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Monday, December 01, 2008

US and Iran to jointly arm Lebanon?

Last week, I reported that the United States was considering selling tanks to the Lebanese army despite its being largely Shiite, i.e. largely infested with Hezbullah supporters. Now, Lebanon has gone to the other corner and asked Iran to sell it midsized weapons (Hat Tip: IMRA).
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman recently asked Iran for medium-sized weapons for Lebanon's army, in a move aimed at shifting Iran's assistance from the country's militant Hezbollah movement to the state, a Lebanese government official said Wednesday.

The official, who requested anonymity, said Suleiman had emphasized during a two-day visit to Tehran earlier this week that he was not seeking long-range missiles or jet fighters, but rather modern medium arms that would help the Lebanese army combat terrorism and maintain national security.

The source told Deutsche Presse-Agentur that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had assured his Lebanese counterpart that Iran would be ready to assist Lebanon in this regard.

"The Iranians vowed to support Lebanon in all key dossiers, particularly the national dialogue among the rival factions," the source said.

Iran is a staunch supporter of the militant Shiite Hezbollah movement, which is also backed by Syria. Tehran is believed to be Hezbollah's main arms supplier.

Hezbollah is the only Lebanese group which did not have to hand over its weapons in 1989, under the Saudi-sponsored Taef accord which ended Lebanon's 15 years of civil war.
But Lebanon's army is mostly Shiite Muslim, as is Hezbullah. Lebanon's army has colluded with Hezbullah in the past. In this part of the world, that makes it very likely that whatever weapons are sold to the Lebanese army will eventually end up in Hezbullah's hands. Not to mention that Hezbullah is now part of the Lebanese governing coalition.

So why is the US playing this game by arming the Lebanese army? I guess they just don't get it.


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