Salim Karam, who is from the Hezbollah-allied Marada party and is the minister of state in Lebanon’s new Hezbollah-controlled government, doesn’t think the White House has the will to do it:
State Minister Salim Karam said in an interview published on Saturday that he does not believe the U.S. will sanction Lebanon. “We are not afraid [of sanctions], and we do not think that we are targeted by anything of that kind because the U.S. distributes their sanctions [everywhere] but has not put Lebanon itself on the black list,” he told Kuwaiti newspaper As-Seyyasah.
He also asked why people are insisting the new government will serve foreign (read: Iranian) interests, because how can anyone know what’s in the future? It’s apparently an inscrutable blur, far beyond the horizon of human scrutiny. Never mind that as recently as June 2011 Nasrallah was venerating Khamenei at Beirut conferences with titles like, “Convention of Renovation and Jurisprudence of Imam Khamenei’s Intellect,” and that the modestly named Party of God permits the Supreme Leader total sway over Hezbollah’s decision-making process in Lebanon.
In fairness – while Karam’s “O, that a man might know the end of this day’s business” posturing is teeth-gratingly pedantic – he’s probably right about the Obama administration’s actual policy. The U.S. has given Lebanon more than $700 million in security assistance since 2006, a policy that even amateur bloggers predicted at the time would end with Hezbollah “taking over the government and thus gaining control electorally of the newly modernized Lebanese army.”
Hezbollah having duly seized power, the Obama administration is reportedly searching for ways to “still do business” with Lebanese government officials who are Hezbollah stooges but not Hezbollah members. We’re even supporting the Hezbollah government in their post-hoc self-declared maritime “dispute” with Israel, functionally rewarding naked Iranian-backed aggression. Even assuming there are cuts in security assistance – and State seems to be pushing for nudge-wink games about certification that would largely avoid cuts – it certainly doesn’t look like a robust sanctions regime is in the works.
That’s even though we know – thanks to leaked documents from Wikileaks and the LulzSec hacker collective, respectively – that U.S. officials are aware of Hezbollah infiltration in Chile and in the Southwest United States. There are also those just unsealed drug charges in Manhattan. Hezbollah isn’t so much at our shores as inside the country.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s most notorious Christian fig leaf is already promising to dismantle U.S. intelligence assets in Lebanon, a promise that has particularly dark resonances given Hezbollah’s history of kidnapping American officials and slowly torturing to death over the course of years. The training and equipment the Lebanese government uses for counter-intelligence, by the by, comes from U.S. security assistance. It was long ago already turned against Israel’s efforts to monitor Hezbollah, which doesn’t make much sense because we were providing security assistance so the Lebanese Armed Forces could counterbalance Hezbollah, but why quibble about details?
Maybe everything will work out, and it’ll turn out Hezbollah doesn’t want power after all. It’s true the new government was described as “a well-prepared coup implemented by Hezbollah,” and Hezbollah-linked ministers completely dominate the cabinet. But as the New York Times took pains to headline, the new government is merely “influenced” by Hezbollah. You never know!