Lebanese concerns

THERE is weight in Hezbollah’s concerns regarding the positioning of the USS Cole warship off Lebanon’s coast. Just how a giant battleship is going to ensure stability in a part of the region upset by political turmoil is difficult to understand, despite American assurances.

Lebanon’s current predicament is of a political nature, going on as it has without a president since Nov 24 when Emile Lahoud called it a day. Granted, Lebanon remains a proxy battlefield for the region’s bickering powers, especially in the political arena where pro and anti-Syrian elements dominate. Apparently extending a warning to Syria is one of the reasons for the American initiative. But that carries serious ‘or else’ undertones, threatening action in case of crossing of some line that remains vague at best. Clearly, such confusion is the last thing the region needs.

Rather than threaten hostility, America would do well to lend an ear to countries involved in Lebanon’s political tragedy. Syria can be an important player not only in Lebanon, but also in Iraq, the bedrock of growing American embarrassment. The losses mounted over the years should have prompted Washington to consider a change of course, but the likelihood of something on those lines completely disappears with the arrival of a mammoth war machine like the USS Cole, clearly signalling hostile American intentions.

Hezbollah, too, should play down confrontation rather than fuel it. Already, Lebanon stands on the brink of the worst violence coming its way since the painful days of the civil war.

As always, the worst sufferers stand to be those that have the least to do with the political process, the ordinary people that keep the country running. Any party claiming holding Lebanon’s interests dear should ensure that the people’s interests are looked after for a change.

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