Friday, October 19, 2007

Edelman acknowledges endeavor to change LAF doctrine

Mohamad Shmaysani

The nervous expressions of US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffery Feltman Thursday morning did not achieve its goals. On that day, Feltman was seen on television screens in a tense mood lashing out at the Assair daily, for asking the Lebanese government to officially deny any "involvement in an unbalanced relation with the enemy's top ally, which will be suicidal", Assafir said. The daily raised in its report the issue of building a US base north of Lebanon and changing the Lebanese army doctrine into one that denounces the resistance and considers Israel not an enemy, but stopped short from accusing the Lebanese officials of involvement.

The US diplomat described the report as fabricated, ridiculous, baseless and insulting to the Lebanese army. However, US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Eric Edelman implied hours later in a televised interview with LBCI that Assafir's information were not wrong. Edelman spoke about a strategic and fixed partnership with the Lebanese army adding that he had discussions with Lebanese officials about forming a bipartite work group between the US Department of Defense and the Lebanese MoD, to help make the strategy, according to Edelman, the way it should be for the sake of Lebanon and its army. However, the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy saw there was no reason for Lebanon to consider Israel an enemy; another dimension, according to Assafir, to the strategy he was talking about and to the position of the Lebanese army in it.

Hezbollah said in a statement that the endeavor to build a US military base in Lebanon was part of a larger scheme to tie the country to the US project under false slogans such as "strategic partnership." The statement added that the Edelman's revelations are far more dangerous than what has been so far published on the one hand and questions statements made by some government officials on the other. "Edelman's statement dealt a severe blow to Feltman's efforts to contain the political storm which the US base reports have created," Hezbollah's statement said. It added: "This explains why the international tutelage is adhering to the current government, which along with the February 14 powers, shoulders the responsibility of transforming Lebanon into another Iraq." Hezbollah expressed confidence that the doctrine of the Lebanese army will not be shacked by such US projects.