Le­banon min­is­ter’s ad­vice to US ex­posed

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - WORLD -

BEIRUT: Le­banon’s de­fence min­is­ter of­fered US of­fi­cials ad­vice on how Is­rael could de­feat the mil­i­tant Hezbol­lah group in a fu­ture war and vowed to keep the Le­banese ar my out of the fight­ing, ac­cord­ing to se­cret diplo­matic mes­sages re­leased by Wik­iLeaks.

That memo and an­other se­cret mes­sage that re­vealed US se­cret spy flights over Hezbol­lah lo­ca­tions in Le­banon in 2008 are sure to fuel ten­sions be­tween the mil­i­tant group and the Western-backed prime min­is­ter.

A UN tri­bunal is ex­pected to is­sue in­dict­ments in the 2005 as­sas­si­na­tion of for­mer prime min­is­ter Rafik Hariri, pos­si­bly as early as this month.

The tri­bunal has caused deep di­vi­sions within Le­banon’s govern­ment, which in­cludes Hezbol­lah and p r o - We s t e r n blocs led by Prime Min­is­ter Saad Hariri, the son of the slain leader.

There are fears of an out­break of vi­o­lence if the court in­dicts mem­bers of Hezbol­lah, which claims the court is bi­ased.

The tri­bunal has ex­ac­er­bated ten­sions be­tween Hezbol­lah and Hariri’s coali­tion. Hezbol­lah has ac­cused mem­bers of the coali­tion of col­lab- orat­ing with the US. The diplo­matic records ex­posed on the Wik­iLeaks web­site this week re­vealed a 2008 con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the Le­banese de­fence min­is­ter, Elias Murr, and US of­fi­cials in Le­banon, in which he of­fered ad­vice on how Is­rael could de­feat Hezbol­lah.

Al­though he made clear he was not re­spon­si­ble for pass­ing on mes­sages to Is­rael, he said the Is­raelis should, for in­stance, avoid bomb­ing

‘The Is­raelis should avoid bomb­ing bridges in Chris­tian ar­eas’

bridges and in­fra­struc­ture in Chris­tian ar­eas in a fu­ture war, so as not to turn pub­lic opin­ion against them.

“If Is­rael has to bomb all of these places in the Shi’ite ar­eas as a mat­ter of op­er­a­tional con­cern, that is Hezbol­lah’s prob­lem,” Murr re­port­edly said.

Murr also said the Le­banese army would not get in­volved in the next war, adding that the ob­jec­tive was for the army to sur­vive a three-week war “com­pletely in­tact” and to be able to “take over once Hezbol­lah’s mili­tia has been de­stroyed”.

The clas­si­fied memo was pub­lished in full on Thurs­day by the Le­banese daily AlAkhbar, which was given an ad­vance copy of the doc­u­ment by Wik­iLeaks. – Sapa-AP

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