Friday, February 29, 2008
"Without introductions and without prior notice, the USS Cole has been ordered to take position off Lebanon's coast Thursday. The US will also back the destroyer with another two warships. The US move has brought back to memory of the American direct interference in Lebanese affairs in the late 50's and early 80's when the destroyer USS New Jersey turned south Beirut and Mount Lebanon into rubble. The move was described in Washington as a show of support; but to whom against whom? It is likely that this old but new interference would have serious repercussions in the region. "The United States believes a show of support is important for regional stability. We are very concerned about the situation in Lebanon. It has dragged on very long," said a top US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity signaling 'impatience' with Syria.
The USS Cole left Malta on Tuesday and will remain over the horizon not within visible range of Lebanon, at least for the time being, said a US defense official....
According to Reuters, US President George W. Bush had consulted his allies France and Britain about dispatching the destroyers.
ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN: IT'S A SIGN THAT WE ARE ENGAGED For his part, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Washington Thursday the deployment should not be viewed as threatening or in response to events in any single country in the volatile region.
"This is an area that is important to us, the eastern Mediterranean," he said. Mullen declined to pin, but did not rule out the warship's presence to Lebanon's presidential elections. "To say it is absolutely tied would be incorrect although certainly we are aware elections are due there at some point in time," he said. "The presence is important, it isn't meant to send any stronger signals than that, but in fact it does signal that we are engaged," he added.
HEZBOLLAH: EVIDENCE OF US FAILURE
Meanwhile, Loyalty to Resistance parliamentary bloc MP Hasan Fadlallah called on the unconstitutional government of Fouad Saniora to reject the US move. He said the decision "proves that the real confrontation is effectively with decision makers in Washington." MP Fadlallah stressed the US move took whatever remaining masks "off local US tools represented by the ruling bloc."
"The US show of strength is evidence of failure and indication that it had consumed all political pressure to impose its tutelage on Lebanon," he told Lebanese daily As-Safir. MP Fadlallah added that the US administration had previous experiences in supporting its allies in Lebanon with warships and destroyers, "which were eventually doomed to failure." "The situation won't be different this time," he added. Speaking on to New TV, Fadlallah said that "we were facing an American threat against Lebanon. This threat and intimidation won't affect Hezbollah."......."