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Washington in Lebanon and Palestine: Fatal Manipulation

Amal Saad-Ghorayeb writes in openDemocracy:

The United States’s efforts to undermine Hamas and Hizbollah are part of a divisive, unprincipled and dangerous middle-east strategy.

Many parallels are currently being drawn between the crises in Palestine and Lebanon. A number focus on the most visible similarity: the “two-state, two-government” scenario which has become a reality in Palestine (with different authorities in charge in Gaza and the West Bank) and threatens to do the same in Lebanon (where the country is polarised between major political blocs). But there are more affinities between the two situations and the political developments and players driving them, and it is an unavoidable reality that the regional political strategy of the United States underlies the evolving conflicts in the respective countries.

The common factor in the United States agenda that is a key factor in both crises is its aim of neutralising popularly elected “radical” forces (Hamas and Hizbollah) which militarily resist Israel and politically confront the US itself, using as its instrument the “moderate” US-friendly and notionally democratic governments in the region (Mahmoud Abbas’s and Fouad Siniora’s).

In a speech in July 2007, George W Bush did little to conceal these parallel US agendas when he asserted:

“(The) conflict in Gaza and West Bank today is between extremists and moderates and these are not the only places where the forces of radicalism and violence threaten freedom and peace. The struggle between extremists and moderates is also playing out in Lebanon where Hizbollah, Syria and Iran are trying to destabilize the popularly elected government.”

In making the analogy and pursuing its logic, the US has pursued a policy which has sought to weaken – if not eradicate outright – Hizbollah and Hamas, through diplomatic, military, political and now legal means. As part of this campaign, Washington has adopted a virtually identical strategy in both arenas, transforming pre-existent internal political rivalries into open conflict.

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