WASHINGTON - July 25 -
In February this year, three former U.S. diplomats toured the Mideast as
part of an independent delegation and met with President Bashar al-Assad
of Syria, President Emile Lahoud of Lebanon, Hassan Nasrallah of
Hezbollah, various Hamas officials and Amr Mousa, secretary general of
the Arab League.
A former U.S. ambassador to Greece and Zimbabwe, Keeley said today:
"It was remarkably easy for us to get meetings with the major players in
the region. I think that's because there has been so little dialogue
between them and our officials.
"When we were in Lebanon, I found that our ambassador doesn't talk
to the Lebanese president. [Mideast NSC official] Elliott Abrams had
been there, but he doesn't talk to the Lebanese president either.
"Even among the undemocratic leaders, we found enthusiasm for the
concept of democracy in the region, but the U.S. is viewed as totally
hypocritical, only backing democracy when the people it wants win.
"We need to stop castigating and threatening -- and start talking
EDWARD L. PECK,
Peck, a former U.S. chief of mission in Iraq and ambassador to
Mauritania, was deputy director of the White House Task Force on
Terrorism in the Reagan administration. He said today: "Israel wants and
needs to live in peace and security with her neighbors. That will never
be achieved under her current policy. ... In this context, the silence
about the tragedy in Gaza, since the events in Lebanon, will be part of
the costs to Israel and to the United States -- and I do not want to be
EUGENE BIRD, http://cnionline.org
President of the Center for the National Interest, Bird said today: "While in Lebanon we met with the president, the prime minister and
Nasrallah. All three emphasized the following three points: Israel had
not fully withdrawn from Lebanese territory -- this is separate from the
Shebaa Farms issue. There are three areas of just a few thousand square
feet, but they are military positions.
"Second, they emphasized that Israel has not given a map to
thousands of landmines it left in Lebanon as it was supposed to do.
These mines regularly kill people. Third, they emphasized the abduction
of three Lebanese who were taken from Lebanese territory by Israel. I
asked Nasrallah what he would do about these people. He said that there
was only one way to free them, and that was to capture Israeli soldiers.
What Hezbollah is doing may seem to be foolish, especially in the short
term, but we need to understand the facts involved.
"The United States could have probably prevented all this from
happening if they had taken any action to answer the complaints of the
Lebanese government." Bird is a 23-year veteran with the United States
Foreign Service and the former Counselor of Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
Some video of their meeting with Nasrallah is at: