Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Iran Incites Cold War With U.S. in Lebanon Stalemate

April 1 (Bloomberg) -- When David Welch, the U.S. State Department's top Middle East envoy, wakes each morning, he asks himself, ``Is everything OK over there?''

``Over there'' is Lebanon, caught in a political stalemate that is putting American officials and much of the Arab world on edge. During six months of paralysis in electing a Lebanese president, Iranian and Syrian support for the Shiite Muslim party, Hezbollah, has flourished while the U.S. has tried to keep its Sunni ally, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, from being ousted.

In this contest is the danger that Lebanon may turn into a full-fledged battleground in the ongoing conflict between the U.S. and Iran, which is allied with Syria to derail Lebanon's fragile democracy.

The possibility of bloodshed within Lebanon's sensitive patchwork of Sunnis, Shiites and Christians recalls the civil war that savaged Beirut from 1975 to 1990, killing thousands of Lebanese and hundreds of Americans, too.

Syria and Hezbollah ``are all Iranian cards in the cold war with the U.S.,'' Mouafac Harb, a Beirut-based Lebanese-American political consultant, said in a Washington interview.

No comments: