Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Rice expects assassinations against March 14 figures and division of "Shiite Bloc" in Lebanon; Berri replies
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice admitted that Israel faced a very difficult problem in its war against Lebanon, indicating the Islamic Resistance of Hezbollah. She expressed optimism that the Shiites in Lebanon will be divided and expected that assassination attempts to target February 14 figures. Rice also refused reports that the recent Israeli war had weakened the Lebanese government of Premier Fouad Saniora, a key February 14 figure. Rice made her comments to the "New York Post", "The New York Times" and the "Wall Street Journal." She said that "moderate" Arab nations have become aware of the dangers of what she called "the mounting Iranian influence" in the region. She was signaling Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia which had anti-resistance positions, at least at the beginning of the Israeli war against Lebanon. Rice said that the Lebanese government voted twice over the UNIFIL, what means according to the US official, that the Amal Movement had split from Hezbollah. For his part, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri described Rice's expectation of a Shiite division as "mere dreams", stressing the alliance and understanding between Hezbollah and the Amal Movement have grown bigger than ever. Berri added that the position of both parties regarding the UNIFIL deployment has always been supportive, as long as the UN forces carry out their missions as stipulated in UN resolution 1701. Speaker Berri said he had hoped to hear a position by Rice, other than supporting Israeli violation of Lebanese sovereignty and occupation of the Shebaa Farms. The Speaker warned that the US administration is continuously trying to camouflage its intentions and real goals behind the so called "New Middle East", through democracy and moderation, however this administration, Berri added, has laid the foundations for a conflict between those seeking control over the riches of the region and those who resist aggression and "state terrorism" represented by Israel.