Thursday, January 11, 2007

Siniora dismisses report of Bush ordering CIA to hit Hizbullah

Siniora dismisses report of Bush ordering CIA to hit Hizbullah
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: The government on Wednesday denied an article published in Britain's Daily Telegraph claiming that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has received authorization to take covert action against Hizbullah. A statement from the office of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said the government's foreign policy is based on the principles of "independence, transparency and clearness." However, the statement defended "verbal" support given it by the United States. "Lebanon needs support to stop the continuing Israeli violations of its land, sea and air, and to force Israel to withdraw from the Shebaa Farms before putting them under UN control," it added. "Lebanon also needs help to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and to ensure the success of the Paris III conference of donor nations that is to be held on January 25." The Daily Telegraph report said that the CIA was authorized to take action against Hizbullah as part of an undercover plan approved by President George W. Bush to help Siniora's government prevent the spread of Iranian influence. The report said the CIA was to provide financial and logistical support to Siniora, as well as authorizing US intelligence agencies to fund anti-Hizbullah groups. Bush gave the operations the green light after holding talks with his aides and with Saudi Arabian officials in December, it added. "Siniora's under siege there [in Lebanon] and we are always looking for ways to help allies. As [former deputy US secretary of state] Richard Armitage said, Hizbullah is the A-team of terrorism and certainly Iran and Syria have not let up their support for the group," a former US government official was quoting as having told the Daily Telegraph.

A Hizbullah spokesperson told The Daily Star that such reports were a concern for the party, especially suggestions that the current Lebanese government is so closely tied to the US administration. "Such support worries us because it comes with a certain price the government has pledged to pay to the US, and will be at the expense of the national opposition," he said. "It is worrisome to know that people from the government are related financially to the US. This can lead to the marginalization of not only Hizbullah, but also of other parties, and therefore affects negatively Lebanon's political diversity." "We want an internal independent administration, true representation and a national unity government, which can stop commitments that serve the US from being made," he added. The US Embassy spokesperson in Lebanon was unavailable for comment. - The Daily Star

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