Iran, Hezb'allah lay down gauntlet to Obama on Lebanon -- guess who's losing

From the point of view of Iran and its Lebanese terrorist puppet, Hezb'allah, the timing of the collapse of Lebanon's government couldn't have been more exquisite.  For President Obama, the in-your-face timing arranged by the mullahs in Tehran dramatically underscored a U.S. foreign-policy disaster in the Middle East.

Just as Obama was meeting at the White House with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Hezb'allah pulled the plug on Hariri's coalition government with the collective resignation of Hezb'allah's cabinet ministers.   Blindsided by Hezb'allah, Hariri made a quick get-away from Washington and flew back to Beirut to face a major political crisis and his own fast-shrinking power.

Hezb'allah's move was but the latest Iran-versus-U.S. power struggle to determine which side is top dog in Lebanon.  The immediate issue remains whether a UN tribunal will be able to proceed peacefully in handing down indictments against the purported killers of former premier Rafik Hariri, the father of the current prime minister.  In their investigation of the fatal car-boming of the elder Hariri, UN prosecutors have been targeting Hezb'allah and Syria, another Mideast player increasingly aligned with Iran.

The odds of regular-order indictments followed by unimpeded trials don't look good.  In fact, they've just gotten worse.  For the last several months, the Hariri tribunal repeatedly was said to be ready to issue indictments -- but again and again kept silent.  In the meantime, Syrian President Assad, with several of his close associates also in the prosecutors' cross-hairs, orchestrated in tandem with Hezb'allah a pressure campaign leaning on Saad Hariri to abort the tribunal's work and ensure that the killers of his father would never be brought to justice.

Hariri has been buckling for some time, traveling to Damascus to genuflect to Assad and thus showing his own weakness.  In the meantime, Team Obama and UN officials have limited themselves to rhetorical exhortations about maintaining the sovereignty of Lebanon and advising against any resumption of civil war -- all falling on Hezb'allah, Syrian and Iranian deaf ears.

With his guest rushing back to Beirut, Obama blustered that Hezb'allah, in toppling the government, showed its "own fear" -- though there were no sings whatever that Iran's proxy was trembling.  From the start of his administration, Obama has been high on rhetoric, but demonstrating real muscle, in preventing Syria and Iran from gaining the upper hand in Lebanon.

The administration's only card has been to keep bankrolling the Lebanese Army, supplying it with tons of weapons, hoping it can be a counter-weight to Hezb'allah.  In the real world, however, this is an army with little, if any, appetite to confront Hezb'allah.  In fact,the reliability of some of its troops and officers is highly questionable.  Some arms supplied by the U.S. already have found their way into the hands of Hezb'allah sympathizers and accomplices.

So Obama is left with only a hope and a prayer as dark clouds gather over Lebanon.  His weakness couldn't have been more palpable than when Hezb'allah interrupted his summit with Hariri by toppling the Lebanon's U.S.-backed government.
From the point of view of Iran and its Lebanese terrorist puppet, Hezb'allah, the timing of the collapse of Lebanon's government couldn't have been more exquisite.  For President Obama, the in-your-face timing arranged by the mullahs in Tehran dramatically underscored a U.S. foreign-policy disaster in the Middle East.

Just as Obama was meeting at the White House with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Hezb'allah pulled the plug on Hariri's coalition government with the collective resignation of Hezb'allah's cabinet ministers.   Blindsided by Hezb'allah, Hariri made a quick get-away from Washington and flew back to Beirut to face a major political crisis and his own fast-shrinking power.

Hezb'allah's move was but the latest Iran-versus-U.S. power struggle to determine which side is top dog in Lebanon.  The immediate issue remains whether a UN tribunal will be able to proceed peacefully in handing down indictments against the purported killers of former premier Rafik Hariri, the father of the current prime minister.  In their investigation of the fatal car-boming of the elder Hariri, UN prosecutors have been targeting Hezb'allah and Syria, another Mideast player increasingly aligned with Iran.

The odds of regular-order indictments followed by unimpeded trials don't look good.  In fact, they've just gotten worse.  For the last several months, the Hariri tribunal repeatedly was said to be ready to issue indictments -- but again and again kept silent.  In the meantime, Syrian President Assad, with several of his close associates also in the prosecutors' cross-hairs, orchestrated in tandem with Hezb'allah a pressure campaign leaning on Saad Hariri to abort the tribunal's work and ensure that the killers of his father would never be brought to justice.

Hariri has been buckling for some time, traveling to Damascus to genuflect to Assad and thus showing his own weakness.  In the meantime, Team Obama and UN officials have limited themselves to rhetorical exhortations about maintaining the sovereignty of Lebanon and advising against any resumption of civil war -- all falling on Hezb'allah, Syrian and Iranian deaf ears.

With his guest rushing back to Beirut, Obama blustered that Hezb'allah, in toppling the government, showed its "own fear" -- though there were no sings whatever that Iran's proxy was trembling.  From the start of his administration, Obama has been high on rhetoric, but demonstrating real muscle, in preventing Syria and Iran from gaining the upper hand in Lebanon.

The administration's only card has been to keep bankrolling the Lebanese Army, supplying it with tons of weapons, hoping it can be a counter-weight to Hezb'allah.  In the real world, however, this is an army with little, if any, appetite to confront Hezb'allah.  In fact,the reliability of some of its troops and officers is highly questionable.  Some arms supplied by the U.S. already have found their way into the hands of Hezb'allah sympathizers and accomplices.

So Obama is left with only a hope and a prayer as dark clouds gather over Lebanon.  His weakness couldn't have been more palpable than when Hezb'allah interrupted his summit with Hariri by toppling the Lebanon's U.S.-backed government.

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