Lebanon said Saturday it was committed to building up its armed forces after complaints by Israel about Western assistance to the military following a deadly border clash between the two countries.The Reuters report in general is wacky to begin with.
Two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and a senior Israeli officer were killed in a rare cross-border skirmish on Tuesday, the worst such violence since a 2006 war between Israel and Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas.
The clash -- in which Lebanon and Israel gave different accounts of what happened -- raised fears of wider conflict. Both countries have since worked to calm tension at the border.
Reuters is determined to reduce the Lebanese ambush to a 'he said/she said' account that fails to mention the fact that UNIFIL corroborates Israel's account and that Lebanon knew in advance what Israel was doing.
Then there is the next paragraph:
Speaking in the southern Lebanese village of Adaisseh where the clash occurred, President Michel Suleiman said the cabinet would meet to ratify a three- or five-year plan to arm the military "so that it can protect the nation's dignity."Of course, Suleiman is not talking about protecting what is left of Lebanon's dignity from Iran, Syria or Hezbollah, who treat Lebanon as their own--to the contrary, he is apparently referring to Israel, which has to deal with the terrorists of Hezbollah that Lebanon is incapable of disarming.
Suleiman makes his announcement in Adaisseh, an odd city that epitomizes the Hezbollah's control. Tour guide Uri Goldflaum describes the village:
I have taken dozens of groups to look over at the Lebanese border from kibbutz Misgav Am, which has been the the target of many terror attacks, and most recently of rocket attacks from Lebanon. Across the valley is the Lebanese village of Addaiseh. From a lookout at the edge of the kibbutz it is easy to spot the Hezbollah flags, bunkers and personnel, even a big poster featuring the Iranian Ayatollah alongside Ahmedinijad. It is also clear that the village is not really a village at all, but an elaborate system of bunkers and shooting platforms designed to look like houses. There are no villagers, tractors, or agricultural activities. No fires burning, kids going to school or trucks unloading goods at a local store. [emphasis added]Makes me wonder just what kind of media coverage there was at the announcement.
There is a much bigger question though: to what degree did Lebanese troops use US arms and training in ambushing the IDF last week?
Mere Rhetoric notes claims that Lebanon used American weapons to attack Israel:
it’s almost shocking that there are credible suggestions circulating about how those Lebanese troops from yesterday – the ones who almost sparked a war by firing across the Israeli border and killing an IDF Lieutenant-Colonel – were trained and armed by the Pentagon.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that the Lebanese Armed Forces took American-supplied andanti-aircraft weapons and drones, and then promptly began trying to kill Israeli soldiers. And no one even bothers talking about the 200 tons of US explosives that Hamas captured after they rolled the hopelessly outmatched US-trained Fatah forces in the Gaza Strip, explosives which were subsequently used against Israeli soldiers. General Keith Dayton, the man responsible for making sure Hamas was kept out of Gaza, was promptly transferred to the West Bank. There he immediately resumed providing weapons to the Palestinian Authority, because the problem had obviously been not enough security assistance.
It was in the immediate aftermath of the Gaza failure, by the by, when the Pentagon also began enthusiastically pouring weapons into Lebanon. That assistance was promptly turned against Israeli intelligence assets, more or less decimating Israel’s ability to know what’s going on in Lebanon.Read the whole thing--and his follow up post that photos confirm Lebanon used American weapons to attack Israel.
Suleiman has already said that he intends to pursue the increase regardless of what other countries say, which is just as well, considering Congress may pull Lebanon military aid:
Some members of Congress are threatening to reassess US aid to the Lebanese military following its border clash with Israel on Tuesday.Truth be told, it is doubtful that the US is about to reexamine its policy toward Lebanon, especially seeing how it is intent on aid to Gaza, regardless of the fact that Hamas will inevitably be controlling it.
“To start shooting as they did – one person killed, one seriously injured – is a very serious move by the Lebanese army,” said Florida Rep. Ron Klein, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in response to a question from The Jerusalem Post.
“It certainly is going to come up in our conversations in the Congress about the continued support of the Lebanese Army,” he said.
In the end, we are left with a tense situation that is only going to get more tense.
And summer isn't over yet.
UPDATE: The move to cut off aid to Lebanon may be picking up steam as Congressman Eric Cantor wants to block funds for Lebanese army:
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Congress should block $100 million in aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces after an attack over Israeli pruning trees at the Lebanese border. Israel contended the trees were on its side of the border; Lebanon thought otherwise. The United Nations later determined Lebanon was in the wrong and the State Department spoke out against the violence as well.Technorati Tag: Lebanon and Hezbollah.
Cantor said the attack “demands a sweeping reassessment of how we distribute our foreign aid.”
“Congress must convey that message by blocking the roughly $100 million in 2011 assistance to the LAF until we find out the details of last week’s attack and can certify that the Lebanese army is not cooperating with Hezbollah,” Cantor said in a statement.
The U.S. has long sought to stabilize the Lebanese army to help neutralize Hezbollah, the Islamic group based in the country. Cantor said the lines between Hezbollah and Lebanon are “blurred.” Hezbollah has denied involvement in the attack.