The USS Cole has steamed through Suez heading for the Gulf. The Lebanese government has said it did not ask for the ships to be off Lebanon. According to US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the USS Cole was there “simply to make [it] very clear that the US is capable and willing to defend its interests and the interests of its allies”. Problem is, as far as the Lebanese government, one of America’s allies, is concerned the presence of the USS Cole was not in their interests; in fact it was seen as more of a threat than a comfort.
US gunboat diplomacy is not appreciated in that part of the world, particularly in Lebanon where Hezbollah has considerable support especially when it comes to dealing with the Israeli threat and, while Lebanon prefers independence from Syria, many are quite happy to accept Syrian support via Hezbollah when it comes to defending Lebanon against the Israelis.
When Israel launched its last war against Lebanon in July 2006 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made it quite clear that the war was against Lebanon and not just against Hezbollah. As a result the Lebanese government see the presence of US warships off their shores as a threat at a time when, if push comes to shove, Israel decides to attack Hezbollah again. While the Lebanese government might be reasonably friendly toward the US government, the Lebanese know that when it comes to a fight the US will always be on Israel’s side. The Lebanese people remember how American warships opened fire on Lebanon in September 1983 during the civil war.
Hezbollah have made it clear that if there is to be another war then they are quite ready for it but will not be starting it.
While the USS Cole has steamed off, it has apparently been replaced by two other US warships, the USS Ross and the USS Philippine Sea. This move can only heighten tensions between Lebanon, Hezbollah in particular, and Israel. It will also put the Lebanese government in an awkward position inasmuch that it does not wish to irritate the US but, on the other hand, are aware of how popular Hezbollah are when it comes to a fight with the Israelis.
Thanks go to ‘Blacksmith Jade’ for bringing this to my attention. His post containing this information was not published because it contained insults. I have switched on the moderation function and any comments containing even a hint of insult or belittlement in any way toward the author of a post or comments will not be published. Only comments that stick strictly to the subject will be published in future. If you want to insult then go elsewhere and do it or create your own blog.