What Will Feltman Do in Lebanon?
|The apostle arrived. Feltman came to show how his administration is willing to play Lebanese vulnerabilities in its favor. There seems increasingly little doubt that the US tried to manipulate Palestinian outrage on Nakba Day to create incidents on the Lebanese border with Occupied Palestine and on the Golan Heights.Feltman’s visit came in the midst of this maelstrom in our region. The United States could see an opening in Lebanon to regain some, or much, of what it has lost in recent years.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman visited Lebanon on Friday to deliver a message that the US administration views the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa as an “historic opportunity to meet the aspirations of the people of the region.”
During his visit, he held meetings with a number of Lebanese officials, including President Michel Suleiman, Prime Minister-designate Najib Miqati, former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora, and Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat.
Echoing the message of Obama’s speech on the Middle East on Thursday, Feltman outlined the U.S.’s position on the changes sweeping across the region through clear support for a set of core principles: opposition to the use of violence and repression; protection for universal rights including free speech, peaceful assembly, freedom of religion; and support for political and economic change in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of people throughout the region.
He reiterated the U.S.’s view that the international community will assess its relationship with any new government of Lebanon based on the make-up of the next cabinet, its ministerial statement and the actions it takes in regard to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and Lebanon’s other international obligations.
He reconfirmed that the United States considers the make-up of Lebanon’s government to be a strictly Lebanese decision and called on all parties in Lebanon to protect the government formation process from any external interference.
In the meantime, since Lebanese Prime Minister-elect Mikati is so far unable to form a government of national unity and, evidently, refuses to put together a cabinet that would be dominated by “one color”, it would seem that his only option is to lead some sort of team of technocrats. That may be better than allowing the void in the executive branch to persist.
However, Feltman also noted the United States’ concern about events on Lebanon’s southern border on May 15, emphasizing the importance of maintaining strong border security on all of Lebanon’s borders in order to prevent incidents that increase tensions that can lead to casualties and negatively impact the security of the region.
As Safir newspaper revealed on Friday that Feltman is scheduled to make a television appearance on LBC Lebanese channel to explain the United States’ position on developments in Lebanon and the Arab world, especially Syria.