controversy and upheaval.
Nasrallah is angry with the United States, which recently announced it would freeze the assets of anyone it perceived as undermining Siniora’s government.
Speaking to the Lebanese people, he said Hezbollah supported a “peaceful, civilian and civilized” campaign, and promised not to turn its considerable arsenal of weapons on any other Lebanese faction.
Israel, however, may not be so lucky.
Hezbollah has boasted that its rockets can now hit Tel Aviv from Lebanon, and Israeli soldiers patrolling the border say it is only a matter of time before Hezbollah strikes again.
The organization is known to receive its weapons from Iran and Syria.
According to the Daily Star of Lebanon, the U.N. Security Council issued a statement last week expressing “grave concern” over the breach of an arms embargo between Lebanon and Syria, as well as Israel’s incursions into Lebanese airspace.
Iran, too, is reportedly sealing a multi-billion-dollar arms purchase from Russia, according to Flightglobal.com.
Worried about losing control in the region, the United States has taken matters into its own hands with a series of massive arms deals aimed at buying loyalty from key allies in the Middle East.
The proposal would see $30 billion worth of arms go to Israel, $13 billion for Egypt, and $20 billion given to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states over the next few years.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the arms deals were crucial to counter the “negative influence” of Syria, Iran, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda.
“Hezbollah ready for a settlement”
Agence France-Presse, August 5, 2007
“Waiting at the border: Israel girds for attack”
Toronto Star, August 4, 2007
“Security Council adopts statement on Lebanon”
Daily Star (Lebanon), August 4, 2007
“U.S. to arm Mid East allies in response to Iran Sukhoi threat”
Flight International, August 3, 2007