Lebanon: Sunni Muslim leader rejects NATO force
The deployment of a NATO-led force in southern Lebanon would be rejected by the majority of Lebanese as a form of occupation, and any foreign army would likely be targeted by Hezbollah, one of the country's most prominent politicians said yesterday.
Bahia Hariri, sister of Rafik Hariri, the popular former prime minister who was assassinated last year, dismissed as dangerous the idea of deploying NATO troops in the south of the country to create a buffer zone with Israel and bolster efforts to disarm Hezbollah. The idea of such a force was supported yesterday by both the United States and Israel as a way to end the 12-day old conflict.
Although the idea is still in its infancy, media reports suggest that a force of 10,000 to 20,000 soldiers, headed by France or Turkey, is being contemplated as a way of ending violence that has killed at least 400 people -- most of them Lebanese civilians -- while guaranteeing Hezbollah can no longer use the region to launch rockets at northern Israeli cities.
But Ms. Hariri suggested that such a force would only take the place of Israel as the target of the Islamic militia's wrath. Hezbollah is credited by most Lebanese with driving Israel out of south Lebanon in 2000 and killing hundreds of Israeli soldiers over the course of an 18-year occupation.
During the interview, Ms. Hariri, 53, a conciliator who is respected by Christian, Druze and Shiite leaders, expressed support for Hezbollah, saying blame for the current conflict rests with Israel. As she spoke, the noise of Israeli warplanes circling above her home was audible. Read more
db: John Bolton, Blair and Israel support the idea of a 'robust' NATO force to 'disarm' [fight] Hezbollah - Israel's defense minister Amir Peretz said yesterday "We definitely see a combination of the existing military activity and a complimentary international operation." Now this may suit American Neoconservatives - and the Neoconservative British PM - but for the European nations stupid enough to get sucked in it would be a sure disaster.
Given that it would need the agreement of the Lebanese government - and will surely not get it - this 'idea' is probably just another issue for world 'leaders' to chat about as an alternative to the pursuit of an immediate ceasefire.