Lebanon minister’s advice to US exposed
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