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Should "Embassy Beirut" Take a "Time Out"?

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On October 24, 1970, during its 25th session, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration of Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

The UN Declaration provides in part:

"No State has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law."

Perhaps not since the Vietnam War, with the exception of Iraq, has an American Embassy so inextricably inserted, bullied and entangled itself into the internal affairs of another country. Or so brazenly targeted a nationalist political party that won the largest number of votes in the most recent election that likely represents a majority of the country's population. Not since 1982 has it occurred in Lebanon.

Myriad extra-consular activities by "Embassy Beirut," many of which violate American as well as international laws including the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, present serious problems for Lebanon. They ultimately constitute major problems for the American people who increasingly seek an even-handed American Middle East policy and friendship with all legitimate countries in the region.

Undersecretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman is the de-facto American Ambassador to Lebanon and Syria. During a Dec. 9 phone conference with Arab reporters in Washington, London and some Arab capitals, Feltman complained that "the Wilkileaks information is being used to sow strife in Lebanon." He added that he was "afraid that some Lebanese nationalists would be harmed for cooperating with the U.S and for better ties between Washington and Beirut." He added, "The release of private conversations calls for disgust and anger."

This is not the first time Mr. Feltman has had his analysis precisely backwards. For it is not some leaked cables, which to date have revealed nothing not already widely known or suspected in Lebanon. Rather, it is the internationally banned and intense US interference in Lebanese internal affairs on behalf of Israel that is causing deep distrust and suspicion of American motives all across the region as well as among American citizens living here and at home. These fundamental causes include what every school child in Lebanon has witnessed in one form or another, directly or through relatives or friends -- the massive US weapon supplies delivered to Israel. During a quarter century of Israel's use of American weapons to repeatedly and ferociously attack Lebanese civilians, more than 30,000 have been killed, more than 200,000 wounded, and more than two million have been displaced.

In addition to regularly unleashing and green-lighting Israeli aggression against Lebanon, there is the continuing and ever-evolving Embassy Beirut-based Welsh Club's "Lebanon Project List" (LPL) which lengthened in early 2005 and endures following Mr. Welsh's retirement in 2009. It is from this informal unit that State Department lawyers urged the White House to establish the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (UNSCR 1757) under Chapter VII of the UN Charter... "The duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, in accordance with the UN Charter." (UN Declaration Concerning Friendly Relations among States)

At various times joint US-Israeli Welch Club projects included plans for an airbase to be shared with Israel and NATO at Kleit near the Sunny area of Akkar as part of the Northern Sunni army to confront Southern Shia Hezbollah. The plans called for moving the US Embassy and its electronic equipment to a hillside overlooking Dahieyh with the capacity to listen in on virtually all conversations and watch the movements of many Hezbollah officials. Druze leader Walid Jumblatt would be set up as the front man to confront the Resistance over its secure telecommunications system. One of their supporters in charge of Beirut airport security would bring in Salafists (among others) and plant them in certain areas, including Nahr al Bared and Ein el Helwe Palestinian Refugee camps.

Thus, at every opportunity, sectarian tensions among Sunni, Shia and various Christian sects would be ignited. Certain media outlets would be labeled as "terrorists," and the names of their investors and social service organizations published. USAID projects would be channeled to chosen sects rather than on the basis of equality for all Lebanese, and more than a dozen unproven projects would be installed to keep Lebanon divided and weakened in its capacity to confront Israeli aggression, or to emerge from its history of domination by foreign powers.

In addition, Embassy Beirut continues to function as a salon and sounding board for many schemes to re-shape Lebanon to Israel's liking, including this week's confirmation of the earlier-rumored Israeli-backed Saudi brainstorm to establish an "All Arab Force" to invade Lebanon and fight Hezbollah.

According to the Beirut Daily Star, WikiLeaks cables given exclusively to the newspaper suggested that Feltman repeatedly expressed alarm at what he saw as France opening the door to Hezbollah as Lebanon's political deadlock deepened in late 2007. Embassy Beirut blamed Paris for succumbing to "shameless fear-mongering" and empowering the opposition party. One cable from December 2007 said...

"Having watched the French badly fumble or [intentionally foul] the presidential elections so far, we assume we will need to take on the leadership role in building an international consensus for presidential elections now, without complicating linkages...We recommend starting to point fingers at who is to blame for Lebanon's presidential vacuum."

US interference on behalf of Israel, even to the degree of seeming to condone and even extend the destruction of much of this country, including a willingness to cede Lebanese sovereign territory to Israel, and to allow daily air and sea invasions of Lebanese sovereignty, has sown strife in Lebanon. It is that -- not some leaked Embassy cables -- that prevents "better ties between Washington and Beirut" which Undersecretary Feltman and no fewer than 43 visiting US officials have bleated to Lebanese media over the past several years.

As it is up to the Lebanese themselves to pass judgment on who is a nationalist and who is a collaborator, it is the right and responsibility of the American people to decide if their "Embassy Beirut" serves American or Israeli national interests. The consequences of Embassy Beirut actions are increasingly coming under scrutiny and rejection, as the American public, much like a huge super-tanker-sized ship sighting danger ahead, adjusts its course ever so slowly, yet powerfully, tacking 22 degrees aft.

As American public opinion confronts the dangerous current, some American political analysts are identifying a harbinger when on Dec. 9, the U.S. House of Representatives more than $205 million to help Israel deploy a short-range anti-missile defense system called "Iron Dome." What some find remarkable was the slight margin of the vote -- 212-206 -- hardly the 392-7 or -8 votes that Israeli lobby initiatives regularly command from Congress.

It was on April 17, 1983, after a similar intense period of US Embassy meddling in Lebanese internal affairs and by using its diplomatic compound as a base to support one pro-Israeli Lebanese faction that many innocents were killed because the US Embassy had become a virtual command center and hence a legitimate military target. While this tragedy will hopefully not repeat during the immediate intense period, barring new revelations or overt actions by the Embassy that green-light another Israeli aggression against Lebanon, some here believe that the US Embassy may well be closed down, and experience an imposed "time out" which, in the case of the US Embassy in Tehran, has lasted for 30 years.

Forcing such an eventuality would serve neither Lebanese or American interests.

 

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