Picnicking on Mount Vesuvius?
Tensions are rising in Lebanon between elected representatives in Parliament, "Unity' Cabinet members and the American Embassy, as the 27th anniversary of the 1983 attack on the US Embassy approaches and the Embassy issues another warning for Americans to leave Lebanon.
On March 29, 2010 the US Embassy instructed Americans not to travel to Lebanon citing "safety and security concerns." Simultaneously it warned those who are in Lebanon to seriously consider leaving.
Advising that Lebanon, placed on a US list of 14 countries "linked to Terrorism" following the Christmas Day attempted aircraft bombing near Detroit, has "the potential for a spontaneous upsurge in violence, US citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks, as Embassy personnel may not be able to aid them in case of conflict." The "Warder Warning" to American citizens follows a series of recent efforts by the Embassy to pressure the National Lebanese Resistance led by Hezbollah, currently shaping the new Unity' government with its work in Parliament and the Cabinet. It comes following Opposition charges, emphasized by Hezbollah's Secretary Hassan Nasrallah the preceding week, that the US Embassy in Beirut engages in espionage activities for Israel and cautioning that the collaboration was very dangerous for Lebanon.
According to Nasrallah during an interview with Al Manar channel:
"All the information which the US embassy gathers in Beirut reaches Israel. Here we are not speaking about a normal foreign embassy which is gathering information for its own government "
"When it comes to the American embassy in Beirut, it is a different story"And so what is given to the US Embassy and what reaches the Israelis, the information, all of these leads to the destruction of Lebanon.This helps the Israeli enemy to understand what is going on in Lebanon, to use this information against Lebanon and to take revenge against our country" What is the difference between espionage networks, which give information directly, or giving information by mediation, meaning giving it to the US embassy who then gives it to the Israeli side?"
Nasrallah was speaking to an audience estimated at more than 100 million viewers around the region.
April 2010 and April 1983 parallels?
The Hezbollah Secretary-General is not the only one questioning whether the US Embassy operates as "a normal foreign embassy" with acceptable "mild spying and information gathering" or operates as "an espionage network" for Israel and passing it intelligence reports from US assets throughout Lebanon who monitor all roads and paths from Syria as well as South Lebanon and South Beirut.
What increasingly concerns many in Lebanon is the US Embassy role in recent projects including a "security agreement between the US and the Lebanese Internal Security Force' (ISF) which the Embassy and their allies described as "an American donation" to train and equip the ISF and make Lebanon stronger.
The "donation" resulted from the January 25, 2007 Paris-3 International Conference on the support for Lebanon. As far as security is concerned, [the] March 14 [opposition] charges that the then pro-American-pro-Saudi Fuad Saniora government "gave away the store" to U.S. intelligence by placing data related to Lebanon's two mobile phone networks at the disposal of the United States, that it is believed would allow the Embassy and Israel to tap Lebanese phones. There is a widely held belief in Lebanon that all information the Embassy receives goes to Israel. Also protested was the adopting of the American interpretation of "terrorism" which as applied by the Embassy means that no ISF member who is a Hezbollah member could receive any training to due various US Terrorism lists issues.
According to the Lebanese Ministry of Communications, the US embassy in Beirut filed a request to install reception devices in two positions in Lebanon located in mountainous areas in Aley and overlooking most of the Lebanese regions. The first is 22 kilometers away from Beirut, 760 meters above sea level and stretching over 251 hectares, while the second is 29 kilometers away from Beirut, 540 meters above sea level and stretching over 643 hectares. The US Embassy position is that its tower demand falls under the headline of technical assistance stipulated in the "donation" agreement.
Suspicions were also raised that the commando units the US wanted to train might be intended for use against the National Lebanese Resistance during a future conflict with Israel.
On March 16, 2010, the Syrian daily Al Watan asked Lebanese MP Nawaf
Mousawi about the growing concern in Parliament. Mousawi, one of Hezbollah's most popular and sought after interlocutors with American and other foreign delegations visiting Lebanon, replied:
"If the reports we read in the Lebanese papers are true, this would be a horrid scandal since it would mean that the American embassy was violating Lebanon's sovereignty and that the American security apparatuses were trying to infiltrate personal and national security in
Lebanon. This would constitute an Israeli security infiltration since there is a security agreement between Israel and America in regard to the exchange of information"
"Moreover, I say that today the American embassy in Lebanon has a private militia called the embassy's guard, arresting each suspected citizen in the massive area surrounding the embassy that has become an isolated geography within the Lebanese geography. It has become a state within a state with tapping devices violating the intimacy of the Lebanese people and intelligence officers monitoring all that goes on in the ministries and public administrations. We in Lebanon now need to liberate our land from the occupation of the American militia and to liberate part of our decisions from the American occupation by limiting the relations of the American embassy to the Foreign Ministry and preventing the American apparatuses from acquiring information in